Environmental Must-Reads – July 15, 2014


Stunning Timelapse Map Shows 14 Years Of Fracking In The US

DrillingInfo.com engineering research analyst Kevin Thuot has put together this stunning timelapse map showing the history of U.S. unconventional oil and gas drilling starts — that is, the recent history of fracking.

It all starts in the Barnett play near Wichita Falls, Texas, then shifts west up into Colorado and down into Texas’ Permian. In 2007, we start to see the stirrings of the Bakken, which is a raging boil by 2013. Finally, around 2011 the Eagle Ford in southern Texas, as well as Pennsylvania’s Marcellus gas plays, materialize practically overnight.

USGS: 7 small earthquakes shake central Oklahoma

The U.S. Geological Survey has recorded seven small earthquakes shaking central Oklahoma in a span of about 14 hours.

The temblors are part of an increase in earthquakes across Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas that some scientists say could be connected to the oil and gas drilling method known as hydraulic fracturing, and especially the wells in which the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Hundreds protest US plans to export fracked gas

Hundreds of protesters marched Sunday in Washington, D.C., to show their opposition to a planned natural gas export terminal in Maryland that would ship gas fracked in the United States overseas to Asia.

The Stop Fracked Gas Exports rally, backed by more than 40 environmental groups, called on the U.S. Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulations Committee (FERC) to halt final approval of a port they say will endanger local health and safety.

Residents protest Md. liquid natural gas facility

It could have an impact on everything from global energy economics, to the air we breath, to the front yards of a local neighborhood. Hundreds protested Sunday at the Capitol ahead of an expected September decision on a liquid natural gas (LNG) export facility in Lusby, Maryland. It’s an issue that has made a lot of people “Fracking” mad.

They are opposing Dominion Resources’ proposal to use the Cove Point, Maryland LNG facility to export the fuel overseas. Dominion Resources promotes the $3.8 billion upgrade as a way to bring thousands of jobs and 40 to 45 million dollars into the local economy,

States With Fracking See Surge In Earthquake Activity

States where hydraulic fracturing is taking place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be to blame, especially the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

Fracking FAQ: What’s the link between injection wells and earthquakes?

States where hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) takes place have seen a surge in earthquake activity, raising suspicions that the unconventional drilling method could be responsible. Blame is focusing on the wells where the industry disposes of its wastewater.

Fracking generates vast amounts of wastewater, far more than traditional drilling methods. The water is pumped into injection wells, which send the waste thousands of feet underground. No one knows for certain exactly what happens to the liquids after that. Some scientists wonder whether they could trigger quakes by increasing underground pressures and lubricating faults.

Denton To Vote On Fracking Ban

The city of Denton could take another step Tuesday toward becoming the only Texas city to permanently ban hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

The city of Denton sits above the Barnett Shale, one of the country’s largest natural gas fields. There are already nearly 300 active gas wells within city limits said to have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth.

Judge tosses suits challenging fracking delay

A state judge on Monday blocked attempts to force Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration to decide whether to authorize large-scale hydraulic fracturing.

Acting Supreme Court Justice Roger McDonough of Albany County tossed a pair of lawsuits Monday afternoon, ruling that a group of upstate landowners and the bankruptcy trustee for a defunct oil-and-gas company lack the authority to bring the legal challenge.

PBS focusing ‘Nova’ lens on Bayou Corne sinkhole

The Public Broadcasting Service television series “Nova” is working on a documentary about the sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.

“Nova” producer Larry Klein said a film crew associated with the science program finished up four days of interviews and shooting Friday in Bayou Corne. Klein says a one-hour program is set to air in the winter of 2015.

Researchers say Gulf of Mexico oil spill must have caused lesions in fish

Oil that matches that of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been found in the bodies of sickened fish, according to a team of Florida scientists who studied the oil’s chemical composition.

“We matched up the oil in the livers and flesh with Deepwater Horizon like a fingerprint,” said lead researcher Steven Murawski, a professor at the University of South Florida’s College of Marine Science in Tampa.

Source Of Lackawanna River Oil Slick Identified

The state has traced the source of an oil spill in the Lackawanna River in Scranton: an oil tank on property owned by Dunmore businessman Louis DeNaples.

A black line staining the leaves along the Lackawanna River near Poplar Street in Scranton shows how high the water was after last week’s rain. It also shows what’s left of a fuel oil spill that spread through several miles of the river.

Leaking valve caused fuel oil spill into Lackawanna

Details of last week’s fuel oil spill became less murky Monday as environmental regulators continued their cleanup and investigations.

A large, rusty tank holding fuel oil leaked onto the grounds of a former heating facility at 1220 N. Washington Ave. in Scranton. It flowed into the sewer and then to the Lackawanna River, affecting a reach from the Poplar Street bridge to the Davis Street overpass in Taylor. A fisherman reported it to the state Department of Environmental Protection on Saturday.

Indonesian fishermen want Montara oil spill investigated

A lawyer representing Indonesian and East Timorese fishermen is in Canberra today pushing for a full scientific investigation into the impact of the 2009 Montara oil spill in the Timor Sea.

Considered one of Australia’s worst environmental disasters, the Montara well, owned by PTTEP Australasia, spilled millions of litres of oil into the sea off the Kimberley coast, during the months it took to stop the leak.

Steaming may have caused endless Alberta oil spills, company admits

For the first time, Canadian Natural Resources, Ltd. has admitted a series of never-ending spills on its property could be caused, or at least exacerbated, by its own high-pressure steaming.

