Environmental Must-Reads – May 8, 2013


U.S. Interior says not bowing to outside groups on fracking regs

The Obama administration’s second attempt at writing regulations for hydraulic fracturing on public lands is not intended to appease either environmentalists or oil and gas drillers, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said on Tuesday.

Fracking bill gets support from Sierra Club, energy industry

The Sierra Club found some common ground with the oil and gas industry in the Texas Legislature.

The Lone Star chapter of the environmentalist organization supports bills that would use saltwater pipes to haul fracking water from drill sites to disposal wells.

BLM Postpones All California Oil and Gas Lease Sales After Fracking Legal Victory

About four weeks after a federal judge ruled that the Obama administration violated the law by leasing California public land for oil development without considering the risks of fracking, the Bureau of Land Management has postponed all oil and gas lease sales in California for the rest of the fiscal year.

Boulder council to consider fracking moratorium

The Boulder City Council will consider a moratorium on fracking within city limits and on city-owned lands at its June 4 meeting.

Council members on Tuesday asked the City Attorney’s Office to prepare a moratorium and present it at the first meeting in June.

This Town Took On Fracking and Won

There was a time not so long ago when the most contentious issue in Dryden, New York, was hiring a new dog catcher. Situated in New York’s Finger Lakes region, Dryden is a rural town with a population of just 14,500 spread over 94 square miles. It’s “a little more progressive than your average upstate town,” explains town supervisor Mary Ann Sumner, because it gets some spillover residents from nearby Ithaca, a college town. “But we’re still just an upstate town,” best known for dairy farms and cornfields.

California urges record $2.5 billion fine for natural gas blast

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. could face a record fine for a deadly 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion in a San Francisco suburb. Officials hope it will help prevent future accidents while some warn that rising natural gas demand is outpacing investment in energy infrastructure.

Worker camps from natural gas boom cause headaches for local officials

Wheeling, West Virginia has 14 campgrounds, and most of them house out-of-state men who work at fracking sites. Some of these labor camps were set up without permits, and others have been cited for improper sewage disposal and violence.

The Price of Our Fertilizer Addiction

My heart aches for the people of West, Texas, the tiny town where a fertilizer plant recently blew up. Many of the folks who perished in the blast were heroic volunteer firefighters who ran into danger instead of away from it.

With 14 dead and 200 injured, and a nearby nursing home, school and apartment complex either badly damaged or destroyed, West’s brave citizens have hard work ahead.

As a nation, we must prevent a disaster like this from happening again. For starters, we can make fertilizer plants safer and locate them away from schools and nursing homes from now on.

This tragedy is even more painful because the factory was making a product—nitrogen fertilizer—that perhaps should not be used at all.

Lawyer: Ruling could start N.Y. fracking

The court ruling last week that upheld the authority of towns to ban shale gas drilling could serve as “an exit strategy” for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to allow hydraulic fracturing in communities that have signaled they are open to it, a high-profile industry lawyer said Monday.

BP oil spill settlement payouts surpass $2 billion mark, administrator says

The Deepwater Horizon Claims Center, which is overseeing the multibillion-dollar settlement between BP and private claimaints, has now paid out more than $2 billion to businesses and individuals who lost money as a result of the 2010 oil spill, the court-appointed claims administrator said Tuesday.

Government to Propose More Gulf Coast Restoration Projects

A coalition of federal agencies and five states intends to deploy nearly $600 million, drawn from a $1 billion fund financed by BP, to pay for twenty-eight new early restoration projects across the Gulf Coast. The proposal would come over three years after that area faced extensive on- and offshore environmental damage from the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

Exxon to develop Julia field in Gulf of Mexico

Exxon Mobil Corp said on Tuesday it is starting a $4 billion project to develop the Julia oilfield in the Gulf of Mexico.

Arkansas AG: Health issues a concern after Mayflower oil spill

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says he’s concerned about the public health implications of the Mayflower oil spill.

McDaniel said Tuesday that residents in Mayflower have expressed concerns about their health and their children’s health.  He says many residents continue to suffer from headaches and nausea after ExxonMobil Pipeline Co.’s Pegasus pipeline ruptured in Mayflower on March 29 and spilled thousands of barrels of oil.

Arkansas AG: Exxon Should Purchase Properties Affected by Oil Spill

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel held a press conference Tuesday to update the Exxon oil spill in Mayflower, Ark.

Richmond considers hiring big law firm to sue Chevron

The city of Richmond may take on Chevron. Tuesday night leaders discussed whether to hire a high-powered law firm to sue Chevron for the massive fire at the company’s Richmond refinery.

Giant Louisiana sinkhole burps again, work ceased

Work near the giant sinkhole in south Louisiana was stopped Sunday due to increased tremors. A “burp” early Tuesday morning in the sinkhole means all work in and around the area is ceased until further notice.

Sinkhole bill curbing salt dome storage caverns near manmade disasters fails in Louisiana Senate

Legislation that would have barred permits for hydrocarbon storage in state-owned bodies of water near manmade disasters failed on the Senate floor Tuesday.  Senate Bill 200 by Sen. Fred Mills, R-Breaux Bridge, would have prohibited new permits to store hydrocarbons, such as natural gas, carbon dioxide and hazardous waste, where the underlying salt rock has failed because of human error.

Enbridge shuts down N.D. pipeline

Enbridge has shut down the pipeline that runs through Grand Forks for a second time in less than a week after finding contaminated soil during integrity checks at an unspecified area.

Pipeline Wars Seen Spreading After Fight on Keystone XL

The fight over TransCanada Corp.’s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL project probably will be repeated as companies build more conduits to carry oil and gas to U.S. markets, the former chief pipeline safety regulator said.

Joe Biden Tells Supporter He Opposes Keystone Pipeline, But Is “In The Minority,” She Says

Vice President Joe Biden told a South Carolina environmental activist Friday that he opposes a controversial oil pipeline from Canada, but said he is “in the minority” inside the Obama administration, according to the activist’s account of the conversation.

Keystone backers say pipeline would cut emissions

Backers of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline say the project would move oil now being moved by trucks and trains, which emit more pollution.

Keystone Pipeline Nemesis Leads Charge From Her Family Minivan

Jane Kleeb takes her Honda Odyssey across the highways and back roads of Nebraska to deliver a simple message: the oil pipeline can be stopped.

On one recent trip, she steered around puddles left by a spring thaw on a stretch of unpaved road. She was headed for a ranch TransCanada Corp.’s (TRP) proposed Keystone XL pipeline would cross, to visit a couple that is fighting the project.

San Francisco’s Tar Sands

n 1951 Sidney Martin Blair, the vice president of Bechtel Canada, visited Alberta at the behest of the regional government to examine the economic case for mining the thick deposits of bitumen resting underneath much of the boreal forests and grasslands that reach up and around frigid Lake Athabasca. Blair was no stranger to what are known popularly today as the tar, or oil sands. In 1924 Blair, who grew up in the northern clime of Canada’s interior, submitted his thesis for a Master of Science degree from the University of Alberta: “An Investigation of the Bitumen Constituent of the Bituminous Sands of Northern Alberta.” His later study of the oil sands for Alberta came to be known as the Blair Report and served as the founding document for what is becoming one of the largest industrial projects in human history, and one of the most dire environmental threats we have ever faced.

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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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