Environmental Must-Reads – June 20, 2013


Illinois Adopts Nation’s Strictest Fracking Regulations

On Monday, Governor Pat Quinn signed legislation to regulate fracking in the state of Illinois. Legislation overwhelmingly passed both the Illinois Senate (52-3) and the House (108-9) last month. The law is now seen as the nation’s strictest for oil and gas drilling.

Fracking Regulation Bill May Expand to Other Parts of Drilling Process

The legislator behind the last major hydraulic fracturing bill left standing in Sacramento says she’s preparing to broaden the measure.

Senator Fran Pavley’s bill, SB 4, passed the Senate last month on a 28-11 vote. It’s now in front of the Assembly. The legislation would set standards for how California regulates oil drilling and what sort of information drillers would be required to make public. The Department of Conservation’s Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources is working on its own regulations governing fracking, but Pavley has criticized the department for moving too slowly.

You’ll have to wait for fracking study

A highly anticipated study on the impact of fracking in Ohio will take a while longer to complete.

The US Environmental Protection Agency says it will now be ready in 2016.

Fed: fracking study won’t be done until 2016

A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official tells an Ohio fracking conference that a study of the threat to drinking water from the shale-drilling process won’t be completed until 2016.

Activists keep pushing for N.J. ban on fracking waste

Environmental groups continued to prod the state Legislature on Tuesday to ban the treatment and disposal of waste generated by hydraulic fracturing, a controversial process used to extract natural gas from deep bedrock.

New investigation: fracking is increasing competition for water and its price in counties with drought

A new investigation by AP has found that the vast majority of counties where fracking is occurring in seven states are also suffering from drought. The AP found that fracking is presenting new strains on water supplies in some drought-stricken areas of the country. Among the findings:

Down to Earth: Fracking Causes Water Debate

The battle over fracking isn’t lightening up.  A new connection made between getting to the underground oil reserves and a precious resource: water.

The concern of some US conservationists and farmers is that hydraulic fracturing uses groundwater in the process of getting oil from deep underneath the earth’s surface.

Influence of Grassroots Anti-Fracking Movement Spreads Like Wildfire

Jill Wiener has dedicated a large part of the past five years of her life to keeping the use of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas extraction out of New York State. The Sullivan County, NY, resident believes that if fracking has yet to happen in a state, it should never be allowed to happen. And where fracking is happening, it should be stopped.

Injection Well Earthquakes Worth Worrying About, Stanford Geophysicist Says

Ohio is one of the half-dozen states — like Oklahoma — where earthquakes have been linked to disposal and injection wells used by the oil and gas industry.

Push Underway to Override Veto of Frack Waste Treatment Ban

New Jersey environmental groups are pushing to get state lawmakers to override Gov. Chris Christie’s veto of a bill that prohibits hydraulic fracturing waste from being treated in New Jersey.

New Mexico’s oil and gas boom driving water sales amid drought

With a scant agriculture water supply due to the prolonged drought, some farmers in Eddy County with supplemental wells are keeping bill collectors at bay by selling their water to the booming oil and gas industry.

BP spill: New indictments for ex-employees

Justice Department prosecutors secured new indictments Wednesday against a former BP engineer and a former BP executive charged separately with obstructing probes of the company’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP, Coast Guard criticized for trying to downgrade oil spill clean-up efforts

The state Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority used its monthly meeting in Baton Rouge on Wednesday as a bully pulpit to criticize BP and the U.S. Coast Guard for their attempts to downgrade the continued clean-up of oiled wetlands and shoreline areas in Louisiana, in the wake of the 2010 Gulf oil spill triggered by the fatal explosion on the Macondo well.

Louisiana seafood board asking for more time to spend BP oil spill money

Louisiana’s seafood board is going to ask BP for two more years to spend the millions of dollars it received after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Constitutional Limits on Louisiana Oil Spill Money Fails

Attempts to limit Gulf Coast oil spill penalty money to coastal restoration in the Louisiana Constitution failed to gain legislative passage for a second year, while disagreements continue over just how tightly the dollars should be restricted.

Montana Citizens Demand Exxon Pay Entire Yellowstone River Oil Spill Fine

Citizens from Yellowstone County are asking Exxon to pay the full $1.7 million dollar fine amount levied by the US Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) for the 63,000-gallon crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River on July 2, 2011.  They are also asking Montana’s Congressional Delegation to support PHMSA’s fine amount.

