Environmental Must-Reads – June 21, 2013


EPA drops plan to confirm hydraulic fracturing is linked to Wyo. pollution; state takes over

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it is dropping its longstanding plan to have independent scientists review its finding that hydraulic fracturing may be linked to groundwater pollution in central Wyoming.

U.S. EPA ends probe of Wyoming water pollution linked to fracking

The Obama administration on Thursday dropped plans to further investigate preliminary federal findings that linked contamination of a Wyoming aquifer to natural gas drilling, following industry backlash that called the study into question.

EPA Won’t Confirm Fracking-Pollution Tie in Wyo.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday it is dropping its longstanding plan to have independent scientists review its finding that hydraulic fracturing may be linked to groundwater pollution in central Wyoming.

Fracking waste ban in N.J. pushed by lobbyists as Legislature considers bill

Other states make it, but the Garden State may not want to take it.

Some 160 farmers, businesses and environmental groups are lobbying the state Legislature to close New Jersey’s borders to fracking waste.

DEQ: ‘Nuisance’ sulfur smell hit Oceana County residents as well finished fracking

As fracking activities wound up at a well drilled west of Hart in May, residents within a radius of several miles smelled something familiar.

The smell wasn’t pleasant to any of them. For some of them, it was a reason to worry.

Dems Calling on Monroe County to Ban Fracking

Democrats in Monroe County Legislature along with several environmental activists are urging the county to pass legislation to ban hydraulic fracturing and related activities.

Dallas Proposes Tighter Gas Drilling Restrictions

Fort Worth is no stranger to natural gas drilling, but it’s a different matter in Dallas. On Thursday, the Dallas Plan Commission came to a surprise conclusion to possibly tighten regulations.’

Hickenlooper Faces Statewide Demands for Local Control Over Oil and Gas Development

More than 100 current and former local Colorado government officials have banded together to formally request Gov. John Hickenlooper’s help in localizing control over oil and gas development.

La Plata County Commissioner Gwen Lachelt spearheaded the effort urging colleagues throughout the state to sign onto three letters and an email that made it to the desks of Chief Strategy Officer Alan Salazar and Hickenlooper on Wednesday.

Water Contamination from Fracking: Jessica Ernst Releases Groundbreaking Report

Jessica Ernst, a high-profile, Alberta-based environmental consultant, has released a comprehensive summary of science, facts and documents relating to groundwater contamination from the controversial practice of natural gas hydraulic fracturing (fracking).

PA Fracking Moratorium Gains Momentum

Since shale gas drilling began in Pennsylvania a decade ago, the PA Democratic Party has sought to tax and regulate drilling. That all changed on June 15 when the PA State Democratic Committee voted 115—81 to support a resolution calling for a moratorium on fracking.

Fracking Exacerbates Colorado’s Rampant Wildfires

It’s officially wildfire season in Colorado; last Tuesday, a fire ignited the Black Forest area of Colorado Springs. It burned 22 square miles, destroyed 422 homes and is still raging a week later. In just half the time, it has surpassed last year’s Waldo Canyon wildfire as the worst in Colorado history. While wildfires in Colorado and throughout the west are nothing new, the magnitude of this year’s Black Forest fire serves as a haunting reminder of the worsening crisis climate change poses. Throughout all this, we can’t help but draw attention to the oil and gas industry’s use of fracking and its impact on climate change, drought and natural disaster. Residents are watching their backyards burn while the oil and gas industry is using up Colorado’s most precious resource—water.

Boulder Applauds County Commission for Extending Fracking Moratorium

Local residents rejoiced this week at the Boulder County Commission’s decision to enact a new moratorium on fracking for 18 months. The current one was set to expire June 25. Tuesday’s vote took place at the County Commissioner’s meeting, after a group of local business owners, medical professionals, clergy and residents held a rally calling on the commission to extend the moratorium.

A Gamble on Shale Job Growth Fails to Pay Off for Governor Corbett, as Fracking Worries Grow Nationwide

Last Friday in Philadelphia, a small crowd gathered outside the Franklin Institute, protest signs in hand. Only a few days before, word went out that Governor Tom Corbett, one of the nation’s least popular governors, would be in Philadelphia, a city that has borne the brunt of many of Mr. Corbett’s crippling budget cuts, and protest organizers said they had mobilized fast.

CHARTS: Republicans and Democrats Treat Fracking Like It’s Global Warming

The more liberals and conservatives know about science, the more they have wildly variant views about the risks of global warming, according to research by Yale’s Dan Kahan. You might call it the “smart idiot” effect—knowledge, itself, seems to make people with diametrically opposed views more sure that they’re right, and thus worsens the political fight over what is actually scientifically true.

