Environmental Must-Reads – May 17, 2013


Obama administration issues draft fracking regulations

The Obama administration drew criticism from both environmental and oil industry groups on Thursday after issuing a new draft of regulations for fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In its first update of hydraulic fracturing regulations in three decades, the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management would require wider disclosure of chemicals used in drilling, techniques to assure wellbore integrity so fluids don’t leak into groundwater and ways to make sure companies have a water management plan for fluids that flow back to the surface.

New fracking rules attempt to placate opposing camps

The Obama administration on Thursday unveiled a new proposal for regulating hydraulic fracturing on federal lands, rolling back some measures from its original, abandoned draft as it sought to ease concerns the rules would be too burdensome for producers.

Energy future may be swamped in fracking wastewater, scientists warn

The current boom in U.S. natural gas production from glassy shale rock formations is poised to usher in an era of energy independence and could bridge the gap between today’s fossil-fuel age and a clean-energy future. But that future may be swamped in a legacy of wastewater, a new study suggests.

All Around The Country, Regulators Are Getting Bullied Over Fracking

More than four years after America’s hydraulic fracturing boom kicked off, conflicts of interest between officials charged with regulating the controversial practice and the oil and gas industry remain widespread.

Meanwhile, in-depth studies of fracking’s effects on human health and the environment remain scant.

Fearful of ‘fracking,’ Kent County township adopts moratorium on oil and gas drilling

Cannon Township Clerk Bonnie Blackledge said her township’s board is concerned enough about “fracking” to adopt the moratorium on oil and gas wells even though their attorney has told them a moratorium probably can’t be enforced.

Fracking poll reveals public discontent

Have you seen the seemingly contradictory findings from a recent public opinion poll conducted by the University of Michigan and Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania.

In a nutshell: 49 percent of Pennsylvanians support shale gas extraction, 59 percent would support a moratorium on fracking until “there is a fuller understanding of the possible risks,” and 54 percent think benefits outweigh problems.

BLM draft fracking rules get close look in Wyo.

Wyoming officials worry that Interior Department rules for hydraulic fracturing on federal land might unnecessarily duplicate the state’s existing regulations for the practice which has revolutionized oil and gas development while facing criticism from some as a potential threat to clean groundwater.

Frio County judge: Stop pumping toxic fracking waste into our ground

Geologists say every foot of earth drilled creates about 20 gallons of liquid waste. It has to be disposed of somewhere, but Frio County officials say stop dumping it here.

“To me, this waste has zero value,” said Frio County Judge Carlos Garcia.

Obama Administration Caves To Fracking Industry in New Proposed Rules

This afternoon, the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released new proposed rules to govern fracking on publicly owned lands managed by the federal government. This includes wild places like National Forests and National Wildlife Refuges. But it also includes places that supply drinking water to millions of Americans – from larger municipal supplies like that of Washington, D.C., to private water wells (in cases where the federal government owns rights to the minerals below the surface of a homeowners’ property).

SkyTruth Testifies Before Congress on Fracking Disclosure Rules

SkyTruth founder and president John Amos testified last week before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee regarding Skytruth’s work on hydraulic fracturing (fracking) chemical disclosure, and the Bureau of Land Management’s decision on regulating drilling and fracking on 750 million acres of public and Tribal lands.

Breaking: Interior Department Bows to Pressure from Oil and Gas Industry, Weakens Fracking Rules

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) proposed an updated set of rules governing hydraulic fracturing, on public lands today. The controversial oil and gas development technique—in which drillers blast millions of gallons of chemically treated water into the earth to force oil and gas from underground deposits—has been linked to air and water pollution and public health problems.

Will the Colorado River Get Fracked?

Two months ago a story started ‘leaking’ out of Western Colorado about a fracked-gas pipeline break—loaded with cancer-causing benzene—with fluids heading toward and eventually into Parachute Creek which is a tributary to the Colorado River. As water wells close to the Creek started testing positive for benzene, and then as the Creek itself tested positive for benzene above drinking water standards, the news media started telling a story of how the Colorado River—a drinking water source for 35 million people across the Southwest U.S.—was threatened. As of this writing the leak is still not cleaned up and the creek is still testing positive for benzene.

Louisiana taps into BP oil spill money to bring ‘Top Chef’ to New Orleans

Bravo’s cooking elimination show “Top Chef” is headed to the Big Easy for its eleventh season – but having Tom, Padma and their team of cooking connoisseurs come to town doesn’t come cheap.

As first reported by The Times-Picayune and confirmed by FOX411’s Pop Tarts column, a total of $375,000 will be issued by Louisiana and the city of New Orleans tourism offices to sponsor the local “Top Chef: New Orleans” showdown – the New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation will dish out $175,000 while the Louisiana Office of Tourism will make a $200,000 contribution.

BP to seek Cameron’s help as oil spill costs escalate

BP wants Prime Minister David Cameron to intervene over the escalating cost of compensating US companies for the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster in 2010.

BP Oil Spill Claims Chief Braces for Surge in Filings

The deadline for claims against BP Plc in connection with the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill is 11 months away, but the man responsible for paying the claims said on Thursday he is already bracing for a late surge in filings.

Some oil spill cleanup workers say exposure to chemicals left them sick

When the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion killed 11 men in the Gulf of Mexico and led to the worst oil spill in American history, BP promised to make everything right. But three years later many people BP hired to clean up the mess say their exposure to the chemicals has led to serious illnesses with no prospect of being fully or fairly compensated.

One such person is Jorey Danos. A video shows, he says, him wearing cold weather clothes even in the heat of August 2011, sick and coughing up blood.

Texas Tech Researchers Find Low-Grade Cotton Absorbs Crude Oil Spills; Repels Water

The 2010 Deepwater Horizon undersea oil well blowout off the Louisiana coast that dumped oil into Gulf of Mexico waters for 87 days, releasing an estimated at 4.9 million barrels of crude — the largest accidental spill in oil industry history — underscored the need for better and more efficient means of oil cleanup.

Arkansas Residents Sick From Exxon Oil Spill Are on Their Own

For more than a month, residents of Mayflower, Ark. have been told not to worry about lingering fumes from a March 29 oil spill that shut down a neighborhood and forced the evacuation of 22 homes.

“Overall, air emissions in the community continue to be below levels likely to cause health effects for the general population,” Arkansas regulators wrote on a state-operated website that tracks Mayflower’s air monitoring data.

Water still pouring through three breaches of Assumption sinkhole berm

High water driven by heavy rains poured inside a containment levee around the Assumption Parish sinkhole overnight Thursday and much of Friday, forcing workers to try to cut off the flow and to contain the hole’s brew of crude oil and brine.

Canada PM on Pipeline Plan: Oil to Come Anyway

A controversial oil pipeline to the U.S. Gulf Coast “absolutely needs to go ahead,” Canada’s prime minister said Thursday, and he warned that the oil will be transported through America one way or another.

House bill to build stalled Keystone pipeline advances

Fed up with delays by the White House, House Republicans on Thursday passed a bill out of committee that would take the decision on the controversial Keystone XL pipeline out of President Obama’s hands.

“This project has been studied more than any other project of its kind,” said House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Bill Shuster, Pennsylvania Republican. “Today the committee voted to move forward with more jobs and more energy for Americans.”

Third U.S. House Committee Approves Keystone XL Pipeline

The House Transportation Committee approved a measure that would allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline without action by President Barack Obama, the third panel to push the pipeline bill this year.

The bill now goes to the full House after the committee voted 33-24. The Republican-led initiative is largely symbolic. The Democratic-controlled Senate isn’t considering a similar bill and it would be subject to a veto by Obama.

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