Environmental Must-Reads – June 20, 2014


Oil And Gas CEO: ’100 Percent, Fracking Is Safe’

A man known as the ‘frack master’ went on television Thursday to tell people “absolutely, fracking isn’t contaminating anything.” Unfortunately, he’s wrong.

The trouble started when WWL-TV, a Louisiana CBS affiliate, introduced the CEO of an oil and gas company as an “oil industry expert,” and it didn’t get better. Not once in the five-minute segment did anchor Eric Paulsen mention Chris Faulkner’s role as CEO of Breitling Energy, an oil and gas company that operates in several states. Faulkner is known as the “frack master,” the company’s site reads, “for his unapologetic and outspoken industry advocacy.”

After more than a decade, Denton, Texas, having second thoughts about fracking, website reports

While St. Tammany Parish government is seeking to prevent fracking from gaining a foothold in the parish, the city of Denton, Texas, is considering a ban on the practice after experiencing more than a decade of drilling. The city north of Dallas has benefited financially from the many wells that have been drilled and fracked to extract natural gas, according to a report by MSN.com.

But many residents there now want to block future drilling amid concerns about the environment and the proximity of new wells to residential areas, according to the report.

Retired Pennsylvania Workers: State Health Employees Silenced on Fracking

Two retired state employees have said they were told not to respond to calls about drilling in the Marcellus Shale by their bosses. The former employees — Tammi Stuck, a retired nurse in Fayette County, and Marshall Deasy, who worked for the Bureau of Epidemiology — made allegations that Department of Health employees were told to keep silent on drilling.

Stuck says employees at state health centers around Pennsylvania received lists of “buzzwords” — fracking, gas, soil contamination — that they could not respond to questions about. Instead, they’d take down information and pass it along to a supervisor. Stuck says she didn’t know if calls were ever returned. While science is unclear on the effects of fracking on nearby residents, some studies show adverse health effects.

Pennsylvania sues big oil companies for gasoline leak cleanups

Pennsylvania on Thursday sued dozens of oil companies to recoup hundreds of millions of dollars spent cleaning gasoline spills that contaminated groundwater across the state.

One of two lawsuits follows the lead of other states, some of which have won multimillion-dollar judgments on complaints that the companies used the fuel additive MTBE, which they knew was dangerous and would leak from underground storage tanks. The other lawsuit claims companies improperly took money from a state recovery fund established for cleanup costs.

A Push for New Look into Tainted Water’s Source

Steve Lipsky has nearly everything he needs on his 14-acre estate along the Brazos River, west of Fort Worth. The estate includes a guesthouse, a resort-style swimming pool and a seven-bathroom, 15,000-square-foot home where he lives with his wife and three children.

But the Wisconsin transplant, who makes a living bundling mortgages, lacks one item that most people take for granted: a reliable supply of clean drinking water.

Oklahoma quakes this year top tremors in California

California may be known for its earthquakes, but so far this year it has been surpassed by an unlikely state: Oklahoma.

Experts say wastewater wells are likely linked to the big increase in the number of quakes recorded in Oklahoma.

Texas gas town considers banning fracking

Natural gas money has been good to this Texas city: It has new parks, a new golf course and miles of grassy soccer fields. The business district is getting a makeover, and the airport is bustling, too.

For more than a decade, Denton has drawn its lifeblood from the huge gas reserves that lie beneath its streets. The gas fields have produced a billion dollars in mineral wealth and pumped more than $30 million into city bank accounts.

Pipeline Companies Paying More to Cross Private Land

A natural gas pipeline company argued earlier this year that it should pay about $80,000 for the right to lay pipe across a mile of vacant land south of Fort Worth. The landowner countered, and a Johnson County jury agreed, that the price should be higher.

A lot higher. In March, the jury awarded about $1.6 million, plus interest, to the landowner, more than 20 times the amount that Midland-based Peregrine Pipeline Co. had offered.

A Massive Rockaway Gas Pipeline Is Being Built Right Under Our Beaches

A year and a half after Hurricane Sandy swept surging seas over the Rockaway spit, the neighborhood is finally beginning to claw its way back to a normal summer. Fort Tilden beach, closed to the public last summer season due to dangerous debris left by the storm, has finally reopened. And what better way to celebrate the partial recovery from a climate-change-fueled Superstorm than by laying a high-pressure fracked-gas transmission pipeline right under the beach?

Bakken oil train safety raises concern

Residents of Eastern Washington expressed concern and skepticism Tuesday to state lawmakers working on a bill that would regulate an expected boom in trains carrying crude oil across the state.

Members of the state Senate Committee on Energy, Environment and Telecommunications heard from industry sources and members of the public on the safety of transporting oil from North Dakota’s Bakken fields to refineries in Western Washington and Oregon.

Speakers testify against Bakken oil trains in Washington

Numerous speakers have told a state Senate committee that they oppose the rapid increase in railcars carrying crude oil from the Bakken fields of North Dakota and Montana through the state.

The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee met in Spokane on Tuesday to take testimony on a bill that seeks to improve the safety of those oil shipments.

Feds: Oil Train Details Not Security Sensitive

U.S. transportation officials said Wednesday that details about volatile oil train shipments are not sensitive security information, after railroads sought to keep the material from the public following a string of fiery accidents.

