Environmental Must-Reads – June 14, 2013


Single fracking bill remains before California Legislature

The drive to regulate the contentious extraction process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has narrowed in focus: lawmakers have winnowed the file of fracking-related bills to a single piece of legislation.

Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, became the sole survivor after a bill by Assemblyman Bob Wieckowski, D-Fremont, requiring greater disclosure about the chemicals and water deployed during fracking failed to advance in committee Wednesday.

Officials Close Door On More Fracking On State Land

State officials closed the door Thursday on widespread drilling for natural gas — also known as fracking — on state-owned land, at least for now.

But NewsChannel 5 Investigates discovered the state is not ruling out other kinds of mining on state property.

Conoco given go-ahead for fracking exploration in northern Canada

The Sahtu Land and Water Board has approved a proposal to drill and frack two horizontal wells near the community of Tulita, in Canada’s Northwest Territories.

It has granted ConocoPhillips Canada a land use permit and a water licence for the exploration project with conditions.

The licences were issued without a full environmental assessment.

Colorado city wants more than just a ban on fracking

The latest effort by a group of Coloradans to protect their community from frackers goes further than the bans and moratoriums recently put in place by Boulder, Fort Collins, and Longmont.

City Bans “Fracking”

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – Drilling drama rising in Terre Haute. Oil companies’ interest in the city of Terre Haute has the city council concerned and number one among their questions: does drilling pose an environmental hazard to the city?

So far this year three different oil companies have looked at drilling on the north side of Terre Haute; which has concerned those citizens at several meetings. Their main questions have been regarding the drilling practice known as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking.”

Report: Radioactive waste from fracking plagues Ohio

Radioactive waste unearthed by hydraulic fracturing is becoming a serious problem in Ohio, a new report claims.

Released Thursday by the FreshWater Accountability Project Ohio, the report was authored by Marvin Resnikoff, a physicist at the University of Michigan and senior associate at Radioactive Waste Management Associates.

Town of Dryden asks top court to uphold fracking bans

A central New York town is asking the state’s top court to reject a request to appeal decisions that have upheld its local hydrofracking ban, arguing that previous decisions against a previous appeal should be enough to uphold it.

This Is Your Town on Fracking

Not long ago I found myself stranded in Williston, North Dakota. You might have heard of it. Despite being the eighth-largest city in the 48th most-populous state, Williston has won some infamy in recent years. It’s at the center of an oil boom that’s likely to make the United States a net exporter of fossil fuels in just a few short years, something that was unthinkable as recently as half a decade ago. North Dakota now produces more oil than any state except Texas, thanks to technical advances that let drillers hydraulically fracture (or frack) the Bakken shale formation two miles beneath the region’s surface.

The boom has introduced tens of thousands of newcomers to the area around Williston, jammed the dirt and gravel roads with heavy trucks, littered those byways with windshield-shattering debris, and clouded the air with dust. (Which also chokes livestock, smothers crops, and complicates dinner preparation. “I have to wash my dishes after taking them from the cupboard, they’re so coated in dust,” a local rancher told me.)

Illinois Environmental Activists Continue Fight Against Fracking

The fight against fracking in Illinois continues.

This time, activists from MoveOn.org, Food & Water Watch, the Progressive Democrats of America, Americans Against Fracking and other groups took to Wrigleyville and demanded that lawmakers not “play ball with the oil and gas industry.”

New Jersey Residents Demand Fracking Waste Ban

Residents, activists and community leaders held coordinated actions across New Jersey yesterday to pressure legislative leaders into acting on the Fracking Waste Ban Bill. Notably, they collected and delivered more than 17,000 petition signatures in support of the measure to Assembly Speaker Oliver and Assembly Minority Leader Bramnick.

BLM, Tribes Continue To Discuss Fracking Rule

Building on the eight outreach sessions held last year with Tribal communities and the 22 formal one-one-one tribal consultations, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has scheduled two additional regional outreach meetings with Tribal representatives to discuss how the Bureau’s proposed hydraulic fracturing rule would strengthen oil and gas operations on Indian trust lands.

New Report Finds Fracking Poses Health Risks to Pregnant Women and Children

The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) today released a new report outlining the health risks to pregnant women and young children from harmful chemicals used in fracking. The report, Toxic and Dirty Secrets: The Truth About Fracking and Your Family’s Health, shows how chemicals related to the oil and gas industry when conducting fracking operations can pollute the air and water in communities around fracking sites and pose health risks especially to pregnant women and children, who are most vulnerable to chemical exposures.

Louisiana Chemical Plant Explosion: Authorities Respond After Blast At Williams Olefins Facility

In a press conference Thursday afternoon, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal confirmed that one person was killed in a morning explosion at a chemical plant in Geismer. Jindal said that 73 workers were receiving treatment at local hospitals.

ExxonMobil faces federal lawsuit over Arkansas oil spill

The Justice Department and the state of Arkansas filed suit against the oil giant ExxonMobil over a March 29 pipeline rupture that spilled 210,000 gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and waterways in the small town of Mayflower.

Exxon sued over Arkansas pipeline spill

The Arkansas Attorney General and the federal government are suing ExxonMobil, alleging improper waste storage and water contamination stemming from a March pipeline spill that sent thousands of barrels of heavy tar sands crude flooding into the small town of Mayflower.

