Environmental Must-Reads – May 28, 2015


NAACP to investigate fracking test

Civil rights advocates and conservationists from national, state and local affiliations gathered in a Baptist church Wednesday to reinforce what some local folks have already been doing for a while: sound an alarm on the potential health risks posed by fossil-fuel pollution.

At Rising Star Baptist Church, NAACP officials announced they would start an investigation to determine whether black communities in the area may be disparately affected by such things as the coal ash lagoon owned by Duke Energy at the Belews Creek Steam Station or the possibility of hydraulic fracturing.

Fracking battle in Texas not over

The fight over fracking in Texas cities is continuing. Anti-fracking activists are searching for a legal strategy to challenge the constitutionality of a new state law that appears to overturn the frack ban that Denton voters passed last November.

On a second front, protesters picketed a Denton well site where hydraulic fracturing has resumed. And others are planning an anti-fracking rally on the City Hall lawn in the near future.

Natural Resources Committee hears testimony on fracking wastewater

The Natural Resources Committee heard testimony via a teleconference at ESU-13 in Scottsbluff on Wednesday regarding Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha’s Legislative Bill 664 that would force disclosure of toxic chemicals in fracking wastewater in Nebraska.

In front of the committee in Lincoln, Chambers read from his bill, which had 31 co-sponsors, that states the Nebraska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (NOGCC) would require full disclosure of any chemicals in fracking wastewater.

Drilling starts in Hoke County to determine fracking possibilities

A rotosonic drill, its roughly 36-foot rig poking into a cloudy sky, was grinding intermediately as it bored a six-inch-wide hole into the earth.

“Oil and gas exploration,” a beaming Kenneth Taylor, a geologist with the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources, said as he adjusted the noise-muting headphones on his head.

Governor: Fracking concerns fading

Gov. John Hickenlooper on Wednesday said he does not believe there is momentum to push a state ballot initiative that would crack down on the oil and gas industry.

The Democrat spoke along with Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner at a breakfast in Denver hosted by industry leaders and supporters, including Vital for Colorado.

Sen. Baldwin touts oil train safety plan

U-S Senator from Wisconsin Tammy Baldwin says her new bill will make it safer to transport oil through communities in the state.

Baldwin visited the Milwaukee area touting the Crude-By-Rail Safety Act.

NYS conducts another round of oil train safety checks

More state inspection on oil train cars and trackJust announced… Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced completion of another round of targeted crude oil tank car and rail inspections. These inspections uncovered 85 defects – including four critical safety defects that required immediate corrective action. The inspections are part of the Governor’s push to protect New Yorkers from the potential dangers associated with the transport of crude oil by freight rail companies. State and federal teams examined 487 crude oil tank cars and approximately 213 miles of track in these inspections.

BNSF President Greeted by Bomb Train Protestors in Chicago

Today at the annual North American Rail Shippers Association, Carl Ice, president of rail company Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) had his keynote address interrupted by members of Rising Tide Chicago. The activists carried banners reading, “BNSF: Profits over Safety” and “BNSF: Bomb Trains Kill.”

BNSF moves significantly more oil by rail than any other rail company and much of that oil passes through the Chicago area.

Feds order pipeline company to clean up Santa Barbara coastline

Federal authorities Wednesday issued a cleanup order to the company whose underground pipeline spilled thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Pacific last week, marring several miles of Santa Barbara County coastline.

“There may not be oil on the beach like there was on the first few days, but there is still a problem,” Jared Blumenfeld, administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest region, said at a news conference. “That problem needs to be cleaned up. The oil all needs to be removed.”

California oil spill cited by foes of new offshore drilling plan

Environmentalists urged California regulators on Wednesday to reject a proposed expansion of the only offshore drilling operation still permitted in state waters along the Santa Barbara coastline, seizing on public outrage over last week’s nearby oil spill.

Privately owned Venoco Inc is seeking permission to drill on 3,400 acres (1,400 hectares) of the sea floor within a state-designated coastal sanctuary adjacent to the company’s current offshore lease site. It said the plan would increase petroleum production by 6,400 barrels a day.

Tar-like goo closes two-mile stretch of Manhattan Beach

A two-mile stretch of shoreline in Manhattan Beach was closed Wednesday when an unidentified tar-like substance began washing ashore.

The Los Angeles County Department of Public Health initially posted closure signs from 34th Street south to Longfellow Avenue in Hermosa Beach. This was later updated to include the stretch from El Segundo Jetty in the north to the Redondo Beach city limit in the south.

Oil spill in Texas floodwaters are being investigated

An oil spill near Gainesville, Tex. is being investigated by the Texas Railroad Commission.

The man who allegedly took video of the spill says he was just there to check out the flooding along Hickory Creek on Sunday.

Biloxi’s Crude Deal: Oil Spill Reparations Are Funding a Baseball Stadium in Mississippi

Biloxi, Mississippi’s complicated relationship with nature is built into the town’s very infrastructure. The exit off I-110 that delivers drivers to the city’s waterfront loops out over the Gulf of Mexico and back onto dry land. On a hot recent morning, gulf water the color of dirty dishwater lapped at the exit’s concrete support beams and onto an awkward patch of beach beneath the off-ramp.

