Environmental Must-Reads – May 1, 2013


Bills to ban fracking in California move forward

Could California put a halt to fracking? Some lawmakers are pushing legislation that would do just that.

On Monday, the state Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee approved no fewer than three bills calling for a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing until its environmental and health effects are thoroughly studied by the state. Meanwhile, another bill pending in the state Senate would allow fracking to continue for now but would impose a moratorium if the state fails to complete a comprehensive review by January 2015.

California Regulator Eyes Tracking of Fracking Chemicals

California may set up its own system for tracking chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing by oil and natural gas producers, rather than depend on the current voluntary registry, the state’s energy industry regulator said.

Sand Land: Fracking Industry Mining Iowa’s Iconic Sand Bluffs in New Form of Mountaintop Removal

Within immediate vicinity of a central battleground of the Black Hawk War of 1832, land rife with a resource necessary for hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) is in the crosshairs of an industry prepared to turn the area into a battle zone once again.

The resource? Frac sand — officially known by the industry as fine-grained silica sand — used as a proppant when blasted thousands of feet down the well during the ecologically volatile fracking process as part of the chemical cocktail that serves as the subject of Josh Fox’s new documentary film, “Gasland 2.”

100,000 Signatures for a Moratorium on Fracking Delivered to Gov. Tom Corbett

With public concern about serious harms caused by the gas drilling process known as fracking continuing to rise, PennEnvironment Research & Policy Center and a coalition of public health, community and environmental groups delivered more than 100,000 petitions to the state Legislature and Gov. Tom Corbett today. The petition calls for a moratorium on gas drilling in Pennsylvania until our environment and public health can be protected.

Fracking rules coming ‘in weeks,’ says Interior chief Jewell

Draft federal rules on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, will be released in a matter of “weeks, not months,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Tuesday.

The draft rules have undergone “sufficient change,” Jewell said during a media call. They’ll go through a public comment period once revealed.

They’re not willing to do it right: “So we don’t want any oil and gas extraction in the county of Mora.”

Mora County, New Mexico is the first county in the country to ban drilling and fracking. They did it to protect their groundwater.  The new county ordinance also established a local Bill of Rights that confirms the county’s right to clean air and water, a healthy environment, and self governance.

EPA Report Confirms Oil and Gas Sector is Among Nation’s Worst Climate Polluters

A new report issued by EPA in late April – an update to the national emissions inventory for greenhouse gases – continues to highlight the oil and gas sector’s role as the country’s top industrial source of methane pollution and one of the top industrial sources of greenhouse gases overall. Moreover, while the update shows an overall reduction in methane emissions from the sector, there are many reasons to believe EPA’s new numbers underestimate the real extent of the climate problem from oil and gas development.

Iowa: Fracking Industry’s Next Frac-Sand Target

Within immediate vicinity of a central battleground of the Black Hawk War of 1832, land rife with a resource necessary for hydraulic fracturing is in the crosshairs of an industry prepared to turn the area into a battle zone once again.

US doubles oil reserve estimates at Bakken, Three Forks shale

An oil-rich region of the north-central United States holds more than twice the recoverable crude supplies estimated just five years ago, according to a government study that highlights the nation’s march toward energy self-sufficiency.

The Bakken Formation and Three Forks Formation, which spans parts of Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota together hold an estimated 7.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable oil, the U.S. Geological Survey study said, although energy experts said those estimates likely understate the region’s full potential.

First County in U.S. Bans Oil and Gas Extraction

Monday the County Commission of Mora County, located in northeastern New Mexico, became the first county in the U.S. to pass an ordinance banning all oil and gas extraction.

State allocates BP oil leak funding

Four barrier islands and two fishery research stations will be beneficiaries of $340 million in funding approved as early restoration money in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil disaster, Gov. Bobby Jindal announced Tuesday.

The money is part of the $1 billion BP committed in April 2011 to spend in Gulf States affected by the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

BP’s Lawsuit Deadline Is Fast Approaching As Thousands Look For New Spill Settlements

BP Plc has been hit by over 2,200 new lawsuits seeking payback for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the past few weeks as individuals, companies and government bodies rushed to stake their claim before their right to do so expired.

BP Hit By Wave of Gulf Oil Spill Claims As Deadline Approaches

BP Plc has been hit by more than 2,200 new lawsuits seeking payback for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill in the past few weeks as individuals, companies and government bodies rushed to stake their claim before their right to do so expired.

BP Agrees To Fund $320 Million In Lousiana Coastal Projects

BP has agreed to spend $320 million on coastal restoration projects in southeast Louisiana as part of the $1 billion investment the company earlier agreed to make for early restoration of damaged natural resources.

The money will be used to restore three barrier islands in Plaquemines Parish and one in Terrebonne Parish, areas Governor Jindal has described as “the most injured” by the BP oil spill.

 Crude oil is made 52x more toxic when combined with dispersant (VIDEO)

Last week, I suggested you read Mark Hertsgaard’s important piece in Newsweek about the lies BP told during the Gulf oil spill about their use of dispersant, which has made workers and Gulf residents sick. You should still read that, but if you want an engaging video summary of the story, Rachel Maddow had Mark on to discuss this story. Rachel opens the segment with a good background on which lies have been admitted to by BP and which they still need to be held accountable for.

