Environmental Must-Reads – January 29, 2013


Bill for more fracking chemical disclosure, groundwater testing dies

Last week Wyoming’s petroleum industry helped kill draft legislation that would give greater power to landowners to challenge Wyoming’s trade secret exemption in the disclosure of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

Chattanooga could be a hotspot for fracking

New state rules for hydraulic fracturing of rock to release natural gas have come about as interest builds in tapping the Chattanooga Shale formation.

The Chattanooga Times Free Press reported a half-dozen drilling companies have looked at property leases and mineral rights in Hamilton County. A spokeswoman with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said no permits have been granted and none are pending locally for the so-called “fracking” method of drilling.

Fracking concerns: Will Ohio start accepting drilling brine at 40 landfills?

Hundreds of members of the Ohio Petroleum Council (OPC), Ohio Oil and Gas Association and Ohio Shale Coalition are urging state legislators to expand natural gas development in the state.

Lawmakers state-wide call continued ban on fracking

More than 600 ”Elected Officials to Protect New York” are calling on Governor Cuomo to extend the moratorium on fracking.

Ain’t Gonna Frack On Maggie’s Farm No More

About half a dozen anti-drilling activists locked down to a paper mache pig on Sunday, blocking the entrance to a well site operated by Shell. Maggie Henry, an organic pig farmer whose farm is next door to the Marcellus Shale drill site, says she’s worried how the operation may impact her livestock and organic certification.

Pig, Protesters Demonstrate Against Fracking in North Beaver

A protest to draw attention to fracking practices of Shell Oil ended yesterday without arrests.

Wearing signs proclaiming “Fracking Threatens Food” and “Protect Farms for our Future,” four protesters locked arms and chained themselves to a nine-foot papier-mâché pig which was positioned to obstruct traffic to and from the gas well site off Route 108 in North Beaver Township.

U.S. Gas Flaring Visible from Space as Fracking Industry Booms

It is in the dark mangrove swamps of the Niger Delta where the gas flaring of the oil industry became synonymous with reckless environmental behavior.

“Some children have never known a dark night even though they have no electricity,” wrote one environmentalist after a visit.

The response for decades from the oil industry was that there was no market for the gas so the only option was to flare it. This disingenuous response has become more and more untenable over the years as environmental standards have increased worldwide.

Witness Describes Horrific W.Va. Pipeline Inferno

To Sue Bonham, it was as if the world were coming to an end: A wall of flame had suddenly engulfed her West Virginia neighborhood. Amid a deafening roar, objects began crashing through her ceiling. Her home began melting around her and a nearby house, her step-daughter’s, collapsed in a heap of ashes.

GAO Suggests Tighter Rules for Gas Pipeline Shutoff Valves, Emergency Response

Federal and state regulators should require natural-gas pipeline operators to install automatic shutoff valves or take other measures to ensure they can quickly stop the flow of gas during an emergency, the Government Accountability Office said Monday.

State, federal policy changes could create ‘uncertainty’ in Louisiana natural gas industry: LSU expert

Louisiana’s natural gas industry is booming. With prices at new lows, more than $60 billion in manufacturing investments are planned over the next four years, an LSU study released last week said. However, imminent state tax and federal environmental policy shifts could create uncertainty in the otherwise robust industry, an LSU expert said Monday.

EPA threatened with lawsuit over W.Va. waterways

Environmental groups that have spent years suing coal companies over water pollution in West Virginia are now setting their sights on federal regulators, accusing the Environmental Protection Agency of failing to ensure the state adequately enforces the Clean Water Act.

Miss. Gov. Bryant releases plan to spend BP oil spill money

Gov. Phil Bryant’s plan for restoring Mississippi’s coastal areas with funds from the BP oil spill focuses on workforce training and programs to bring more high-tech communications and better transportation services to the region.

GoCoast 2020 report shows how RESTORE Act money should be spent

Gov. Phil Bryant said Mississippi has its play book ready to go when the RESTORE Act money starts flowing to the state.

He and Trudy Fisher, executive director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, presented the final report of the GoCoast 2020 Commission today at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum Convention Center.

BP to learn its fate in Gulf oil spill criminal case

It’s judgment day for BP.

The British oil giant will learn Tuesday whether a U.S. judge accepts or rejects a criminal plea deal the company reached with the Justice Department over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico rig explosion and oil spill.

BP guilty plea for Gulf oil spill to be considered by federal judge on Tuesday

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance will hold a hearing Tuesday on whether to accept a guilty plea agreement by BP that requires the company to pay $4 billion in fines and other payments to settle criminal charges — including felony manslaughter — stemming from the disastrous 2010 Gulf oil spill and the and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Oil spill creates Mississippi River bottleneck

Cleanup crews with booms skimmed oily water from the Mississippi River a day after a barge with more than 80,000 gallons of oil struck a railroad bridge near Vicksburg, spreading a sheen of light crude that kept part of the waterway shut to ship traffic Monday, authorities said.