Companies will halt Gulf seismic surveys for 30 months

Oil and gas companies working in the Gulf of Mexico have agreed not to use seismic surveys for the next 2 1/2 years in three areas considered critical to whales and along the coast during the calving season for bottlenose dolphins.

Report accuses lawyer in BP oil spill settlement case of misconduct

A lawyer working for the court-appointed administrator to review claims as part of the multibillion-dollar settlement over BP’s Gulf oil spill has been accused of receiving payments from a law firm representing a claimant, allegations that were discussed in a closed-door meeting Thursday with a federal judge overseeing the case, a BP official with direct knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press.

BP wants inquiry into alleged payments to oil spill lawyer

Oil company BP called on Friday for an inquiry into an allegation a lawyer working for the administrator of compensation payments for the Gulf of Mexico oil spill referred claims to a New Orleans law firm in exchange for a share of subsequent settlement payments.

Keeping BP focused on spill response in Louisiana: Editorial

With the Coast Guard shutting down “active cleanup operations” for the BP oil spill in Alabama, Mississippi and Florida last week, Louisiana officials emphasized Wednesday that the work here is not done. Garret Graves, chairman of the state’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, said that BP has been pressing to wrap up the response in Louisiana as well. The numbers presented at the authority’s meeting Wednesday argue against that.

Public comment period for draft BP spill restoration plan is extended until July 8

The agency that will oversee the spending of billions of dollars in Clean Water Act fines resulting from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill has extended until July 8 the public comment period on its initial plan and environmental assessment report.

BP oil still here, Louisiana says

A state authority in Louisiana said there was still oil left to be cleaned from coastal areas affected by the BP oil spill in 2010.

The Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority said in its monthly report for June the U.S. Coast Guard and BP were downplaying their remaining operations along the state coast.

Wildlife Death Toll Climbs In Gulf Oil Spill

The wildlife death toll from the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico continues to climb.

As of last week, the International Bird Research Center reported 783 dead birds, 353 dead sea turtles and expects the number to continue to climb.

Opflex Responds to ExxonMobil’s Letter to Congressman Markey / Mayflower, AR Oil Spill

In Scott Smith’s response to ExxonMobil’s letter to Congressman Markey regarding the Pegasus pipeline tar sands oil spill in Mayflower, AR, the facts and science of why people are getting sick in Mayflower, AR and the needless destruction of the wetlands are explained.

Spilled and released: Oil accidents are no rarity in Northern Colorado

When a Noble Energy crew was working on an oil and gas tank at an organic farm May 29 east of Ault, a worker failed to open a valve correctly.

Soon, a processing equipment backup caused crude oil to spray across more than 150,000 square feet of an organic farm, requiring 240 cubic yards of contaminated soil to be scraped from the cropland.

Former General Honore tours giant Louisiana sinkhole

The retired United States Army General who brought hope to hundreds of thousands of evacuees after Hurricane Katrina said he is keeping a close eye on Texas Brine, the company that has taken blame for the giant sinkhole in Assumption Parish. Ret. Lt. Gen. Russell Honore said the federal government should help evacuees.

Shell Nigeria: Explosion Forces Pipeline Closure

Shell Nigeria says an explosion and fire caused by oil theft have forced it to shut down its Trans Niger Pipeline that carries 150,000 barrels of crude a day.

145 Obama Campaign Staffers Call For Rejection Of Keystone XL Pipeline

Former staffers on the Obama 2012 campaign have released an open letter Thursday encouraging President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline and not “disappoint” the people who helped elect him, tightening the vise around the president as the no-win decision approaches.

Nurses rally on GG Bridge to decry pipeline

Calling a proposed oil pipeline across the nation’s midsection a threat to public health in California, more than 1,000 nurses streamed across the Golden Gate Bridge on Thursday to urge that President Obama block its construction.

Debunking the Economic and National Security Myths Around Keystone XL Pipeline

Today, billionaire clean energy philanthropist Tom Steyer held a press conference to debunk the myths that the Keystone XL pipeline will lead to major economic growth and national security.

Keystone is an “export pipeline” that would transport toxic tar sands from Alberta down to a tax-free zone in Texas and out to foreign markets.

OFA Pressed On Keystone XL Silence By Progressive Activists At Netroots Nation

Progressive activists frustrated with Organizing for Action’s silence on the Keystone XL pipeline took their concerns to the group’s top officials on Thursday, pressing them on whether the advocacy organization will ever pressure President Barack Obama on that or any other issue.

‘Every Plant and Tree Died’: Safety Concerns Raised About Keystone XL

As the Obama administration’s decision regarding whether to approve the controversial Keystone XL pipeline draws nearer, the latest disaster is raising serious concerns about the safety of Canada’s rapidly expanding pipeline network.

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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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