Environmental Must-Reads – May 7, 2013


Toxic chemicals used in fracking includes hydrochloric acid, antifreeze: database

Toxic chemicals such as hydrochloric acid and ethylene glycol (antifreeze) are among those pumped underground to help release natural gas through hydraulic fracturing, according to a database operated by the B.C. Oil and Gas Commission.

Occupy the Pipeline: Fracking Threat Comes to NYC

A massive new pipeline that will carry hydrofracked gas is being constructed in New York City. The pipeline, built by subsidiaries of Spectra Energy, will carry the gas from the Marcellus Shale, a bed that lies under Pennsylvania and New York State, into New York City’s gas infrastructure. Naturally, the construction of such a pipeline, carrying controversial highly pressurized gas, has been met with resistance.

New Mexican County Fracking Ban Sets Stage for National Challenge

Hydraulic fracturing, more familiarly now referred to as “fracking,” is a mining process to release previously unobtainable volumes of natural gas that has drawn deep divisions between the oil/gas industry, which insists that the process is not only safe, but contributes to American energy security by lessening dependence on foreign imports.

Obama Hints at Increasing LNG Exports as Environmentalists Push Back

The Financial Times reports that President Obama may be ready to support more exports of liquefied natural gas, after the President was quoted this weekend saying the U.S. may be a net exporter of natural gas by 2020. The push for exports comes from the natural gas industry, which has experienced a boom in shale gas production that has pushed down prices nationwide while prices overseas remain high.

Chesapeake Bay LNG Export Terminal: Opposition Concerned for Ecology and Economy

A coalition of local, regional and national groups are objecting to the environmental impacts posed by the proposed Dominion Cove Point liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, saying the project would hurt the Bay’s economy and ecology, increase air pollution and hasten fracking and drilling in neighboring states.

Gas Rush Stories: Life Above the Marcellus Shale

The shale gas drilling boom has changed the lives of many Pennsylvanians. Two-thirds of Pennsylvania sits on top of Marcellus Shale, one of the world’s largest shale gas deposits. While some other states and countries are taking their time to figure out how to proceed with shale gas drilling, Pennsylvania has welcomed the gas industry and allowed it to move ahead at a rapid speed.

Illinoisans Urge Gov. Quinn to Reject Fracking Bill and Pass Moratorium

On Friday, a coalition of grassroots organizations including Americans Against Fracking, Illinois People’s Action and Southern Illinoisans Against Fracturing Our Environment (SAFE) urged Gov. Quinn and Speaker of the House Michael Madigan to reject a bill pending in the legislature that would allow hydraulic fracturing in the state and instead pass a moratorium.

Zoning Out Hydrofracking Survives Appeals

Communities opposed to hydrofracking can amend their zoning code to do so without running afoul of New York law, a state appeals court ruled.

The Appellate Division decided Thursday that New York’s Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Law, which has regulated those industries since the 1960s, does not pre-empt new land-use ordinances adopted by Dryden, N.Y., a rural town just east of Ithaca.

In Poland, Pursuing Valuable Energy Deep in the Earth Fuels Dissent Above Ground

JEFFREY BROWN: And, finally tonight, we turn to Poland, where there’s a familiar controversy surrounding new energy exploration.

Our story is part of a collaboration with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting, and comes from special correspondent Steve Sapienza.

STEVE SAPIENZA: Northern Poland, a rustic region of freshwater lakes, forests and villages, and thousands of feet below the surface, a potential fortune in natural gas trapped in shale rock. Energy companies are already drilling here, using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a controversial method of gas extraction imported from the United States.

New California Water Grab for Fracking and Agribusiness

Missed in the mainstream media coverage of the release of the revised Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) documents on March 14 was the alarming role the peripheral tunnels could play in increased fracking in California.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is the controversial, environmentally destructive process of injecting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at high pressure in order to release and extract oil or gas, according to Food and Water Watch.

