Environmental Must-Reads – June 3, 2013


Ill. passes nation’s toughest fracking regulations

Illinois came a giant step closer to approving the nation’s strictest regulations for high-volume oil and gas drilling on Friday, as lawmakers approved a measure they hoped would create thousands of jobs in economically depressed areas of southern Illinois.

Fracking Tests Ties Between California ‘Oil and Ag’ Interests

Scattered on either side of Shafter Avenue just north of the town center here, new oil pump jacks, some bobbing and others thrusting, tower above this corner of California’s prime farmland.

A dirt side road, flanked by an orchard of two-year-old almond trees and a field of alfalfa plants, leads to a two-acre patch where workers were drilling a third well. At a larger rig not too far away, next to a field of potatoes, a 50-foot-tall tower flared off the gas from the crude being extracted from land that used to be a rose field. At yet another site next to almond trees, a fence now surrounds an area where liquids from hydraulic fracturing, the drilling technique commonly known as fracking, leaked into an open pit.

Heinz Endowments Funding Fracking Foes And Backers

In the fierce debates over the safety of fracking for natural gas, one group is giving both sides a chance to make their points.

Pittsburgh’s Heinz Endowments is funding groups that say fracking can’t ever be done safely. It is also working with major energy companies and environmentalists who believe the drilling can be done without hurting the environment.

Boulder Council to consider fracking moratorium Tuesday

Boulder’s leaders listened with great interest last week, when at a joint meeting of community officials, Longmont’s city attorney gave an update on the slow progress of two lawsuits looking to block the town’s efforts to regulate fracking and eliminate a voter-approved measure to ban it.

TN’s oversight of fracking raises concerns

High in the East Tennessee mountains of rural Anderson County, workers had just drilled more than 3,500 feet below ground into natural-gas-rich shale.

The well is owned by CONSOL Energy, a Canonsburg, Penn.-based company that has gas leases on about 240,000 acres in East Tennessee.

Transparency battle unites fracking advocates, opponents

Nearly five years after New York first looked at large-scale hydraulic fracturing for natural gas, both sides of the highly contentious shale-gas-drilling debate have finally reached common ground — not on policy, but on a perceived lack of transparency.

Thirteen injured in Williams compressor station explosion in New Jersey

We reported yesterday that two workers were injured in the Williams compressor station explosion Thursday night, May 30th 2013, in Branchburg New Jersey. It turns out thirteen workers were injured, two seriously. It also turns out that residents sensed something off the day before the explosion and fire. Gas leaked so loudly from the pipeline that it sounded “like a jet plane about to crash,” according to one resident.

Michigan’s Common Ground Against Fracking

In May of 2012, when more than 108,000 acres of Michigan’s state land went up for bid, including unprecedented offerings of state game and recreation areas for oil and gas leasing, members of the public crowded into a 60-seat room (and lined the hallway outside) as 15 protestors rose from the public seats that rimmed the bidder’s tables, standing to voice their opposition to oil and gas development—particularly to fracking—on state land.

‘BP wrecked our Gulf’ says Robert Kennedy Jr

BP is “getting off lightly” for the Gulf of Mexico disaster, a prominent member of America’s most famous political dynasty has claimed.

BP rig supervisors challenge manslaughter charges

Two BP rig supervisors charged in the deaths of 11 workers in the Deepwater Horizon disaster claim the manslaughter counts in their indictment must be dismissed because they don’t apply to conduct on a foreign-owned vessel operating outside U.S. territory.

Mississippi to use some BP money for stadium

Mississippi plans to use $15 million of BP oil spill recovery money to help build a minor league baseball stadium in downtown Biloxi. Gov. Phil Bryant made the announcement Thursday.

Deadline triggers rush of Gulf oil-spill lawsuits, including some from interior Florida

Even as Florida brought home several top-10 finishes in this year’s annual contest for the nation’s best beaches, the tsunami of lawsuits triggered by BP’s beach-trashing oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico three years ago continued to gain strength.

Environmental groups feel impact of BP oil spill still unfolding

When an undersea oil well blew out 50 miles off the Louisiana coast on April 20, 2010, and caused an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig above it (killing 11 workers), no one knew that an even bigger disaster was yet to come. Over the next three months, 4.9 million gallons of crude poured into the water before BP could get the wellhead capped to stop the flow of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

According to BP, which has already spent $14 billion on cleanup and restoration, the Gulf is returning to baseline conditions prior to the disaster.

North Alabama residents to get briefings on BP oil spill settlement

The state is holding briefings for north Alabama residents interested in finding out more about the BP oil spill settlement.

