Environmental Must-Reads – May 9, 2014


North Dakota Is the Deadliest State to Work In

Fracking has done some incredible things for North Dakota: It has the fastest-growing economy and lowest unemployment in the nation, and it is second only to Texas in churning out oil. But as with any gold rush, the boom comes with a human cost for those involved—illness, injury, and fatalities. (For a first-hand view of conditions in North Dakota’s fracking fields, watch the video above, which we produced in 2012.)

Cleanup continues for drilling leak near Marietta

A Colorado-based energy company was cleaning up hundreds of gallons of oily fluid that leaked into a nearby creek while it was drilling an oil and gas well in southeast Ohio.

An oil-based lubricant known as “mud” spewed from a well head Sunday during drilling for a hydraulic-fracturing well near Beverly, Ohio, just west of Marietta. About 1,600 gallons leaked from the drill site into a creek that is a tributary of the Muskingum River, said Heather Lauer, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Scientists flying over Colorado oil boom find worse air pollution

Scientists have found that Colorado’s Front Range oil and gas boom has been emitting three times more methane than previously believed — 19.3 tons an hour — a climate-change problem that state officials hope new rules will address.

The scientists also measured industry emissions of cancer-causing benzene and smog-forming volatile organic compounds at levels up to seven times higher than government agencies have estimated.

Okla. tops Calif. in number of quakes since October

When it comes to earthquakes, Oklahoma is the new California.

The Sooner State may be better known for tornadoes. But since October, Oklahoma has had more quakes than California, knocking the Golden State out of first place in the lower 48 states.

Study: Weld Co. methane levels triple state estimates

Boulder scientists measuring greenhouse gas levels over the Denver-Julesburg basin have found triple the amount of methane floating over Weld County than government estimates show.

Most of the methane is coming from oil and gas operations within the county, which in 2012 had 24,000 wells scattered across its prairies, according to a study released Wednesday by the University of Colorado Boulder and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Ohio lawmaker panel offers another frack-tax proposal

A lawmaker panel offered yet another version of legislation to revamp tax rates on oil and gas produced via horizontal hydraulic fracturing.

The latest substitute House Bill 375 would levy a 2.5 percent tax rate on production, up from 2.25 percent proposed earlier. The legislation also would provide a $10 million exemption for drillers to recover the initial costs of their horizontal wells.

Poll: Californians want oil-extraction tax, county control over fracking

California seems to be moving toward imposing a tax on oil pumped from the ground, either through a legislative bill or a ballot measure, a new poll suggests.

The poll — commissioned by NextGen Climate Action, the group formed by billionaire hedge fund manager Tom Steyer of San Francisco — found most likely voters in the state want oil companies to pay such a tax. According to the poll, most likely voters also want counties to be able to vote on whether to allow hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for oil and gas within their borders.

Bayou Corne Residents Still Evacuated Nearly Two Years After Salt Mine Collapse Caused Sinkhole

It’s been almost two years since a salt mine collapsed in Bayou Corne, 77 miles from New Orleans, causing a sinkhole to open up and natural gas to spread under nearby homes.

Since Aug. 3, 2013, a swath of Assumption Parish has remained under a state of mandatory evacuation.

BP fights agreed-upon oil spill claims process

In 2010, BP claims czar Kenneth Feinberg arrived on the Gulf Coast promising to settle 90 percent of private oil spill claims without need for the courts.

That seemed preposterous after BP and private claimants signed a multi-billion dollar court settlement in 2012 and gave Feinberg the boot. But with BP using appeals to hold up all business loss payments for the last eight months, a WWL-TV analysis finds that Feinberg’s prediction turned out just about right.

BP revisited: ‘Safer than ever’ may not be safe at all when it comes to offshore rigs

BP’s oil rig explosion and catastrophic spill began in April 2010, but the real anniversary should be May. That’s when we became gripped again by feelings of helplessness and anger more intense than anything we had known since Hurricane Katrina.

Oil spewed into the gulf for months while BP, one of the largest companies in the world, scrambled ineffectually to stanch the toxic pollution. Remember the “top kill” injections and “top hat” containment dome that briefly raised our hopes? Those didn’t work. It got so bad it became farcical. At one point BP reportedly considered injecting golf balls and human hair into the well to plug it. All we could do was watch and wonder: “How could it come to this?”

