Environmental Must-Reads – May 31, 2013


Illinois House passes fracking bill

The Illinois House passed legislation Thursday evening that would regulate horizontal hydraulic fracturing in the state in a 108 to 9 vote.

The legislation now moves to the Senate, the final hurdle for the bill before it reaches Gov. Pat Quinn, who urged the Senate to send the bill to his desk “as soon as possible.”

Fracking “Shock Doctrine” Unveiled as 2013 Illinois Legislative Session Nears End

The shale gas industry has performed the “shock doctrine” at the 11th hour of the 2013 Illinois State Legislature’s debate over hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), the toxic horizontal drllling process through which oil and gas is obtained from shale rock basins nationwide.

Fracking IL: A Moratorium is the Only Answer

Yesterday, Sandra Steingraber—Illinois native, biologist and acclaimed environmental advocate—was in Springfield, IL for a day of advocacy. Dr. Steingraber delivered the following remarks at the Capitol building.

Illinois Officials Surrender to Fracking Industry, Residents Outraged by Negligence

Following more than a week of sit ins at Gov. Quinn’s office—which featured Illinois residents demanding a meeting to air grave concerns about fracking and objections to the behind-closed-doors, no-science negotiations that created the proposed regulations—a group of residents met with Gov. Quinn’s Assistant Chief of Staff of Legislative Affairs Raghav Muralo, and Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy and Legislative Affairs Mary Morrissey from Attorney General Lisa Madigan’s office yesterday. The group left both meetings greatly dismayed by the lack of knowledge and scientific understanding, demonstrated by officials at both offices, about the extraction of oil and shale gas via high volume hydraulic fracturing. Additionally, after more than a year of negotiations with industry to generate regulations that will serve as the rules of the road for fracking operations in Illinois, neither Gov. Quinn nor Attorney General Madigan has visited a drilling and fracking operation, a negligent oversight that shows an alarming disregard for the grave issues and public health impacts associated with the practice.

California Lawmakers Turn Down Moratorium on Fracking

California (STOCA1) lawmakers rejected a bill that would have stopped drillers from using hydraulic fracturing to free oil and natural gas from shale beds until state regulators implement rules for the controversial practice.

Most Americans don’t give a frack about fracking

You might think fracking is a highly divisive, heatedly contested issue, but most Americans don’t give a damn about it either way.

The latest Climate Change in the American Mind survey found that 39 percent of respondents had never heard of fracking, while another 13 percent didn’t know whether they had heard of it.

Anti-fracking Pennsylvania lawmaker admits to using fake names to attack opponents online

Wednesday night, Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA correspondent Andy Sheehan reported that Rep. Jesse White, a Democrat who represents Washington County in the state’s general assembly, had apparently been attacking supporters of natural gas drilling under a variety of online aliases over the last two years. White often attacked in a particularly rude manner, accusing his opponents of things like being “moles”  and “whores” on the payroll the natural gas industry.

OPEC meets today to discuss impact of U.S. shale boom

The effects of fracking are spreading. In fact, they’re really being felt in Africa and the Middle East.

Oil and gas executives tell me all the time that fracking will reduce America’s dependence on foreign imports and could lead to energy independence.

Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists

In February 2010 Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the  Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition (GDAC), an environmental organization opposed to hydraulic fracturing in the region. The group sought to appeal to the widest possible audience, and was careful about striking a moderate tone. All members were asked to sign a code of conduct in which they pledged to carry themselves with “professionalism, dignity, and kindness” as they worked to protect the environment and their communities. GDAC’s founders acknowledged that gas drilling had become a divisive issue misrepresented by individuals on both sides and agreed to “seek out the truth.”

Californians Against Fracking Launch Coordinated Protests Around State

Opponents of a controversial method of extracting oil and gas will deliver petitions to lawmakers around California on Thursday urging them to limit or ban the controversial practice.

Groups against fracking say the method could damage groundwater supplies and harm unspoiled habitat for native animals like the kit fox.

Filmmaker Josh Fox Joins L.A. Protest Demanding California Fracking Ban

Anti-fracking filmmaker Josh Fox joined farmers, public health professionals, environmental and consumer organizations and people living near fracked wells at a Los Angeles protest today, urging Gov. Brown (D-CA) to ban fracking in California.

Top 5 Reasons LNG Exports Are a Very Bad Idea

Most Americans have probably heard about the “boom” in natural gas, with U.S. production up by one-third since 2005. Besides historically low natural gas prices, one consequence is that companies like Exxon Mobil are now pushing the federal government to approve permits for more than 20 liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminals. Big fossil fuel’s goal is to sell U.S. natural gas overseas, where it can fetch a higher price. Is that really such a good idea?

Report: Colo. oil and gas industry has spent more than $1 million lobbying this year

In a legislative session defined by an ambitious Democratic agenda, one industry had remarkable success staving off a bevy of Democratic bills that sought to tighten restrictions and regulations on their operations.

That, of course, is Colorado’s oil and gas industry, which has already spent $1.06 million lobbying Colorado elected officials since July, according to a new report released Friday.

Former EPA chief Lisa Jackson heads to Apple

Former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Lisa Jackson has been hired by Apple (AAPL) as vice president of environmental initiatives.

