Environmental Must-Reads – November 23, 2012


Fracking updates interspersed with jokes

Fracking in the news! Lots of news about fracking! Step right up, get your fracking news!

Fracking Moratorium Vote Falls Short in Europe

Despite intense lobbying by the fossil fuel industry, today’s vote in European Parliament demonstrates that there is no consensus for allowing large-scale shale gas development in Europe. More than one third of MEPs—Members of Parliament—voted in support of a moratorium on fracking in the Parliament’s first vote on shale gas.

Fracking’s Toxic Secrets: Lack Of Transparency Over Natural Gas Drilling Endangers Public Health, Advocates Say

Some frustrated residents and anti-fracking activists are finding new names to call the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) — “Don’t Expect Protection,” “Department of Energy Production” — according to Dana Dolney of ShaleTest, a nonprofit that provides free air and water quality testing for low-income residents near natural gas wells.

Gov. Cuomo: NY Fracking Decision Likely Delayed Into 2013

With the looming deadline of Nov. 29 for finalizing regulations for fracking in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that the much-delayed decision on this contentious issue will be pushed into 2013.

New York postpones fracking decision to 2013

A health impact review of shale gas drilling by national experts will make it impossible to meet a looming deadline for new fracking regulations, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

This pushes a much-delayed decision on the contentious issue into 2013.

Fracking blamed for methane releases

Australia’s largest natural gas fracking operation is showing larger than expected leaks of methane, research conducted as part of a government inquiry found.

Members of Congress point out weaknesses in BLM’s proposed fracking rule

Members of the House Natural Resources Committee, led by Ranking Member Ed Markey, recently sent a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar asking him to strengthen the BLM’s proposed fracking rule to ensure that it “properly manages the environmental and health risks oil and gas extraction.” The House members emphasized the Interior Department’s important role in establishing basic safety protections for oil and gas development. An investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee found that, between 2005 and 2009, 14 leading oil and gas companies used more than 780 million gallons of fracking products containing 750 different chemicals, including carcinogens and diesel.

Environmental Groups Praise TX Efforts to Regulate Fracking

AUSTIN, Texas – For the first time in more than two decades, the Texas rulebook for oil and gas operations is about to be significantly revised. Environmental and public-interest groups are praising draft regulations from the Railroad Commission of Texas.

Markey questions pipeline safety agency on Boston gas leaks

A day after a Boston University report revealed thousands of natural gas leaks under Boston, U.S. Rep. Ed Markey Wednesday asked the federal agency in charge of pipeline safety why it has not required pipeline companies to supply data on risk assessments and inspection and maintenance plans for aging pipelines.

Boston has a few thousand gas leaks it shouldn’t worry about

Just FYI, Bostononianites, there’s a natural gas leak under your city. Not a big deal. It’s a little one. Little small little natural gas leak.

And a tiny bit of additional bad news — there are also over 3,300 other such leaks.

Mapping Gas Leaks from Aging Urban Pipes

Most concerns about environmental impacts and other risks from leaking natural gas have focused on the fast-expanding production end of America’s vast system of wells, compressors and pipelines. But the urban maze of (often ancient) pipes that carries gas to furnaces and stoves has long been known to be leaking, as well.

Second U.S. Tar Sands Mine Approved in Utah

MCW Enterprises Ltd., a Canada-based corporation, announced on Nov. 19 that it has received all necessary permits to streamline tar sands extraction at its Asphalt Ridge plant located in Vernal, Utah starting in December.

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Protest Signals a Renewed Fight for Clean Energy

Thanksgiving is traditionally a time to celebrate the positive things in life, to cherish friends and family and individual accomplishments. But in a rapidly-warming world chock-full of violent storms, severe droughts and extreme weather events, common traditions can be turned upside down. Just ask residents of the northeast struggling to make ends meet after Superstorm Sandy blasted through their communities and destroyed holiday plans for thousands.

Enbridge: Canada’s oil pipelines maxed out

An executive at Canadian pipeline company Enbridge told an energy conference in Alberta that the nation’s oil pipelines “are pretty much full.”

