Environmental Must-Reads – June 27, 2013


Bombshell Study Finds Drinking Water Near Fracking Wells Contaminated With Methane

Wells used for drinking water near the Marcellus Shale in northeast Pennsylvania have methane concentrations six times higher than wells farther away. That is the finding of a Duke University study published on June 24th in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Environmentalists urge Mass. ban on “fracking”

Environmentalists are pressing Beacon Hill lawmakers to back a bill that would ban the practice of fracking in Massachusetts.

11,000+ Massachusetts Residents Call for a Fracking Ban

This morning, more than 11,000 residents called on Beacon Hill to ban the dirty drilling process of fracking, in petitions presented by Environment Massachusetts and its allies at a statehouse news conference. The petitions show wide support for H.788, a bill introduced by Rep. Kocot (D-MA) and Rep. Provost (D-MA) to ban fracking and the processing of its toxic wastewater in the commonwealth.

Potentially explosive scrapped fracking pipes spur state, city warnings

Watch out for explosive fracking pipes on the side of the highway, at rest areas or other places where scrap fracking waste isn’t supposed to be.

That’s the message the Colorado Department of Transportation sent out to its employees, followed by warnings issued by the city of Loveland, Windsor-Severance Fire Rescue and other local governments.

What’s in the fracking soup?

Nebraska isn’t exactly a hotbed for oil drilling, but that didn’t stop the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission from passing a new rule Tuesday requiring oil and gas drilling companies to disclose the chemicals they use to frack wells.

Faulty math amid other fracking frights

During the crafting of the original Senate Bill 76 – the Domestic Energy Job Act Bill – senators used extremely faulty math in explaining the benefits and then passed an unsafe version of the bill.

When a committee convenes to resolve differences between the Senate bill and a House bill, these senators must be called out.

Fracking: some inconvenient truths

It’s mouth-watering. There may well be more natural gas stuck in our shale rock than we ever thought possible – a whole decade’s worth. This is excellent news, in a way, because in addition to the money (and don’t belittle the money), this gives the UK an energy resource that can ensure it against sudden spikes in import energy prices – like whenever we start a war.

There is just one small problem. Hydrochloric acid. Well, there are actually quite a few chemicals involved, but this one eats through bones. Essentially, fracking involves drilling into shale rock deep underground, injecting high-pressure solution into the rock in order to create fractures and unleash all that bounteous natural gas. In this solution is included a mixture of toxic chemicals and carcinogens.

No secrecy on fracking

Now here’s a curiosity indeed. A state Senate committee suddenly rushes through a bill to allow shale gas drilling companies that engage in fracking in North Carolina to do so without disclosing the chemicals they use in the process. And this happens without the knowledge of the chairman of the state Mining & Energy Commission. James Womack, who’s supposed to have that knowledge and a little bit of a say too boot, says he was “blindsided” by the maneuver.

Ohio law shielding details of fracking chemicals may violate federal statute

An Ohio law that allows oil and gas companies to shield information about fracking chemicals from emergency-management officials and first responders violates federal law, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The state law, passed in 2001, requires that drilling companies share information about hazardous chemicals only with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is supposed to keep the information available for local officials.

BP may seek to recover some settlement payments

With an ad blitz and a tersely worded letter, BP is mounting an increasingly aggressive campaign to challenge what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses following its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

How BP Got Screwed on Gulf Oil Spill Claims

Until this year, Tampa attorney Kevin McLean specialized in suing nursing homes for neglecting patients. In January he switched the focus of his practice to a fund BP (BP) established to compensate business losses from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. In its attempt to dilute a legal and public-relations mess of epic proportions, BP began paying claims within weeks of the disaster and has so far spent more than $25 billion for cleanup and compensation. That hasn’t stemmed demands for more. The installation last year of a particularly generous claims administrator prompted scores of additional plaintiffs’ attorneys to swarm onto the scene, signing up a new wave of clients, many located far from the once-sullied shoreline. Just five months after his pivot, McLean’s three-attorney firm has 260 clients with claims ranging from $20,000 to $4 million apiece. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” he wrote in a solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.”

