Environmental Must-Reads – March 6, 2013


Judge rejects BP attempt to reinterpret part of settlement

A federal judge has made a final ruling against BP denying its request to change the way certain business loss claims are handled in its multibillion-dollar settlement with private victims of the 2010 Gulf oil spill.

This culminates an issue first exposed by WWLTV.

Transocean worker says still haunted by Deepwater Horizon blast

Transocean’s Randy Ezell is still haunted nearly three years later by the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig that killed 11 fellow workers and left him buried in a pile of debris, Ezell testified on Tuesday.

Judge in Gulf oil spill trial hears from worker who survived Deepwater Horizon rig explosion

A Transocean employee who survived the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion testified at the Gulf oil spill trial Tuesday that a subordinate killed in the blast was one of the workers who apparently missed signs that BP’s well was about to blow out.

Randy Ezell, the first rig worker to testify in person at a trial designed to assign blame for the 2010 disaster, said Jason Anderson was a “top-notch” toolpusher who would have done everything in his power to prevent the blowout.

BP faces August 2014 trial on shareholders’ Gulf spill claims

A U.S. civil trial has been set for Aug. 25, 2014, regarding accusations that BP Plc committed fraud by misleading shareholders before and after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill about its ability to respond to the accident.

The jury trial was scheduled by U.S. District Judge Keith Ellison in Houston on Tuesday.

BP Faces 2014 Trial Over Investors’ Gulf Spill Claims

BP Plc will face a jury trial Aug. 25, 2014, in federal court in Houston on investors’ multibillion-dollar allegations that the company hid the true size of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill to limit the effect on its stock price.

The investors, led by Ohio and New York pension plans, sued BP and certain officers in 2010, alleging violations of U.S. securities law. The investors also claim the company publicly claimed a commitment to and implementation of expanded safety measures while internally cutting budgets and rejecting employees’ safety warnings.

Oil spill judge hears from rig blast survivor

A Transocean employee who survived the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion testified at the Gulf oil spill trial Tuesday that a subordinate killed in the blast was one of the workers who apparently missed signs that BP’s well was about to blow out.

Seven months later, Bayou Corne residents plea for help

Bayou Corne residents are hoping a big name can help them figure out what to do next.

Sunday marked the 7 month anniversary of the formation of a massive sinkhole in Bayou Corne. Erin Brockovich and Tom Girardi will attend a community meeting on Saturday, March 9. Resident’s say Brockovich, an environmental activist, could help bring national attention to the community.

Sinkhole bills will be diverse

Besides a legislative package local lawmakers are developing to address sinkhole issues in Assumption Parish, a separate effort is coming together for an area that suffered a cavern-related disaster 33 years ago.

Lake Peigneur, a few miles west of New Iberia, grabbed attention around the country in 1980 when a Texaco drilling rig mistakenly breached a salt mine below the water’s bottom.

Erin Brockovich gets involved with Assumption sinkhole

Environmental activist Erin Brockovich and a California attorney hired by a group of Assumption Parish residents are coming to Pierre Part to discuss the legal options for residents evacuated from the Bayou Corne area due to a giant sinkhole.

Erin Brockovich to meet with people affected by Louisiana sinkhole

Victims of the massive sinkhole in southeast Louisiana have grabbed the attention nationally known environmental activist Erin Brockovich.

Los Angeles attorney Thomas Girardi said he will be visiting the sinkhole site in Bayou Corne with Brockovich. He confirmed he is currently representing 18 Assumption Parish residents, but a community spokesman expects more people to meet with the team Saturday.

Obama Legacy On Keystone XL Pipeline Is New Environmentalist Appeal

Environmentalists seeking to block the proposed Keystone XL pipeline’s revised route are appealing to President Barack Obama’s sense of history as much as to his devotion to the climate.

“What happens if you’ve got the Obama pipeline — now it’s the Obama pipeline — and it leaks?” asked activist and former White House adviser Van Jones on CNN Friday. “His legacy could be the worst oil disaster in American farmland history.”

Feds making leaky Alaska oil wells monuments to avoid clean-up? No, says BLM.

Federal land on Alaska’s North Slope is dotted with abandoned, decades-old wells, some of them leaking oil and gas into the environment.

Now, according to Rep. Charisse Millett, R-Anchorage, who has made cleanup of wells in the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska a personal mission, the Bureau of Land Management is seeking to get the wells named National Historic Monuments to avoid the cleanup responsibility.

Threat of Colorado lawsuit looms as fracking ban OK’d in Fort Collins

The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday night banned fracking within city limits, defying the governor and other state authorities who say local governments have no right to regulate the oil and gas industry.

The ban was expected to bring lawsuits from the state and from the Colorado Oil and Gas Association.

