Environmental Must-Reads – July 18, 2013


States Turn Blind Eye as Fracking Industry Routinely Violates Laws

A scathing new investigation from EnergyWire confirms the worst fears of citizens across the country who live near fracking sites: state regulators are not doing everything they can to prevent oil and gas companies from repeatedly violating the law. EnergyWire spent months analyzing state records.

Study: Toxic air emissions released by local fracking

Results of a study on possible environmental impacts from air emissions stemming from the South Texas oil boom were announced last Friday during a press conference held at the State Capital.

At the sparsely-attended conference, Wilma Subra of the Subra Company — which provides technical assistance to community groups dealing with environmental issues — released the results of a study conducted earlier this year in five South Texas counties, including a dozen sites in Gonzales County.

Interior Chief Defends Federal Fracking Regulations

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell drew on her experience as a former oil-industry engineer to defend proposed federal regulation of hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on publicly owned land.

Testifying to the House Natural Resources committee today, Jewell faced criticisms from Republican lawmakers, who said the department’s proposed rule on fracturing, or fracking, will lead to unnecessary production delays.

California officials wrestle with handling trade secrets on fracking

State officials have been flooded with more than 20,000 comments and suggestions regarding proposed regulations of a controversial oil and gas drilling technique known as fracking, officials said Wednesday.

Members of the California Water Commission voiced concerns of their own Wednesday about whether the state should treat the recipes for some fracking liquids as trade secrets, not to be disclosed to the public.

Fracking spawns a sand mining boom, and some pushback

Sand is a principal component in the hydraulic fracturing process. It has been mined in the United States in rapidly increasing volumes since the oil and gas shale boom began.

Pros and cons of ‘fracking’ debated in Ottawa County

More than 200 citizens showed up at a public meeting to hear the pros and cons of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” at Ottawa County’s Fillmore Street Complex on Wednesday, July 17.

The 2 ½-hour meeting, hosted by the Ottawa County Planning Commission, often pitted state regulators and industry officials against the head of a citizens group that is trying to gather petitions to put a ban on fracking on the 2014 ballot.

New fracking site raises questions in Ottawa Co.

Ottawa County leaders and residents are getting a crash course on the controversial process called fracking, as it now is moving closer to home.

Wednesday night, county leaders are holding a public forum to address questions and concerns, after a permit was approved to allow the process of natural gas drilling in Ravenna, right next to the Ottawa County line.

Landowners: Fracking created toxic damage to land, water

Who is monitoring oil and gas wells in Ohio?

It’s supposed to be the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, but some landowners are unhappy with the ODNR’s responsiveness when land or water gets contaminated through fracking.

Coloradans Urge Democratic Governors to Invest in Renewables, Reject Fracking

On Saturday, July 13, Frack Free Colorado joined Protect Our Colorado and dozens of other groups outside the Democratic Governors Association meeting in Aspen, Colo., to remind the state leaders, that good governors don’t frack their people. The groups urged the attendees, some of whom are presidential hopefuls, to take the lead in building a sustainable, renewable energy future instead of continuing down the destructive path of fossil fuels.

Fracking Our Water Supply: Add a Twist of Lemon, But Hold the Methane Please

Millions of Americans have water purifiers tucked in their refrigerators to make their drinking water taste better and eliminate harmful contaminants. But not even the most advanced Brita filter can handle the latest infiltrator into U.S. drinking water supplies: methane.

State says Coast Guard won’t make BP clean up oil from Grand Terre’s Fort Livingston

Frustrations with the dwindling response of BP and the U.S. Coast Guard to environmental and safety complaints about the removal of oil and cleanup equipment used during BP’s Gulf oil spill in April 2010 bubbled to the surface again at Wednesday’s monthly meeting of the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority.

BP agreed to Deepwater Horizon settlement terms: James Parkerson Roy and Stephen J. Herman

For eighth months, we worked with BP, a host of accountants and other experts to develop a settlement agreement that would fairly and transparently compensate families and businesses that might have been directly or indirectly harmed by the spill. As part of that, BP agreed to objective formulas to determine eligibility as well as compensation.

‘Fingerprint’ solves oil sheen mystery in Gulf

Scientists used chemical analysis to find the source of oil sheens that recently appeared near the Deepwater Horizon disaster site.

Gulf Coast drilling comes roaring back three years after BP spill

The deep-water Gulf of Mexico, shut down after BP Plc’s record oil spill in 2010, has rebounded to become the fastest growing offshore market in the world.

The number of rigs operating in waters deeper than 1,000 feet (300 meters) in the U.S. Gulf will grow to 60 by the end of 2015, said Brian Uhlmer, an analyst at Global Hunter Securities LLC in Houston. As of last week, there were 36 rigs working in those waters, according to industry researcher IHS Petrodata.

