Environmental Must-Reads – November 21, 2014


Texas Drilling Brings Health Complaints, but Little Enforcement

Bradford Gilde, a Houston lawyer, stumbled across some unexpected evidence as he was preparing to sue Aruba Petroleum on behalf of a North Texas couple who believed fumes from the company’s natural gas wells were making them sick.

His clients, Bob and Lisa Parr, complained of chronic dizziness and eye and throat irritation. A Texas environmental inspector reported experiencing the same symptoms in 2010 after visiting Aruba’s wells in Wise County, Mr. Gilde learned.

Fracking waste lawsuit waged

A lawsuit filed Wednesday in Franklin County court claims Gov. John Kasich and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources illegally approved 23 fracking waste facilities, including one in Coshocton County and three in Muskingum County.

Lea Harper, director of the Fresh Water Accountability Project, helped launch the lawsuit against the state, and claims the ODNR “illegally issued Chief’s Orders” by allowing facilities to operate “without regulating radioactivity” on fracking waste. Chief’s Orders were not required before February 2013.

Winona supports new state standards for silica sand

The city of Winona is believed to be the first Minnesota city or county to offer an official opinion on controversial regulation of the booming silica sand industry since the Legislature ordered the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency to create state standards last session.

The Winona City Council voted 5-1 Monday night to approve a five-paragraph resolution that supports air monitoring of particulate matter and silica at existing and new silica sand facilities in the state. Jeff Hedman, of the MPCA, said Monday that Winona is the first city or county he’s aware of to support such monitoring.

California environmental groups call for tighter fracking controls

Environmental groups are renewing calls for stricter regulations on fracking now that they claim to have new evidence that almost 3 billion gallons of wastewater might have ended up in Central California aquifers that supply water for drinking and irrigation.

The State Water Resources Control Board issued orders to seven oil production companies last July to immediately shut down 11 waste water disposal wells “to avoid potential harm to a limited number of groundwater aquifers in Kern County.” Two of the wells have since been reinstated.

Hazards of Open Pits for Storing Wastewater From Fracking Is Focus of New Study

Unlined open-air wastewater pits brimming with the toxic leftovers of fracking and other types of oil and gas development are threatening California’s air and water quality, according to a study by two national environmental organizations.

A visit to a series of wastewater pits in California’s Central Valley that sickened researchers prompted the study, according to the authors. Oil and gas drilling has been generating vast amounts of waste in the region for decades.

Oil Drilling Plans Near L.A. Neighborhood Prompt Calls for Review

Residents of Porter Ranch on Tuesday demanded a full environmental assessment of a Long Beach company’s proposal to expand oil drilling operations in the Santa Susana Mountains from 18 to 30 wells.

Community activists raised concerns ranging from groundwater contamination and health risks to increased earthquake hazards in objecting to The Termo Co.’s request to add the wells to its North Aliso Canyon Field, north of the Santa Susana ridgeline.

Fracking industry suing over drilling bans

As fracking spreads in the United States, voters in more and more cities are banning drilling, waste disposal and other practices associated with deep-shale oil and gas wells.

But those bans have prompted lawsuits filed by state governments or the oil and gas industry raising a legal question: Who gets to say where fracking can happen?

New report looks at fracking amid drought

Hydraulic fracturing of natural gas and oil wells threatens America’s water supplies in drought-stricken areas, according to a report released Tuesday by the Environmental Working Group.

The report, titled “Monster Wells,” discovered that more than 3.3 billion gallons of water was used between April 2010 and December 2013 to frack 261 “monster wells” across the nation, many of them in Colorado, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Explosion on Gulf platform; 1 dead, 3 injured

An explosion has occurred on an offshore oil and gas platform in the Gulf of Mexico, killing one person and injuring three.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement said Fieldwood Energy reported the explosion on its Echo Platform just before 3 p.m. Thursday about 12 miles off Louisiana’s coast. A telephone call to the Houston, Texas-based company was not immediately returned.

Authorities investigate explosion at Gulf drilling platform that killed one, injured three

The U.S. Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement responded Thursday to an explosion at a drilling platform in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 12 miles off the Louisiana coast, that killed one person and injured three others, said Chauntra Rideaux, a spokeswoman for the bureau.

The offshore oil and gas operator, Fieldwood Energy, reported the explosion on its Echo Platform just before 3 p.m. Thursday, Rideaux said in a news release sent out about 8 p.m.

Texas A&M Galveston Will Study Effects Of BP Oil Spill

The Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative (GoMRI) has selected Dr. Antonietta Quigg, professor and associate vice president for research and graduate studies at Texas A&M’s Galveston campus, to receive $7.25 million dollars to conduct scientific studies of the impacts of oil on the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and public health. This research will study the effects of the April 2010 Macondo well blowout, also known as the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Dauphin Island officials pitch $58 million beach restoration project through oil spill funds

Hoping to make one of Alabama’s barrier islands a bit more of a barrier to winds, tides and major storms, Dauphin Island officials are hoping to secure oil spill restoration funding for a major beach rejuvenation project on the west end of the island.

“This is something that we’ve been looking at for over a decade,” Dauphin Island mayor Jeff Collier said. “Knowing that the island is subject to erosion, we’ve been looking for ways to shore up and stabilize Dauphin Island proper.”

UM, NSU teams awarded $37.5M to study BP oil spill

Two South Florida universities will receive a total of $37.5 million to continue researching the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the worst spill in U.S. history that killed 11 workers, spewed 200 million gallons of crude into the Gulf of Mexico and unleashed a host of environmental ills scientists are still struggling to understand.

The University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science won $29 million. Nova Southeastern University received $8.5 million.

Fact Checking the WaPo Fact Checker on Keystone XL and exports

The President recently took on claims that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would help American consumers, noting that the carbon-intensive project is designed primarily as a route for tar sands to reach the international market. Unfortunately the Washington Post Fact Checker, relying on a variety of outdated and in some cases demonstrably inaccurate information, took exception to the President’s comments.  The President is right as we will show. The Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is an export pipeline through the United States, designed to increase the tar sands industry’s access to the international market.

Keystone XL Back in the pipeline

ACCORDING to Joe Manchin, a Democratic senator from West Virginia, one advantage of the Keystone XL pipeline is that “wars could be prevented”. Barbara Boxer of California, also a Democrat, says that the pipeline would bring Shanghai-like smog to America—her point illustrated with a huge picture of Chinese people in facemasks.

So goes the hyperbole which surrounds the proposed pipeline, which is intended to link Canadian oilfields and tar sands with American refineries. On November 18th the Senate narrowly failed (59 votes to 41, 60 being required) to pass a bill that would have authorised its construction. The tight vote, with 14 Democrats joining all the Republicans to try to push it through, gave a hint of what may happen when the Republicans take over the Senate in January.

Lawsuit by Nebraska Landowners May Decide Keystone Pipeline’s Fate

For all the angst and anger over the Keystone XL pipeline in Washington, the project’s fate may lie here in Nebraska, where disgruntled landowners are challenging a state law that officials used to approve the pipeline’s path through their property.

After the U.S. Senate rejected a measure to approve the project Tuesday, Republicans who will control the chamber in January said it would be one of the first items on their agenda next year. A more immediate hurdle, though, is the Nebraska suit, which encompasses much of the legal and emotional core of the battle over Keystone.

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