Environmental Must-Reads – June 24, 2013


Official: Water complaints could be ‘act of terrorism’

A Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation deputy director warned a group of Maury County residents that unfounded complaints about water quality could be considered an “act of terrorism.”

EPA steps away from fracking investigation in Wyoming

Last October, Ars published an update to a US EPA investigation linking natural gas production to groundwater contamination in Wyoming. On Thursday, the EPA announced that it will step back from the investigation, ceding leadership to the State of Wyoming.

EPA Refuses to Finalize Study Blaming Water Pollution on Fracking

The US Environmental Protection Agency has dropped its plans to further investigate whether or not fracking led to the contamination of a Wyoming aquifer, and the agency no longer plans to write a report on the matter.

Penna. 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.

EPA Pushes Back Fracking Impact Study to 2016

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is moving back its timeline for release of its study on the impact of hydraulic fracturing from 2014 to 2016, the agency announced this week at the Shale Gas: Promises and Challenges conference in Cleveland, OH.

Chloride Levels Remain Unregulated in Pennsylvania Waters

More than two years after the New York Times revealed how poorly equipped wastewater treatment facilities were discharging toxic substances from natural gas drilling into Pennsylvania’s rivers and streams, the state still has no water quality standards for chloride and sulfates.

Methane leaks of shale gas may undermine its climate benefits

Debate about the environmental impact of hydraulic fracturing or fracking usually centers around the potential risks to our water supply from contamination by toxic fracking fluids, which are pumped at high pressure over a mile under the ground to break up gas-bearing shale formations. In recent months, however, there has been renewed controversy over the effect that gas drilling has had on greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

Pennsylvanians Demand Clean Water and Moratorium on Fracking

Clean water activists and representatives from Clean Water Action, Sierra Club, Delaware Riverkeeper Network and Berks Gas Truth gathered in the Capitol Wednesday to call on Gov. Corbett (R-PA) to speak publicly on the extent of water contamination from fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania.

During Record Drought, Frackers Outcompete Farmers for Water Supplies

The impacts of 2013?s severe drought are apparent across the nation in forests, on farms and on once snowy peaks. Meanwhile, the oil and gas industry is demanding unprecedented amounts of water for hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking.

Mineral rights get top billing in land sales

Not long ago you could buy as much ranch land as you wanted in South Texas, with the mineral rights to boot.

Now that the Eagle Ford Shale formation has boomed? Not so much.

Plaintiffs ask judge to impose punitive damages over spill

Plaintiffs claiming harm from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill pressed a judge Friday to hammer BP, Transocean and Halliburton with punitive damages, insisting that overwhelming evidence shows the companies willfully disregarded the environment and worker safety.

BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill lawyers offer familiar storylines in post-trial pitches to judge

Two months after the first phase of the BP Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial ended, lawyers on both sides on Friday submitted hundreds of pages of post-trial briefs, making their last pitch to the federal judge overseeing the sprawling case about whether any or all of the companies involved in the ill-fated drilling project engaged in gross negligence or willful misconduct leading up to the deadly rig explosion.

Canada Boosts Offshore Oil Spill Liability, But The U.S. Still Caps Deepwater Horizon Costs At 0.2 Percent

The Canadian government yesterday announced it was raising the limit of liability for offshore drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans to $1 billion. This was a modest nod to increasing awareness of the dangers of offshore oil and gas exploration and potential damage oil spills can cause.

Scientists examine oil spill’s impact on oysters

More than three years since the BP oil spill, an LSU AgCenter scientist is working to determine how oil impacted oysters, which have been struggling to recover since 2010.

Plaintiffs: BP Acted With Gross Negligence in 2010 Spill

BP Plc and its contractors should be found grossly negligent for their actions in the April 2010 blowout of the Macondo well and the subsequent Gulf of Mexico oil spill, plaintiffs’ lawyers told a judge.

Oil Spill: BP calls for independent probe of claims lawyer

BP is calling for an independent investigation into a lawyer working for the administrator reviewing claims arising from the Gulf oil spill who has been accused of collecting portions of settlement payments from a New Orleans law firm to which he had once referred claims.

Possible causes of plant explosion probed

State and federal investigators probing the cause of the deadly blast June 13 at the Williams Olefins plant plan to inspect a key element of the facility this week that one federal investigator said “failed catastrophically.”

Pipeline spills 5,000 liters of oil in Alberta, Canada

A pipeline in Canada has leaked more than 5,000 liters of oil in the province of Alberta, close to where most First Nations residents live, affecting the area’s waters and lands.

Enbridge shuts oil sands pipelines after synthetic crude spill

Enbridge Inc, Canada’s largest pipeline company, said on Saturday that 750 barrels of synthetic oil had spilled from a pipeline serving CNOOC Ltd’s Long Lake oil sands project.

Three years after oil spill, a slow recovery haunts Kalamazoo River

A canoe trip on the Kalamazoo River today provides sights of fish jumping, a heron on her nest, a turtle sunning on an exposed log. The river area has made a significant, undeniable comeback from the horrors of nearly three years ago, when the worst inland oil spill in U.S. history contaminated its waters, banks and floodplains.

New from the Times: Muckraking the Mayflower Oil Spill

I’m excited to announce a new partnership between the Arkansas Times and Pulitzer Prize-winning InsideClimate News. Together, we’re undertaking a deep reporting project on the ExxonMobil oil spill in Mayflower.

It’s been three months since the spill. ExxonMobil and local officials have said all visible freestanding oil has been removed and cleanup efforts have transitioned from “emergency” to “remediation.” Lt. Gov. Mark Darr said recently that it looked like ExxonMobil had made the area better than it was before. But many questions remain.

Some Louisiana residents take buyouts from salt dome owner

A third of a group of residents evacuated because of an Assumption Parish sinkhole have accepted buyout offers from Texas Brine Co.

Residents near sinkhole have hours to decide on buyout offers

Time is running out for people affected by the giant sinkhole in southeast Louisiana to accept buyout offers from Texas Brine.

Residents have until 5:30 p.m. to come to an agreement. After that, they will need lawyers to negotiate with Texas Brine in a lawsuit pending in New Orleans federal court.

Anti-Keystone activists set to be left behind again

President Barack Obama’s big rollout on climate change is unlikely to offer much solace for one large, vocal segment of his green base: the throngs of activists who have spent more than two years urging him to kill the Keystone XL pipeline.

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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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