California set to fine utility $2.25 billion for deadly pipeline failure

California regulators recommended a record $2.25 billion fine for the state’s largest utility Monday in the gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in a San Francisco suburb.

If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the proposed fine for Pacific Gas and Electric would be the largest ever imposed by a state regulator. Jack Hagan, the head of the agency’s safety and enforcement decision, said “every penny” should go toward safety improvements.

Psychological scars run deep after BP oil spill

It’s been three years since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, killing 11 workers and forever changing the way the world views the Gulf Coast. While the $4 billion verdict against BP has finally been handed down as justice for damages, it’s not going to help many of the people directly impacted by the spill’s impacts. It’s time for a reminder of the long-term impacts accompanying technological disasters — and for the development of a better system for addressing the mental well-being of coastal residents and their communities after these all-too-frequent events.

In the Gulf, a long history of oil spills and cover-ups

When BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded in 2010, it hemorrhaged roughly 210 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico. We know now, thanks to recent court hearings and settlements, that all this happened because oil company managers were cutting corners on safety, and the federal government’s monitoring system for offshore drilling was broken.

Man, Woman Plead Guilty to Scamming Oil Spill Fund

A man and woman have agreed to plead guilty in federal court in Birmingham to charges that they submitted false claims to receive payment from a fund set up to help Gulf Coast workers who suffered financially after the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Big Oil Rakes in Huge First Quarter Profits

Despite lower prices at the pump, the biggest publicly traded oil companies in the world have raked in billions of dollars in profit over the past three months. According to their earnings reports released last week, the big five oil companies—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil and Shell—earned a combined $30.2 billion during the first quarter of 2013, or $331 million per day. Cumulatively, Big Oil profits were six percent lower than the first quarter of 2012 due to lower gasoline and oil prices, but these companies still earned a combined $229,832  every minute from January through March. This is more than what 95 percent of American households earn in an entire year.

Mayflower Oil Spill: Thought Oil Was Bad Enough? Try Air Poisoning

An independent study co-published by the Faulkner County Citizens Advisory Group and Global Community Monitor reveals that, in the aftermath of ExxonMobil’s Pegasus tar sands pipeline spill of over 500,000 gallons of diluted bitumen (dilbit) into Mayflower, AR, air quality in the area surrounding the spill has been affected by high levels of cancer-causing chemicals.

Tar Sands Disaster: Coming to a Neighborhood Near You?

New reports of tar sands oil-related disasters continue to reinforce that the Keystone XL pipeline is too risky for American families.

Despite a “massive cleanup effort,” ExxonMobil has recovered only 2,000 of the total 5,000 barrels of spilled Canadian tar sands crude in Mayflower, AK, according to the accident incident report from last month’s Pegasus pipeline disaster. The report was released by the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) through a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the Sierra Club.

Just the Beginning of Canada’s Filthy Tar Sands

The breakneck pace of tar sands development in Canada is well known; it is the sheer size of the multiple mines, in-situ plants, upgraders, pipelines, rail lines, refineries and more across all of North America that earned the nickname “the Gigaproject.” Now, what if we took the most destructive aspects of tar sands mining, combined that with the worst parts of in-situ, and put them together into a project that was even worse than any tar sands development for the climate?

Canadian tar-sands exec: ‘We do need Keystone’

The U.S. State Department has curiously asserted that the proposed Keystone XL pipeline wouldn’t significantly affect the development of tar-sands fields in Alberta, Canada. But that assertion is being contradicted by a big player in the Canadian tar-sands industry.

Arctic Council to sign oil spill deal, talk marine issues and development

On May 15 if you want to find Leona Aglukkaq, Canada’s minister responsible for the Arctic Council, look 540 metres underground in Kiruna, Sweden.

That’s where Aglukkaq and the other top ministers from the Arctic Council member nations plan to eat lunch during their one-day ministerial meeting, during which Sweden will pass the chair of the eight-nation forum to Canada.

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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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