Environmental Must-Reads – July 30, 2013


EPA official links fracking and drinking water issues in Dimock, Pa.

Drilling for natural gas caused “significant damage” to drinking-water aquifers in a Pennsylvania town at the center of a fight over the safety of hydraulic fracturing, according to a report prepared by a federal official.

Leaked EPA document raises questions about fracking pollution

The EPA doesn’t seem very interested in finding out whether fracking pollutes groundwater. The latest indication of this emerged over the weekend in the Los Angeles Times.

‘Skies Roast’ Above North Dakota as Natural Gas Flaring on the Rise

Bright torches of natural gas are to become an ever-more common sight along the horizon of North Dakota as the environmentally devastating practice of flaring, or burning off natural gas as a byproduct of oil production, continues to skyrocket, according to a report released Monday by sustainability research group Ceres.

The Fracking Boom: Do We Want to Leave Our Children an Industrialized Landscape?

Last year I traveled to Western Pennsylvania to talk with people living next door to fracking operations. One man showed me the home he built for his wife and three sons on a quiet country road. They loved their rural lifestyle until representatives from an energy company showed up and said they had the right to drill for natural gas beneath the property. Soon a steady stream of trucks arrived with fracking fluids, giant generators, and other heavy equipment, and workers built a large drill pad next to the house. To top it off, the company stationed a security guard right in the middle of the family’s yard.

Fracking lawsuit decision in Barry County case against Michigan DNR expected in three weeks

A Barry County Circuit Court judge will decide within three weeks whether to allow an anti-fracking case to go forward against the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

Pa. Landowners Feel Cheated By Royalty Payments From Fracking

All over Pennsylvania, people have been signing natural gas leases, knowing that they are legally entitled to a certain cut of money from the driller. State law sets the minimum royalty payment at 12.5 percent. But in Bradford County, some landowners think they’re being swindled.

Villages across the UK take up the fight against fracking

The grassroots protests in the village of Balcombe against fracking have sparked a countrywide rebellion as villages up and down the country vow they will also blockade any attempts to drill.

Legal Battles Over Land Rights, Pipelines Are On The Rise

At Margaret O’Keefe’s farm in East Texas, they grow high-quality Bermuda grass. The fields are flat and vibrant green, surrounded by woods of a darker, richer green. The family loves this land. O’Keefe inherited it from her mother, who divided it among eight children.

“She used to call it ‘enchanted valley,’ ” O’Keefe says.

But her “enchanted valley” also lies in the path of the Crosstex NGL Pipeline.

100 Anti-Fracking Activists Overwhelm Injection Well Site in Ohio

Over 100 anti-fracking activists have taken over the entrance to an injection well site in Ohio. The action comes at the end of the weekend-long Don’t Frack Ohio event, which was full of trainings and activities.

Climate Action Plan, EPA and Breast Cancer: We Won’t Trade Our Health for Reduced Carbon Emissions

Congratulations to Gina McCarthy on her confirmation as head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). McCarthy will face many challenges down the road, not least of which will be carrying out the president’s Climate Action Plan. Back in June, when President Obama released his Climate Action Plan Fact Sheet, he asserted our ethical responsibilities when it comes to protecting the environment: “We have a moral obligation to leave our children a planet that’s not polluted or damaged.”’

‘Fire Ice’: Buried Under The Sea Floor, This New Fossil Fuel Source Could Be Disastrous For The Planet

Most fossil fuels that humans burn come from deep reservoirs of oil, or coal mines on land. But a risky, potentially disastrous new technology could mean that a huge new source of greenhouse gases could come from the ocean floor. And new research suggests that submarine earthquakes are already paving the way to carbon emissions we didn’t even know were happening.

Three Years After Gulf Oil Spill, Money Continues to Flow to Region

It’s been three years since the BP gulf oil spill, one of the most high-profile and environmentally damaging man-made disasters in the new millennium. The oil and gas may have stopped flowing into the Gulf of Mexico, the money sure hasn’t. Along with fending off a price-fixing investigation from the European Commission and a U.S. lawsuit, also based on collusion, BP is contending with a rising tide of claims from businesses seeking damages from the 2010 spill.

