Environmental Must-Reads – June 4, 2013


Illinois Must Adopt ‘Fracking’ Rules, Hire Experts

High-volume oil and gas extraction probably won’t begin in earnest in Illinois until next year because the state must first adopt rules and hire dozens of new employees to help regulate an industry eagerly pushing into new territory.

Proposed fracking rules put nation’s drinking water at risk

In a move its predecessor would be proud of, the Obama administration has bowed to industry pressure and proposed rules on hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” on public lands that put the nation’s water supply at risk of contamination with cancer-causing chemicals.

California Democrats experience anti-fracking setback

California Democrats have suffered a setback in their anti-fracking efforts, but will continue to push for more rules on the controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing.

The California legislature opted not to follow in the footsteps of New Jersey and New York, defeating a bill that would have put a moratorium on fracking within the state until regulations could be imposed.

Pro-Fracking Spin on Public Radio

April edition of the monthly public radio program America Abroad, “Global Energy and Innovations,” sounded like an infomercial for the natural gas “fracking” industry. Which, in essence, is what it was.

The show, which is distributed by Public Radio International (PRI), began with host Madeleine Brand declaring:

Thanks to a breakthrough in the technology known as “fracking,” the hydraulic fracturing of rock, the United States is enjoying a boom in cheap natural gas.

Fracking patience wears thin

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.

Court of Appeals asked to hear fracking home rule cases

Proponents of hydraulic fracturing have asked New York’s top court to decide whether local governments can ban gas drilling, but whether the court agrees to take the cases is far from certain.

Fort Collins Police investigating error-filled COGA fracking petition

The Fort Collins Police Services Financial Crimes Unit is investigating possible criminal activity involving a petition opposing a Fort Collins fracking ban submitted to the Fort Collins City Council in February.

Keep fracking waste from coming into Connecticut

There are two bills before the Connecticut legislature that would keep fracking waste from coming into our state.

Although natural gas burns much cleaner than other fuels, there is a problem with the extraction of it from the shale deposits. The extraction methods, called fracking, are poorly regulated and therefore are causing many serious environmental and human health problems.

Shale gas: Battle rages over fracking as reserves sought

The German brewing industry has become the latest lobby group to set its face against the expansion of hydraulic fracturing for gas and oil in Europe.

Last month the Deutscher Brauer-Bund, the brewers’ association, issued an open letter to government ministers warning that fracking in Germany could threaten the purity of water as demanded by the “Reinheitsgebot”, or German purity law.

California, Illinois lawmakers welcome frackers

Lawmakers rolled out red carpets for frackers last week in California and Illinois.

California’s Assembly rejected, by a 37-24 vote, AB 1323, which would have imposed a moratorium on fracking until state regulators issue environmental and safety guidelines. Apparently the rush to cash in on oil and gas deposits just cannot wait for such trivial matters. “Let’s unleash this magnificent potential for jobs,” Assemblyman Jim Patterson (R) said, according to the AP.

Concerns Over Radioactive Fracking Waste Continue to Mount

Amid all the push back to fracking, most of the attention has focused on what drillers put into the ground. The amount of water used. The chemicals that make up energy companies’ secret mix. Whether these dangerous chemicals will contaminate our drinking water. But one of the biggest problems of fracking, indeed, the Achilles heel of this innovative drilling technique that is giving fossil fuels a second lease on life, is the waste that comes out of the ground.

Climate benefits from natural gas seen hinging on plugging leaks

Leaks in the production and delivery of natural gas threaten to undermine the benefits to the climate from expanded use of the fuel in manufacturing, transportation and appliances such as heaters, according to a report.

An oil spill revisited: A fisherman lives day to day in the Louisiana bayou

On the Bayou DuLarge, spring was breaking wide open. I thought of that line, “LIVE, it’s Saturday night!” I wanted to shout something too. Strip and run naked through the woods. The hound dog in me took hold like a fever.

Maybe, it’s because along Bayou DuLarge, life is in your face. Here, Force of Nature seems to rule. Not the courts or our need for justice. As life goes, it’s both beautiful and cruel.

Electric substation rupture causes major oil spill in Fort Smith

OG&E workers discovered a mineral oil spill at a utility substation near Rutgers Road in Fort Smith Saturday June 1, according to Jennah Durant with the EPA.

The company notified the EPA and confirmed about 16,000 gallons of transformer oil spilled.

Crews work to clean up mineral oil spill in Fort Smith

The Environmental Protection Agency says crews are working to clean up a mineral oil spill in western Arkansas.

EPA spokesman Jennah Durant says Monday that officials discovered the spill Saturday after a transformer apparently fractured at an Oklahoma Gas and Electric substation in Fort Smith.

Oil spill sullies river in Ecuador

A Petroecuador pipeline ruptured in Ecuador’s Amazon basin region, spilling 10,000 barrels of crude into a river and alarming locals left without fresh well water, authorities said Monday.

Arkansas Residents Sick From Exxon Oil Spill Are on Their Own

For more than a month, residents of Mayflower, Ark. have been told not to worry about lingering fumes from a March 29 oil spill that shut down a neighborhood and forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

“Overall, air emissions in the community continue to be below levels likely to cause health effects for the general population,” Arkansas regulators wrote on a state-operated website that tracks Mayflower’s air monitoring data.

Exxon Lied About Oil Pipeline Rupture, Documents Show

According to newly released documents, Exxon Mobil—the world’s most profitable corporation—knew that contamination from an oil spill in Arkansas this year was dangerous and yet, the company downplayed it anyway. At least 210,000 gallons of tar sands crude oil emanated from the Pegasus pipeline when it burst in late March, flooding residences in Mayflower with the thick, tarry substance and running into nearby Lake Conway.

Coast guard’s oil-spill preparedness languishing, audit says

Internal government audits of the Canadian Coast Guard’s capacity to monitor and respond to a marine oil spill found a system that was outdated, disorganized and in need of an overhaul.

But many of the substantial recommendations in the reports have languished, despite pressure on Ottawa to deal with concerns over a potential increase in oil tanker traffic off the British Columbia coast.

British Columbia Officially Rejects Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline

Oil spill cleanup concerns have led the British Columbia Government to reject a proposed multi-billion dollar tar sands oil pipeline that the Canadian company Enbridge wants to construct across the province.

In its final submission Friday to the federally-appointed Northern Gateway Pipeline Joint Review Panel, the province states that it cannot support the Enbridge Northern Gateway project because the company “has been unable to address British Columbians’ environmental concerns.”

Keystone opponent Tom Steyer warns Obama to reject pipeline or face backlash

Billionaire and climate activist Tom Steyer has written an open letter to President Obama, warning him to reject the Keystone XL pipeline or face an organized rebellion from some of his most loyal supporters later this month.

The Keystone XL Shuffle

For the past year, most blog posts, action alerts and appeals to “Stop Keystone XL,” “Reject Keystone XL,” “Fight Keystone XL” and “Resist Keystone XL” have focused on blocking the pipeline’s northern leg, while ignoring President Obama’s support for the 485-mile southern segment. During this time, TransCanada has been busy building that southern leg, which is now 75 percent constructed.

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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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