Environmental Must-Reads – March 18, 2013


Transocean defense takes center stage at Gulf oil spill trial

Transocean’s defense takes center stage Monday as the fourth week of the civil trial over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill begins.

The owner of the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf off Louisiana is expected to call to the stand experts and company officials who will seek to rebut testimony that the rig was unseaworthy at the time of the disaster.

BP asks judge to halt ‘fictitious’ and ‘absurd’ Deepwater oil spill payouts

Oil giant asks New Orleans judge to temporarily halt payouts and says it could be ‘irreparably harmed’ by billions in costs

BP appeal over ‘absurd’ Gulf oil spill payouts

Oil giant BP is taking legal action in the US to limit payouts by a fund set up to compensate those affected by the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP said some of the claims being paid by the scheme’s administrator were “fictitious” and “absurd”.

BP: Some Gulf damage payments too high

Oil giant BP says the administrator of a fund set up to compensate victims of the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill has set payments that are too generous.

The oil company said it has set aside $7.8 billion to create a fund to help make whole those whose lives and livelihoods were affected when an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig unleashed a three-month torrent of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

BP Challenges ‘Absurd’ Oil Spill Claims

BP launched its promised appeal against “fictitious” and “absurd” oil spill compensation payouts on Friday and asked a judge to temporarily halt those made on a so-called business economic loss basis.

In a New Orleans court filing, BP gave examples of businesses in industries far from the spill and unconnected with the coastline that enjoyed strengthened earnings in the spill year of 2010 and yet had received millions in spill compensation.

Where’s The Missing Oil From The BP Oil Spill? ‘Dirty Blizzard’ May Explain It

The 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon Oil spill dumped more than 200 million gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico yet government assessments have been unable to account for all of it.

Microbes likely processed most of the oil within months of the spill, but not all of it. A new hypothesis suggests the oil acted as a catalyst for plankton and other surface materials to clump together and fall to the sea floor in a massive sedimentation event – what they have termed a “dirty blizzard.”

BP seeks to block Gulf oil spill settlement payments

BP sued Friday to block what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The London-based oil giant accused the court-appointed administrator for the settlement, Patrick Juneau, of trying to rewrite the terms of the deal. BP said Juneau violated the settlement in the way he used a complex formula to determine the payments to businesses.

In BP oil spill trial, attention turns to Halliburton, Transocean

The massive civil trial to determine liability for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill shifted its focus last week from BP, the owner of the Macondo well, to its partners in the ill-fated drilling operation. Turning the spotlight on Transocean and Halliburton was, legal experts and others following the case say, likely a welcome change for the British oil giant, which has maintained all along that everyone involved shares in the blame for the fatal disaster.

Hydrocarbon spill confirmed north of Parachute

Oil-and-gas industry officials Saturday confirmed that state and federal regulators and a consortium of consultants have been at the scene of an underground plume of more than 1,500 gallons of hydrocarbons in western Colorado for more than a week.

The source of the plume — discovered 4 miles north of Parachute along Parachute Creek next to Williams Midstream’s Parachute Creek Gas Plant — has not been identified.

Commission to study return for Bayou Corne residents

Louisiana Department of Natural Resources Secretary Stephen Chustz will appoint the members of a “blue ribbon commission” by the end of this week to determine when Bayou Corne residents can safely return home, an agency spokesman said.

Experts are being sought from federal and state government, academic institutions and consulting firms to fill an estimated 12 to 17 spots, said Patrick Courreges, DNR spokesman.

Sinkhole burps, swallows more land

Officials monitoring the Assumption parish sinkhole say the massive slurry burped again Sunday morning.

Nearly an acre of land fell off into the west side of the sinkhole, according to Assumption OEP director John Boudreaux. Boudreaux also said more debris and hydrocarbon appeared at the surface.

One Sinkhole Killed, and Many Others Opened, but Experts Counsel Not to Panic

The recent bizarre death of a man who vanished into a huge sinkhole that opened beneath his home in suburban Tampa, Fla., unleashed a wave of sympathy, and not a little fear, among fellow Floridians. This is the “sinkhole season” in Florida, a time when homes, cars and — rarely — people can drop into the abyss without warning.

But for fans of sinkholes, of which there are more than one might think, this is a very good time, indeed.

Keystone Fears Resonate Along New England Pipeline

The Canadian energy industry insists it has no plans to reverse the flow of a pipeline that carries crude oil from Maine to Montreal, but that has done little to reassure New England towns that oppose the idea and the 18 members of Congress asking for a full environmental review.