DOJ & Arkansas sue, as emails show Exxon misled public about oil spill contamination

Eighty days ago Exxon Mobil’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of diluted bitumen or tar sands oil from Canada into a residential neighborhood, nearby marsh and eventually contaminating Lake Conway, a popular fishing spot. In the past week, the Department of Justice and State of Arkansas have filed a lawsuit against Exxon, while internal Exxon emails have revealed the oil company intentionally misled the public about the extent of contamination in Lake Conway. As cleanup continues, some residents and local politicians feel ever thing is going okay, some going so far as to claim things are even better than before the spill. I suspect the sick and still displaced Mayflower residents would disagree. Details about these and more updates below.

Cleanup of oil spill on Black Warrior River completed Tuesday night

The booms are down and barges are moving up and down the Black Warrior River again two days after the waterway’s traffic was stopped near Tuscaloosa because of the spill of four barrels of oil into the river’s water.

Houston area sees a couple of oil spills a day (photos)

Oil spills off the Texas coast have declined dramatically over the past decade, but the Texas General Land Office still responds to one or two a day in the Houston region, an area stretching from Galveston County to Matagorda Bay.

“In the ‘90s, it wasn’t anything to have three to eight spills a day,” said Richard Arnhart, regional director for oil spill prevention and response for the Houston area. “Spills are down, which is a good thing.”

Shell to resume Niger delta oil spill compensation talks

Oil company Shell will resume talks next week in London with lawyers representing 15,000 of the poorest people in the world who are claiming millions of pounds’ compensation for oil spills on the Niger delta. But Martyn Day, of Leigh Day law firm which is acting for the communities, said the case could still go to a full high court trial in London in 2014.

Dozens Storm PHMSA Event Demanding an End to Tar Sands Pipelines

Early this morning, dozens of concerned community members and activists from the Texas Action Coalition for the Environment and Tar Sands Blockade stormed the lobby at the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration’s (PHMSA) Pipeline Safety Public Awareness Workshop, being held at the Hyatt Regency in Richardson, TX. The protesters staged a tar sands spill and are carrying banners and signs to say that tar sands aren’t being regulated and must be stopped. Activists are expected to continue demonstration outside until dusk, when they will hold lighted billboards reading “PHMSA: No Tar Sands Pipelines” and “Water > Oil.”

Nobel Laureates to Obama: No Keystone XL!

A group of Nobel Peace laureates called for the immediate rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline in a letter sent to President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry Tuesday.

“We are writing to urge you to once and for all reject the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline,” begins the letter penned by 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners—including Mairead Maguire, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Betty Williams, and Adolfo Pérez Esquivel.

Pipe waits on the prairie as Keystone XL debate rages almost 5 years

South Dakota rancher Bret Clanton heard a Canadian oil pipeline company, TransCanada, was stockpiling pipe across the border in North Dakota. In 2011 he drove from his ranch to take a look.

At the top of a hill east of Scranton, N.D. — near a ghost town named Gascoyne — trucks unloaded pipe into a pasture. That field is now filled with rows and rows of mostly aqua-green pipe, some stamped with the words “made in Canada.” It’s where the pipe has sat ever since, waiting for the Obama administration to give the green light so it can be buried in American soil, filled with oil from Alberta, Canada and sent to Texas refineries.

TRIPLETT: Railroading the Keystone XL pipeline

The rumors had been circulating in Washington for weeks, but Bloomberg brought it above the waterline on Thursday: “At closed-door fundraisers held over the past few weeks, the president has been telling Democratic Party donors that he will unveil new climate proposals in July.” Just to make certain no one missed her message, the Bloomberg reporter used the word “fundraiser” twice in the article and “donor” five times. She did not make any direct mention of President Obama’s personal interest in or commitment to the issue.

Norway opens more Arctic waters to oil exploration

Norway’s parliament voted on Wednesday to open an offshore Arctic zone bordering Russia to oil and gas exploration, paving the way for the area to be included in the next licensing round.

Norway Opens Arctic Border Area to Oil Drilling

Norway’s Parliament has opened up a new area on the fringe of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling despite protests from opponents who fear catastrophic oil spills in the remote and icy region.

Most of the Norwegian sector of the Barents Sea, which the Nordic country shares with Russia, is already open to petroleum activities.

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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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