Environmental Must-Reads – November 14, 2012


Is Fracking Worth It? NY Elected Officials Say No

Today in Albany, NY Elected Officials to Protect New York held a press conference detailing the negative socio-economic impacts of fracking. They also announced that Elected Officials to Protect New York now represents more than 525 local elected officials from 61 counties, a landmark achievement that is indicative of their broad-based, non-partisan support from across New York State.

Protesting Fracking in Support of Local Farms

On Nov. 12, more than thirty people gathered in front of a fracking well site operated by Shell Oil to protest the impacts drilling is having on farmers in Pennsylvania. The well pad is 4,000 feet from Maggie Henry’s farm near New Castle, Pa.

One-man Ban: Pennsylvania Farmer Fights for His Land

“It’s not really my property,” Cleghorn affirms. “Nature had it first.”

Paradise Community, Henderson Township, Jefferson County, PA, November 14, 2012 – J. Stephen Cleghorn, PhD, a Pennsylvania organic farmer, has become the first landowner in the United States to use a conservation easement to recognize and protect the rights of water, forest, and wild ecosystems.

Study Finds Air Pollutants Near Drilling Sites

A peer-reviewed study published last week shows air quality impacts near drilling sites in rural Colorado. “An Exploratory Study of Air Quality Near Natural Gas Operations,” conducted by The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, was published in the journal Human and Ecological Risk Assessment. The study is the first to measure air quality before, during and after drilling and hydraulic fracturing operations. It found non-methane hydrocarbons rose to their highest concentration during the initial drilling, but did not increase during fracking operations.

Tale of ‘shale blessing’ loses glamour

There are two sides to the ‘shale revolution’ of developing alternative energy sources. As more experts are looking deeper into the viability of shale projects, such issues as lower costs and ecological safety of shale are being questioned.

Report cites risks with drilling near Muskingum reservoirs

A new report by New York water consultant against water leases by the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District was released today.

The report by Paul Rubin of Hydro Quest was done for the Southeast Ohio Alliance to Save Our Water.

It identifies public health and environmental risks associated with hydraulic fracturing or fracking in areas with reservoirs.

Colorado Oil And Gas Well Rules To Be Considered By State Commission

DENVER (AP) — Colorado officials considering changes to rules on how far oil and natural gas wells should be from houses, schools and other buildings will have to balance concerns of not just environmentalists and residents but also industry groups, farmers and ranchers and real estate agents.

Battelle to help Ohio study drilling wastewater options

Columbus-based Battelle will help the state of Ohio assess which technology works best in handling drilling wastewater.

Battelle will be working with the Ohio Environmental Proptection Ageny and the Ohio Department of Natural resources.

Friction over fracking sand

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. — Where County Highway A crests a knoll, Ken Schmitt pulls up to the edge of a farm and idles the car. Above a cornfield yellowed and brittle from a killing frost is a 100-foot hill with a wide section cut away, revealing bands of stone, clay and sand neat as a layer cake.

In time, 800 acres of farmland will be mined to feed an energy boom sweeping the United States.

Fracking Still Controversial in Europe

ST. ANNES, ENGLAND — Just outside Blackpool, a town of faded cabarets and amusement rides on the Irish Sea, a drilling rig sits in a muddy farm field. The big white and yellow machine represents the latest attempt by Cuadrilla Resources to see if it can bring Northwest England the sort of shale gas revolution that has transformed the U.S. energy picture.

Officials against fracking raise concerns about potential increases in crime rates

ALBANY — Opponents of Marcellus shale gas drilling warned Tuesday of crime and social unrest if New York state permits hydro-fracking, comparing the industry to an “invasion.”

“Across the country, fracking is accompanied by steep increases in crime rates and greater strain on social services,” Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan said as he and other officials held a round of meetings with state officials. “That hit home for Binghamton recently when an out-of-state gas industry employee shot two police officers. We can’t afford this. Our communities deserve better.”

Fracking Findings Presented at Commissioners’ Meeting

A fracking advisory committee is recommending to Athens County commissioners that the process of hydraulic fracturing is not worth the possible economic benefits.

Blast pushes gas pipeline safety to the fore

As investigators sift through the rubble of Saturday night’s fiery explosion that killed two people in Indianapolis, the scene is a sobering for those who oversee gas pipeline safety.

Ohio renews injection-well permitting

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio began issuing its first new permits Tuesday for deep injection of chemically-laced wastewater from oil and gas drilling since a New Year’s Eve quake in Youngstown prompted an unofficial statewide moratorium.