Environmentalists in the U.S. and Canada started raising the alarm about oil they call “tar sands” or “oil sands” being moved through northern New England several months ago.

White House: Keystone XL Pipeline Not A Climate Change Cure

Barack Obama has seen protesters from his motorcade for years: McCain and Romney campaign supporters, health care reform opponents and all manner of Tea Party acolytes. But when he left Argonne National Laboratory in a cold rain outside Chicago on Friday, there was another breed altogether: environmentalists bearing bright hand-painted signs with messages like, “No XL Pipeline.”

APNewsBreak: Celeb fracking group not registered

Dozens of celebrities may be running afoul of the law as they unite under the banner of one group that is seeking to prevent a method of gas drilling in New York state.

Artists Against Fracking opposes hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, and boasts members including Yoko Ono and actors Mark Ruffalo and Susan Sarandon.

California Fracking Fight Has $25 Billion Taxes at Stake

California (CROMCA)’s reputation for environmental protection may be jeopardized by the lure of a $25 billion tax windfall that depends on how the state permits oil companies to take advantage of vast deposits lying two miles beneath its golden hills.

University of Tennessee Wins Approval for Hydraulic Fracturing Plan

The University of Tennessee faced protests here on Friday over its proposal to let a private company drill for natural gas across a forest controlled by the university.

Environmentalists say opening the Cumberland Forest in eastern Tennessee to hydraulic fracturing, a process known as “fracking,” could harm wildlife and scenery on the 8,000-acre tract of state-owned land.

University of Tennessee Wins Approval for Hydraulic Fracturing Plan

The University of Tennessee faced protests here on Friday over its proposal to let a private company drill for natural gas across a forest controlled by the university.

Environmentalists say opening the Cumberland Forest in eastern Tennessee to hydraulic fracturing, a process known as “fracking,” could harm wildlife and scenery on the 8,000-acre tract of state-owned land.

As New York Considers its Next Move on Fracking, Attention Turns to Proposed Gas Storage Facilities

As New York State considers its next move on fracking, attention is shifting to gas industry infrastructure projects proposed for the state that may hasten development using the controversial gas extraction process.

Two such projects are proposed for underground salt caverns on the shores of Seneca Lake, in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York. They would involve large-scale storage facilities with new capacity for 88 million gallons of liquid petroleum gas (“LPG”) and additional capacity for natural gas, expanding storage to 2 billion cubic feet. Both projects are proposed by subsidiaries of Kansas City-based Inergy.

Fracking Moratorium Bills Introduced in Illinois

On March 13, one day after nearly a hundred concerned citizens converged on Springfield, Illinois to call for a moratorium on fracking, House Speaker Mike Madigan announced his support for legislation to stop the dirty drilling technique in Illinois.

Marcellus Drill-site Pits Have Problems Says WVU

A legislatively mandated study by West Virginia University has found consistent and potentially significant problems with the way oil and gas companies build drilling waste pits and with how state regulators inspect those impoundments.

WVU engineers reported that field evaluations found insufficient compaction, soil erosion and seepage at sites where gas-drilling companies store wastewater from hydraulic fracturing and gas production activities.

Politicians air their concerns about fracking, wastewater

If the Piedmont region is opened up to fracking, keep the wastewater away from our coastal backyard. That’s the sentiment of many local elected leaders as the state Republican leadership appears eager to open its arms to hydraulic fracturing as a home-grown source of natural gas.

“My gut response: No, no-no-no-no-no,” said Oak Island Mayor Betty Wallace.

Pa. Fights to Stop Coal Mine Pollution

Each day, 300 million gallons of polluted mine water enters Pennsylvania streams and rivers, turning many of them into dead zones unable to support aquatic life. At the same time, drilling companies use up to 5 million gallons of fresh water for every natural-gas well  they frack.

State environmental officials and coal region lawmakers are hoping that the state’s newest extractive industry can help clean up a giant mess left by the last one. They are encouraging drillers to use tainted coal mine water to hydraulically fracture gas wells in the Marcellus Shale formation, with the twin goals of diverting pollution from streams and rivers that now run orange with mine drainage and reducing the drillers’ reliance on fresh sources of water.

New bills in Congress would crack down on the fracking industry

Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.) introduced two bills on Thursday that would repeal exemptions for oil and gas companies under the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

Add comment

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This