Environmental Must-Reads – May 16, 2013


Quebec seeks fracking moratorium in shale gas rich area

The Canadian province of Quebec, citing public concerns, unveiled a bill on Wednesday to impose a moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking, in a region rich in shale gas deposits.

Quebec Proposes Law to Ban Fracking for Up to 5 Years

Quebec Environment Minister Yves-Francois Blanchet introduced legislation that would ban hydraulic fracturing, drilling and testing for natural gas in the St. Lawrence River valley for as long as five years.

The moratorium will be in place until a new law governing the exploration and production of hydrocarbons takes effect, or for a maximum of five years, according to a copy of the bill posted today on the government’s website. The bill would suspend all existing licenses to drill for shale gas without compensation, according to the document.

Study: Gas ‘fracking’ in Arkansas not affecting groundwater

Shale gas production in Arkansas has not contaminated groundwater, a study by Duke University and the U.S. Geological Survey indicates.

The scientists analyzed 127 shallow drinking water wells in areas overlying Fayetteville Shale gas production in north-central Arkansas for major and trace elements and hydrocarbons, using isotopic tracers to identify the sources of possible contaminants, a Duke release reported Wednesday.

Compromise reached in fracking legislation

A bill to regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Illinois is ready to move forward, according sources in Springfield who have been negotiating the bill behind closed doors.

Following months of negotiations, the legislation stalled in March after a last-minute amendment was added to require unionized well contractors at each well site until drillers themselves were licensed.

Greene weighs ban on fracking brine for roads

Greene County may take a proactive approach to health concerns surrounding the practice of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by prohibiting the use of fracking wastewater on county roads.

The ban was proposed last month by Greene County Legislator Joseph Kozloski, D-Catskill, during a meeting of the Public Safety Committee.

New Federal Fracking Rule Rumored to be Imminent

It’s rumored that the BLM is about to release the next draft of its proposal for fracking guidelines for public lands.

We’ve been blogging about all the significant failures with the first draft, and why a strong rule is so important, not just to preserve America’s wild places, but to protect drinking water sources for millions of people across the country, from California  to Virginia. This includes private wells in places where the federal government owns the rights to minerals beneath the surface, as well as large municipal drinking water sources, like the watershed that provides all of the tap water for Washington, D.C.

Raleigh startup offers solution to clean-up fracking’s toxic mess

It’s a passionate debate in North Carolina, but fracking is moving forward in the Old North State. The next step is deciding how to drill for natural gas without adversely impacting the environment.

Interior pressed to encourage Indian tribes to develop oil and gas

A Senate Indian Affairs Committee hearing quickly turned into a referendum on energy development on Indian lands on Wednesday.

As Republicans on the panel pressed Interior Secretary Sally Jewell to encourage Indian tribes to develop more oil and natural gas resources, the department chief reiterated the administration’s commitment to developing renewable energy alongside fossil fuels.

Does Pennsylvania’s Shale Gas Have Too Much Radon In It?

It’s no secret many people in New York oppose fracking.

The latest concern from some New York City residents is that the shale gas they receive from Pennsylvania contains higher levels of radon — an odorless, colorless, radioactive gas, that’s responsible for more than 20,000 lung cancer deaths every year.

Scientist studies methane levels in cross-continent drive

After taking a rented camper outfitted with special equipment to measure methane on a cross-continent drive, a UC Santa Barbara scientist has found that methane emissions across large parts of the U.S. are higher than currently known, confirming what other more local studies have found. Their research is published in the journal Atmospheric Environment.

Frac-Sand Mining’s Promise of Economic Prosperity Fails to Materialize

The true economic impact of frac-sand mining on rural Wisconsin communities may fall short of industry claims promising sustained prosperity and economic opportunity, says a first-of-its-kind expert report, released today. By using currently available economic data, The Economic Benefits and Costs of Frac-Sand Mining in West Central Wisconsin offers a full, unbiased analysis of costs and benefits for communities affected by frac-sand mining. The report concludes by offering a list of questions to be considered that can help rural towns effectively evaluate benefits and costs of frac-sand mining for their community.

Exposed: Lung Cancer Risks from Fracked Natural Gas in NYC Kitchens

At a public forum last night, leading voices in politics, public health, the environment and workers’ rights analyzed the threat to New York City residents from increased radon levels that would be found in natural gas from new regional sources being promoted by Mayor Bloomberg. Radon, a dangerous substance found in natural gas that most New Yorkers cook with, is the leading cause of lung cancer in non-smokers. At the forum, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal presented legislation sponsored by she and State Senator Diane Savino that would protect the public from the risks of radon in natural gas.

Sierra Club, Earthwatch allowed to join Longmont oil/gas lawsuit

The Sierra Club and Earthwatch may join an oil and gas lawsuit involving the city of Longmont, but may not expand the issues under consideration, a Boulder County District Court judge said in one of a series of rulings Monday.

