Environmental Must-Reads – November 11, 2013


Fracking ‘is safe… and it’s coming soon’

Households “right across the South” should prepare for gas fracking to begin in their areas, a senior minister has warned.

Michael Fallon says that in the next few weeks, a study by the water industry will conclude that fracking will not contaminate the water supply.

British minister says fracking is safe, and coming soon

A British government minister says “there are genuine concerns” but shale gas fracking is safe and will come soon, possibly throughout England.

Michael Fallon — minister of state in the Department of Energy and Climate Change — said a soon-to-be released report by Water UK will conclude fracking does not pose a serious threat to the country’s drinking water, the Daily Telegraph reported Saturday.

More Oil and Gas Drillers Turn to Water Recycling

When the rain stopped falling in Texas, the prairie grass yellowed, the soil cracked and oil drillers were confronted with a crisis. After years of easy access to cheap, plentiful water, the land they prized for its vast petroleum wealth was starting to dry up.

Industry Word Games Mislead Americans on Fracking

Hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking, and other drilling practices have unlocked previously inaccessible reserves of oil and gas across the U.S. and the world. However, some of the debate over fracking is distorting public understanding of these practices and interfering with good decision-making about this recent boom in unconventional oil and gas production.

Cities in Colorado pass a series of Moratoriums and a Ban on Hydraulic Fracking in the State

Last week, three Colorado communities put the brakes on hydraulic fracturing, two months after devastating floods that caused a significant number of oil and natural gas pipelines to rupture in parts of the state. By significant margins, voters in Boulder and Fort Collins imposed five-year moratoriums on fracking; those in Lafayette banned the practice outright. Voters in the Denver suburb of Broomfield narrowly defeated a proposed moratorium.

Approval of fracking bans turns up the heat on Hickenlooper

When voters rejected Amendment 66?s proposed income tax hike by a two-to-one margin on Tuesday, many observers called it a major defeat for Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, a Democrat seeking reelection next year.

But another set of votes are also a major setback for the governor.

Wyoming nears baseline tests before oil-gas drilling

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission is poised to require the companies that drill for oil and gas in the state to first test nearby water wells and other water sources for pollution.

The purpose is to document the condition of those nearby water sources and, if any contamination turns up later, help state regulators determine the origin of the pollution.

Mayor Calvin Tillman Leaves Dish, Texas Fearing ‘Fracking’ Effects On Family’s Health

Fearing for his children’s health, Mayor Calvin Tillman is leaving behind his government position and getting out of Dodge… or rather, Dish.

Dish, Texas is a town consisting of 200 residents and 60 gas wells. When Tillman’s sons repeatedly woke up in the middle of the night with mysterious nosebleeds, he knew it was time to move — even if it meant leaving his community behind. In an exclusive interview with The Huffington Post, Mayor Tillman reveals that when it came down to family or politics, the choice wasn’t a tough one to make.

Government puts hold on fracking

The Newfoundland and Labrador government announced last week that it would be putting a hold on any applications for hydraulic fracturing in the province until it’s confident there has been enough information gathered to ensure safety.

New German govt would put moratorium on fracking -party officials

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives and the centre-left Social Democrats have agreed in coalition talks to put a moratorium on fracking for shale gas, leading members of the two parties said on Friday.

Ute Vogt, a Social Democrat (SPD) leader on environment issues in the talks, said that as a result fracking will not be possible in Germany before it is clear that the technology is safe. “We’ve agreed to a moratorium,” she told reporters.

300 Foot Flames as Crude Oil Train Derails and Explodes in Rural Alabama

A train carrying 2.7 million gallons of crude oil derailed near Aliceville in rural Alabama on Friday in a fiery explosion that green groups say illustrates the danger of fossil fuels.

The accident, the cause of which is unknown, appears to be the most severe of its kind within the United States since transportation of crude oil by train increased three years ago with the U.S. fracking boom, Reuters reports.

BP in fresh attempt to curb oil spill payouts

A clinic where the main doctor had his licence revoked, a mobile phone shop closed by a fire, and a car dealership that sold a discontinued marque are among businesses that successfully claimed compensation from BP for its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to court documents filed by the company late last week.

BP cited the cases as it made a fresh attempt to limit the cost of its compensation settlement for the Deepwater Horizon disaster, trying for the first time to challenge directly payments for losses not caused by the spill.

Jefferson, Plaquemines consider filing lawsuits

Even as Republican Gov. Bobby Jindal’s administration launched an all-out assault this year against a state agency’s lawsuit accusing energy companies of destroying coastal wetlands, officials in the Republican strongholds of Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes were quietly preparing their own cases aimed at forcing the oil and gas industry to repair the damage it allegedly has done in those areas.

Train in Alabama oil spill was carrying 2.7 million gallons of crude

A train that derailed and exploded in rural Alabama was hauling 2.7 million gallons of crude oil, according to officials.

The 90-car train was crossing a timber trestle above a wetland near Aliceville late Thursday night when approximately 25 rail cars and two locomotives derailed, spilling crude oil into the surrounding wetlands and igniting a fire that was still burning Saturday.

Chevron plans to turn CA oil spill site to resort

Chevron Corp. has plans to turn the site of a massive oil spill under the Central Coast town of Avila Beach into a luxury resort.

