Environmental Must-Reads – January 24, 2013


Jeffrey Sachs: Natural Gas Is “Absolutely Not Clean Enough”

Dr Jeffrey Sachs, Director of The Earth Institute at Columbia University and Special Advisor to the United Nations Secretary?General on the Millennium Development Goals, gave one of the strongest presentations of the first-ever Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the 6th Annual World Future Energy Summit

Fracking for Uranium

No tour of Uranium Energy Corp.’s processing plant in Hobson, Tex. is complete until CEO Amir Adnani pries the top off a big black steel drum and invites you to peer inside. There, filled nearly to the brim, is an orange-yellow powder that UEC mined out of the South Texas countryside.

It’s uranium oxide, U3O8, otherwise known as yellowcake. This is the stuff that atomic bombs and nuclear reactor fuel are made from. The 55-gallon drum weighs about 1,000 pounds and fetches about $50,000 at market. But when Adnani looks in, he says, he sees more than just money. He sees America’s future.

Celebrities Lead Crowd Of 3,000 In Albany Protesting Hydraulic Fracturing

It’s the one political hot potato Gov. Andrew Cuomo dodged in both his budget proposal and his State of the State speech — to frack or not to frack; to mine natural gas in upstate New York or give in to the vocal opposition driven by big name stars and environmentalists.

Fracking’s Real-Life Victims

Meet the Pennsylvania residents who say their lives have been changed by gas drilling

Fracking Wastewater Threatens to Drown Ohio

First, the good news: Using the process known as hydraulic fracturing to create natural gas wells produces less wastewater than wells created using more conventional methods, according to a new study in the journal Water Resources Research. Scientists from Duke and Kent State universities found that fracked wells create 35 percent as much wastewater per unit of gas when compared to conventional wells. The scientists note that this upsets the common idea that fracking creates more wastewater than other types of gas extraction.

But now the bad news. Because of fracking, gas extraction is up 570 percent since 2004 in the Marcellus shale region, which means that there’s a whole lot more wastewater overall to deal with.

Split Fort Collins City Council advances fracking ban toward ballot

Wedged between overwhelming public outcry in favor of a vote that could prohibit hydraulic fracturing in Fort Collins and the near certainty that its passage would invite a lawsuit, a divided city council on Tuesday took the first step toward a ballot question about a ban.

Earthquake insurance covers fracking

If you want your homeowner’s insurance to also cover fracking-related incidents, you’re going to have to buy earthquake insurance, experts say.

“If you want to be covered in the event of an earthquake or earth movement, the homeowner has to buy either a (rider) to their existing standard homeowners policy or a freestanding earthquake policy,” said Mike Barry, vice president of media relations at the Insurance Information Institute, a national nonprofit institute funded by the insurance industry.

North Carolina fracking study group tackles disclosure rules

Interest groups hashing out North Carolina’s fracking regulations started work Tuesday by tackling rules on what the public will be told about chemical additives pumped underground and how broad trade secrecy exceptions will be allowed.

The group bringing together oil and gas representatives, state government agencies and advocates for cities and rural communities started debating what drillers must disclose about chemicals used during the process called hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The process involves pumping a mixture of water, sand and chemicals to crack open underground shale rock and release natural gas.

EPA Releases Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources Progress Report

Recently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its Study of the Potential Impacts of Hydraulic Fracturing on Drinking Water Resources Progress Report (Dec. 2012).  The 278-page report available here, according to the agency press release provides an update on the EPA’s, ongoing national study currently underway to better understand any potential impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water resources.

Ohio study warns of Pennsylvania wastewater

The volume of drilling wastes from Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale is growing and threatening to overwhelm existing waste-handling infrastructure in Ohio and other states, according to a study released Tuesday.

Pennsylvania Fracking Wastewater Likely to Overwhelm Ohio Injection Wells

The total amount of fracking wastewater from natural gas production in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus shale region has increased by about 570 percent since 2004, as a result of increased shale gas production, according to a study released yesterday by researchers at Duke and Kent State universities.

Fracking and Farmland

The Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association (OEFFA) has launched new webpages, Fracking and Farmland: Stories from the Field, that provide the personal stories of farmers concerned about Ohio’s booming fracking industry and illustrations of how oil and gas extraction could impact Ohio’s food producers.

Patrick Juneau, BP Claims Chief, Says $332 Million Payout Approved For Thousands In Florida

The administrator of a class-action settlement between petroleum giant BP and oil spill claimants said Tuesday that more than 34,000 Florida businesses and individuals so far have been approved to receive $332 million.

Patrick Juneau was in Tallahassee to meet with state officials and spread the word about the settlement. He appeared before a Florida Senate committee Tuesday and will visit with Gov. Rick Scott and the Florida Cabinet on Wednesday.

USS Guardian fuel extraction underway to prevent oil spill in reef

The critical process of fuel extraction from the grounded USS Guardian in Tubbataha Reef is now underway and may be expected to be completed within 48 hours, according to the Philippine Coast Guard.

However, the full extent of the damage to the UNESCO-declared marine wildife preserve won’t be known until the ship is removed by the end of January.

Shell Recorded 198 Cases of Oil Spills in 2012

Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) has stated that it recorded 198 cases of oil spills across the Niger Delta in 2012.

Of these cases in which thousands of barrels of crude oil were spilled, 37 incidents were caused by the failure of equipment of the oil company, while 161 incidents resulted from sabotage and activities of crude oil thieves.

Parnell wants Alaska officials in on Kulluk review

Gov. Sean Parnell has asked Interior Secretary Ken Salazar to include Alaska officials on a panel reviewing the expedited assessment of the 2012 offshore drilling program in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas, to review challenges and lessons learned.

