Environmental Must-Reads – January 9, 2013


Ideas to Watch in 2013: Traceable Gas-Drilling Fluids

For several years now, I’ve been assessing policies and technologies that might allow the United States and other countries with vast shale deposits of natural gas to harvest this resource with the fewest regrets.

Below you can learn about one nascent technology to watch in 2013: harmless chemical I.D. tags that could make the fluids used in drilling every single gas well individually identifiable, potentially ending fights over the source of any subsequent contamination of water supplies in a drilling area.

Colorado oil and gas regulators gird for more drilling near homes

Colorado’s evolving rule for how close to homes companies can drill for oil and gas would let “surface use agreements” between landowners and companies trump any state buffer rule.

That means companies could drill as close as they can arrange — if they meet notification and mitigation requirements and state regulators sign off. Adjacent landowners would not be able to veto such drilling.

Woodstock residents seek to criminalize hydrofracking

Town residents Tuesday urged the Town Board to encourage state lawmakers to criminalize the natural gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, or hydrofracking.

Ten speakers said the energy industry is seeking to earn profits through a practice they say has been shown to contaminate water supplies. They say the industry has used studies that have been questioned for accuracy, and is not held responsible when problems are found.

Greenpeace’s take on the movie Promised Land: the truth its worse than fiction

The film Promised Land, directed by Gus Van Sant, deals with exploitation of rural America by oil and gas corporations, made possible by the process of fracking. Fracking has become a highly controversial topic in the last few years, due to both its unchecked and unregulated expansion, and because of the environmental destruction this expansion has brought with it. The film in turn has attracted its own controversy, enduring full throated attacks from the oil and gas industry and their shills. So, how accurate is the film?

Fracking Near Vineyards in California a Good Idea?

While winemakers along California’s Central Coast take advantage of growing their vines on soils rich with decomposing shale, allowing for better drainage and root penetration, oil companies, too, have taken notice of the region’s bountiful supplies.

Although drilling operations alongside the Coast’s vineyards aren’t exactly a new trend, the way in which oilers are planning on extracting the oil is. The only way to extract shale is with hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), blasting water and chemicals at high pressures into the ground to break up the rocks and force the oil or natural gas out. Despite the immense gains shale brings to the energy industry, environmentalists, farmers and, now, winemakers fear that fracking could pollute nearby water supplies and increase the risk of earthquakes. Is it worth the risk? Many states across the country are vehemently debating the question.

Should the Drilling Industry Carry Insurance Against Fracking Damages?

At the present the shale drilling industry is not required to carry insurance against any damage it might cause in West Virginia nor most other states. This is consistent with the claim they never do any damage to health, aquifers, livestock, property value, or in fact most anything else. It comes from the story they tell politicians, judges and smaller business men. It results in the hard nose position they adopt in court, and most importantly, helps keep any third party from objective evaluation of their drilling.

BP Oil Spill Cleanup Waste is Cause for Concern

Local and national officials for the NAACP are worried about potentially hazardous waste that’s getting dumped in a Jackson County landfill. Tar Balls, the clean up material from the BP Oil Spill, is getting dumped at the Campbellton landfill. NAACP officials are looking for answers to concerning questions.

Transocean oil spill settlement heads to court

Transocean Ltd. is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in New Orleans Wednesday for its plea agreement with the Justice Department over the company’s role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transocean to make first court appearance for criminal settlement over Gulf oil spill

Transocean Ltd. is scheduled to make an initial court appearance in New Orleans Wednesday for its plea agreement with the Justice Department over the company’s role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP spill payoffs continue; $13 billion earmarked

Those working in the Gulf seafood industry have just two more weeks to file claims for the billions of dollars available to offset economic losses from the 2010 BP oil spill.

But other businesses in the region still have more than a year to submit their claims, until April 22, 2014, and they don’t even have to prove the spill caused their losses.

Oil Sands Industry in Canada Tied to Higher Carcinogen Level

The development of Alberta’s oil sands has increased levels of cancer-causing compounds in surrounding lakes well beyond natural levels, Canadian researchers reported in a study released on Monday. And they said the contamination covered a wider area than had previously been believed.

Oils sands (tar sands) in Canada polluting nearby lakes with carcinogens

Despite what pro-oil sands (also called tar sands) supporters have said, the problem of higher than usual carcinogen levels is what many scientists already suspected following a Canadian study. In addition, the carcinogen levels are more widely disbursed than previously suspected.

US Interior Department launches probe into Shell’s Arctic oil drilling

The US Interior Department has launched a “high-level” review of Shell’s mishap-hit 2012 Arctic drilling campaign, throwing the company’s plans to explore for oil in the region further into doubt.

Shell’s Arctic oil exploration operation faces multiple investigations

As response teams continued Tuesday to evaluate Royal Dutch Shell’s once-grounded oil drilling rig, the Coast Guard, the Obama administration and U.S. Sen. Mark Begich all announced investigations or reviews taking a close look at Shell

Several probes will examine Kulluk drill rig — and other Shell problems

As Unified Command descends on the once-beached Kulluk, combing the drilling rig for clues about its structural integrity and answers to what went wrong during the tow operation, others are peering closely as well.

Pilot of Tanker that Hit Bay Bridge Was Involved in Three Other Accidents Since 2009

The pilot operating the tanker that hit the Bay Bridge yesterday morning had been in three other accidents since 2009, the Associated Press reported.

Guy Kleess, who has been licensed to handle big vessels in Northern California waters since 2005, was found responsible for two of those accidents.

Keystone Pipeline Opposition Grows Nationwide: Protesters Storm TransCanada’s Offices In Texas, Wisconsin, Massachusetts

Protesters yesterday mounted joint occupations of TransCanada’s corporate offices in at least three cities as the increasing protests against the Keystone “Tar Sands” Pipeline escalated into more public, direct confrontations.

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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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