Increased seismic activity recorded at giant Louisiana sinkhole

According to the Assumption Parish Police Jury website, increased seismic activity was recorded between 6 p.m. and midnight, Tuesday. The cause of this activity is unknown at this time. The tremors occurred on the same day dangerous gases were discovered at one of the vent wells at the sinkhole.

DEQ monitors air at homes near giant Louisiana sinkhole

Flaring at the Bayou Corne sinkhole site has stopped indefinitely. Texas Brine, the company that owns the property, submitted a proposal to the state Wednesday afternoon asking permission to cap the well for good.

The government scolds the company responsible for last week’s rig explosion

The Department of the Interior has some harsh words for Black Elk Energy, the company responsible for last week’s explosion on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico. Well, actually, not really harsh at all.

Exxon warning adds to Nigeria oil output problems

ExxonMobil on Wednesday became the fourth oil major in a month to warn customers over delays to Nigerian oil and gas exports, adding to a raft of problems for Africa’s biggest energy producer caused by oil spills, theft and flooding.

Did BP oil spill harm water quality in Orange Beach? Study of Cotton Bayou to find out

ORANGE BEACH, Alabama — It’s been nearly 2½ years since oil from the Deepwater Horizon disaster made its way through Perdido Pass into the city’s backbays and while time has diminished the visibility of the crude into tarballs, some residents of Cotton Bayou say they’re noticing a degradation of water quality.

BP’s $4.5 Billion Dollar Fine — Too Little, Too Late

An explosion Friday on a rig in the Gulf owned by Houston-based Black Elk Energy has reportedly injured several workers, with four missing, two possibly killed. This latest incident — just a day after the U.S. Department of Justice’s historic settlement with BP over the Deepwater Horizon disaster — highlights the risks of offshore oil drilling, and the need for tougher regulations on one of America’s most hazardous industries.

Sunken barge threatens oil spill in Danube, WWF says

Oil slicks around a barge that sank in a bay near Bulgaria’s largest Danube port of Ruse on November 20. Oil from a barge that sank in a bay off the Bulgarian section of the Danube is in danger of leaking into the main river, posing “potentially serious” consequences, environmental group WWF said Wednesday.

Freighter runs aground off Prince Rupert, stoking oil spill fears

The grounding of a 278-metre container ship near Prince Rupert has raised questions about the risk of oil spills on British Columbia’s rugged coastline.

Toshiba shows off 4-legged robot that can work in high-risk radiation areas, but it’s glitch

YOKOHAMA, Japan — Toshiba Corp. has developed a robot it says can withstand high radiation to work in nuclear disasters, but it’s not clear what exactly the robot is capable of doing if and when it gets the go-ahead to enter Japan’s crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Wild mushrooms far from Fukushima show high levels of cesium

Wild mushrooms, a seasonal delicacy in many parts of Japan, have lost their magic.

Tourism industry officials and restaurant operators have been aghast to learn that wild mushrooms picked far from the site of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima Prefecture last year are showing high levels of radioactive cesium.

The Children of Fukushima (PHOTOS)

Next to our house in California where I grew up there was an overgrown garden with a rubber tree, bushy shrubs and a little worn dirt path that I’d crawl through, a small journey to a place far away from the urban environment that surrounded me. In this garden, I made discoveries about the world, which led me to make personal discoveries. I have never let those early experiences go and always make it a point to follow my curiosities to this day. A part of my childhood lives on in my films and photography. In Fukushima, curiosity requires a Geiger counter.

Even Low-Level Radioactivity Is Damaging, Scientists Conclude

Even the very lowest levels of radiation are harmful to life, scientists have concluded in the Cambridge Philosophical Society’s journal Biological Reviews. Reporting the results of a wide-ranging analysis of 46 peer-reviewed studies published over the past 40 years, researchers from the University of South Carolina and the University of Paris-Sud found that variation in low-level, natural background radiation was found to have small, but highly statistically significant, negative effects on DNA as well as several measures of health.

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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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