Environmental Must-Reads – May 22, 2013


Bill to regulate fracking in Illinois sails through committee

A bill to regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing in Illinois sailed through a House committee Tuesday morning in a unanimous vote amid chants of “shame” from a massive opposition group of activists and residents who packed the hearing.

It now heads to the full House.

Film director brings anti-fracking fight to Springfield

Josh Fox, the Oscar-nominated director of two anti-fracking films, is bringing his fight to Springfield, where he has plans Tuesday morning to testify against legislation to regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

BLM’s New Draft Fracking Rules Give Industry a Free Pass, But Were They Written By ExxonMobil?

When I talk to people who live near fracking operations, they often ask me the same question: “What is this doing to my drinking water?” Homeowners have shown me jugs of water from their kitchen sinks that look like rusty mud. One man said he could light his tap water on fire after energy companies put a drill pad in his neighborhood. Others tell me they worry their water is causing health problems for their families.

5 Fatal Flaws in President Obama’s New Fracking Regulations

They’re popping up all over America’s public lands, bringing toxic chemicals and dangerous pollution to beautiful wild areas and nearby farms and communities. Fracking rigs have spread like poisonous mushrooms across land managed by the federal government, which leases millions of acres a year to oil and gas companies.

Lawmakers press Interior to slow down on fracking rules

The bipartisan leadership of the House Natural Resources Committee wants the Interior Department to slow down development of revised rules unveiled last week to regulate oil and gas “fracking” on public lands.

The request to quadruple the public comment period from 30 days to 120 days underscores dissatisfaction with the proposal on the left and right, although not for the same reasons.

Environmental Defense Fund Gets Shamed by Fracktivists

Discord over how to best protect the environment from impacts of natural gas drilling has led to a coalition of grassroots environmental groups shunning the Environmental Defense Fund. The groups plan to hold a conference call on Wednesday to “send a message…disapproving of [EDF’s] willingness to be coopted by industry interests on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for shale gas.”

Frackalypse Now: Fossil Fuel Industry’s Psychological Warfare Scandal

DeSmogBlog partnered with Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore to produce this spoof video in the vein of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Making its debut today in honor of Gasland 2, Frackalypse Now features the details of the gas industry’s psychological warfare scandal.

Concerned Citizens of Illinois Protest Fracking Regulation Bill

Twenty concerned citizens occupied Illinois Gov. Pat. Quinn’s office Tuesday to protest his support of a state bill to regulate hydraulic fracturing.

After being refused a request for a meeting to discuss the matter with the Governor, three people locked arms and sat down in the middle of the entrance to the Governor’s office demanding that the Governor meet with affected communities to discuss the need for a moratorium on fracking, and to rethink his support of State Bill 1715, a bill to regulate fracking. One of the protesters, Angie Viands, was arrested for trespassing after refusing to leave the Illinois Capitol building after hours of sitting in front of the governor’s office demanding a meeting.

University of Michigan Study: 58% of Pennsylvanians and 52% of Michiganders Support Fracking Moratorium in Their State

Last Tuesday, the University of Michigan released a report highlighting growing local concerns about the risks of fracking in two states with two very different fracking-histories— Michigan, where there has been relatively little fracking, and Pennsylvania, where fracking growth has been explosive in the last five years.

Ex-BP Executive Won’t Face a Charge of Lying About Spill

Former BP Plc (BP/) executive David Rainey won a bid to dismiss a charge he obstructed a congressional investigation into the 2010 oil spill because his indictment was flawed, a U.S. judge ruled.

BP’s former vice president of Gulf of Mexico exploration still must face a New Orleans jury in October on one count of lying to investigators about the size of the spill.

Key Charge Against Ex-BP Official In Spill Case Dismissed

It’s another bad day for the Justice Department.

A federal judge in Louisiana has thrown out the central criminal charge against a former BP executive because prosecutors failed to prove he knew about a pending congressional investigation into oil flowing into the Gulf of Mexico three years ago. U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt also ruled that a Democratic House member who inquired about the oil flow rate was acting as head of a subcommittee, not a full congressional committee, as required under the federal Obstruction of Justice statute.

Outrage over 2010 BP spill charge dismissal

A member of Congress who led an investigation into the BP oil spill in 2010 expressed outrage that a judge threw out a charge against a former BP executive.

U.S. District Judge Kurt Engelhardt from the Eastern District of Louisiana dismissed a charge of obstructing a congressional investigation into the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, ruling the indictment was flawed.

BP moves to stop ‘irreparable harm’ of oil spill payouts

BP has stepped up its efforts to challenge what it believes are unjustified compensation payments under the multibillion-dollar settlement it agreed with victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

The British oil group has doubled the rate at which it appeals against compensation awards to thousands of US businesses and individuals by Patrick Juneau, the independent administrator for claims under the settlement.

EU Tightens Offshore-Oil Regulation in Response to BP Spill

The European Union tightened safety rules for offshore oil and natural-gas exploration to curb the risk of a major accident after BP Plc’s (BP/) 2010 spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the largest in U.S. history.

Oyster leaseholders lose suit blaming oil spill berms for damage

Oyster growers on both sides of the Mississippi River who sued the state, dredge operators and BP claiming damages to their oyster leases in 2010 during the construction of berms designed to capture oil during the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill had their lawsuit thrown out in two different federal courts on Monday.

Officials looking for source of oil spill hitting Galveston beaches

Beaches on Galveston’s West End have been cleaned after tar balls washed ashore, officials said.

But the source of the tar balls has not been determined, said Jim Suydam, spokesman for the Texas General Land Office.

Derailed train in Canada spills 91,000 liters of oil

The accident happened on Tuesday as the 64-unit eastbound train operated by the Canadian Pacific Rail was traveling through an area southeast of the city Saskatoon.

According to Ed Greenberg a spokesman for the company, of the five derailed cars only one leaked a total of 575 barrels onto the ground.

Court approves sinkhole class-action suit

A federal court has approved a class-action lawsuit for people impacted by the giant Louisiana sinkhole.

It’s been almost a year since a massive sinkhole near Bayou Corne and Grand Bayou began causing problems. Bubbling in the bayou led to the now 15-acre sinkhole. About 350 people have been forced out of their homes since August.

Jindal orders permit review for operator of salt dome believed cause of 15-acre sinkhole

Gov. Bobby Jindal on Monday ordered the state’s conservation commissioner to review all permits issued to Texas Brine Co., the operator of a collapsed salt dome in Assumption Parish that authorities say caused a 15-acre sinkhole and an ongoing evacuation order for 350 people.

Keystone Pipeline Bill to Reach House Floor this Week

The Northern Route Approval Act has successfully passed through three House committees, the most recent being the Transportation Committee with a 33-24 vote, and will be moving to the full House this Wednesday.

Keystone XL Bill Heads to House Vote But Is Largely Symbolic

The GOP-controlled House might easily pass a bill that would eliminate the requirement for presidential approval for the Keystone XL pipeline Wednesday, but that’s about the only thing that will be easy about the process, experts say.

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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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