Cleanup continues after Mississippi River barge oil spill

At least 21 vessels were backed up along the Mississippi River as authorities worked on Monday to clean up an oil spill from a barge that hit a railroad bridge near Vicksburg, Miss

Officials have placed more than 2,500 feet of boom to contain the spill, Petty Officer Jonathan Lally told the Los Angeles Times by telephone. There was no estimate when the spill will be completely cleaned up, he said.

Minor oil spills are often bigger than reported

By analysing satellite images, oceanographers have found that small oil spills in the heavily drilled northern Gulf of Mexico are often much larger than reported. The researchers presented their results last week at the Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill and Ecosystem Science Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana.

BP guilty plea for Gulf oil spill to be considered by federal judge on Tuesday

U.S. District Judge Sarah Vance will hold a hearing Tuesday on whether to accept a guilty plea agreement by BP that requires the company to pay $4 billion in fines and other payments to settle criminal charges — including felony manslaughter — stemming from the disastrous 2010 Gulf oil spill and the and sinking of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig.

Columbia River oil spill leads to $405,000 state fine

The owner of an old Liberty ship that sank and spilled oil in the Columbia River during an illegal salvage operation will be fined $405,000 by the state Department of Ecology.

The spill prompted a 10-month cleanup and removal project, which cost taxpayers $22 million in federal funds. The state spent an additional $680,000 on the cleanup.

Oil-spill cleanup efforts continue at Lake Keystone

Cleanup efforts on Lake Keystone are ongoing after the spill of about 4,800 gallons of crude oil from a tanker truck that overturned down a rocky embankment Saturday.

Nigeria: Shell Spills Over 26,000 Barrels of Oil in 13 Months

Shell Petroleum Development Company, SPDC, spilled in excess of 26,411 barrels of oil in 13 month period, January 2012 to January 2013.

At an average oil price of $112/barrel in 2012, according to US-based, Energy Information Administration, EIA, the volume spilled could have been sold for about $2.96million or N443.71million at ex exchange rate of $1 to N150. The amount is enough to fund a major infrastructure project in Nigeria.

Keystone pipeline pact reached between TransCanada, protesters

TransCanada Corp. has reached an agreement with protesters to end months of blockades and demonstrations aimed at disrupting construction of the Keystone XL Canadian tar-sands pipeline in Oklahoma and Texas.

Keystone XL work veers onto wrong land

TransCanada contractors building the Keystone XL pipeline mistakenly planned their route and cleared several hundred feet of land through public property they had no right to work on, an Angelina County official told FuelFix.

Officials noticed the mistake after protesters set up in trees in Angelina County to oppose work on the pipeline, which is intended to link the Texas coast with Canadian oil sands fields.

New Video Explains Climate Threat from Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline

A new video released by Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and 350.org explains how the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is a lynchpin enabling the climate intensive tar sands industry to grow unimpeded. The video discusses cutting edge research from Oil Change International showing how tar sands oil causes more carbon pollution than originally estimated.

There’s a chip for that?

Experts are wary of device said to offset cellphone radiation

As the number of cellphone users has increased, so has concern over the potential health effects related to the release of microwave radiation emitted by the phones. Though studies have not shown a consistent link between cellphone use and cancer of the brain, nerves and other tissues of the head or neck, the market for protective devices is growing.

Mobile operators dismiss radiation health warning report

South African mobile heavyweights, Vodacom and MTN, have criticised a report warning against the harmful effects of using mobile phones.

The report, conducted by the BioInitiative Working Group 2012, warns that evidence for risks to health from electromagnetic fields and wireless technologies (radiofrequency radiation) has “substantially” increased since 2007.

The report, which reviewed over 1,800 new scientific studies, says that mobile phone users, parents-to-be, young children and pregnant women are at particular risk. It points to an increased risk of getting a brain tumor, while dozens of new studies have also linked mobile phone radiation to sperm damage.

Cell phone imitations harmful – BTA

The Botswana Telecommunications Authority (BTA) says in its concerted efforts to rid the market of sub-standard cellular phones, it does not intend to stifle developments but to ensure the devices meet global standards.

Are you living close to ‘cancer generator’?

Many people are concerned about devices that generate RF radiation, such as cell phones, but now looming as a possible health threat are the related cell towers and Wi-Fi antennas that broadcast the signals.

There is a growing body of evidence the concerns may be valid.

New NRA rules tough on tsunami, could delay reactor restarts

The nuclear industry watchdog is pitching new safety standards on earthquake and tsunami preparedness, which could substantially delay restarts of some idled nuclear plants.

The draft outline of the new standards, presented on Jan. 29 by an expert panel of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, calls for broad measures against the highest possible tsunami.

Fukushima kids’ thyroids said safe

Radiation levels in the thyroid glands of 1-year-old children living around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant are estimated to be less than 30 millisieverts in most cases, a research team at the National Institute of Radiological Sciences said Sunday

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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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