Feds, State File Lawsuit Against ExxonMobil over Tar Sands Oil Spill in Mayflower, AR

Today the U.S. and the state of Arkansas filed a joint enforcement action against ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipe Line Company (ExxonMobil) in federal district court in Little Rock, AR. The complaint addresses ExxonMobil’s unlawful discharge of heavy crude oil from a 20-inch-diameter interstate pipeline —the Pegasus Pipeline—that ruptured in Mayflower, AR, on March 29.

In California oil spills, chemical dispersants treated with caution

Each year millions of gallons of oil and refined petroleum products are transported across the San Francisco Bay. Add to this, five oil refineries, several major shipping channels, and countless recreational boats and you have the potential for one big oil spill.

The Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest environmental disaster in U.S. history, was a reminder of how bad a spill can get, and how desperate officials were at the time to find a solution to break up the slick.

Kinder Morgan shuts Trans Mountain line after 12-barrel spill

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP has shut its 307,000 barrel per day Trans Mountain pipeline after a spill of around 12 barrels of oil was detected during routine maintenance work.

Sierra Club B.C. warns of pipeline risk after spill near Merritt

The Sierra Club B.C. says a recent oil spill is further evidence that Kinder Morgan’s plan to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline should be opposed.

Northern Alberta pipeline was only five years old before toxic spill

A pipeline that leaked in northern Alberta was only five years old and designed to last for 30, according to top executives with Apache Canada, the company responsible for a large spill of toxic oil and gas waste.

2.5 Million Gallons of Toxic Waste Spill in Northern Alberta

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.

Keystone XL Activists Labeled Possible Eco-Terrorists in Internal TransCanada Documents

Documents recently obtained by Bold Nebraska show that TransCanada – owner of the hotly-contested Keystone XL (KXL) tar sands pipeline – has colluded with an FBI/DHS Fusion Center in Nebraska, labeling non-violent activists as possible candidates for “terrorism” charges and other serious criminal charges.

Obama Tells Keystone Foes He Will Unveil Climate Measures

With his administration under pressure from environmentalists to reject the Keystone XL pipeline project, President Barack Obama plans to unveil a package of separate actions next month focused on curbing U.S. greenhouse gas emissions.

Up to $500 billion in damages from Keystone XL oil

The climate pollution from the oil flowing through the controversial Keystone XL pipeline — if approved by US President Obama — could inflict half a trillion dollars in damages to society.

Fukushima No. 1 faces labor crunch as better jobs attract workers

Keeping the meltdown-stricken Fukushima nuclear plant in a stable condition requires a cast of thousands. Increasingly, Tokyo Electric Power Co. is struggling to find enough workers, a trend that many expect to worsen and hamper progress in the decades-long effort to safely decommission the facility.

Fukushima plant steps closer to fuel-rod removal

Damaged vehicles, twisted metal and other debris remain strewn about Japan’s crippled nuclear power plant. Scores of black and gray pipes and hoses cover the ground, part of the makeshift system to pump water into the damaged reactors to keep them from overheating.

TEPCO sued for death of patients during Fukushima evacuation process

Fifteen relatives of four victims who died during the early days of the Fukushima nuclear plant accident in March 2011 filed suit against Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) on Monday. The relatives of the patients blame TEPCO for its lack of proper evacuation management as well as power outrages resulting in shabby medical care, which eventually led to the death of the patients. The plaintiffs filed their suit at the Tokyo District Court.

The Fish of Fukushima

On June 4th, 2013, London-based news source the Guardian reported, “Fukushima tuna safe to eat – study.”  The day before, the Los Angeles Times reported, “Scientists to eaters: Don’t freak out over Fukushima fish.” The San Diego Union-Tribune was emphatic: “Tuna Pose No Risk after Nuke Disaster,” and online, “Fukushima seafood radiation risk nil, study says.” The BBC ran with, “Fukushima tuna pose little health risk.” And CNN declared, “Fukushima tuna study finds minuscule health risks.”

So which is it? Does that sushi or canned tuna pose a minuscule risk, just a little one, or is it safe? The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a report online May 30, 2013 that garnered these vastly disparate headlines. The NAS team studied measurements of cesium-137 and cesium-134 in Bluefin tuna caught off the California coast. The cesium was dumped or leaked as liquids into and deposited as gaseous fallout on the Pacific Ocean from Fukushima’s three catastrophic reactor meltdowns. The poisoned tuna swam 5,000 miles to our West Coast.

Marine Levels Of Radioactive Strontium Spiked Following 2011 Fukushima Accident

New research suggests that the accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant two years ago increased the amount of radioactive strontium on the east coast of Japan by as much as one-hundred times their normal levels.

Experts from the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA) and the Department of Physics of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) studied the spread of the radioactive element in the coastal waters during the three months following the March 2011 accident.

71-year old doctor opts to stay with Fukushima town’s residents

A temporary clinic was set up by Dr. Shunji Sekine in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture last month in order to provide medical assistance to the town’s residents following their evacuation to avoid the radiation threat from the 2011 nuclear disaster. Sekine stated that residents returning home still need medical care. The 71-year old doctor assumed the responsibility to watch over the residents and decided to stay with them instead of leaving town.

Government seeks research proposals to study mobile radiation

NEW DELHI: Amid concerns over radiation from cell phone towers, government on Friday called for research proposals to study the possible impact of electromagnetic frequency radiation on humans and living organisms.

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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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