New Study Reveals Flaws in Oil Spill Response

An entirely new approach to oil spill problems associated with drilling, transport, pipelines and storage mishaps could find surprising common ground between the oil industry and environmentalists, according to a new position paper just released entitled: A Call for a Twenty-First-Century SOLUTION in Oil Spill Response. Written and compiled by the Science and Technology Board of the Lawrence Anthony Earth Organization (LAEO), the analysis not only brings to light the dangerous flaws associated with current oil spill cleanup methods, but outlines technology they claim will not only save marine life, oceans, animals and people, but also save millions (and in BP’s case could have saved billions) of dollars in damages and cleanup costs to oil companies and local economies impacted by spills.

Residents rally one month after oil spill

One month after an oil spill rattled Mayflower, some residents are taking action to prevent another spill somewhere else.

To mark the one month anniversary Monday, the group “Arkansans Concerned About Oil Pipelines” met in Mayflower’s Pearce Park. Before the spill, many homeowners at the meeting never thought they’d become activists but with no clear idea when workers will be out of their front yards, they’re stepping up.

Study: reusable white graphene nanosheets soak up oil spills in minutes

Inexpensive nanosheets of white graphene can soak up oil spills repeatedly, with intermittent washing making them reusable.

White graphene, made up of hexagonal nanonetworks of boron and nitrogen (it’s also known as boron nitride), is the sister material to graphene. But unlike miracle material graphene, which is super-conductive, lightweight and strong, white graphene is an insulator. Experiments have been trialled to combine the two, thus controlling the power of graphene by keeping its conductivity in check.

Citizen group finds 30 toxic chemicals in air following tar sands oil spill in Arkansas

Independent air samples by locals have yielded “a soup of toxic chemicals” in Mayflower, Arkansas where an Exxon Mobil pipeline burst on March 29th spilling some 5,000 barrels of tar sands oil, known as bitumen. Chemicals detected included several linked to cancer, reproductive problems, and neurological impacts such as benzene and ethylbenzene. Air samples were taken by community leader and University of Central Arkansas student April Lane a day after the spill. However, the Environment Protection Agency (EPA)’s and Exxon Mobil’s air samples have yielded chemical levels below harm except in the direct clean-up area, according to the Arkansas Department of Health (ADH).

Alaska watches as Canada considers shipping tar sands oil across Arctic Ocean

Is Alaska nearing the day when large oil tankers will sail by its Arctic shoreline, carrying Canadian tar sands oil to foreign markets? The provincial government of Alberta is toying with the idea, sinking money into a study to find out if an Arctic shipping plan makes more sense than moving its oil through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline to the Lower 48, or pipelines west or east through Canada.

Dislike: Facebook’s Zuckerberg Under Fire for Promoting Dirty Tar Sands Pipeline

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and his political umbrella group, FWD.US, came under fire this week for funding a set of ads that promotes the proposed tar sands-carrying Keystone XL pipeline among other desires of the fossil fuel industry.

Leaks, Rats and Radioactivity: Fukushima’s Nuclear Cleanup Is Faltering

Honestly, if the consequences weren’t potentially so dire, the ongoing struggles to clean up the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in northern Japan would be the stuff of comedy. In March, an extended blackout disabled power to a vital cooling system for days. The cause: a rat that had apparently been chewing on cables in a switchboard. As if that’s not enough, another dead rat was found in the plant’s electrical works just a few weeks ago, which led to another blackout, albeit of a less important system. The dead rats were just the latest screwups in a series of screwups by Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the owner of the Fukushima plant, that goes back to the day of March 11, 2011, when an earthquake and the resulting tsunami touched off a nuclear disaster that isn’t actually finished yet. I’m not sure things could be much worse if Wile E. Coyote were TEPCO’s CEO.

Flow of Tainted Water Is Latest Crisis at Japan Nuclear Plant

Two years after a triple meltdown that grew into the world’s second worst nuclear disaster, the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant is faced with a new crisis: a flood of highly radioactive wastewater that workers are struggling to contain.

Remember Fukushima? It’s Far From Resolved

Remember Fukushima? That was our Environmental Tipping Point two years ago, when a tsunami caused a catastrophic event at a Japanese nuclear power plant, a triple meltdown that resulted in, among other things, all kinds of noxious debris continuing to wash up in Alaska, in Hawaii and, just the other day, in California, Perhaps to celebrate the arrival of this dubious flotsam to the continental 48, we discover that the Fukushima disaster is not yet done poisoning things.

Fukushima Leaks and Sandy Sewage Raise Questions About Shore Pollution

Two recent disasters — the tsunami at Fukushima and Hurricane Sandy — show that shoreline infrastructure can easily result in extensive ocean pollution. With sea levels rising rapidly, this problem could quickly become significantly greater.

New concerns over cell phone radiation

For years, scientists insisted there was no connection between cell phones and cancer, but now some credible experts are re-evaluating that position.

A nurse who works in the brain injury unit of a physical rehabilitation hospital said, in the past year, she is suddenly seeing more people coming in with brain tumors and noticing the patients are younger and younger.

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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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