Environmental Must-Reads – June 13, 2013


Frackademia: University of Tennessee Set to Lease Forest For Fracking, Enriching Governor’s Family

Eight thousand and six hundred 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.

In Amish country, trading fracking rights for a pittance

Some energy companies are offering Amish farmers in eastern Ohio a pittance to drill on their land, according to an article in the New Republic. The problem is that once the farmers realise that they have signed away their land for a mere fraction of its real worth, Burgess writes, they are unable to sue in court because their religion does not permit lawsuits.

California Fracking Bill Could Bring Accountability to Oil Companies

A bill being considered by lawmakers in California may bring increased accountability to oil companies who engage in fracking. Senate Bill 4 passed in the Senate with a 29-11 vote and is now in the hands of the Assembly.

Residential Water Well Fails in Michigan After Fracking Begins Nearby

As Encana’s fracking operation continues in Rapid River Township, local residents are losing water pressure and water coming out of the tap looks like milk.

Last week, fracking operations at the Westerman 1-29 HD1 continued, despite ongoing issues with the water supply on the pad. The additional water wells installed on and off the well pad failed to yield sufficient volumes to complete the well and Encana continued to obtain water from the Kalkaska Village municipal system until June 8, when the gas well was finally completed.

New Yorkers to Rally Against Fracking and In Support of Renewable Energy June 17

On June 17, thousands of New Yorkers from across the state will attend the “NY Crossroads” rally and march against fracking and in support of renewable energy.

Over 100 co-sponsoring organizations from across the state and the nation will be represented. Speakers will include former Congressman Maurice Hinchey, Lois Gibbs, Jim Dean of Democracy for America, Mark Jacobson, Arun Gandhi, Oren Lyons and Phil Aroneanu of 350.org. Music will be performed by Pete Seeger and Natalie Merchant.

BP stops cleanup in three Gulf states — and starts funding a new beachfront hotel

BP’s oil-spill cleanup operations have formally wrapped up in three of the four states that were polluted following the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig in 2010.

DOTD studying La. 70 detour near Assumption Parish Sinkhole

The Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) announced that a feasibility study has been initiated to identify a possible detour route for La. 70 in Assumption Parish and help to identify the cost. The detour route would serve as a primary solution for an alternate road to be built as DOTD continues to study options for the La. 70 bypass route.

Exxon to run more tests on ruptured Arkansas oil pipeline

Exxon Mobil Corp was granted time by regulators to carry out a second round of testing on the ruptured Pegasus oil pipeline, after the firm said an initial investigation into the reason the nearly 70-year-old line failed was not conclusive.

Ecological Oil Drilling: Addressing Oil Seepage in California

“How much oil seeps out from the ocean floor — and into the environment — around the Santa Barbara area? SOS California identifies offshore Santa Barbara as having “the second largest marine oil seeps in the world.” Centered around an area referred to as Coal Oil Point, some 10,000 gallons of crude oil seep from approximately 1,200 fissures in the ocean floor in any given 24-hour period.”

Toxic waste spill in northern Alberta biggest of recent disasters in North America

The substance is the inky black colour of oil, and the treetops are brown. Across a broad expanse of northern Alberta muskeg, the landscape is dead. It has been poisoned by a huge spill of 9.5 million litres of toxic waste from an oil and gas operation in northern Alberta, the third major leak in a region whose residents are now questioning whether enough is being done to maintain aging energy infrastructure.

Oil and gas firm with troubled record hosts safety conference

An oil and gas producer with a poor safety record, including a deadly platform fire in 2012, gathered its vendors Wednesday for a conference on how to provide a safer environment in the Gulf of Mexico, where workers face a fatality rate seven times higher than in other industrial workplaces.

TransCanada Caught Training Police to Treat Nonviolent Keystone XL Protesters as Terrorists

In the midst of recent national controversy surrounding government surveillance of the public, a recent Freedom of Information Act request to the Nebraska State Patrol has exposed evidence that TransCanada provided training to federal agents and local Nebraska police to suppress nonviolent activists protesting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline by arresting them on “anti-terrorism statutes.” The presentation slides, obtained by grassroots landowner advocacy group Bold Nebraska, target Tar Sands Blockade activists by name.

Sixth Maine Town Passes Resolution Opposing Transport of Tar Sands Through Existing Pipeline

Harrison residents voted 156-59 yesterday to pass a municipal resolution stating opposition to sending tar sands oil through ExxonMobil’s Portland-Montreal Pipeline, making it the sixth Maine town to publicly and officially oppose the proposal.

Nebraska’s Keystone XL Lawsuit Can Proceed, Judge Rules

A judge has ruled that opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline in Nebraska can proceed with their legal challenge to a state law that paved the way for a new project route.

Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy on Tuesday rejected a motion by Nebraska state officials to dismiss the lawsuit.

Self-Proclaimed ‘Green Republican’ Has One Climate Policy: Build Keystone Tar Sands Pipeline

In Tuesday evening’s U.S. Senate debate in Springfield, Massachusetts between Rep. Ed Markey (D) and venture capitalist Gabriel Gomez, the Republican nominee uttered a sentence rarely heard from the mouth of a conservative politician.

“I’m a green Republican,” he said. “I believe in climate change, and I believe that humans have had something to do with climate change.”

Analysts: Keystone XL delays won’t stop Canadian crude exports

The longer it takes the Obama administration to make a final decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, the better the opportunity for alternatives that would move Canada’s oil sands crude throughout the United States, energy analysts suggested Wednesday.

Already, old-fashioned rail increasingly is moving high-tech oil harvests across North America, including some supplies that might be carried by Keystone XL.

Norway gives 29 companies Arctic oil, gas licenses

Norway has given companies new licenses to explore and drill for oil and gas off its coast, mainly in the Barents Sea in the Arctic region.

The Ministry of Petroleum and Energy says 29 companies, including Shell, Total and Norway’s Statoil, have been awarded 24 permits.

Is Arctic drilling safe?

The Arctic Circle, the northernmost region of Earth that consists of the Arctic Ocean and the northern edge of eight countries, holds one of the planet’s largest troves of untapped natural energy resources — an estimated 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil (some 90 billion barrels), and 30 percent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas.

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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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