Attorney General Luther Strange and a court-appointed claims administrator will meet with people in Cullman, Huntsville and Birmingham on Wednesday.

Court orders feds to review oil dispersant risks

A legal victory for environmentalists this week means that sea turtles, whales, and other endangered species may be sheltered from the use of oil dispersants off the California coastline.

The things BP doesn’t want you to know about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill

“IT’S as safe as Dawn dishwashing liquid.” That’s what Jamie Griffin says the BP man told her about the smelly, rainbow-streaked gunk coating the floor of the “floating hotel” where Griffin was feeding hundreds of cleanup workers during the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico

South Mississippi citizen scientists contribute to oil-spill knowledge

Residents got a lesson on the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill Saturday from citizen scientists during a community event held at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center in Ocean Springs.

Ecuador Oil Spill: SOTE Pipeline Ruptures After Landslide

Ecuador’s largest oil pipeline suspended operations after a section burst due to a landslide, state-run oil company Petroecuador said on Friday.

The SOTE pipeline transports crude oil produced by state-run company Petroamazonas, which aims to produce 325,000 barrels per day (bpd) on average this year. The pipeline is currently transporting 309,000 bpd.

Police: Arlington Tanker Spilled Thousands Of Gallons Of Oil

State Police said on Saturday that a tanker truck that flipped over in Arlington on Friday was carrying about 10,000 gallons of oil at the time of the crash.

The majority of that fuel spilled.

B.C. says ‘No’ to Northern Gateway on concerns over oil spills

British Columbia has formally rejected Enbridge Inc.’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to the West Coast from Alberta, saying the company has failed to adequately explain how to deal with a major heavy oil spill on land or in coastal waters.

British Columbia Rejects West Coast Pipeline Plan

While we’ve been having a big fight over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline down here in the US, Canada has also been debating a massive pipeline for exporting tar sands oil, the Northern Gateway. And on Friday, the government of British Columbia put the kibosh on that whole idea.

Kinder Morgan shelves Texas-California pipeline

Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP said Friday that it has shelved plans for a pipeline carrying crude oil from Texas to California because refineries weren’t interested enough.

At an estimated cost of $2 billion, the Freedom pipeline would have been a mix of converted natural gas pipelines and new construction. The company said it could have carried up to 277,000 barrels of oil per day.

Legal Headaches Begin For Exxon Over Pegasus Pipeline Rupture

Residents in Mayflower, Arkansas, the site of the recent Pegasus tar sands pipeline rupture, have filed suit against pipeline operator Exxon for health issues and property damage that have arisen since the spill.

Keystone backers hire lobbyists with ties to John Kerry

The fight over the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is getting personal — or should that be personnel?

Pipeline company TransCanada and the Canadian province of Alberta have been hiring lobbyists and consultants who previously worked with Secretary of State John Kerry, hoping they’ll help convince him that Keystone XL deserves a thumbs-up.

Keystone XL Pipeline: Ben Stein Calls Protesters Mentally Deficient

Ben Stein, Visine spokesperson and former speechwriter for Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford, has decided to call people who disagree with him mentally deficient. Like all actors, turned political person, turned actor, turned political commentator, Americans everywhere have been waiting on the sidelines to hear what Mr. Stein has had to say about the Keystone XL pipeline. Thankfully, Stein did not disappoint.

TransCanada in Damage Control Mode Over Flaws in Newly Laid Southern Leg of Keystone XL Pipeline

Dozens of anomalies, including dents and welds, reportedly have been identified along a 60-mile stretch of the southern segment of the Keystone XL pipeline, north of the Sabine River in Texas.

BP to spend $1 billion in Alaska’s North Slope

BP is set to announce Monday that it will sink $1 billion into revving up crude production from Alaska’s declining North Slope, weeks after the state decided to give the oil industry a $750 million annual tax cut.

The British oil giant plans to add two drilling rigs to its Prudhoe Bay field, bringing the count up to nine, the highest in about six years. New well work and drilling, along with upgrades of existing facilities, could support 200 new jobs, the company said.

The Cold Rush: An Effort to Protect the Arctic from Oil Spills During Rapid Development

On May 15th, the U.S. was given an assignment to create a contingency plan for oil and gas spills in the Arctic. Seven other Arctic Council nations – Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden – have to do the same. The need for such a strategy first surfaced due to the Macondo blowout in 2010. The Arctic drilling rig that ran aground in an Alaskan harbor in the early days of 2013 drove it home.

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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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