Environmental Must-Reads – June 12, 2013


Chevron CEO: Industry must address ‘legitimate’ ‘fracking’ concerns

The chief executive of oil giant Chevron Corp. says that oil and gas producers must regulate themselves more tightly over hydraulic fracturing to address “legitimate concerns” that the practice is unsafe and harmful to the environment.

NRDC chief: Fracking ‘most complicated thing I’ve encountered’

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, presents a puzzling scenario for environmentalists who want to curb carbon dioxide emissions, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) President Frances Beinecke said Tuesday.

To Frack or Not to Frack in Illinois

When the governors visiting Chicago for the Democratic Governors Association meeting arrive at Wrigley Field Tuesday night, they can expect to be greeted with more than hot dogs and a Cubs game. The Midwest office of Food and Water Watch has organized a demonstration for 5:30 p.m. near the Wrigley View Rooftop, the Waveland Avenue venue for the gubernatorial group’s pre-game reception, to protest the state legislature’s recent passage of the Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act—a measure fracking opponents say is a sorry substitute for an all-out ban or moratorium on the controversial practice.

Frackademia Hits Tennessee

8,600 acres of the Cumberland Forest owned by University of Tennessee-Knoxville will be leased off to the oil and gas industry this August in a new form of “frackademia” – and one of the top financial beneficiaries will be the family of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who sits on UT-Knoxville’s Board of Trustees.

“Frackademia” is usually thought of as “studies” conducted by university-based “frackademic” researchers and funded by Big Oil, the old “Tobacco Playbook” in action. But UT-Knoxville has taken the game to a whole new level, leasing off land it owns so that it can study “best practices” for fracking in the Volunteer State.

Rockland Legislature Bans Radioactive Fracking Waste

A ban on the use of waste products from the natural gas drilling operation known as fracking could become local law with the stroke of the pen from Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef. The Rockland County Legislature unanimously passed the ban on Tuesday, June 4.

Ohio, 11 other states defend fracking in letter to U.S. EPA

Ohio and 11 other states are standing up to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on its plan to investigate the threat from methane or natural gas.

The news actually occurred last month, according to the Marcellus Drilling News.

BP oil spill cleanup complete in Mississippi by mid-June

Active cleanup of the Deepwater Horizon rig oil spill on the Mississippi Coast will end by mid-June, the U.S. Coast Guard and BP announced Monday.

Cleanup efforts by the Coast Guard and BP in Alabama and Florida will also cease, and future response efforts will be handled by the National Response Center. The work will continue along 84 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline, however.

Business Owners Claim Lawyers Won in BP Oil Spill Settlements

BP has announced their cleanup operations have ended in Alabama, Florida and Louisiana. Work will continue along 84 miles of Louisiana’s shoreline.

The Coast Guard will still be responding to any tarballs that may wash up over time. During the process, BP spent more than $14 billion on response and cleanup.

Ecuadorean Amazon oil slick heads towards Peru

An oil spill in the Ecuadorean Amazon is flowing downstream towards Peru and Brazil, heightening concerns about the impact of drilling in one of the world’s last remaining wildernesses.

About 1.6m litres of crude was discharged into a tributary of the Amazon from the Trans-Ecuador pipeline, which was ruptured by a landslide on 31 May.

Ecuador oil spill threatens Brazil and Peru

Brazilian officials have put riverbank communities on alert as oil spilled from a broken pipeline upstream in Ecuador flows toward the country’s Amazon Basin.

A May 31 landslide ruptured the pipeline in the Andean foothills near the Reventador Volcano, dumping some 11,000 barrels worth — 420,000 gallons — of crude oil into the Coca River, which in turn flows into the Napo River, a major tributary of the Amazon.

Bay Springs oil spill state’s costliest in decade

The Bay Springs oil leak that polluted wetlands and waterways four months ago was the state’s costliest pipeline accident in a decade at more than $5.2 million, according to a federal agency that tracks such incidents.

Catastrophic Oil Spill Threat to Canadian River Basin

The Mackenzie River Basin, a vast globally important area in Canada, is at great risk from climate change and a catastrophic oil spill from the tailing ponds of tar sands mining, according to a panel of nine Canadian, American and British scientists.

Keystone XL Lawsuit Filed By Sierra Club Over ‘Deeply Flawed’ Environmental Review

Environmental advocates are mounting pressure against the U.S. State Department over a Keystone XL review process they say is “plagued by conflicts of interest.”

“Imagine if the surgeon general was replaced with a tobacco executive,” Robin Mann, past president and board member of the Sierra Club, said during a press call on Tuesday. “At the State Department, we’re seeing something just as outrageous.”

Secretary Kerry, Investigate Conflict of Interest in Flawed Keystone XL Review

Environmental leaders hosted a press call today to call for a State Department Investigator General investigation of the State Department’s flawed Keystone XL review process and to call on Secretary Kerry to halt the review process until that investigation is complete.

TransCanada Whistleblower Warns Of Shoddy Pipeline Practices

Former TransCanada Corp. employee Evan Vokes’ impassioned testimony before a Canadian Senate committee last week painted “a very, very bleak picture of the pipeline industry in Canada, and probably by extension, the States,” according to Sen. Betty Unger.

Major-league environmental advocate suing State Department over Keystone XL analysis

The Sierra Club, one of the oldest environmental organizations in the US, has announced that it will be suing the State Department for access to documents regarding an environmental review of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

Judge says Keystone XL pipeline suit should go to trial

Opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline won a round in court Tuesday when a judge turned down a request to dismiss their amended lawsuit against the state.

This came a day after the Sierra Club filed a lawsuit in federal court in Washington, D.C., claiming that the State Department is withholding documents related to the project and potential conflicts of interest with the consultant who worked on the report.

Six Reasons Arctic Offshore Drilling Cannot Be Done Safely

The Coast Guard recently wrapped up a hearing about the Shell drill rig that ran aground in December. The rig and its tow vessel were part of Shell’s reckless attempt to drill for oil in the wild and remote Arctic Ocean. Witnesses described the uncertified equipment that broke off the tow, the anchor dropped at the wrong time that could have caused a deadly crash, and the “jelly-like stuff” that killed all four engines because crew members forgot to treat the fuel lines. But when investigators asked why the rig was traveling through notoriously rough waters in the stormiest time of year, the answer had nothing to do with technical or human error: the company wanted to avoid paying taxes in Alaska.

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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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