Anti-Fracking Celebrities, Such As Yoko Ono, Mark Ruffalo And Others, Put ‘Fractivism’ In The Spotlight

The scene: a Manhattan art-house theater. The cause: a campaign against the gas drilling process known as fracking that’s being led by more than 100 celebrities, including Yoko Ono, Sean Lennon, Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo and Mario Batali.

Outside, demonstrators in hazmat suits circle the theater. Inside, actress Scarlett Johansson attends a benefit screening of “Gasland,” the documentary film that has become the movement’s manifesto. Johansson tells The Associated Press that her “Avengers” co-star Ruffalo introduced her to the cause, and that she found the film “incredibly shocking.”

Fracking ban gains support

A day before the Assembly plans to pass a two-year moratorium on hydrofracking, the Senate’s five-member Independent Democratic Conference put forth a similar proposal that would stop the clock on the state’s long consideration of the controversial natural gas drilling technique.

Fracking wastewater poses a risk

The news on fracking just keeps getting worse. As Republican lawmakers in the General Assembly rush to open the state to energy companies eager to mine natural gas reserves believed trapped in shale rock formations deep underground, they seem to be stumbling into reality a little at a time.

Are You Faking Your Fracking Knowledge? Here Are Six Good Sources

Are you Faking Your Fracking Knowledge?

People across America are talking about the effect hydraulic fracturing (often called “fracking”) is having on our food, water and health. But even if you don’t have time to read all the reports and articles, you are probably curious about fracking, and why people are concerned.

NY senators, including David Valesky, seek fracking delay to await key study

A critical bloc in New York’s Senate is calling for up to a two-year delay in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas until an independent health review known as the Geisinger study is completed.

The Independent Democratic Conference, which shares control of the Senate with Republicans, said the Geisinger study and two other reviews on drinking water must be completed before Gov. Andrew Cuomo settles the 5-year-old debate.

West Virginia: Lawsuit claims breach of contract by pooling shale formation under property

WELLSBURG, W.Va. — Ohio and Pennsylvania are not alone with mounting court battles over oil and gas leases — cases are also being filed in West Virginia.

A lawsuit in the Northern Panhandle contends that the driller was able to obtain gas and oil from the property even though the existing lease did not give permission to pool or unitize the Marcellus shale formation.

Can This Contraption Make Fracking Greener?

Although natural gas production emits less CO2 than other fossil fuels, it still spits plenty of junk into the atmosphere. But backers of a new gadget released yesterday say they’ve hit on a way to help frackers clean up their act.

Boosters of natural gas often flaunt the stuff as a “clean” fossil fuel, because when it burns—in a power plant, say—it releases far less carbon dioxide than coal or oil. But with the growth of fracking nationwide, some academics and environmentalists have flagged a silent problem that threatens to undermine the purported climate gains of natural gas: “fugitive” methane emissions.

A Ban On Fracking In Fort Collins Could Mean Legal Trouble

The Fort Collins City Council was scheduled to meet right Tuesday evening and was expected to ban all oil and gas operations within the city limits. By doing that, it could set itself up for a lawsuit from the state.

Fort Collins Mayor Karen Weitkunat told CBS4’s Ty Brennan the issue is a difficult line to strike between what the citizens want and what the state wants.

Aversion To Fracking Continues In Illinois Despite Compromise Bill

As the Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act was moved to committee yesterday, a coalition of 15 organizations sent a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn and the Illinois General Assembly, asking for a ban on hydraulic fracturing, instead of regulations on the oil and gas drilling technology.

‘Dash for Gas’ Hits Europe as One Country Finds Itself on the Front Lines of the Fracking Battle

Chris Faulkner is an oil man. From Dallas, Texas. And his company, Breitling Oil and Gas, is a major player in the burgeoning shale gas sector.

Faulkner is in London to give a presentation on whether Europe is the next shale gas hotspot, and to ask whether – if so – it has the necessary infrastructure to cope with a US style ‘dash for gas’.

But he’s also here to explain how the controversial process for extracting underground shale gas reserves – hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ as it has become known – can be green.

Gag Order: Town Board Decides Community Can No Longer Discuss Fracking at Town Meetings

The town of Sanford sits in what is called New York’s Southern Tier, on the Pennsylvania border. More importantly, it’s in the heart of Marcellus Shale country.

A Must Read Account of Fracking Colorado

I went to a meeting earlier this winter in the Colorado Governor’s Office. I’m not a regular.

The Governor, John Hickenlooper, Hick to his friends, had called the meeting with Boulder County Commissioners to discuss the county’s draft regulations governing the recovery of oil and gas found in the county’s deep underground shale formations. The fact is that most of the state is underlain by these ancient and organically rich seabeds. All are ripe for exploitation through the use of the industry’s new mining technique called horizontal fracking.

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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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