For decades, a 95-acre oil tank farm used to pump millions of gallons of crude oil from huge storage vats into tankers until a leak was discovered in 1989. The spill, which had built up over decades, polluted the ground under Avila Beach so severely that much of the town had to be torn down and reconstructed. The cleanup cost Unocal as much as $200 million.

In quaint Avila Beach, oil firm plans resort where crude once spilled

Pretty regularly, the clouds cartwheel in from the sea and sock everybody in around here, except tiny Avila Beach. It’ll be dreary up in Morro Bay and dreadful down in Pismo, but here, the hills cut through the fog and leave a little circle of sunshine. It’s a microclimate, technically. But locals like to think of it as a halo.

Nigeria: Shell Disagrees With Amnesty, CEHRD Over Oil Spills Investigations

The Shell Petroleum Development Company of Nigeria (SPDC) has described as “unsubstantiated assertions”, a recent statement by Amnesty International and the Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development (CEHRD) that it manipulates investigations into series of oil spills in Nigeria.

Alberta premier making Keystone pipeline push

Alberta Premier Alison Redford is making a full-court lobbying press for the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline as the White House decision on the project draws closer.

Redford will have meetings in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday with officials from the State Department, which is leading the federal review of Keystone, the Environmental Protection Agency and the White House Council on Environmental Quality.

Calls Grow to Shut Down the Pegasus Pipeline for Good

For more than eight decades, Jim Howell was hardly one to cause a political ruckus. But this spring, he realized that a crude-oil superhighway ran through his backyard, just two feet below his patchy lawn and seven feet beyond a newly built porch.

“At first I felt guilty and stupid,” Mr. Howell said about discovering that the 20-inch-wide pipeline passed so close to his compact brick house.

Keystone XL protesters, Ponca families challenge TransCanada

Keystone XL pipeline opponents took to a Neligh rancher’s land Saturday, protesting the proposal they say cuts through the historic Ponca Trail of Tears and poses a steep environmental risk.

Anti-pipeline group Bold Nebraska — along with Ponca tribal families, Oceti Sakowin tribes, Brave Heart Society and others — hosted the Ponca Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp, the first in a series of tribal events aimed at showcasing solidarity among ranchers and Native Americans against TransCanada’s project.

Need for Keystone XL Erodes as U.S. Oil Floods Gulf Coast Refining Hub

The ongoing U.S. oil boom has flooded the Gulf Coast with domestic crude to levels not seen in decades, creating a homegrown oil glut in the nation’s refining center just as the Obama Administration prepares to rule on a pipeline that would add a torrent of heavy Canadian crude to the same region.

Enbridge files plan for $2.6 billion pipeline from North Dakota to Wisconsin.

Enbridge Energy has filed detailed plans with Minnesota regulators for a proposed $2.6 billion pipeline to carry crude oil from North Dakota across northern Minnesota to Wisconsin.

Removing Fuel Rods Poses New Risks at Crippled Nuclear Plant in Japan

It was the part of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant that spooked American officials the most, as the complex spiraled out of control two and a half years ago: the spent fuel pool at Reactor No. 4, with more than 1,500 radioactive fuel assemblies left exposed when a hydrogen explosion blew the roof off the building.

Fukushima, Eastern Japan Shaken Anew by 5.5 Magnitude Earthquake, No Immediate Damages on Crippled Plant

Eastern Japan, where the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is located, has been shaken anew by a 5.5 magnitude earthquake on Sunday morning. Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), operator of the embattled power plant, said the facility has suffered no abnormalities so far.

For many Fukushima evacuees, the truth is they won’t be going home

For many of Japan’s oldest nuclear refugees, all they want is to be allowed back to the homes they were forced to abandon. Others are ready to move away, severing ties to the ghost towns that remain in the shadow of the wrecked Fukushima nuclear plant.

Coalition calls for state-led approach to Fukushima cleanup

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe indicated he will accept the ruling coalition parties’ proposal to pour taxpayers money into decontamination efforts to speed up the recovery from the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

The package of proposals of the Liberal Democratic Party and junior coalition partner New Komeito also demanded that the government provide support to evacuees who abandon plans to return to their homes around the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Abe urged to help Fukushima recover with public funds

Japan’s ruling parties handed a proposal Monday to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe calling on the government to play a bigger role in accelerating Fukushima’s recovery from one of the world’s worst nuclear crises, including the major policy shift of using public funds.

Campaigning begins for Fukushima mayoral race

Official campaigning began Sunday for the Fukushima mayoral election, with the incumbent and two challengers filing candidacy papers.

Among the biggest issues in the Nov. 17 election are how to protect the health of citizens and decontaminate areas affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear crisis as well as efforts to speed up recovery after the deadly earthquake and tsunami in March 2011.

Japan Starts up Offshore Wind Farm Near Fukushima

Japan switched on the first turbine at a wind farm 20 kilometers (12 miles) off the coast of Fukushima on Monday, feeding electricity to the grid tethered to the tsunami-crippled nuclear plant onshore.

Luminant suspends nuclear plant expansion bid

The owner of a North Texas nuclear power plant has tabled its request for federal permission to expand.

Dallas-based Luminant Generation had asked the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission for a license to double the number of nuclear reactors at its Comanche Peak plant from two to four.

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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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