Environmental Must-Reads – July 21, 2014


Halliburton delayed releasing details on fracking chemicals after Monroe County spill

A fracking company made federal and state agencies that oversee drinking-water safety wait days before it shared a list of toxic chemicals that spilled from a drilling site into a tributary of the Ohio River.

Although the spill following a fire on June 28 at the Statoil North America well pad in Monroe County stretched 5 miles along the creek and killed more than 70,000 fish and wildlife, state officials said they do not believe drinking water was affected.

Frack Quietly, Please: Sage Grouse Is Nesting

In a new oil field among the rolling hills near here, Chesapeake Energy limits truck traffic to avoid disturbing the breeding and nesting of a finicky bird called the greater sage grouse. To the west, on a gas field near Yellowstone National Park, Shell Oil is sowing its own special seed mix to grow plants that nourish the birds and hide their chicks from predators.

And on a 320,000-acre ranch near the northern tail of the Sierra Madres, developers of an enormous wind farm have decided not to plant turbines where some of the best onshore winds in the world blow because it is in prime grouse territory.

Air monitors provided to residents near Marcellus sites

Mickey Gniadek remembers the exact day when he stepped outside his Finleyville home and felt like a fish out of water. It was Dec. 4, 2013.

Gniadek, who had no pre-existing conditions, gasped for air and nearly collapsed from what he believes was a suffocating mix of gases in the atmosphere.

Lease sale held under protest

A U.S. Bureau of Land Management sale of oil and gas leases on public land in central Nevada has been conducted under protest.

Earlier this year, Lander County commissioners, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Yomba Shoshone Tribe and the Gandolfo Ranch filed protests over Thursday’s sale in Reno. The sale also drew more than 30 protesters outside the office where it was staged, and it prompted last month’s filing of a lawsuit seeking to block it by a rural Nevada group called Reese River Basin Citizens Against Fracking.

Energy company addresses Mars parent group’s requests

Rex Energy agreed to conduct hydraulic fracturing during nonschool hours, to erect sound abatement walls and to not flare natural gas at a proposed well site near Mars Area schools, the company announced after a meeting last week with environmental regulators and parents.

The Mars Parent Group is seeking a meeting of the Mars Area School Board, parents and Rex Energy about the company’s proposal to drill near school property and asked the school board on Tuesday for help in fighting applications for drilling permits.

California Halts Injection of Fracking Waste, Warning it May Be Contaminating Aquifers

California officials have ordered an emergency shut-down of 11 oil and gas waste injection sites and a review more than 100 others in the state’s drought-wracked Central Valley out of fear that companies may have been pumping fracking fluids and other toxic waste into drinking water aquifers there.

NYC billionaire to spend money in Pennsylvania gubernatorial campaign

Billionaire Tom Steyer and his Super PAC, NextGen Climate, are making big moves in Pennsylvania this year.

The organization aims to call out elected officials who deny the existence of climate change while working with those who are fighting to stop it. In Pennsylvania, it has its eyes on the gubernatorial race between Republican Gov. Tom Corbett and Democratic challenger Tom Wolf.

Pa. agrees to hold off on new drilling leases as lawsuit over forest, park land use proceeds

The Corbett administration and an environmental group said Friday they struck a deal that will prevent a loss of funding for the Department of Conservation and Natural Resources while the group’s lawsuit seeking to stop natural gas drilling in state-owned parks and forests goes forward.

Coal Fuels Brewpubs in Wyoming as Kentucky Mines Misery

Trying to find the boom in U.S. coal? Stop in the Gillette Brewing Company in Wyoming, which 38-year-old Tom Gorton opened using some of the $70,000 a year he earns mining coal.

“Things were iffy there for a little bit, but it’s picking up now,” Gorton said at his brewery in the center of town, where customers wash down brie baked in a wood-fired oven with gluten-free blue agave ale. “When people have a little extra money, that changes things.”

In US energy boom, who decides if fracking comes to town?

Americans across the country are weighing the benefits and downsides of increased domestic energy production, and the controversial new technologies that come with it. Increasingly, they’re also debating who gets to decide when and where fracking happens, or if it takes place at all.

Hickenlooper asks public to reject oil and gas limits

A day after giving up on efforts to call a special legislative session on oil and gas drilling, Gov. John Hickenlooper appealed to the public Thursday to decry possible ballot measures to curb the industry.

Hickenlooper joined dozens of industry allies to say that proposed ballot measures to increase drilling setbacks and add environmental protection rights to the Colorado Constitution could cost thousands of jobs.

Residents mobilize against proposed petroleum dump-site near Edgemont

Even though the proposal was approved by the county commission, a group of Fall River County residents wants a public referendum to determine if a company should be allowed to open a new dump site in Edgemont for petroleum-contaminated material.

On Friday, Susan Henderson, an Edgemont rancher and Fall River County commission candidate, said that the group was confident it will get enough signatures on a petition that would trigger a public vote in November on the proposal by High Plains Resources, which wants to create a five-acre dumping site for oil field wastes about a mile west of Edgemont.

Two drilling companies sue Broadview Heights over ban on oil and gas wells

Two drilling companies with natural gas and oil wells in Broadview Heights have sued the city over its prohibition against future wells.

Bass Energy Co. Inc., of Fairlawn, and Ohio Valley Energy, of Austintown, said the state of Ohio, not Broadview Heights, has sole authority to permit or deny drilling and to regulate wells.

Cleanup of a Hudson spill itself couild harm species

In the event of an oil spill on the Hudson River, the methods used to clean up the mess could pose as much harm to 17 endangered species that live there as the spill itself — something that federal agencies have failed to consider, an environmental group argued in a complaint filed Thursday.

