Environmental Must-Reads – July 24, 2013


Kansas Considers New Fracking Regulations, Trade Secrets Still Protected

Kansas’ corporation-regulating body is considering new rules to require companies disclose some information about what chemicals they inject into the ground for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” wells, the Associated Press reported Monday.

Under the proposed rules, companies would have to submit information about each injected chemical to a public state registry, or to the FracFocus.org database. If the company considers the chemical a trade secret, however, this rule does not apply.

ExxonMobil subsidiary, with arm twisted behind back, agrees to treat fracking wastewater

XTO Energy, an ExxonMobil subsidiary, will reluctantly shell out $20 million to properly treat and dispose of fracking wastewater in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. It will also pay a $100,000 EPA fine as part of a settlement agreement [PDF] over water-pollution charges

DOE fracking study does not ease concerns about drinking water threats

Last week the AP reported that a study on fracking being conducted by the National Energy Technology Lab (NETL) in Pennsylvania “shows no evidence that chemicals from the natural gas drilling process moved up to contaminate drinking water aquifers at a western Pennsylvania drilling site.”

The oil and gas industry and others have been proclaiming this as evidence that fracking is safe. They are missing important scientific points

Researcher keeps ear to the ground on impact of fracking

University of Alberta geophysicist Mirko van der Baan is a great listener. For 15 years, he’s been eavesdropping on oil and gas production deep beneath the ground. Now, he’s part of a research team working to help industry minimize the unintended consequences of hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

California Needs a Moratorium on Fracking Now

A recent poll shows a majority of Californians want a moratorium on fracking. Governor Jerry Brown should give the people what they want.

Leadership doesn’t mean sitting out tough battles. Governor Brown should use his executive power to direct DOGGR, the state oil and gas agency, to carry out its statutory duty to prevent oil and gas operations from harming human health, property, or natural resources and impose a moratorium on all new fracking and well stimulation projects until adequate regulatory safeguards are in place.

NY fracking moratorium enters 6th year

New York today enters into the sixth year of a defacto moratorium on whether to allow hydro fracking in the state. Business and industry groups are expressing dismay over what they say is too long a delay.

Section of Interstate 70 Shut Down by Truck Leaking Hydrochloric Acid

A leak from a tanker carrying water mixed with hydrochloric acid residue prompted officials to close a stretch of Interstate 70 near Smithton for more than four hours on Sunday.

Fracking Company Ignores High Fire Risk as Gas Flares in Michigan State Forest

The Encana State Garfield 1-25 HD 1 well is located in Garfield Township, Kalkaska County, MI. Situated amid state forests and palatial wetlands, the natural gas well was completed via the controversial hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, process, in December of 2012, using 12,539,639 gallons of water. The well originates in Section 36 of Garfield Township and the horizontal portion continues into Section 25.

Chevron Anticipates Europeans Prefer Fracking to Putin: Energy

Chevron Corp. (CVX) plans to win over eastern Europeans with the idea of energy independence even after dry wells and government delays led Exxon Mobil Corp. and Talisman Energy Inc. (TLM) to scrap efforts to tap natural gas deposits in Polish shale.

Bringing shale drilling to Europe from North America promises to help the region ease years of dependence on Russian fuel and hurts the Kremlin’s ambition to secure the country’s future as an energy superpower. Use of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, upended the U.S. gas industry, which overtook Russia as the biggest producer, driving prices to a decade-low.

Hurley to consider using town zoning code to ban fracking

The Town Board plans to review how other communities have used zoning rules to ban the natural gas extraction process known as fracking.

The board promised as much during a Monday meeting that included a 15-minute presentation by Sustainable Hurley, a citizens’ group that opposes fracking.

Environmentalists allege constitutional violation in permitting gas storage salt dome construction in Lake Peigneur

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit against a state agency that provided a permit to a company to create two salt domes for natural gas storage in Lake Peigneur just outside of Delcambre.

The lawsuit comes in the aftermath of the Bayou Corne salt dome collapse last year in Assumption Parish that has turned into a 15-acre sinkhole, polluted area water aquifers and forced the evacuation of 350 residents, according to various news reports of the incident.

