Environmental Must-Reads – July 16, 2013


Frac-Sand Mining Boom Adds to Growing List of Fracking Dangers

Barely a day now goes by without further evidence of the harm of fracking.

Last Thursday scientists reported new compelling evidence of the link between fracking and earthquakes. The scientists argue that, due to fracking, U.S. earthquakes have become approximately five times more common in recent years.

Analysis: Fracking water’s dirty little secret – recycling

The oil and gas industry is finding that less is more in the push to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing. Slightly dirty water, it seems, does just as good a job as crystal clear when it comes to making an oil or gas well work.

Exploration and production companies are under pressure to reduce the amount of freshwater used in dry areas like Texas and to cut the high costs of hauling millions of barrels of water to oil and gas wells and later to underground disposal wells.

Fracking at the corner of energy abundance and water scarcity

Fracking for oil and gas amid water scarcity has created a public-private crossroads, with both sides attempting to further their goals, Warren writes. Nowhere is the water-energy nexus so apparent as it is in the fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and gas.

Fracking research: What’s behind EPA’s abandoned studies?

Fracking studies have pit the Environmental Protection Agency against the oil and gas industry, which says the agency has over-reached on fracking and that its science has been critically flawed. The recent closing of EPA fracking investigations has some environmentalists worried that the agency is feeling the effects of industry pressure and tight budgets.

Fate of 200,000 fracking comments unclear

New York’s proposed rules for hydraulic fracturing drew an unprecedented response in January, when more than 200,000 comments were submitted by the public to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Secret Trade Deals Promote Fracking, Threaten Future of American Democracy

We’ve all seen the results in states across the country of the influence that the American Legislative Exchange Council and the Koch Brothers have amassed. And if you think the results of their agenda to hand more and more power to corporations at your expense are bad, you should really hate the new “trade” deals being negotiated to hand even more power to corporations at our expense.

Good Governors Don’t Frack Their People

On July 13th, over a hundred Coloradans from across the state gathered outside the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) meeting at the St. Regis Resort in Aspen to tell Governor Hickenlooper and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking and yes to a renewable energy future.  The demonstration outside the Democratic Governors Association’s “Summer Policy Conference” was organized by 350 Colorado and other members and allies of Protect Our Colorado, a statewide coalition dedicated to protecting Colorado from fracking.  The groups sought to ensure that these important state leaders and presidential hopefuls know that support for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is unpopular with voters and to urge them to chart a course for a renewable energy future.

Oklahoma is No. 2 in Oil Spills

There were 951 oil spills reported in Oklahoma last year, more than every other major energy state state except North Dakota, EnergyWire reports.

The news service has been trying to count the number of spills in the U.S. and measure their impact, but has been stymied by haphazard reporting of spills, which “are scattered amid databases, websites and even file drawers of state agencies across the country”

Fire Reported at Gas Well Pad in Wetzel County, WV

According to the New Martinsville Fire Department, the fire broke out shortly after 6:30 p.m. in a flare tube that had blown apart at the Lemons Pad off of American Ridge Road. A small fire was reported at a gas well pad in Wetzel County on Saturday night.

Ohio Fights Back After Becoming the Nation’s Fracking Waste Dump

For those living in Ohio, hydraulic fracturing wells aren’t the only cause of concern in the nation’s quest to leave no oil formation un-fracked. The state has been the site of a growing fracking fluid disposal industry that enjoys a steady stream of business from neighboring Pennsylvania.

North Dakota oil output tops 800,000 bpd in May

Oil production in North Dakota topped 800,000 barrels per day for the first time ever in May, the state regulator said on Monday, adding that output this summer will exceed earlier expectations as firms clear a backlog of wells waiting to be fracked.

Cabot Gas Well Linked To Methane Leakage Will Be Plugged

A natural gas well in Dimock Township, Susquehanna County, that has been the subject of a state investigation into methane leakage will be plugged after the investigation is completed, according to The Scranton Times Tribune.

The state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has deemed the Cabot Oil and Gas well “unviable”

3 Years Of Gulf Oil Spill Photos Show Ongoing Impact

July 15, 2013 marks the third anniversary of BP stopping an uncontrolled flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Nearly three months after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded and killed 11 men, BP capped the undersea well that had leaked millions of barrels of crude and fouled thousands of miles of shoreline.

In June 2013, BP and the U.S. Coast Guard announced an end to “active cleanup operations” in Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. Yet cleanup work continues for dozens of miles of Louisiana coastline.

BP launches hotline for reporting allegations of fradulent Gulf of Mexico oil spill claims

British oil giant BP has launched a hotline for people to report allegations of fraud relating to its multibillion-dollar settlement with Gulf Coast businesses and residents that lost money in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

Anadarko to face investor suit over BP spill, judge says

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., a partner in the BP (BP/) Plc well that blew up in 2010 and triggered the largest U.S. offshore oil spill, must face a lawsuit claiming it misled investors, a judge said.

BP looks to shave more money off Gulf oil spill fines tab

BP is asserting that roughly 10 percent of the crude that entered the water during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill should not be counted in the civil fines it faces because the oil dissolved before reaching the surface, the U.S. government said in court papers Monday objecting to the  argument.

If BP were to win the argument, that could shave up to another $1.7 billion off the Clean Water Act fines it faces.

Oil Spills Fast Facts

Here’s a look at what you need to know about oil spill disasters.

Spill estimates vary slightly by source.

Official claims sinkhole depth exceeds estimates

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

Post-Katrina military commander joins Bayou Corne residents to advocate for sinkhole action

Retired Lt. Gen. Russel Honoré, best known in Louisiana as the commander of the military task force that responded to Katrina, has joined residents affected by the Assumption Parish sinkhole in demanding action from the federal government and officials with the Texas Brine Co. The 15-acre sinkhole has forced the evacuation of 350 residents since it was discovered in August.