In BP Oil-Spill Claims, Spreading Signs of Self-Dealing

The BP spill-settlement scandal is spreading like, well, an ugly oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico.

The controversy concerns a settlement the British oil giant agreed to last year covering one swath of damage claims by private businesses stemming from the 2010 Gulf oil spill. BP (BP) has acknowledged partial responsibility for the original disaster and has pled guilty to federal criminal charges. It has paid out a total of more than $25 billion for cleanup and to meet claims. BP says it plans to disperse billions more, but that it has been besieged by demands for compensation of “fictitious” and exaggerated private claims.

BP Bid for Spill Payment Freeze Gets Friday Court Hearing

BP Plc (BP/)’s request to temporarily halt payments from the court-supervised settlement program set up after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill will be considered at a hearing this week.

BP yesterday asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to suspend payments while Louis Freeh, former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, probes possible misconduct in the claims program. Barbier set a hearing on the motion for July 19 in federal court in New Orleans, ordering responses to London-based BP’s claims to be filed by tomorrow.

After Spill, Gulf Oil Rigs Proliferating

The deep-water Gulf of Mexico, where operations were curtailed after the record 2010 BP oil spill, has rebounded to become the fastest growing offshore market in the world.

The number of rigs operating in waters deeper than 1,000 feet in the Gulf will grow to 60 by the end of 2015, said Brian Uhlmer, an analyst at Global Hunter Securities LLC in Houston. As of last week, 36 rigs were working in those waters, according to industry researcher IHS Petrodata.

Anadarko to Face Investor Suit Over BP Spill, Judge Says

Anadarko Petroleum Corp. (APC), a partner in the 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.

U.S. District Judge Keith P. Ellison in Houston dismissed most of the investors’ allegations yesterday while finding they had sufficient reason to sue over a statement by an Anadarko senior vice president, Robert Daniels, after the spill that the company had no involvement in design or procedures at BP’s Macondo well.

La. seeks $68 million for coastal restoration

The state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority board Wednesday approved sending a state proposal request for $68 million for barrier island restoration and river diversion work to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.

The foundation is directing about $2.5 billion received as part of a criminal settlement with BP and Transocean earlier this year toward restoration work.

Size of Lac Megantic oil spill remains a company secret

The company cleaning the oil out of the Chaudière River in Lac-Mégantic will not say how much they have removed, citing a confidentiality agreement with the Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway.

40 tons oil spilled into sea, Turkish firm admits

Aksa Energy confirmed on July 17 that around 40 tons of fuel oil had been spilled in the sea because of an accident during refueling at Kalecik power plant in Turkish Cyprus, adding that they had taken the necessary measures and the accident did not affect any of the operations at the plant.

Exxon Contests $1.7M Penalty For Pipeline Break

Representatives of Exxon Mobil Corp. appeared at before federal regulators Wednesday to contest $1.7 million in proposed civil penalties over a Montana oil spill.

The penalties stem from a 2011 pipeline break that spilled an estimated 63,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River near Laurel.

A Q&A with chemist and MacArthur ‘Genius Grant’ recipient Wilma Subra, on the Mayflower oil spill

A former vice-chair of the Environmental Protection Agency’s National Advisory Council for Environmental Policy and Technology, Dr. Wilma Subra runs the Subra Company, a consulting firm and chemistry lab in New Iberia, La. that does chemical analysis and provides technical assistance to communities dealing with oil, chemical and hazardous waste spills and pollution. She has degrees in Microbiology and Chemistry from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, and worked extensively in communities along the Gulf of Mexico following the BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill in 2010. In 1999, she was the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant” fellowship for her work. Subra came to Mayflower to see the cleanup efforts and speak to residents on Earth Day in April, and has done independent analysis of data collected by state, federal and other agencies in the spill zone since then.

The Massive Tar Sands Pipeline That No One is Talking About

While concerned environmentalists mobilize in Washington and around the country against the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, another major pipeline is hurtling towards construction and facing little resistance. The proposed Enbridge Pipeline would carry tar sands bitumen from Flanagan, IL, 600 miles southwest to Cushing, OK, a hub where existing pipelines link to Gulf Coast refineries.

Another tar sands pipeline in Midwest seeks fast track

Unlike the Keystone project, which crosses an international border and requires State Department approval, the proposed pipeline has attracted little public attention.

Keystone XL could hike gas prices as much as 40 cents a gallon

If the Keystone XL pipeline is built, Americans could pay as much as 40 cents more per gallon for gasoline in some parts of the country, according to a new report by the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog

69,000 Americans Pledge to Risk Arrest if Keystone XL Pipeline Is Approved

More than 69,000 Americans are pledging to risk arrest to halt the construction of the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline. In a stand of solidarity with those living along the pipeline’s path, residents from across the U.S. are vowing to take part in historic acts of civil disobedience aimed directly at shutting down Keystone XL.

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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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