Environmentalist critics have been saying so for years. Energy Resources Conservation Board (regulator before Alberta Energy Regulator) suggested as much in its report on another, similar spill in 2009.

Scientists Find Worst Possible Place for Great Lakes Oil Spill

According to a new University of Michigan study commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation, the Straits of Mackinac, a narrow waterway that separates Michigan’s upper and lower peninsulas, would be the “worst possible place for an oil spill in the Great Lakes.”

In one scenario examined in the study and accompanying animations, oil from a hypothetical pipeline break reached Mackinac Island and Round Island after 12 hours and Bois Blanc Island after two days. All three islands are in westernmost Lake Huron, just east of the straits.

First Nations launch legal challenges against Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Project

A number of B.C. First Nations are contemplating legal action related to the Northern Gateway Project.

The Heiltsuk and the Kitasoo-Xaixais have now added their names to the list to ask the Federal Court of Appeal to review the cabinet decision.

They believe the federal government did not take Aboriginal title and rights into consideration when it approved the controversial oil pipeline.

Enbridge concerns loom four years after spill

Though its been nearly four years since the Kalamazoo oil spill, an advocacy group in the northern Lower Peninsula says concerns remain.

The Enbridge oil spill in lower Michigan in 2010 was among the costliest onshore incidents of its kind in U.S. history.

Protest stops construction on Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline in Etobicoke

Approximately a dozen protestors stopped construction work on the Line 9 pipeline in Etobicoke Monday, stating that the existing pipeline was structurally unsafe and posed a danger to local residents and the environment in the area.

The protesters gathered Monday morning under a hydro corridor near the intersection of Rexdale Boulevard and Kipling Avenue, surrounding two construction sites that had exposed the Line 9 pipeline in preparation for a planned flow reversal project.

Trains filled with flammable crude oil threaten area, records show

As many as 40 crude oil trains, each carrying a million or more gallons of the flammable liquid involved in several recent fiery derailments, roll through the Chicago area weekly, documents obtained by the Tribune show.

Everything you need to know about oil trains in Oregon, Washington

A few years ago, trains hauled almost no oil in the United States. But a massive oil boom in North Dakota has pushed an unprecedented amount of crude into the country’s rail system.

Shipments of oil in mile-long trains have jumped. Last year, more than 400,000 tank cars of oil moved around the country, up from just 5,000 in 2006. About 19,000 of those tankers passed through Oregon last year – a 250 percent increase from the year before.

What you should know about crude oil on trains coming through PA

More trains carrying crude oil to East Coast refineries mean a greater risk of accidents. Derailments in Pennsylvania and throughout the country are a signal to some that an accident could be disastrous.

Oklahoma Officials May Reconsider Keeping Oil Train Info Secret

In the wake of deadly derailments, fiery explosions and dangerous spills, the federal government in May ordered railroads to share with state authorities more information about some crude oil shipments.

Some of those trains traverse Oklahoma en route from oilfields in states like North Dakota to refineries along the Gulf Coast of Texas. Citing “terrorism” concerns, Oklahoma’s Department of Environmental Quality has worked to keep those oil and train shipment details secret.

New York won’t further cloak oil train details

New York’s homeland security agency is refusing requests from freight railroads to further restrict public information about their crude oil shipments, concluding it’s not sensitive security information and will be given to local emergency planners.

Federal officials reached a similar conclusion in June, ordering railroads to give state officials details about oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare.

Doubts over ice wall to keep Fukushima safe from damaged nuclear reactors

In fading light and just a stone’s throw from the most terrifying scenes during Japan’s worst nuclear accident, engineers resumed their race against time to defeat the next big threat: thousands of tonnes of irradiated water.

If all goes to plan, by next March Fukushima Daiichi’s four damaged reactors will be surrounded by an underground frozen wall that will be a barrier between highly toxic water used to cool melted fuel inside reactor basements and clean groundwater flowing in from surrounding hills.

6.8-Magnitude Quake Triggers Small Tsunami Near Fukushima, Crippled Nuclear Power Plant Unaffected

A 6.8-magnitude quake that struck off Japan’s northern coast over the weekend has triggered a small tsunami near the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

Japan’s Meteorological Agency said the temblor hit 10k below the sea surface off the coast of Fukushima at 4.22 am.

TEPCO’s rubble removal at Fukushima plant likely spread cesium to rice paddies

Tokyo Electric Power Co. plans to clear debris from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant despite strong indications that earlier removal work contaminated rice paddies far from the stricken facility, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.

The agriculture ministry pointed out the possibility that the removal of rubble from the plant site in August last year spread radioactive substances to 14 rice paddies in Minami-Soma outside the evacuation zone and more than 20 kilometers from the plant.

Return home by villagers near Fukushima nuke plant postponed

The government has postponed plans to lift the evacuation advisory for the village of Kawauchi, Fukushima Prefecture, which was tainted by radiation during the three meltdowns at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant in March 2011.

The government had proposed lifting the advisory on July 26 because radiation levels had fallen, but residents were skeptical of the proposal.

Before and After the Worst Nuclear Disasters in History

There are few sources of energy as fickle and destructive as nuclear power.

When contained and kept under control, it can be a relatively clean way of powering thousands of homes. When an accident happens, the aftermath can be deadly and destructive long after the initial incident.

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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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