Apple CEO Tim Cook announced the news Tuesday at the All Things D tech conference in Rancho Palos Verdes.

Feds Must Analyze Oil Spill Dispersant Effects on Wildlife

The federal government must analyze the effects of the California Dispersants Plan to determine whether the chemicals that break up oil spills would harm endangered wildlife, under a legal settlement filed today by federal agencies and conservation groups.

Finalized in 2008, the California Dispersants Plan authorizes the use of chemical dispersants in the event of an oil spill in California federal offshore waters.

Oil spill cleanup comes to an end

Nearly three years after black, gooey oil from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill disaster washed up on Escambia County beaches, the extensive U.S. Coast Guard-led oil spill monitoring and cleanup response grinds to a halt today.

Nigerian way of life under threat from pollution

Oil pollution is a continuing problem in the Niger Delta, with thousands of oil spills polluting farmland as well as lakes and rivers.

The damage to natural resources has forced many communities to relocate, in order to find the means to make a living.

SA missing out on billions in funding to clean up oil spills

AS CAPE Town city officials worked to prevent the spread of oil spilling from the wreckage of a bulk carrier off Bloubergstrand, the World Wide Fund for Nature SA (WWF-SA) on Friday called on the government to enact legislation that would give South Africa access to up to R10bn in compensation for oil spills.

Why we don’t need the Keystone Pipeline

Proponents claim it will bring down gas prices, create jobs, and preserve national security. Not so fast…

The Keystone Pipeline That Was Already Approved

Last week, the House of Representatives passed the Northern Route Approval Act, introduced by Representative Lee Terry (R–NE), which would authorize the construction of Keystone XL Pipeline.

It has been five years since TransCanada announced the Keystone XL expansion project, but we’re still without a pipeline and the jobs and the energy that come with it because no presidential permit for construction has been authorized. Even more infuriating is the fact that the U.S. has already granted one of those permits for the Keystone Pipeline System.

Repairs done on portions of Keystone XL in Texas

A Canadian company that is building a pipeline to carry oil sands crude to the Gulf Coast says it is repairing parts of the line in Texas.

Indiana oil pipeline ‘a mixed bag’ for environment

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management said a new pipeline that would ferry tar sands oil across Northwest Indiana poses no significant risk to water quality in the region. But local environmental groups see cause for concern in lax state and federal regulations, wary of energy company Enbridge’s checkered past.

Alaska undervalued oil pipeline by billions, assessment board finds

Imagine you’re a homeowner and your property taxes are too high. You come up with an inventive argument to lower your bill: Because your two children recently left for college, your house isn’t getting as much use. Two bedrooms are empty. So you claim you should be able to pay taxes for a one-bedroom house instead of the three-bedroom house you actually own.

Good luck if you ever try that ploy. Everyone knows an argument like that wouldn’t fly in the real world.

But it’s basically what the state’s major oil producers — BP, ConocoPhillips and Exxon Mobil Corp. — tried to pull in 2010 in one of their persistent and ongoing attempts to lower the value of their 800-mile trans-Alaska oil pipeline, and the property taxes they pay on it.

Oil executives tune out the call of the wild Arctic

The high Arctic, once the irresistible frontier for oil and gas exploration, is quickly losing its appeal as energy firms grow fearful of the financial and public relations risk of working in the pristine icy wilderness.

Why We Should Be Very Worried About the Arctic Oil Rush

Big oil companies like Shell have a proven record of negligence and a legacy of pollution in Alaska.

Rising radioactive spills leave Fukushima fishermen floundering

Dozens of crabs, three small sharks and scores of fish thump on the slippery deck of the fishing boat True Prosperity as captain Shohei Yaoita lands his latest haul, another catch headed not for the dinner table but for radioactive testing.

TEPCO seeks yet more cash for Fukushima payouts

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant will ask for more public money to pay compensation, a report said Friday, taking its total cash handouts to an eye-watering $38 billion.

Soil around Fukushima to be frozen to stop groundwater leaking in

The Japanese government has ordered the operator of the Fukushima nuclear plant to freeze the soil around its crippled reactor buildings to stop groundwater seeping in and becoming contaminated.

Ill-prepared for nuclear accidents

The exposure of 33 researchers to radiation on May 23 at a Japan Atomic Energy Agency research facility in Tokai, Ibaraki Prefecture, revealed the JAEA’s failure to uphold basic safety standards. Education and science minister Mr. Hakubun Shimomura said May 28 that the ministry will thoroughly reform the JAEA. But unless the mind-sets of JAEA officials and researchers are radically changed, the reform will be meaningless.

No rise in cancer seen from Japan’s nuclear disaster-UN experts

Cancer rates are not expected to rise after Japan’s Fukushima nuclear accident as people quickly left the area hit by the world’s worst such disaster in 25 years, a U.N. scientific committee said on Friday.

Wolfgang Weiss, a senior member of the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation (UNSCEAR), said the evacuation of tens of thousands of people had sharply lowered radiation exposure.

Israeli researchers ‘light-years ahead’ on studies of cellphone risks

Most people have no idea that their iPhone comes with a warning to carry the device at least 10 mm away from the body, and to use a “hands-free” option like headphones or speaker, in order to prevent overexposure to harmful levels of radio frequency energy.

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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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