Lift hold on clients’ Gulf oil spill claims payments, law firm urges judge

A New Orleans law firm representing more than 600 individuals and companies with pending BP oil spill economic damage claims has urged the federal judge overseeing the settlement between BP and claimants to remove his hold on their claims, which was put in place pending investigations into claims processing by the Deepwater Horizon Claims Center.

BP mounts heavy media campaign as judge weighs spill case

BP’s unrelenting attacks against how the Gulf oil spill civil settlement it agreed to is being handled aims to win over the public, but the strategy risks antagonizing a key constituent who is following every word — the federal judge overseeing the case.

Gulf’s dead zone is smaller than predicted, but still a large problem

Measurements and scientific research aside, mud-dwelling crabs and eels swimming at the water’s surface in an attempt to get air was a good indication there are oxygen problems down below in the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s what researchers saw during a research cruise July 21-28 in the Gulf, along with a large, although not record-breaking, area of low oxygen known as the dead zone.

BP’s spill compensation payouts leap in second-quarter

BP Plc’s (BP.L) $20 billion Gulf of Mexico oil spill compensation fund has almost run out after provision for costs so far leaped by $1.4 billion in the second quarter.

Scientists collect water near site of blown well

Scientists from several universities are working to learn whether a gas well that blew wild last week off the Louisiana coast has polluted the Gulf of Mexico.

Feds begin probe of Gulf gas well blowout

Federal drilling regulators on Monday launched a formal investigation into the blowout of a gas well in the Gulf of Mexico last week that forced the evacuation of 44 workers and ignited a fire that raged for nearly two days.

Tourists evacuated as oil blackens Thai beach

Tourists staying at Ao Phrao (Phrao Bay) on Thailand’s island of Koh Samet have been evacuated as the bay turned black from an oil spill over the weekend.

Authorities estimated that around 5,000 liters of crude oil have washed up on the island, having leaked into the ocean from an offshore pipeline belonging to PTT Global Chemical, Thailand’s largest petrochemical producer.

Canadian tribes protest oil pipeline

An aboriginal community in Canada said a regional movement is rising against the environmental threat from tar sands oil.

Obama’s Keystone comments give opponents reason for hope

For those trying to decipher which way President Obama is leaning on whether to grant the Keystone XL pipeline a presidential permit, the comments he made in an interview with The New York Times published this weekend suggest he accepts much of the criticism opponents have lodged against the project.

Mayflower: 4 months after the spill

Oil pouring from the Pegasus Pipeline four months ago, still creates frustration for Mayflower residents. Some residents THV spoke with on Monday said they are not only frustrated and angry at ExxonMobil, but sick.

Exxon response does not indicate pipeline move

In a letter sent last week to Central Arkansas Water representatives, ExxonMobil’s president gave no indication the company is considering moving the recently ruptured Pegasus Pipeline from the Lake Maumelle Watershed.

Quebec train crash: Will oil shipments by rail fall?

The Quebec train crash has sparked a flurry of emergency directives to increase railway safety, but there is no sign of shipments of oil by rail slowing as a result, Burgess writes. Indeed, the oil-by-rail industry is set to grow despite the catastrophic derailment, and amid a criminal investigation that has resulted in a raid on the offices of the train’s operator.

Quebec orders MMA Rail, World Fuel to pay for Lac-Mégantic oil cleanup

The Quebec government has ordered the rail and fuel companies involved in a devastating train crash that killed 47 people in the town of Lac-Mégantic to pay for cleaning up the crude oil that spilled in the town and surrounding lakes and rivers.

Proposed Utah Tar Sands Refinery Faces Massive Backlash

A court battle may be in the future for Calgary-based Oil Company, U.S. Tar Sands. A coalition of conservation groups have filed a “request for agency action,” demanding that the Utah Department of Air Quality (UDAQ) revoke its June 21 approval of an oil refinery in Green River, UT.

UK government unlikely to rethink “complacent” Arctic policies

MPs’ accusations of governmental “complacency” over the Arctic have not prompted any rethink of the upcoming policy framework, according to the Foreign Office.

1 comment

  • The worst thing about fracking is that people think that it will save the world from peak oil and enable them to keep their “modern” lifestyle. The truth is that apart from polluting the environment, fracking will extend our oil dependency and delay the necessary changes we need to make.

    I wish you all the best in your fight against the oil industry!

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

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