Environmental Must-Reads – July 19, 2013


USGS Study Connects Earthquake Risk To Wastewater Injection, Fracking Advocates Say, “Who Cares?”

A new study out in Science by US Geological Survey scientist William Ellsworth links earthquakes to wastewater injection sites. These earthquakes, thought to be caused by pressure changes due to excess fluid injected deep below the surface, are being dubbed “man-made” earthquakes.

Another Pennsylvania Wastewater Treatment Plant Accused of Illegally Disposing Radioactive Fracking Waste

A Pennsylvania industrial wastewater treatment plant has been illegally accepting oil and gas wastewater and polluting the Allegheny river with radioactive waste and other pollutants, according to an environmental group which announced today that it is suing the plant.

Fracking Company Agrees to $20 Million Cleanup

An Exxon Mobil Corp. subsidiary today agreed to settle charges it violated the Clean Water Act, pledging to spend about $20 million to better manage wastewater pollution from its fracking operations in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Ohio lawmakers who oppose fracking tax have gotten lots of money from frackers

Oil and gas companies have been on a fracking spree in Ohio for a couple of years now, but they’re not bringing many jobs to the state, so Republican Gov. John Kasich has been trying to get them to give back in another way: via a fracking tax.

With ‘Gasland Part II,’ the battle over fracking’s safety is rejoined

If there is one image that crystallized popular anxiety about the new oil and gas drilling wave known as “fracking,” it is of a Colorado man setting fire to the water coming out of his kitchen faucet. It appeared in a controversial film called “Gasland” made by Josh Fox, a 1995 Columbia University graduate in theater studies.

George Osborne unveils ‘most generous tax breaks in world’ for fracking

George Osborne has infuriated environmentalists by announcing big tax breaks for the fracking industry in a bid to kickstart a shale gas revolution that could enhance Britain’s energy security but also increase its carbon emissions.

The Treasury has set a 30% tax rate for onshore shale gas production. That compares with a top rate of 62% on new North Sea oil operations and up to 81% for older offshore fields

Fracking companies should not get tax breaks, says No 10 adviser

Shale gas fracking companies should not be granted tax breaks, a leading Downing Street adviser has said, because their operations are likely to be profitable without such incentives – even as the government prepared to offer developers a new “pad allowance” for the wells they drill, to encourage more of the controversial exploration.

Hundreds Intervene in Federal Review of Fracked Gas Pipeline

A coalition of environmental groups, along with more than 300 residents are intervening in proceedings over the Constitution Pipeline Project, a 122-mile natural gas pipeline proposed to run through portions of New York and Pennsylvania, subjecting the already unpopular project to an added layer of controversy.

The Most Dangerous ‘Model’ Laws Written by ALEC

The same law that contributed to George Zimmerman walking free out of a Florida courtroom last weekend after taking the life of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin was primarily written by the same super lobbying group behind legislation protecting natural gas companies from disclosing chemicals used in fracking.

How the Obama Administration Is Making Fracking on Public Lands Easier

The Obama Administration has proposed new regulations for hydraulic fracturing on 756 million acres of public and tribal lands. The rules were written by the drilling industry and will be streamlined into effect by  a new intergovernmental task force, established by the president, to promote fracking — a practice that has been linked to water poisoning, air pollution, methane emissions and, most recently,  earthquakes. Environmentalists, many of whom are highly skeptical that fracking can even be regulated, hope to use a brief window for citizen participation in the rule approval process to leverage the growing anti-fracking movement.

Revealed: Gen. David Petraeus’ Course Syllabus Features “Frackademia” Readings

Records obtained by DeSmogBlog pertaining to City University of New York (CUNY) Macaulay Honors College’s hiring of former head of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) David Petraeus to teach a seminar this coming fall reveal that his syllabus features two of the most well-known “frackademia” studies.

State looking into piping problem in cavern near Bayou Corne sinkhole

An internal piping problem inside a Dow Hydrocarbons underground storage cavern in Assumption Parish prompted automatic emergency systems to burn off propylene and shut the cavity, but the situation presents no immediate public safety risk.

BP chief: Oil spill settlement has been ‘hijacked’

BP CEO Bob Dudley says the company’s settlement agreement with victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill has been hijacked and turned into a caricature by the administrator overseeing the settlement payouts.

In an 8-minute interview on CNBC Thursday evening, Dudley characterized the process as a free-for-all, with BP forced make payouts to claimants who weren’t affected by the spill.

BP veteran Browne builds US Gulf oil acreage

Former BP chief executive John Browne is to preside over the biggest set of oil and gas assets in the shallower, mature section of the Gulf of Mexico after buying them from U.S.-based Apache Corp.

