Environmental Must-Reads – July 15, 2013


Study: Distant Quakes can Affect Oil, Gas Fields

The powerful earthquake that rocked Japan in 2011 set off tremors around a West Texas oil field, according to new research that suggests oil and gas drilling operations may make fault zones sensitive to shock waves from distant big quakes.

It’s long been known that large quakes can trigger minor jolts thousands of miles from the epicenter. Volcanically active spots like Yellowstone National Park often experience shaking after a large distant event.

NE Ohio county had most injected drilling waste

Booming energy production in shale formations has made a northeast Ohio county the top location in the state for underground injection of drilling wastes.

Portage County, home of Kent State University, had enough drilling wastes injected deep into the ground in 2012 to fill a train of tanker cars that would stretch nearly 37 miles, the Akron Beacon Journal reported Sunday.

Shale Shocked: Sharp Rise In U.S. Earthquakes Directly Linked To Fracking Wastewater Reinjection

This double repost excerpts the releases for two new important articles in the journal Science. The first is “Enhanced Remote Earthquake Triggering at Fluid-Injection Sites in the Midwestern United States” (subs. req’d). The second is a review article, “Injection-Induced Earthquakes” (subs. req’d) by U.S. Geological Survey geophysicist William Ellsworth. The first release, from Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, explains

Fracking, Climate Change Stressing U.S. Energy Infrastructure

The combination of fracking and global warming-driven drought is placing an increasing strain on U.S. energy infrastructure, which depends on water for cooling power plants, the Department of Energy has warned. And that’s not all.

A Tale of Two Terminals: Two Proposed LNG Export Terminals in Philadelphia and Maryland threaten the East Coast

JP Morgan, partnering with Loop Capital Markets, is taking preliminary steps toward an eventual two-round series of auctions in an attempt to sell Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) in August. The planned sale of the 176-year-old facility, the nation’s largest municipal gas utility, is rousing speculation about the potential construction of a liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the Delaware River, an effort to capitalize on the state’s natural gas boom in the Marcellus shale fields.

Josh Fox on Gasland Part 2, the Fracking-Earthquake Link & the Natural Gas Industry’s Use of PSYOPs

Scientists are warning that the controversial practice of natural gas hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, may lead to far more powerful earthquakes than previously thought. Fracking injects millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals deep into the earth in order to break up shale rock and release natural gas. A new study published Thursday in the journal Science by a leading seismology lab warns that pumping water underground can induce dangerous earthquakes, even in regions not otherwise prone to tremors. The new report comes as Academy Award-nominated director Josh Fox has released the sequel to his highly acclaimed documentary “Gasland,” which sparked a national discussion on fracking.

Colorado joins in suit to knock down Longmont fracking ban

Gov. John Hickenlooper’s administration has joined a lawsuit, filed by an oil and gas trade association, seeking to invalidate Longmont’s voter-adopted citywide ban on a key drilling technology.

In December, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association filed a lawsuit opposing the ban on hydrofracturing, or “fracking,” in Longmont.

Fracking industry cleanup workers exposed to benzene in Colorado, feds allege

We told you about the drawn-out spill of 241 barrels of natural gas liquids earlier this year at a Williams Energy plant that handles fracked gas in Colorado. It turns out that Parachute Creek and its wildlife weren’t the only things exposed to cancer-causing benzene because of the accident.

Wildlife, Livestock Drinking Fracking Fluids? EPA Says OK

From surface water dumping to well contamination, Wind River Reservation area in Wyoming drenched in fracking’s chemical cocktail

New Yorkers Call for Renewables at Anti-Fracking Rally During Cuomo Fundraiser

Residents gathered today to rally against fracking and for renewable energy outside of Gov. Cuomo’s (D-NY) fundraiser in Syracuse, NY. The concerned residents urged the Governor not to put New York’s clean water, air, environment and economy at risk by allow fracking. Further, they urged the Governor to aggressively invest in renewable energy, which would bring sustainable, good jobs and economic development to New York State without jeopardizing people’s health and existing jobs.

French president vows no fracking while he is president

President Francois Hollande said on Sunday that France would maintain its ban on the exploration for shale gas throughout his five-year term.

“As long as I am president, there were will be no exploration for shale gas,” Hollande said during a Bastille Day interview with top television channels.

Opponents Furious At Plans For Gas Pipeline Under Brooklyn, Rockaways

Opponents protested Sunday against a planned natural gas pipeline that would pass through Brooklyn and the Rockaways.

The three-mile pipeline would run from the Atlantic Ocean beneath Jacob Riis Park in the Rockaways and under Jamaica Bay to Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field. A measure allowing its construction was signed into law by President Barack Obama last year.

