Environmental Must-Reads – March 22, 2013


Environmentalists, Drillers Reach ‘Truce’ For Fracking Standards

A group of environmentalists and drilling companies has crafted a truce of sorts over the rapid spread of natural gas production in the Appalachian Basin. Four major drilling companies and several environmental groups have agreed on 15 voluntary standards for cleaner drilling practices.

Sierra Club blasts new plan to improve fracking

The Sierra Club and some other environmental groups are harshly criticizing a new partnership that aims to create tough new standards for fracking.

The criticism Thursday came a day after two of the nation’s biggest oil and gas companies made peace with some national and regional environmental groups, agreeing to go through an independent review of their shale oil and gas drilling operations in the Northeast.

N.Y. Court Hears Arguments on Town Fracking Bans

Backers of natural gas drilling and environmental advocates wrangled Thursday over whether New York‘s towns have the legal right to ban oil and gas development in a fight that could ultimately be decided by the state’s highest court.

A four-judge appellate panel heard arguments over the local bans in Dryden and Middlefield, two central New York towns among dozens in the state that have passed zoning laws prohibiting drilling. Opponents argue state rules supersede such local restrictions.

Legislation Would Have Fracking Fluid Recipes Sent to Landowners Nearby

Under legislation considered at the Capitol this week, hydraulic fracturing companies in Texas could soon be mailing a list of “fracking” fluid ingredients to residents near oil and gas wells.

House Bill 448, authored by Rep. Dawnna Dukes, D-Austin, would require drilling companies to mail a list of the ingredients they plan to use in the fracking fluid to residents living within 500 feet of the proposed well.

A Pennsylvania fracking settlement answers a few questions

The Pittsburgh area is buzzing today about a high-profile environmental pollution case linked to fracking. A family and a drilling  company reached a settlement in private. But a few lawsuits later, the details of the case just became public.

In the fracking wars, the secret settlement between driller Range Resources and the Hallowich family outside Pittsburgh is a defining battle.

Prospect Energy reaches deal on Fort Collins fracking ban

Prospect Energy LLC, a small Denver oil and gas company facing the effects of Fort Collins’ ban on fracking, has reached an operating agreement with the city.

The agreement, approved by the city council Tuesday, gives the city a July 31 deadline to exempt Prospect’s wells, and new wells it wants to drill inside the city, from its frack ban.

Recycling fracking water is gaining interest

In an Austin warehouse, a 4-year-old company called Omni Water Solutions is working on a way to recycle water used in hydraulic fracturing. Its technology involves a large container, dubbed a “Hippo,” that purifies water from oil fields via filters and other means. The scrubbed water potentially could be reused in the fracking process, which requires roughly 4 million to 6 million gallons of water per well.

Gas drillers paid $750K settlement to Pa. family

Newly released court documents show gas drilling company Range Resources and other defendants paid $750,000 to settle claims that the activity ruined a western Pennsylvania family’s property.

Stephanie and Chris Hallowich had sued the companies claiming drilling and other activity on a neighboring property had made their home in Hickory, about 25 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, virtually unsellable.

Lawyers for Alabama, BP seek sanctions against Halliburton for not revealing cement samples

Attorneys for BP and the state of Alabama will seek sanctions against Halliburton for not turning over samples of the cement used on the Macondo well to federal investigators, according to a report from The Times-Picayune.

Corey Maze, a lawyer representing the state of Alabama from Attorney General Luther Strange’s office, said the state would wait for BP to file its motion and either support it or file its own, according to The Associated Press.

Markey touts response to BP oil spill in second ad

Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) launched a second ad in his bid for the Massachusetts special Senate election, this time focusing on his response to the 2010 BP oil spill.

Gulf Coast attorneys general say BP ‘wrong’ to challenge oil spill claims process

Attorneys general from Alabama and Mississippi today urged a federal court judge to reject BP’s attempt to block payments to some victims of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

BP filed a lawsuit on March 15 in U.S. District Court in New Orleans seeking to block what could be billions of dollars in settlement payouts to businesses harmed by the catastrophe.

Alabama attorney general blasts BP for challenging Gulf oil spill claims

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is blasting British oil giant BP for challenging certain claims that could cost the company billions of dollars as part of a class-action settlement the company agreed to last year with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Enbridge: Oil spill cleanup costs nearing $1 billion

Last week’s dredging order by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will push Enbridge’s cleanup costs for the July 2010 spill close to $1 billion, the company said Wednesday.

Enbridge Energy Partners LP said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the EPA order will cost the company $175 million and “financial statement recognition for this incident will cause increased volatility in the Partnership’s results of operations and cash flows.”

Giant Sinkhole Threatens Neighborhood: Residents in Bayou Corne, Louisiana Evacuated

A giant sinkhole threatens a neighborhood in Louisiana after a salt mine collapsed in August of last year. The giant sinkhole in Bayou Corne is now 12 acres in size, according to KSLA-12, and isn’t done growing yet. Residents threatened by the giant sinkhole were evacuated last year and still can’t return to their homes.

No to the Keystone Pipeline

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has declared the reality of global warming “unequivocal.” Scientists at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies have found that the temperature of the Earth is reaching a level “not seen in thousands of years” and increasing at the “remarkably rapid rate” of about 0.2 degrees Celsius per decade over the past 30 years. If current patterns of human activity continue, planetary biophysical systems could be destabilized to trigger what scientists describe as “abrupt or irreversible environmental changes that would be deleterious or even catastrophic for human well-being.”

Native Americans unite to fight pipelines, including Keystone XL

A group of Native Americans has threatened to take physical action to stop the construction of three oil pipelines, claiming that the transport systems would take over their land and infringe upon their rights.

Leaders from ten Canadian and US indigenous groups gathered in Ottawa, Ontario on Wednesday to protest the construction of pipelines which would move tar sands oil from Canada to the US. These pipelines would run across the traditional land that is sacred to these Native Americans.

BP poised for Arctic oil exploration as Rosneft says they will ‘definitely’ work together offshore

BP is reviving plans to explore for oil in the Arctic with Rosneft, after completing the $27bn (£17.8bn) sale of its stake in TNK-BP to the Russian state-controlled giant.

NOAA considers effects of Arctic oil and gas activities on marine mammals and Alaska native communities

NOAA announced today that it is seeking comments on a supplemental draft environmental impact statement (EIS) for oil and gas activities in the Arctic Ocean. The draft, developed in collaboration with the Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), includes analysis on how a broader range of potential offshore oil and gas activities could affect the environment, with a specific focus on marine mammals and the Alaska Native communities that depend on the animals for food and cultural traditions.

1 comment

  • I thank the judge made a good decision in regarding no punitive damages for the maker of blow out preventor , it’s ultimately not their fault that it was wired wrong and the battery was dead . But it does help solidify the the requirements needed to find bp & trans ocean guilty of gross negligence .

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