Environmental Must-Reads – March 28, 2013


Fracking Bill Clears Committee

A bill attempting to address concerns about waste from hydraulic fracturing from being stored or disposed of in Connecticut is moving its way through the General Assembly.

The legislature’s Environment Committee voted 20-8 on Wednesday to forward legislation banning the possession or storage of fracking waste to the House of Representatives.

Brackish Water for Fracking Rising Amid Challenges

On a recent morning, Tommy Taylor, a manager with the drilling company Fasken Oil & Ranch, stood in the West Texas desert beside two huge pools of water. One contained freshwater, and the other contained brackish water from the Santa Rosa aquifer 1,700 feet beneath Taylor’s feet.

Fasken has been mixing the two sources as part of a pilot program to use bracking water in hydraulic fracturing so that the water-intensive drilling process doesn’t deplete local freshwater wells.

Small Towns Find Fracking Brings Boom, Booming Headaches

Fracking’s secondary effects will increasingly challenge small towns and cities grappling with job gains and environmental costs, according to a study by Oklahoma State University researchers.

Towns that have already experienced the U.S. boom in natural-gas exploration using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, hold lessons for dealing with mineral-rights disputes, pollution concerns and increased strains on roads, schools and police forces, said Shannon Ferrell, agricultural law professor at the Stillwater, Oklahoma-based school.

Gas Industry Report Calls Anti-Fracking Movement a “Highly Effective Campaign”

Communities working to stop a controversial gas drilling process are getting what sounds like encouragement from an unlikely source: a report prepared for the oil and gas industry on the risks posed by those communities themselves. Even more bizarre than a risk assessment about grassroots activists is one that basically admits the activists are right.

Fracking’s Latest Scandal? Earthquake Swarms

Turns out that when a barely regulated industry injects highly pressurized wastewater into faults, things can go terribly wrong.

Campaign Kicks Off to Ban Fracking in Michigan

The Committee to Ban Fracking in Michigan, a citizen-led ballot initiative group seeking to ban fracking announces its campaign kick off events in communities around the state. Volunteer circulators begin collecting signatures starting April 12 for a six-month period to qualify for the 2014 ballot.

Biggest Oklahoma Earthquake in Memory Linked to Oil Industry

In November 2011, a destructive 5.7-magnitude earthquake rocked the grasslands outside the small town of Prague, Oklahoma. The shaking leveled 14 homes, shut down schools for repairs, and was felt across 17 states. It also troubled seismologists, who’d never expected an event so large to hit an area that was supposed to be seismically safe.

According to the results of a new study published online yesterday in the journal Geology, the temblor was potentially linked to the underground injection of wastewater from local oil operations. In fact, the fault that triggered the event ruptured just about 200 meters from active injection wells. Changes in water volumes deep underground may have reduced the stress on the rock, allowing the fault to slip.

Different Kind Of Boom: Replacing Extracted Oil And Gas With Toxic Wastewater Causes Earthquakes

After pulling massive amounts of fossil fuels out of the Earth’s crust so we can burn it up into our atmosphere, we have a good sense of where the stuff goes. Our oceans. A global greenhouse. Our lungs. But what happens to the ground formerly occupied by those fossil fuels?

It’s becoming increasingly clear that oil and gas extraction processes are actually weakening the structural integrity of the Earth’s crust just enough to cause more frequent earthquakes, in places not used to them.

Halliburton calls BP’s request for sanctions ‘a mid-trial sideshow’ in BP oil spill trial filing

Responding to a BP motion asking a federal judge to sanction Halliburton for not turning over potentially damaging evidence in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill trial, Halliburton on Tuesday accused BP of “finger pointing” and looking to “create a mid-trial sideshow to divert attention away from its own egregious acts and omissions” that led to its Macondo well blowout and one of the largest oil spills in the nation’s history.

Trial over Gulf oil spill set to resume Tuesday

BP’s cement contractor on the drilling rig that exploded in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010 will continue presenting its defense next week at a trial over the deadly catastrophe.

BP Ignored Halliburton Blowout Risk Warning, Witness Says

BP Plc (BP/) was warned days before its Gulf of Mexico well exploded that its decision to forgo 15 stabilizers meant the effort to seal gas leaks with cement could result in an increased blowout risk called “channeling,” a Halliburton Co. (HAL) witness testified.

Lack of centralizers in well a concern, but not over safety, Halliburton engineer testifies

A Halliburton engineer who was onboard the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig in the days before it caught fire and exploded in the Gulf of Mexico testified Wednesday that he was concerned when BP cut back on the amount of equipment used to keep the drill pipe centered in the ill-fated Macondo well as the cement was poured, but did not consider it a safety problem.

Minnesota Oil Spill: Canadian Train Derails, Spilling 30,000 Gallons Of Crude In U.S.

A mile-long train hauling oil from Canada derailed and leaked 30,000 gallons of crude in western Minnesota on Wednesday, as debate rages over the environmental risks of transporting tar sands across the border.

Nigerian agencies seek $11.5 billion oil spill payout from Shell

Two Nigerian government agencies told a parliamentary hearing on Thursday that Royal Dutch Shell should pay a total of $11.5 billion (7.6 billion pounds) in compensation for damage caused by an oil spill at its offshore Bonga field in December 2011

State Department to hold Keystone pipeline hearing in Nebraska

The US State Department said Wednesday it will hold a public meeting in Nebraska in April on a controversial $5.3 billion Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline, just days before a key consultation period ends.

The April 18 meeting on the Keystone XL Project will take place in the midwestern US state’s environmentally-sensitive Sandhills area, which the pipeline had initially been set to traverse.

Greenland halts new oil drilling licences

The new government in Greenland has slapped a moratorium on the granting of fresh offshore oil and gas drilling licences in the country’s Arctic waters in a move which has been welcomed by Greenpeace but will disappoint the industry.

The ban came as one of the Arctic drilling pioneers, the British company Cairn Energy, failed in a bid to keep an injunction on any protests organised against it by Greenpeace.

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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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