Environmental Must-Reads – January 28, 2013


Natural Gas Development Permanently Banned from Headwaters of Major Salmon Rivers

On February 2, leading environmental advocacy group ForestEthics, along with its allies and partner groups, will join in a community event in Terrace, a two-hour plane ride north of Vancouver, to celebrate the British Columbia government’s announcement this past December that Shell would be withdrawing its plans to develop coal bed methane, a natural gas, in the Sacred Headwaters region of northwest British Columbia.

Blockade at PA Fracking Site Highlights Risks to Farms and Food

Residents of Western Pennsylvania and friends of Lawrence County farmer Maggie Henry locked themselves to a giant paper-mache pig today in the entrance to a Shell natural gas well site in order to protest the company’s threat to local agriculture and food safety. The newly-constructed gas well is located at 1545 PA Route 108, Bessemer, PA , 16102, less than 4,000 feet from Henry’s organic pig farm.

An Oil Boom Takes a Toll on Health Care

Medical facilities in North Dakota are sinking under a flood of uninsured laborers working dangerous jobs.

Sandra Steingraber: Next 12 Steps to Stop Fracking in New York

I am writing you from an airport in Wisconsin.

People here, and across the river in Minnesota, are trying desperately to halt the strip mining of their communities for frac-sand. Trucks are rolling. Silica dust is flying. Hill by hill, bluff by bluff—the land itself is shoveled into railcars and shipped off to the gas fields of America where grains of silica sand are shot into the cracks of fractured bedrock so methane can flow out of it.

What’s left behind in Wisconsin and Minnesota are moonscapes and ruined water.

Citizens write, testify, protest. Mothers contemplate civil disobedience. Some have done it.

Billions in gas drilling royalties change individual lives, but broader gains are modest

Private landowners are reaping billions of dollars in royalties each year from the boom in natural gas drilling, transforming lives and livelihoods even as the windfall provides only a modest boost to the broader economy.

In Pennsylvania alone, royalty payments could top $1.2 billion for 2012, according to an Associated Press analysis that looked at state tax information, production records and estimates from the National Association of Royalty Owners.

Fracking wastewater can be highly radioactive

Its contents remain mostly a mystery. But fracking wastewater has revealed one of its secrets: It can be highly radioactive. And yet no agency really regulates its handling, transport or disposal. First of a four-part series on radiation in fracking wastewater.

Bill would ban fracking

A bill which would ban the practice needed to drill for natural gas in Western Maryland has been introduced in the General Assembly. House Bill 337 would prohibit “a person from engaging in the hydraulic fracturing of a well for the exploration or production of natural gas in the state,” according ot the language of the bill.

CO Gov. Proposes New Fracking Study

Colorado should use unexpected tax money to study the effects of oil and gas drilling on air quality. That’s a request by Gov. John Hickenlooper in a letter to lawmakers about tax collections that exceeded expectations last year.

Fracking in Southwest Florida may still happen

Oil companies are showing interest in possibly fracking in Florida.

A public records request for inquiries about fracking since The News-Press published stories Oct. 7 about the possibilities of the controversial drilling technique coming to Florida shows Penn Virginia Oil & Gas Corp. sought regulatory information from the state Department of Environmental Protection in November, then pulled out.

Wastewater from fracking could be too much to handle, study says

The practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, produces a relatively small amount of wastewater, given all the gas the technique recovers, according to a new analysis of operations in Pennsylvania. Nevertheless, the number of fracking operations has grown so rapidly that the wastewater being produced threatens to overwhelm the region’s capacity to properly treat it.

Oil spills after two barges strike Mississippi River bridge

Oil spilled into the Mississippi River after two oil barges hit a bridge near Vicksburg, Miss., early Sunday morning, the U.S. Coast Guard reported.

The barges, laden with crude oil, were being pulled by the tow boat Nature’s Way Endeavor when they hit the Vicksburg Railroad bridge and were damaged, the U.S. Coast Guard said in a release.

Oil spill closes part of Mississippi River waterway

Investigators are still trying to determine the location of leak in an oil barge that struck a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., on Sunday, and shut sections of the Mississippi River waterway to travel.

The barge, the Associated Press reported, was carrying 80,000 gallons and sheen from the oil was reported three miles from the site of crash. A second barge was also reportedly damaged.

Mississippi River Barge Crash: Barge Carrying 80,000 Gallons Of Oil Hits Railroad Bridge, Leaks

A barge carrying 80,000 gallons of oil hit a railroad bridge in Vicksburg, Miss., on Sunday, spilling light crude into the Mississippi River and closing the waterway for eight miles in each direction, the Coast Guard said. A second barge was damaged.

Investigators did not know how much had spilled, but an oily sheen was reported as far as three miles downriver of Vicksburg after the 1:12 a.m. incident, said Lt. Ryan Gomez of the Coast Guard’s office in Memphis, Tenn.

BP will face spill victims in guilty plea hearing

BP is preparing for an emotional hearing in a New Orleans courtroom, where company officials will face victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill and a judge who will decide whether to accept a criminal plea deal.

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance has said she plans to announce her decision Tuesday after hearing from lawyers for BP and the Justice Department, spill victims and relatives of some of the 11 men who were killed when the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and sank.

BP oil spill: Grover Robinson ‘a natural fit’ for Gulf Consortium chairman

Electing Escambia County Commissioner Grover Robinson to be chairman of Florida’s Gulf Consortium was an easy decision, according to Gulf County Commissioner Warren Yeager.

“I think for me Grover has been front and center from day one on this issue,” said Yeager, who was chosen secretary and treasurer of the consortium. “He’s very well versed and brings a lot of intelligence to the intricacies of the RESTORE Act.”

Enbridge Resisting Final Clean-Up of Its Michigan Oil Spill

EPA demands some dredging of Kalamazoo River, but the Canadian company responsible for the million gallon spill is objecting. Clean-up is in its 3rd year.

How the Keystone Pipeline is worse for the planet than ‘drill, baby, drill’

The State Department is reportedly close to completing a review of a proposed extension of the Keystone Pipeline, to transport oil from Canadian oil sands to the United States. The pipeline is controversial to be sure, and environmentalists contend that, in order for President Obama to remain faithful to his renewed commitment to combat climate change, he must reject the pipeline proposal. Famed NASA climatologist James Hansen has said that moving to oil sands would be “a step in exactly the opposite direction” of what President Obama claims he wants to do in his second term.

Assumption may be site of sinkhole hearing

The chairman of the Louisiana Senate Natural Resources Committee said Saturday he favors holding a joint legislative hearing in mid-February in Assumption Parish concerning issues raised by the Napoleonville Dome sinkhole.

State Sen. Gerald Long, R-Winnfield, said parish officials had asked to have it in Assumption Parish and he would like it to convene there as well.

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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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