Latest spill lawsuit seeks damages from Halliburton for 613 Gulf Coast property owners

A lawsuit on behalf of more than 600 property owners along the Gulf Coast seeks to hold Halliburton Energy Services accountable for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Most or all of the plaintiffs – residents and businesses claiming direct damage from oily water that washed ashore following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in April of that year – already have accepted a settlement with well owner BP PLC.

Judge to weigh suspending BP settlement payments

A federal judge is set to hear BP’s bid to temporarily block all settlement payments to Gulf Coast businesses and residents who claim they lost money after the company’s 2010 oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier scheduled a hearing Friday to consider whether payments should be suspended while former FBI Director Louis Freeh investigates alleged misconduct by a lawyer who helped administer the settlement program.

$16 Billion to be Spent on New Drill Rigs in the Gulf of Mexico by 2015

Deepwater drilling in the Gulf of Mexico has quickly rebounded after the BP oil spill in 2010 to become the fastest growing offshore market in the world, with Brian Uhlmer, an analyst from Global Hunter Securities LLC, claiming that the number of deepwater wells (in depths of over 1,000 feet) will reach 60 by the end of 2015.

Watching Chemical Dispersants at Work in an Oil Spill Research Facility

Last week I had the chance to go back to Leonardo, New Jersey, to observe an oil spill dispersant exercise at the National Oil Spill Response Research and Renewable Energy Test Facility known as Ohmsett (the Oil and Hazardous Material Simulated Environmental Test Tank). Ohmsett is operated by the U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE). The facility features a large saltwater test tank that allows for full-scale testing of oil spill response equipment and technologies. This tank has a large wave generator to simulate the type of conditions seen in the open ocean.

Two weeks on, Lac-Mégantic evacuees still waiting to return home

Until last Sunday, Jacques Audet was spending nights on a cot in Lac-Mégantic’s high school gym.

Now he is staying in a trailer home right behind it.

Mr. Audet is one of 187 people still unable to return to their homes in Lac-Mégantic, nearly two weeks after a train carrying crude oil derailed and flattened the heart of the Quebec town.

Probe of Lac-Mégantic train disaster turns to composition of oil

Federal officials probing the Lac-Mégantic disaster are testing the chemical composition of crude oil carried by the runaway train as they seek to answer the crucial question of what triggered the unusual and devastating explosion after the derailment.

Deadly derailment won’t stop oil on trains

A train loaded with crude oil could soon roll through a town near you.

A fiery and fatal train derailment earlier this month in Quebec, near the Maine border, highlighted the danger of moving oil by rail. But while the practice could be made safer, it won’t be stopped in its tracks. This year, more trains carrying crude will chug across North America than ever before — nearly 1,400 carloads a day. In 2009, there were just 31 carloads a day.

TransCanada ramps up effort to sway U.S. on Keystone XL project

TransCanada Corp. is seeking to bolster its case with U.S. President Barack Obama for the long-delayed Keystone XL oil pipeline, firing off a laundry list of reasons the company says the contentious project will have minimal influence on rising North American greenhouse gas emissions.

U.S. approval of Enbridge pipeline plan irks some oil shippers

U.S. regulators have approved a plan by Canada’s largest pipeline company Enbridge Inc to alter how it calculates the amount of crude shippers can nominate on its export network, a move the company says will cut overbooking on congested lines.

Nobel Laureates Speak Out Against Keystone XL Pipeline

An advertisement in the Washington Post featured a letter from ten Nobel Laureates who are asking President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry to reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline based on its significant impact to the climate.  The advertisement sponsored by NRDC, the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and Environmental Defence Canada reproduced the letter in full which said “as leaders who have spoken out strongly on these issues, we urge you, once again, to be on the right side of history and send a clear message that you are serious about moving beyond dirty oil.”

Turkish Cypriots work to clean oil spill

Dozens of workers on Thursday struggled to contain the pollution caused by an oil spill along the coastline of northeast Cyprus, officials said.

The spill occurred when around 100 tonnes of fuel leaked into the sea when a tanker was offloading at a power plant on Tuesday in the town of Gastrias (known in Turkish as Kalecik).

Big Oil Sues Alaska for $50 Million

Big Oil companies, Trans Alaska Pipeline owners, developers and leaseholders demand refunds of more than $50 million in property taxes they paid to Alaska under protest.

BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Koch Alaska Pipeline Co. and other oil and pipeline companies sued the cities of Anchorage, Valdez, Fairbanks, North Slope and the state, in three state courts

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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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