Nature has given a lot to Biloxi. The city was once known as “The Seafood Capital of the World.” More recently, however, Biloxi’s abuse of nature has deteriorated that relationship. In the last decade, the Mississippi Gulf Coast has been struck by the one-two punch of Hurricane Katrina—which in 2005 killed 238 people and wiped out 90 percent of properties—and the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, for which BP expects to pay out at least $42.5 billion in fines, cleanup, and other reparations to the federal government, five states, and private claimants.

ExxonMobil boss faces environmental jabs from nun and friar at Dallas meeting

The chief executive of the world’s largest oil company will on Wednesday face two of the firm’s most persistent environmental activist shareholders – a nun from New Jersey and a friar from Milwaukee.

ExxonMobil boss Rex Tillerson has a long history of civil but strained sparring with Father Michael Crosby and Sister Pat Daly at its annual shareholder meetings. Crosby is leading a group of investors calling for Exxon to give a seat on its board to an eminent climate expert, while Daly is pressing for emission targets that would set the company on the the path away from fossil fuels.

Canada wildfires rage on, intensify near oil sands sites

A wildfire raging in northeastern Alberta near two major oil sands projects nearly doubled in size to 17,000 hectares (42,000 acres) on Wednesday, although firefighters made some progress tackling blazes elsewhere in the oil-rich Western Canadian province.

The fires have forced energy companies operating in Alberta, the largest source of U.S. oil imports, to shut in 233,000 barrels per day of production, or roughly 10 percent of total oil sands output.

PUC keeps climate change out of pipeline permit fight

A tribal environmental group can’t present testimony on climate change during a state permit hearing this summer for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, members of the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission ruled Tuesday.

The Intertribal COUP organization planned to offer three scientists to testify about tar-sands development and climate change. But the group lost that opportunity when it failed to meet a requirement in the hearing process.

Risk of Trans Mountain pipeline spill could hurt Vancouver’s green brand

A major oil spill from Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline expansion project would expose up to 1 million Metro Vancouver residents to unsafe levels of toxic vapours, and as many as 31,000 could suffer “irreversible or other serious health effects,” Vancouver city council was told Wednesday.

Such a spill could also cause up to $3 billion in damage to Vancouver’s international brand, now considered to be worth upwards of $31 billion, and likely wouldn’t be contained quickly by spill response crews, according to a report city staff has filed to the National Energy Board.

Pipeline protesters interrupt Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder at Mackinac conference

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, during a speech on cohesion and cooperation, was disrupted by protesters Wednesday at the 2015 Mackinac Policy Conference.

A trio of hecklers, eventually escorted from the Theatre of the Grand Hotel by conference staff, carried a banner and appeared to reference the aging Enbridge pipeline that runs beneath the Straits of Mackinac, carrying petroleum from northern Wisconsin to southern Ontario.

Vancouver, B.C.: Trying to head off 890,000 barrel-a-day oil pipeline

Seattle is playing out a Shell game with an Arctic-bound drilling fleet, while its neighbor Vancouver, B.C., is in the sights of a proposed major pipeline terminus and oil port that would have a capacity greater than the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

A spill from the pipeline put forward by Kinder Morgan, the giant Houston-based energy infrastructure firm, would be “incredibly disastrous for Vancouver”, Mayor Gregor Robertson said Wednesday as the city council there studied project impacts.  “My mind is made up:  I think this is a bad deal for Vancouver,” said Robertson.

Yet Another Reason Why The Keystone XL Pipeline Is Toast

Calling all Debbie Downers! Last week, while we were getting the inside scoop on Germany’s plethora of cutting-edge cleantech innovations, over at the global Business and Climate Summit in Paris it was business as usual. US Secretary of State John Kerry delivered a video message that was met with howls of protest from major fuel and petrochemical companies, which dug in their heels against his proposed carbon strategy. However, there was one bright spot, as Kerry offered up yet another hint that the controversial Keystone XL tar sands pipeline just ain’t gonna happen.

Iowa state archaeologist wants testing before Bakken pipeline approval

Iowa’s state archaeologist contends the proposed Bakken Pipeline carrying crude from North Dakota to Illinois should face the same scrutiny as a state project with potential to disrupt archaeological sites.

A public agency, such as the Iowa Department of Natural Resources or the Iowa Department of Transportation, would be required in such a project to test land for archaeological significance, wrote John Doershuk, director of the Office of the State Archaeologist, in a May 22 letter to the Iowa Utilities Board.

Alaska governor tours Shell rig in Seattle, touts Arctic drilling

The governor of Alaska on Wednesday toured a massive oil drill rig parked on Seattle’s waterfront, then met with Washington state Gov. Jay Inslee to tell him that Washington’s position on future Arctic drilling will hurt the economy of Alaska.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker met privately with Inslee at Auburn City Hall, south of Seattle. Inslee is a Democrat; Walker an independent.

Norway’s king opens Arctic drilling conference in Alaska

Norway’s king opened a conference on Arctic offshore drilling Wednesday with a plug for incorporating his country’s expertise into drilling off Alaska’s northern shores.

“Norway and Alaska have much to learn from each other and plenty to gain from increasing our economic collaboration in the Arctic, particularly in the oil and gas sector,” King Harald V told industry representatives at the Arctic Offshore Operations Conference in Anchorage.

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This