Salazar announced on Jan. 8 that the Interior Department had launched the assessment, with special attention to challenges that Shell encountered in connection with certification of its containment vessel Arctic Challenger; the deployment of its containment dome; and operational issues associated with its two drilling rigs, the Nobel Discoverer and the Kulluk.

Alaska wants role in Kulluk investigation

The Alaskan government is calling on Washington to include its officials on a panel investigating last month’s incident regarding Shell’s drill ship Kulluk.

53 senators urge approval of Keystone XL pipeline

More than half the Senate on Wednesday urged quick approval of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, ramping up pressure on President Obama to move ahead with the project just days after he promised in his inaugural address to respond vigorously to the threat of climate change.

New Analysis Shows Simple Math: Keystone XL Pipeline = Tar Sands Expansion = Climate Change

New research confirms what we have heard time and again from the industry itself: the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline will be a direct cause of an increase in tar sands oil development. More tar sands oil taken out of the ground means more dangerous pollution that hurts our climate and health. And, this new research also shows that tar sands will cause even more climate pollution than we previously thought due to the impacts of the high carbon byproduct petroleum coke.

Keystone Pipeline Tests President Obama on Jobs, Climate

It’s shaping up to be one of the trickiest decisions President Obama will have to make early in his second term: whether to approve construction of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL oil pipeline, stretching from Alberta, Canada, to Oklahoma.

Largest Unified Protest in Northeast Against Tar Sands Begins Today

Thousands of people from across Ontario, Quebec and New England will assemble in dozens of cities and towns across the region from Jan. 23 to Jan. 26 for the biggest cross-border tar sands protests the region has ever seen. The demonstrators will protest the proposal to send dirty tar sands oil through the 236-mile long, 62-year-old Exxon/Enbridge pipeline across Canada, Maine and the Northeast. The protests will culminate in a major march and demonstration in Portland, Maine on Saturday, Jan. 26.

Sierra Club to Engage in Civil Disobedience for First Time in Organization’s History to Stop Tar Sands

If you could do it nonstop, it would take you six days to walk from Henry David Thoreau’s Walden Pond to President Barack Obama’s White House. For the Sierra Club, that journey has taken much longer. For 120 years, we have remained committed to using every “lawful means” to achieve our objectives. Now, for the first time in our history, we are prepared to go further.

Next month, the Sierra Club will officially participate in an act of peaceful civil resistance. We’ll be following in the hallowed footsteps of Thoreau, who first articulated the principles of civil disobedience 44 years before John Muir founded the Sierra Club.

How to make gasoline from tar sands, in six simple steps

Ever wonder about the future of energy? Will it be wind? Solar? Geothermal? No wait, I got it, tar sands! (Let’s try that again — tar sands!) They’ve got everything oil does, but they’re harder to get, crappier when you get them, and leave a much bigger mark on the climate. Sounds like a winner. Let’s look a little closer, shall we?

First off, what are tar sands? Tar sands are deposits of about 90 percent sand or sandstone, water, and clay mixed with only about 10 percent high-sulfur bitumen, a viscous black petroleum sludge rich in hydrocarbons, also known as “natural asphalt.”

New bubble site found southwest of sinkhole

Eleven new bubble sites have been found in inundated swampland west of an 8.5-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish, including a frothing spot dubbed the “mother of all bubble sites,” officials said Tuesday.

Texas Brine begins building access road near sinkhole

Now that the rain is gone, Texas Brine work crews are out preparing to install more equipment to help find the cause of the sinkhole here in Assumption Parish.

Machines are clearing trees and compacting sand preparing for four vent wells Texas Brine is building near the Bayou Corne community.

Fukushima Fish With 2,500 Times The Radiation Limit Found Two Years After Nuclear Disaster

Two years after the disaster at the Fukushima Daichi nuclear plant in Japan — called the “worst accidental release of radiation to the ocean in history” — a fish with staggering levels of radiation has reportedly been found in the vicinity of the plant.

According to French newspaper Le Monde, the fish was caught last Friday. It reportedly contained more than 2,500 times the legal limit for radiation in seafood.

Former Tepco Chairman Said Questioned in Fukushima Legal Probe

Prosecutors questioned the former chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) as part of a criminal investigation into the 2011 nuclear accident at the Fukushima plant, Kyodo news service reported, without citing anyone.

Tsunehisa Katsumata, who served as chairman of the power company known as Tepco until June 2012, was interviewed by investigators probing alleged professional negligence resulting in deaths and injuries connected to the accident, Kyodo reported today.

Was Fukushima’s operator Tsunehisa Katsumata negligent?

JAPANESE prosecutors have questioned the former head of the operator of the Fukushima power plant on suspicion of negligence over the nuclear crisis.

Japan faces nuclear shutdown for second time since Fukushima

Japan may face a total nuclear shutdown in the summer for the second time since the March 2011 Fukushima disaster as the country’s two operating reactors close for maintenance and tough new safety checks keep the rest of the fleet offline

“Nuke Effect” Snow? Pennsylvania power plant spawns “nuclear” snow plume

Just when I think I’ve seen everything.

Meteorologists have known for decades that waste plumes…the vented heat and moisture from power plants can produce clouds and showers downwind.

Now this phenomenon has been captured by Doppler radar.

“Nuke Effect” snow.

Call for action to reduce harm from mobile phone radiation

The 750-page volume, “Late Lessons from Early Warnings,” includes twenty new case studies and has major implications for policy, science and society. Although the report was prepared by the European Environment Agency to provide guidance to the EU nations, its implications are global.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

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