Lake Peigneur hearing rescheduled for August

Residents around Lake Peigneur had their hearing with the state postponed on Friday due to technical issues with their lawsuit. Residents are suing the Department of Natural Resources for not conducting an environmental impact report on the mysterious bubbles in the lake. And are concerned two more salt dome caverns in the lake will make matters worse.

State’s expert to share assessment of sinkhole

The Louisiana Office of Conservation’s hired expert is expected to provide his initial assessment at 6 p.m. Tuesday of critical seismic data collected earlier this year around the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole, officials said Monday.

Shell’s biggest oil platform heads for deep-water Gulf

Shell’s Olympus platform is finally embarking on its last epic voyage.

The Dutch company’s biggest and recently constructed tension leg platform started its final pre-production journey on Sunday, setting sail from the construction dock in Ingleside, Texas (near Corpus Christi) for a 425-mile voyage to the Mars B Field in the Gulf of Mexico.

Congressman Tim Griffin visits Mayflower Oil Spill site

Congressman Tim Griffin visited Mayflower Monday morning as cleanup efforts continue there.

Congressman Griffin has said he’s kept in contact with some of the residents and for some, one of their biggest concerns has been the IRS. After receiving thousands–some $10,000 and others $20,000–from the federal government, the IRS now wants to tax them.

25 Years After Exxon Valdez Oil Spill, Company Still Hasn’t Paid For Long-Term Environmental Damages

The long-term plan for rehabilitating damaged resources has yet to be implemented a full quarter century after the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spewing more than 11 million gallons of crude oil into the surrounding ecosystem.

Oil spill specter shadows Minnesota rail towns

Christie Eichholz once thought that the trains passing just a few blocks from her house were filled with harmless grain.

Then earlier this year, a train derailed a mile north of town, spilling 15,000 gallons of North Dakota crude into the snow. Ten days ago, an explosion and fire caused by 70-plus derailed oil tankers in Canada left 50 presumed dead.

Now, the familiar trains appear more ominous, she said. “To me, it’s definitely concerning.”

Police recover 2 more bodies in wreckage of Quebec oil train derailment that killed 50

Police have recovered two more bodies in the wreckage of a runaway oil train’s explosive derailment that killed 50 people in a Quebec town.

Provincial police Inspector Michel Forget said Monday that 37 bodies have been recovered and 13 remain missing.

Lawsuit pursued in Canada oil train derailment

Two residents of a Quebec town devastated after an oil train derailment killed 50 people have registered a motion to file a class-action lawsuit against the U.S. rail company and some of its employees.

Oil pipeline in Archie, Mo., sparks worry over water

A proposed oil pipeline set to pass just north of the small rural community of Archie, Mo., has brought concern for the local water supply, along with hope for an economic shot in the arm.

Enbridge Energy’s “Flanagan South” pipeline would run roughly parallel to an aging, smaller line for 600 miles from central Illinois to a crude oil terminal in Oklahoma. In Archie, with a population of 1,170, the pipeline must pass under the Grand River, which provides some of Archie’s water supply and nearly all of the drinking water for nearby Adrian, Mo.

Study finds tar sands don’t increase pipeline spills, but this doesn’t mean the fuel is safe

A new study by the National Academy of Sciences found that “pipelines carrying heavy Canadian oil sands fuel are at no greater risk of a spill than those running conventional crude.”

Elana Schor calls the findings a blow to the case against the controversial Keystone XL pipeline

U.S. to reexamine health risks of cellphone radiation

U.S. regulators are looking into how radio frequencies emitted by cellphones and other wireless devices affect people amid lingering concerns about the risks of cellphone radiation.

Fukushima Vegetables Have Bizarre Tumor-Like Growths And Deformities: Is Nuclear Meltdown To Blame For Freaky Produce?

Photos of what look like malformed vegetables from Fukushima, Japan, have surfaced on Imgur. The strange produce have deformities, bumps and lumps all over them, and look like mutant cabbage patch kids beamed to Earth after having been harvested on an alien planet.

Fukushima nuclear plant likely leaking contaminated water into ocean

The nuclear power plant at Fukushima has been leaking contaminated water into the ocean for the two years since the accident that saw three of the plants six reactors suffer a meltdown, according to the head of the Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan.

New fungus discovered in Fukushima

A fungus found in the village of Iitate, Fukushima Prefecture, in 2006 is a new species, it has been learned.

The fungus, named tsubugata-aritake, is a type of tochukaso, or caterpillar fungus, that grows and feeds on insects and is valued as an herbal remedy. The formal acknowledgment came as a German specialist journal on mycology carried a paper on the fungus earlier this month.

State withholds more than 60% of Fukushima cleanup budget

The central government held back more than 60 percent of the 255 billion yen ($2.57 billion) recovery budget earmarked in fiscal 2012 for radioactive cleanup efforts overseen by municipal governments in Fukushima Prefecture.

The central government is directly overseeing cleanup efforts in the vicinity of the stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

Japan Deploys Floating Wind Farm to Fukushima

Japan moved parts of a massive floating wind farm towards waters off the coast of Fukushima on Friday (July 12), two years after a massive disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant.

The first 2 megawatt wind turbine which is 30-stories high in size left Tokyo late last month followed by the massive floating substation.

68 Years Ago: Nuclear Age Born—Amid Secrecy, Cover-up, and Radiation Threat

While most people trace the dawn of the nuclear era to August 6, 1945, and the dropping of the atomic bomb over the center of Hiroshima, it really began three weeks earlier, in the desert near Alamogordo, New Mexico, with the top-secret Trinity test. Its sixty-eighth anniversary will be marked—or mourned, if you will—today, July 16.

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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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