The U.S. Department of Transportation has ordered railroads to give state officials specifics on oil-train routes and volumes so emergency responders can better prepare for accidents.

UM study finds oil from BP spill impedes fish’s swimming

In a lab on Virginia Key, a group of baby fish are being put through their paces on a tiny fish treadmill.

The inch-long mahi-mahi, being used as part of a study to assess damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill that spread crude across the Gulf of Mexico for 87 days in 2010, were exposed when they were embryos to oil collected during the cleanup. Now, at 25 days old, the oil is doing exactly what scientists suspected it would do: hamper the swimming of one of the ocean’s fastest fish.

BP & The Real State of the Gulf – Pollution Report for Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Yesterday, FDEP environmental specialist David Perkinson conducted a post-response monitoring survey on Escambia County, Florida beaches, with a focus in the Perdido Key area.

Numerous Surface Residue Balls (SRBs or “tar balls”) were found throughout the area. These hardened balls are often filled with deadly, flesh-eating bacteria. Do not handle without protective gloves.

Yesterday’s findings indicate that oil from BP’s Deepwater Horizon spill is still quite prevalent. A total of 125 tar balls were collected during the survey, amounting to over 1.5 pounds of Deepwater Horizon oil product removed from these sections of beach – by just one person.

Feds get time to decide on retrial for BP engineer

Federal prosecutors have been granted additional time to decide whether they should appeal an order throwing out the conviction of a former BP engineer accused of deleting texts about the amount of oil flowing from a blown-out well during the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

U.S. District Judge Stanwood Duval granted the prosecutors’ motion Thursday.

Oil spill leaves no long-term health risk

There’s no long-term health risk linked to swimming or fishing in a West Michigan river that was the site of one of the costliest onshore oil spills in U.S. history.

The state Department of Community Health said this month that it finalized its public health assessment of the July 2010 incident. A pipeline operated by Enbridge Inc. ruptured and spewed hundreds of thousands of gallons of oil into the Kalamazoo River in Calhoun and Kalamazoo counties.

Udall Casts ‘No’ Vote On Latest Keystone Pipeline Legislation

Sen. Mark Udall has cast a “no” vote on the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The action was made after the head of the Senate energy committee on Wednesday forced a vote on the plans for the crude oil pipeline that would run from Canada and across the U.S. (but not through Colorado.) The measure is not, however, expected to make it to a vote in the full Senate and was seen by many as a show vote.

Enbridge Pipeline Decision Violates Rights of First Nations

The Canadian government, led by Prime Minister Stephen Harper, has approved the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline. Highly controversial, the $6.5 billion pipeline will carry diluted bitumen from Alberta’s tar sands 1,200 kilometers across the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia, cutting through the Great Bear Rainforest, the largest intact coastal temperate rain forest in the world, to the northwest coast, where the oil will be shipped overseas to Asia on oil tankers.

Now joining us to discuss this issue and the Canadian government’s decision is Chief Na’Moks, who is the Beaver Clan hereditary chief of the Wet’suwet’en First Nations.

Northern Gateway pipeline approved — now Enbridge Inc’s real work begins

Enbridge Inc. cleared a major hurdle Tuesday with federal cabinet approval of its contentious Northern Gateway pipeline. Now the difficult work begins.

The $7.9-billion export artery would bring up to 525,000 barrels of oil per day from Alberta to a super-tanker port on B.C.’s northern coast for export to refineries in California and Asia. Deliveries could start by late 2018, Enbridge has said, but first the company must nail down a final cost estimate as well as oil-shipping contracts that take into account the 200-plus approval conditions regulators attached to the project last year.

Northern Gateway: Ottawa’s green light for Enbridge has many in B.C. seeing red

To reach the Pacific Ocean, the Enbridge Northern Gateway Pipeline would have to cross some of Canada’s most rugged terrain – 1,177 kilometres of pipeline constructed across the towering Rocky Mountains, remote valleys and rugged wilderness. But the daunting engineering challenges are shaping up to be nothing compared to the landscape of anti-pipeline opposition standing in Enbridge’s way.

Bering Straits Native Corp. seeks land for future Arctic port

The prospect of new port facilities in Western Alaska will rely heavily on Arctic oil and gas development, according to a recent Northern Economics study.

Commissioned by Bering Straits Native Corp. and marine services company Crowely Maritime Corp., the feasibility analysis released June 6 focused on Port Clarence, northwest of Nome on the Seward Peninsula.

Eni marks oil milestone in Alaskan waters

Italian energy company Eni said Thursday it reached a milestone for oil production from the Nikaitchuq field in the arctic waters off the coast of Alaska.

Eni said it achieved its production goal of 25,000 barrels of oil per day from the Nikaitchuq field. The company is the operator of the field, estimated to hold 200 million barrels of crude oil.

Full speed ahead and damn the sanctions

Russia remains a “top priority” for Western oil companies, despite continued tensions over the invasion of Ukraine, executives said during the recent World Petroleum Congress, which wraps up on Thursday in Moscow.

“In the years ahead, we look forward to tapping advantages … in the Far East of Russia … unlocking new supplies of oil and natural gas in the Kara Sea and beyond,” Rex Tillerson, the head of ExxonMobil, told attendees.

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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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