National Geographic launching locally built travel guides in BP oil spill states

National Geographic on Wednesday announced an effort to promote tourism in the states most impacted by the 2010 BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The idea is to create a travel web site, mobile application and printed travel guide that present cultural and environmental destinations nominated by people in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida.

Louisiana lists 39 restoration projects that would be financed with BP oil spill fine money

Louisiana coastal officials have put together a list of 39 restoration projects that they hope will be partially or fully financed by money the state or federal agencies expect to receive as a result of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Former BP exec’s lawyer denies conflict of interest in Gulf oil spill case

Lawyers for a former BP executive charged with lying to Congress about how much oil was flowing following the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill say the government is trying to manufacture a conflict of interest to disqualify one the defendant’s attorneys on the eve of trial.

BP to ask David Cameron for help as escalating Gulf oil spill costs raise takeover fears

BP will ask David Cameron to raise the issue of its rising costs of compensation connected to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010 with the US government, as it fears it may become a takeover target, according to reports.

Cotton May be Eco-Friendly Way to Clean Oil Spills

Nearly three years after an explosion on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig spilled nearly 5 million barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico, oil is still being found on Gulf beaches and coastal marshes. Officials have used everything from straw, to wool, to feathers to try to soak it up.

Now, scientists at Texas Tech University report that unprocessed raw cotton may provide the ideal clean-up solution for crude oil spills.

Oil spill cleanup bill progresses

Legislation aimed at requiring all of the state’s refineries to contribute toward oil spill cleanups zipped through the Louisiana House Wednesday, a day after it stalled.

House Bill 636 would lower a fee designed to generate money for possible oil spills and expand it to all 25 active refineries in Louisiana. Currently, only a few refineries pay the fee.

Holes plugged in Assumption sinkhole’s berm

Texas Brine Co. contractors have plugged the final two breaches in a containment berm around the Assumption Parish sinkhole after heavy rain and high water punched through the incomplete earthen barrier late last week.

Exxon Pegasus Pipeline Shutdown Kept in Place by U.S. Regulator

Restrictions on Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM)’s Pegasus crude oil pipeline, shut since March 29 after a spill, remain in place after the company requested changes in a hearing held on May 2, according to a filing from federal regulators.

Exxon told the U.S. Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration that a 211-mile (340-kilometer) southern section of the pipeline presented less risk because it was constructed more recently than the northern leg that spilled about 5,000 barrels of oil near Mayflower, Arkansas.

Faulkner County: ExxonMobil’s “Sacrifice Zone” for Tar Sands Pipelines, Fracking

There are few better examples of a “sacrifice zone” for ExxonMobil and the fossil fuel industry at-large than Faulkner County, Arkansas and the counties surrounding it.

Asheville grandparents to walk to White House in protest of Keystone Pipeline

Steve Norris is taking the age-old advice to “walk it off” when it comes to dealing with anger.

Norris, who turns 70 on June 2, is a great-grandparent, a professor at Warren Wilson College and an environmental activist who is hopping mad about the ever-encroaching environmental and health effects of climate change. Specifically, he’s really mad about the impending Keystone XL Pipeline.

Mayor Stodola talks Exxon Pegasus pipeline letter

Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola plans on sending ExxonMobil a letter by the end of the week about the Pegasus Pipeline.

“If in fact there is a break in rough hilly terrain around Lake Maumelle on the north side it could be very disastrous. So we want to get some very clear, specific answers from Exxon,” said Stodola.

Binding oil spill agreement signed

The Arctic Council is an international forum for discussion and debate on important Arctic issues. Where it’s sometimes less successful is in reaching agreement.

But it now has one more binding agreement to its name. The Emergency Prevention Preparedness and Response plan—the Council’s second ever binding agreement—was signed by all eight Arctic ministers this morning.

Greenpeace dumps on Arctic Council’s Kiruna Declaration

As Canada officially took the chair of the Arctic Council in Kiruna, Sweden, May 15, Greenpeace sent a direct message to Canada.

Greenpeace said in a May 15 statement that the Arctic Council is intended to be a forum for ensuring the sustainability and environmental protection of the region, but said “the Harper government has indicated that it will use the forum to advance industrial development in the Arctic.”

BP sets eyes on deep Australian waters

British energy company BP said it expects to get consent from the Australian government to look for oil in a frontier area off the southern coast by year’s end.

Spokesman for BP operations in Australia Jamie Jardine told Bloomberg News that it expects to get approval to drill in the deep waters in the Great Australian Bight, off the country’s southern coast.

Oil CEO: Humans are involved with climate change

The leader of one of the world’s largest energy companies said this week that humans are accelerating climate change and the global community should take action to address the problem.

While speaking with reporters following the annual shareholders meeting of ConocoPhillips, the world’s largest independent oil company, its CEO said there was no doubting the role of humans in warming the planet.

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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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