Louisiana Seafood: In wake of BP spill and river diversions, oysters show strain

It’s difficult to talk about Louisiana seafood these days without the BP oil spill working its way into the conversation. It wasn’t that long ago, after all, that television screens were filled with high-def images of fouled coastal marsh and angry fishermen forlornly staring at their idled fleet.

But some scientists and fishers say it remains impossible to gauge the 2010 spill’s precise environmental and biological toll. Asked about a 15-percent drop in the statewide oyster harvest in the two years following the spill, experts say the spill definitely continues to be a potential factor, but is only one of several.

Louisiana Seafood: Shrimp, crab catch mixed post BP oil spill, river diversions

While the oyster harvest east of the Mississippi River has dropped precipitously in the years since the BP oil spill and an influx of fresh water from several Mississippi River diversions, white shrimp and blue crab fared much better there.

The oil spill in 2010, followed by the river diversions to fight the flow of the oil and the opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway in 2011 due to flooding concerns, were likely large factors in successive poor oyster harvests, scientists and fishermen say. But not so for white shrimp and blue crabs, which typically survive better than oysters and brown shrimp in fresher water.

BP is just having buyer’s remorse on spill settlement: Jim Hood

Along the Gulf Coast, we are all too familiar with BP’s disingenuous advertisements. Since the Deepwater Horizon disaster on April 20, 2010, we’ve been subjected to BP’s protestations that it is trying to “make things right.” Three years and thousands of ads later, nothing could be further from the truth.

Once a villain, BP plays the victim in claims challenge (George Talbot)

Will BP win its attempt to deny claims sought by businesses in the wake of the 2010 Gulf oil spill?

Don’t bet on it, according to legal experts.

Cleanup of Kalamazoo River oil spill nearing end

Almost three years after a massive oil spill fouled the Kalamazoo River, the end of cleanup efforts could be in sight. But many who live and do business along the waterway are criticizing the latest proposed restoration projects.

Full Extent of Heavy Metal Contamination in Exxon Oil Spill Still Unknown

When a broken pipeline spills oil into a residential neighborhood, the most immediate health concerns are those caused by volatile chemicals—airborne toxins that leave people complaining of symptoms like headaches and nausea and worrying about long-term problems like cancer.

But crude oil also contains small amounts of heavy metals that rarely evaporate into the air. Instead, they stay with the oil as it spills onto the ground and into waterways. These compounds, which include mercury, manganese, nickel and chromium, are toxic at high doses, and some, like arsenic and lead, can damage the nervous system even at relatively low doses. Yet little is known about the potential health risks to people who live near oil spill sites.

2013: The Year of the Deadly Oil Spill?

As the age of coal and oil draws to a close, the “drill baby drill” crowd has become louder and more rambunctious than ever. No longer content to poison our oceans with offshore drilling platforms, tar sands oil has become all the rage.

For years those who see the futility of barreling head first down Hydrocarbon Lane have warned that unleashing Canada’s tar sands would be a climate death sentence. But who cares about the dumb old climate, right? Humans don’t act until it’s personal. Well, now it is.

Official claims sinkhole depth exceeds estimates

An Assumption Parish official said Sunday the deepest part of the 22-acre sinkhole near the Bayou Corne Community is at least 500 feet deep, and not between 110 to 220 feet deep that has been estimated by Texas Brine.

Derailment brings safety to forefront

Baton Rouge officials may not know exactly what potentially hazardous or dangerous materials are traveling on railroad lines through the city at all times, but they do have a nickname for it — “methyl ethyl awful.”

“If people know about the railroad, they feel there’s very little the city can do,” Mayor-President Kip Holden said.

Whether By Train Or By Pipeline, Oil and Gas Transport Is Unsafe

The deadly oil train disaster in Lac Megantic, Quebec on July 5, which (as of this writing) has left 33 people dead, with 17 still missing, and contaminated over 60 miles of local drinking water sources, has initiated a curious response across the media spectrum.

Some observers cite this accident as reason to consider pipelines, rather than trains, as the safer choice to transport oil and gas fossil fuels.

Concerns about transporting oil after Quebec crash

In Canada Saturday, church bells rang out in the small Quebec town of Lac-Megantic to honor the 50 people believed killed in a horrific train explosion one week ago. The disaster near the border with Maine is casting a spotlight on the surging use of trains to transport crude oil supplies.

As Canadian officials investigate the catastrophic train wreck in this small town near the border with Maine, resident Helen Hopkins Greffard questions the railroad’s safety procedures.

Quebec explosion prompts Michaud, Pingree to call for review of Maine’s rail infrastructure

A week after an oil-tanker train exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, leaving as many as 60 people presumed dead or missing, Maine U.S. Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud on Thursday called for a federal investigation into the safety of the infrastructure used to transport crude oil and gas by rail through Maine.

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