BP Says Gulf Spill Payouts Are ‘Inflated’

BP has begun an aggressive ad campaign to defend its dispute of billions of dollars of compensation in settlement payouts to businesses following its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Although the oil company has already paid out more than $42 billion in fines, clean-up costs and compensation, it is now fighting many claims that it says are “inflated” or “do not even exist,” according to CNN. BP placed full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and the Washington Post on Wednesday to defend its position.

BP warns some Gulf oil spill claimants may have to give money back

BP is warning some businesses that received compensation from its multibillion-dollar Gulf oil spill settlement that they may have to give the money back if the company wins its appeal of the claims administrator’s payments to people the company alleges weren’t harmed by the disaster.

How much benzene is too much in oil spills?

Absence of clear federal guidelines and long-term studies make oil fume threats hard to determine. But Arkansas’s safety level far exceeds one national measure.

More of Enbridge’s pipelines come back online after weekend oil spill

Enbridge Inc. says it has restored services to more of a regional pipeline system that takes oil sands production from northern Alberta to an important hub further south in the province.

Giant, oil-belching sinkhole dooms more than 100 homes in Louisiana

It’s looking like a neighborhood in Assumption Parish, La., has been permanently wiped out by a sloppy salt-mining company.

A sinkhole in the area has grown to 15 acres since an old salt mine that was emptied to supply the local petrochemical industry with brine began collapsing in August. Hundreds of neighbors were long ago evacuated, and many of them are now accepting that they will never return to their homes.

Visions of a Greener Pipeline

After two years of study, President Obama this week defined the criteria for what will be one of the signature decisions of his presidency: the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would carry heavy crude from here to American refineries must not “significantly” worsen global warming.

In Canada, Pipeline Remarks Stir Analysis

Perhaps it was his choice of words, but a small portion of President Obama’s speech about climate change on Tuesday has attracted a disproportionate amount of attention in Canada.

At issue are his remarks about the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would send bitumen from Alberta’s oil sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The pipeline requires presidential approval and, for Canadians at least, has become a dominant political issue.

Canada Announces Measures to Calm Public Fears Over Pipeline Safety

Major pipeline companies will have to show federal regulators that they have access to $1 billion to cover the costs of an oil or gas spill, under new rules aimed at easing public concerns about pipeline safety.

John Kerry Controls Keystone XL Decision — Good News For Pipeline Opponents

The world is divided into two sets of people — those who are kept up at night panicking about the existential threat that is climate change, and everybody else. Secretary of State John Kerry is not everybody else.

Romance Wearing Thin but Not Over for Arctic Resource Exploitation

The high Arctic, once the irresistible frontier for oil and gas exploration, is quickly losing its appeal as energy firms grow fearful of the financial and public relations risk of working in the pristine icy wilderness.

The Arctic holds 13 percent of the world’s undiscovered oil and 30 percent of its gas, and Russia’s continuing passion for the precarious zone has been demonstrated by recent deals like the Total and Novatek LNG facility on Yamal, and the Exxon-Rosneft plan to expand their zone of exploration of the country’s north coast.

Fact check: Breaking down BP investment in Alaska’s oil patch

Turns out the $1 billion that BP recently announced it will spend to boost oil drilling on Alaska’s North Slope over the next five years is a cost that will be borne by BP and the state’s other oil producers — not an investment from BP alone.

BP’s press release — along with Alaska Dispatch and other news media — had made it sound like only BP would make that investment, which included adding two new drilling rigs to its fleet of seven.

Oil hunt in Ugandan national park tests Africa’s eco defenses

Uganda’s Murchison Falls National Park is bisected by the majestic Nile river and boasts some of Africa’s wildlife treasures – elephants, lions and a rare giraffe sub-species.

Beneath it lies another natural prize: oil. Now French energy giant Total has begun surveys to prepare for seismic tests in the national park, one of Uganda’s last great wilderness areas, as a prelude to probable crude production.

St. Mary’s Oil Leak Investigated By EPA Amid Doubts Over Ohio Chemical Reporting Law

Federal environmental regulators are investigating a January chemical emergency at an Ohio oil well and asking why an inventory of the facility’s chemicals wasn’t available to local authorities, according to a letter released Wednesday by a coalition of activists.

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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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