Fire breaks out on evacuated Gulf of Mexico oil rig after natural gas blowout

A fire has broken out on a blown-out Gulf of Mexico oil rig, the feds have confirmed. 44 workers had been evacuated from the rig and no injuries were reported.

Second phase of BP oil spill trial delayed

U.S. Federal Judge Carl Barbier has ordered a delay in the second phase of the trial over the 2010 BP Oil Spill.

Barbier granted the delay after speaking with counsel from both BP and the plaintiffs’ steering committee. The second phase of the trial was originally scheduled to begin on Sept. 16, but is now set for Sept. 30 so that both sides will have more time to prepare arguments.

Appeals court rejects delay of spill subpoenas

A federal appeals court has denied Transocean’s request to delay enforcement of subpoenas from a federal agency investigating  the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board has been seeking additional documents from Transocean related to the accident, which killed 11 workers and spilled millions of  barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

Rig owner loses round in oil spill document fight

Transocean Deepwater Drilling Corp. has lost a round in its fight to avoid handing over documents to a government board investigating the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion.

Transocean is appealing a federal court order enforcing a subpoena of the documents by the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.

5.7 million litres of oil spilled during derailment in Lac-Mégantic

Late yesterday, Quebec’s Ministry of Sustainable Development, Environment and Parks issued a press release announcing that the total amount of oil spilled during the derailment in Lac-Mégantic is estimated to be about 5.7 million litres.

“If this amount is confirmed, this will be the worst oil spill to have ever taken place in North America, except for offshore spills such as the Deepwater Horizon accident in 2010,” says Steven Guilbeault, Senior Director of Équiterre.

Primrose Oil Spills Continue; Cause Is Still Unknown

Four recent oil spills at a major oil sands extraction site in Canada’s eastern Alberta province are still leaking oil into the ground, and officials aren’t sure what caused them.

Bob Curran, a spokesman for the Alberta Energy Regulator, which is charged with regulating the oil industry in Alberta, told The Huffington that exact details surrounding the May and June spills that occurred at the Primrose extraction site operated by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. are still unknown.

My father’s lessons on life and tar sands spills

When I was growing up, my father, in his boundless wisdom, often told me, “The best kind of lesson to learn is one you don’t have to learn the hard way for yourself.” I was determined to learn everything for myself, and it took me a long time to learn that my father was right.

It’s a lesson our state needs to learn — and quickly — from the nation’s largest oil pipeline disaster, which began three years ago this week and is still unfolding today.

Mobile County Commission seeks greater oversight on oil pipeline issue

Public sentiment against proposed oil projects throughout the county continued at the Mobile County Commission’s regular meeting on Tuesday, July 23.

More than two dozen protesters stood outside Government Plaza during the commission’s morning meeting as the commissioners heard from Larry Godfrey, a west Mobile citizen who lives near Big Creek Lake, where an oil pipeline is being constructed near the city’s main supply of drinking water.

New analysis: As a driver of tar sands expansion, Keystone XL fails President Obama’s climate test

In June President Obama laid out a plan for the U.S. to tackle climate change including a climate test for the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. A new economic and environmental analysis from NRDC makes it clear that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline fails the President’s climate test. Industry analysts agree that Keystone XL is a critical piece of the puzzle for the tar sands industry to build new extraction projects. Tar sands oil production causes the release of huge amounts of carbon pollution from its energy-intensive extraction methods and refining processes.  The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would add 935 million to 1.2 billion metric tons of carbon pollution to our atmosphere—a significant increase in greenhouse gas emissions—over the 50-year life span of the project. Expansion of the very energy-intensive and costly tar sands are not in our national interest and the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline should be rejected.

Yet Another Loaded Keystone Question In Industry-Funded Poll

An industry-backed poll from the National Journal finds most Americans support the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline.

But the survey, which was sponsored by United Technologies, a company that supports the pipeline, has but one question about Keystone — and it’s loaded

Keystone XL appeal going to Greenville court

The next development in the ongoing legal battle over the Keystone XL pipeline in Northeast Texas will occur next week.

Alaska Governor Pursues New Strategy in Push to Open Arctic Refuge to Drilling

After being frustrated for decades in their efforts to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas development, Alaska politicians are trying a new approach that may shift the battleground from Congress to the courts.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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