Environmental Must-Reads – November 1, 2013


New Research: Fracking Uses (and Loses) More Water than Previously Believed

Fracking’s water footprint is higher than previously thought, according to a new report out yesterday that combined data from many sources to provide one of the most comprehensive looks at how water is used by the oil and gas industry.  The researchers from Downstream Strategies and San Jose State University tracked water use, reuse, and disposal in the Marcellus Shale in Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

New Yorkers Rally Against Fracking Infrastructure and Flawed LNG Regulations

On Wednesday, Oct. 30, hundreds of New Yorkers from across the state came to Albany to expose Gov. Cuomo (D-NY) and the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) proposed Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) regulations for what they are: fatally flawed, a danger to public health and our wellbeing and supportive of a massive fracking infrastructure build out.

Hyped Benefits of Fracked Gas Already Fading

In January, 2012, the price of natural gas plunged to below $2/mcf due to overproduction by shale operators. Such low prices did, indeed, prompt utilities to switch from coal fired generation to natural gas fired generation if they had the capacity. Industry crowed that this was the shape of things to come with electricity costs plummeting for consumers and heralding the end of “King Coal.”

Marcellus Shale fracking wells use 5 million gallons of water apiece

Forget about residents. Forget about fish. The streams and rivers of Pennsylvania and West Virginia are being heavily tapped to quench the growing thirst of the fracking industry.

According to a new report, each of the thousands of fracking wells drilled to draw gas and oil out of the Marcellus Shale formation in those two states uses an average of 4.1 to 5.6 million gallons of fresh water. That’s more than the amount of water used by fracking wells in three other big shale formations around the country

Michigan Proposes Fracking Rules To Protect Water

Concerns about the potential environmental effects of fracking have spurred new regulations in Michigan.

The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality proposed new regulations this month that would slap reporting and monitoring requirements on drilling companies, affecting how oil and gas companies approach water issues.

Alberta running dry

Water. In Alberta, we take it for granted—turn the tap, there it is: clean, fresh and unlimited. But what if the very things that define Alberta—oil, beef, farms—could be destroying our finite and, shrinking, water supply? That’s what Ottawa-based author and water activist Maude Barlow warns in her new bestselling book Blue Future. This is her 16th book and her third on the threats facing water.

Hydrofracking risks outweigh rewards

Large-scale plans for hydraulic fracturing and natural gas export in Maryland have recently been set in motion. From my vantage point as a scientist, let me point to clear dangers in hydrofracking.

A physical process occurs that is overlooked by methane gas developers. This overlooked process is the upward migration of fractures from depth. A breakthrough in understanding this physical process came with the publication of an award winning paper entitled “Hydraulic forces that play a role in generating fissures at depth” by D.C. Helm, published in the Bulletin of the Association of Engineering Geologists.

Protesters line up against Beartooth Front drilling plans

Nearly 1,300 people have signed an online petition protesting plans by a Denver energy company to develop up to 50 oil-and-gas wells around Roscoe and more wells in the Big Horn Basin of Montana and Wyoming.

The Carbon County Resource Council, an affiliate of the Northern Plains Resource Council, has posted the names of people who oppose horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing along the Beartooth Front.

Top Halliburton executive sips fracking fluid with colleagues in industry show stunt

Industry executives were in for an unusual treat during a luncheon presentation at the annual Quebec Oil and Gas Association this week in Montreal. Apart from his power-point slides, Halliburton Canada vice-president John Gorman’s served up samples of frack fluid in champagne bottles, encouraging his audience to take a swig of his company’s CleanStim blend.

Fracking Concerns Won’t Kill PA Gag Rule

A Pennsylvania doctor cannot fight a “medical gag rule” that he says forces physicians to keep the public ignorant of the health dangers of hydrofracking, a federal judge ruled.
In a July 2012 complaint, nephrologist Alfonso Rodriguez had taken aim at Act 13 of 2012, an amendment of the Oil and Gas Act signed on Feb. 14.

North Carolina: Say No to Freaky Fracking Chemicals

Mystery and suspense are great when it comes to horror movies; not so great when it comes to the fracking chemicals dirty energy companies want to pump into the ground. But in North Carolina, polluters like Halliburton want to preserve the mystery. And thanks to the North Carolina state legislature and Governor Pat McCrory’s administration, they may just get their way.

Work halted at Assumption Sinkhole after containment berm cracks

Work around the Assumption Parish sinkhole is at a standstill now, after two cracks in the containment berms around it appeared.

Seismic activity has been increasing over the past week, an indication that it may be getting ready to swallow more land.

Feds launch probe into death of Gulf worker

Federal investigators said Thursday they will launch a probe to determine what caused the death of an oil platform worker, after he fell into the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday evening.

Federal judge denies Exxon Mobil motions to dismiss Ark. lawsuit over oil spill, strike class

A federal judge has rejected two motions by Exxon Mobil in a lawsuit filed following an oil spill from a ruptured pipeline in Mayflower.

U.S. District Judge Brian Miller in Little Rock denied the company’s request to dismiss the lawsuit and dismiss certain class-action allegations. Exxon Mobil had argued that some members of the class have no standing in the case.

Trial set in ExxonMobil state, federal lawsuit

A federal judge has set a trial date for a lawsuit by the state of Arkansas and federal prosecutors against ExxonMobil Pipeline Company and Mobil Pipeline Company.

State of Montana, federal government to seek damages over Exxon crude spill into Yellowstone

After two years of review, Montana and federal officials notified Exxon Mobil Corp. on Thursday that they intend to seek damages for injuries to birds, fish and other natural resources from a major crude oil spill into the Yellowstone River.

Exxon have reported an oil spill at their Beaumont refinery drainage ditch

Exxon have reported an oil spill at their Beaumont refinery drainage ditch with an unknown quantity of oil being leaked.

Regulator orders Tesoro to boost pipeline safety

A federal regulator on Thursday ordered Tesoro Logistics LP to make safety improvements to its North Dakota pipeline system in response to a leak that spilled 20,600 barrels of oil in a wheat field.

Feds: Lightning may be cause of ND oil spill

A lightning strike may have caused a pipeline rupture that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of oil in a North Dakota wheat field, federal regulators said in a report issued Thursday.

North Dakota Lawmakers Want To Make All Oil Spills Public

Democrats in North Dakota are seeking legislation that would make it mandatory for the state to report all oil and other hazardous spills and leaks to the public, regardless of their size.

‘Asking for Disaster,’ Shell Renews Bid for Risky Arctic Drilling

To the alarm of environmental groups, oil giant Shell announced on Thursday it was making plans to be able to resume the hunt for oil in Arctic waters in 2014.

On a call with reporters, chief financial officer Simon Henry said, “Our focus would be very much on the Chukchi [Sea], which is by far the biggest prize; that is the multi-billion barrel prize,” he said.

Shell faces obstacles even in scaled-back Arctic bid

Shell plans to make a dramatically scaled-back bid to find crude in Arctic waters nest year, following a headline-grabbing 2012 season that left the firm with a beached drilling rig, air pollution fines and embarrassing equipment failures.

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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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