BP & The Real State of the Gulf – Pollution Report for Wednesday, May 7, 2014

The following is a summary of the 5/07/14 daily beach oiling report issued by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP). I will endeavour to publish this summary each day the FDEP issues such a report. While the media and public believe that the effects of BP’s Deepwater Horizon Blowout and Oil Spill have been largely eradicated, this data suggests otherwise.

Health officials say James River is safe

If you get in the James River, you don’t have to worry about oil, state officials say.

The Virginia Department of Health on Thursday lifted its recommendation that people avoid swimming and paddling in the James between Lynchburg and Richmond.

Oregon ill-prepared for oil train spill into waterways; containment booms spread sparsely

When a CSX oil train derailed and caught fire April 30 in Lynchburg, Virginia, dumping more than 20,000 gallons of crude into the James River, the spill wasn’t controlled for hours.

If a similar accident happened on an Oregon waterway, the response could be just as slow. Like Virginia, Oregon doesn’t have any state law requiring railroads to plan for oil spills. Readiness has lagged.

U.S. Issues Safety Alert for Oil Trains

Calling the movement of crude oil by rail an “imminent hazard” to the public, the federal Department of Transportation said on Wednesday that railroads would be required to notify local emergency responders whenever oil shipments traveled through their states.

The emergency order follows a spate of accidents that have raised concerns about the safety of the trains that carry increasing amounts of crude oil from the Bakken region of North Dakota across the United States.

Duke Energy spends tiny percentage of revenue on coal ash cleanup

Duke Energy, the company responsible for a massive coal ash spill in North Carolina in January, raked in billions in revenue in the first quarter of 2014 but failed to spend more than a tiny fraction of its earnings on cleaning up its spill, according to its quarterly report released Wednesday.

The company, the largest electrical utility in the United States, has also seen what one Duke stock owner called a “shareholder revolt” over a reluctance to provide more detailed disclosure of its political contributions. Duke denies there’s a mutiny, saying that management’s preference for less disclosure is supported by a majority of shareholders.

ExxonMobil Donates $125,000 to Relief Efforts

The oil company responsible for a large oil spill in a central Arkansas neighborhood says it’s contributing $125,000 to aid recovery efforts in the state from last week’s severe storms that included deadly tornadoes.

ExxonMobil made the donation Thursday to the American Red Cross in Little Rock after its vice president of operations toured damage in Mayflower. More than 200,000 gallons of heavy crude spilled from ExxonMobil’s Pegasus pipeline in the town last year.

Keystone Pipeline Dispute Muddles The Path Forward On Energy Bill

An energy efficiency bill has stalled in the Senate, primarily due to disagreement over the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The dispute leaves an otherwise popular bill in limbo.

Keystone Pipeline Is A ‘Relic Of Bush Energy Policy,’ Finds New Book

A new e-book looks at the historical context for the Keystone XL decision and argues that there is a clear-cut case for why President Barack Obama should reject the proposed pipeline.

Keystone and Beyond, from veteran New York Times reporter and editor John Cushman, was published Thursday by InsideClimate News, a Pulitzer Prize-winning news organization. The book traces the Keystone decision back to the presidency of George W. Bush and argues that the pipeline is a “relic of Bush energy policy,” proposed at a time when the U.S. relied more heavily on oil imports and the White House refused to acknowledge that climate change was an actual problem.

Keystone XL: A stalled pipeline keeps pumping cash into Washington, D.C.

The Keystone XL pipeline may be stalled, but it’s pumping a steady flow of cash into Washington — where inertia is a multibillion-dollar industry.

The pipeline debate has become a money-making machine for lobbyists, advertisers, NGOs and political fundraisers in the U.S. capital, where tens of millions of dollars are being spent on the issue.

Leaky Pipeline or Economic Boom? Experts Make the Case on Keystone

Senior Policy Analyst at the Heritage Foundation Nick Loris and Executive Director of the Sierra Club Michael Brune make their case for the fate of the Keystone XL pipeline.

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