Residents getting frustrated with slow pace of sinkhole work

BAYOU CORNE, LA (WAFB)  Emotions ran high at another full house in Pierre Part Tuesday as residents affected by the sinkhole received the latest updates from state and local agencies, as well as officials from Texas-Brine.

Homes near sinkhole must be tested

PIERRE PART — A Shaw geologist working on the response to the Bayou Corne-area sinkhole urged evacuees Tuesday to get in-home testing of the air in their residences.

BP, government failed to exchange crucial spill data

BP and the U.S. government portrayed in public a united front as a runaway well spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

But privately they sought to withhold potentially critical information from each other, possibly slowing efforts to solve the crisis, according to new testimony.

Oil spills, other Hurricane Sandy damage present N.J. with potential pollution headaches

WOODBRIDGE — As Hurricane Sandy made its main assault on the coast, a massive tidal surge charged north under bridges and up the Arthur Kill, bisecting New Jersey and Staten Island before raging inland up rivers and creeks.

Feds: More Arctic oil spill research is needed

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — A federal commission says more research is needed to prevent and clean up oil spills in the ice-covered waters surrounding Alaska and Canada.

After BP spill, information trickled as oil gushed

BP and the U.S. government portrayed in public a united front as a runaway well spewed oil into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. But they privately sought to withhold potentially critical information from each other, possibly slowing efforts to solve the crisis, according to new testimony.

Public input sought on Red Butte Creek oil spill document

SALT LAKE CITY — The public is invited to comment on a document that brings closure to cleanup of the 2010 Red Butte Creek oil spill.

Captain fined $25k over Shen Neng oil spill

A court has ordered the captain of a ship that caused ‘unprecedented’ damage to the Great Barrier Reef off Queensland to pay a $25,000 fine.

Prestige Oil Spill Trial Continues, Captain Testifies

Ten years ago today, the PRESTIGE oil tanker triggered one of Europe’s worst oil spills. Also today, the ship’s 77-year-old Greek captain, Apostolos Mangouras, testified during the environmental disaster’s legal trial in Spain.

Prestige captain ‘checked’ tanker before oil disaster

A CORUNA, Spain–Ten years to the day after the Prestige tanker sent an SOS heralding one of Europe’s worst oil spills, the 77-year-old Greek captain insisted at his trial in Spain on Tuesday that his vessel had passed the required checks.

Virginia Tries to Circumvent Obama on Drilling

WASHINGTON — When Doug Domenech looks out at the Atlantic Ocean, he sees oil and natural gas and jobs and revenue. Standing between him and those prizes are President Obama, the Navy and whales.

BETHANY KRAFT: GoCoast 2020 puts Mississippi on path to BP oil spill recovery

Mississippi citizens have an unprecedented opportunity through the GoCoast 2020 Commission to not only restore what was lost in the BP oil disaster, but to leave a legacy of healthy communities, strong economies, and productive coastal and marine environments.

My Thoughts on the BP Settlement “Fairness Hearing”

I had hoped to write a full article concerning my thoughts on the subject of the BP Settlement Fairness Hearing held Thursday, Nov.8, but I (along with three others) was wrongfully accused of “live streaming audio,” and forcibly removed from the federal courtroom. I won’t go into that now, but you can read Ada McMahon’s article for more information.

BP Disaster Survivors Removed From Federal Courtroom during Fairness Hearing

Three BP oil disaster survivors and community advocates were forcibly removed from the fairness hearing on the BP class-action settlement yesterday, moments before the federal court heard objections to how that settlement would compensate people made sick by the disaster. The fairness hearing allowed U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to hear arguments from those who negotiated the deal, as well as those with objections to the class action, before the settlement is accepted or rejected.

Plaintiffs urged to accept BP settlement

NEW ORLEANS — U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier did not rule from the bench Thursday on the fairness of the massive settlement BP negotiated with a class of oil spill victims last spring.

His feelings about the settlement, however, were unmistakable.

California coastal panel mulls quake study near nuke plant

LOS ANGELES — California coastal regulators were set to weigh in Wednesday on a utility’s contentious plan to map offshore earthquakes faults near a nuclear power plant by blasting loud air cannons.

Chernobyl study shows need for caution in Fukushima

A study released Thursday by a U.S. research team links protracted exposure to low-level radiation to a higher risk of leukemia among workers engaged in the cleanup of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster, and points to the need to protect those involved in dealing with the Fukushima crisis.

Radiation loving algae comes to Japan’s rescue

Japan’s Fukushima disaster is spawning billions of green, slimy photosynthetic organisms throughout its countryside – algae that is. Government grants are financing research into using algae harvesting technology as a new approach to radiation remediation.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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