The suit, by the Center for Biological Diversity, was prompted by the dramatic increase in shipments of crude oil by barge and rail along the Hudson from Albany to refineries in New Jersey, and the increased possibility for an oil spill to occur, said Mollie Matteson, a senior scientist with the center.

Feds approve oil exploration off US Eastern Coast

The Obama administration has sided with energy developers over environmentalists, approving the use of underwater blasts of sound to pinpoint oil and gas deposits in federal Atlantic Ocean waters.

The regulatory decision is the first real step toward what could be an economic transformation in East Coast states, potentially creating a new energy infrastructure, thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in tax revenue. But it dismayed people who owe their livelihoods to fisheries and tourism, and activists said it stains President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy.

$15M earmarked for La.’s Gulf oil spill litigation

Lawmakers added $15 million Friday to the attorney general’s budget to pay for Louisiana’s ongoing legal case against BP for damages caused by the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

Without the money, Attorney General Buddy Caldwell’s office had said its casework would grind to a halt in the current fiscal year that began July 1.

Victims say they have no recourse as BP ends internal claims program

Four years after the Deepwater Horizon explosion devastated the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 and gushing more than 200 million gallons of oil into the water, the company found responsible has shut down an internal claims program utilized by small business owners, injured rig workers and even casino companies affected by the disaster.

Newly-discovered Gulf crustacean named after Deepwater Horizon oil spill researcher

A newly-discovered deep-sea crustacean has been named in honor of Dr. Paul Montagna, Endowed Chair for Ecosystem Studies and Modeling at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, for his long and distinguished career studying marine ecosystem dynamics in the Gulf of Mexico.

Costa Concordia oil spill ‘nothing to worry about’

The operation to remove the Costa Concordia from the island of Giglio in Italy has caused a small oil spill, officials say.

The removal operation team said “a small amount of hydrocarbons” had been spotted late on Saturday. Salvage workers started cleaning up the spill on Sunday.

Costa Concordia: emergency response teams rush to deal with oil spill before it is towed away

Emergency response teams rushed to deal with an oil spill from the wreck of the Costa Concordia as salvage experts prepared to tow the crippled ship away from the island of Giglio on Tuesday.

The oil leaked as the 115,000 tonne luxury liner continued to rise in the water, with engineers pumping compressed air into 30 huge steel compartments attached to the hull of the ship, forcing out sea water and providing buoyancy.

DEP reports ‘light’ oil spill on Monongahela River

Investigators found a light, petroleum-like sheen on the Monongahela River this morning. John Poister, spokesman for the Department of Environmental Protection Southwest region, said the agency received a call around 7 a.m. Sunday from Allegheny County Department of Emergency Services about reports of boaters near the river who saw the sheen in the vicinity of the W.D. Mansfield Bridge in Dravosburg.

Tar sands battleground: South Portland

As the city of South Portland geared up for a specially scheduled meeting on the latest proposal to keep tar sands – or oil sands – from flowing through the city’s industrial waterfront, supporters of the ban cried foul: Outsiders were interfering in the city’s business.

Pipeline company faced $270K in penalties

The company responsible for a recent natural gas pipeline accident that spewed a hazardous substance outside a small town in eastern Kansas has faced more than $270,000 in fines for problems elsewhere along its pipelines since 2006, according to federal records.

March against climate change crosses pipeline’s path

Corn grew to the left, soybeans to the right and gravel crunched under their feet on Road 22 Saturday afternoon as about 70 Nebraskans met 35 marchers who are on a cross-country trek to inspire action in combating climate change.

Enbridge pushes new pipeline through north Macomb

Enbridge workers used five cranes to lower a 100-yard section of 30-inch steel pipeline into a 4-foot deep trench in Richmond Township in cornfields east of Memphis Ridge Road and south of Weber Road. A makeshift roadway, bulldozed across the fields on the south side of the trench, oozed with mud on July 9, a day after torrential downpours slowed the progress of replacement Line 6B. Four-wheel drive pickups and SUVs slalomed in the muddy ruts and powered over the log mats – portable wood roads, 40 feet long and 10 feet wide, constructed of 10-by-10-inch logs, used for traction and support in marshy areas – on their way to the lowering site.

Why Enbridge is replacing Line 6B instead of the older Line 5

The energy transportation company Enbridge is in the process of replacing its infamous oil pipeline known as Line 6B, which runs from Griffith, Ind., to Marysville. The line ruptured near Talmadge Creek in 2010, dumping more than 800,000 barrels of crude oil, which ultimately reached the Kalamazoo River. It was the largest inland oil spill in American history

Doctors speak out against Enbridge

A group of Prince George doctors has come out against the proposed Northern Gateway pipelines.

The 18 doctors declared their stance in a full-page ad in the Citizen last Saturday. Similar ads with more doctors added to the list will appear again this coming Saturday and on Aug. 9, according to Dr. Marie Hay, a pediatrician and one of the doctors opposed to the development of the twin pipelines from northern Alberta to Kitimat.

Government doesn’t find oil train safety too slick

North Dakota’s Bakken oil patch has thrived, thanks in large part to the once-niche business of hauling fuel on U.S.rail tracks. New safety rules may now test the oil train model.

Within weeks,the Obama administration is due to unveil a suite of reforms that will rewrite standards conceived long before the rise of the shale oil renaissance, at a time when crude rarely moved by rail and few Americans had ever seen the mile-long oil trains that now crisscross the nation.

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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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