Environmental Must-Reads – November 27, 2013


Colo. Fracking Votes Put Pressure On Energy Companies

The 2013 election marked a victory for foes of , or fracking, in Colorado. Voters in three Front Range communities decided to put limits on the practice.

Next week, the north Denver suburb of Broomfield will launch a closely watched on a proposed moratorium there.

ODNR must release fracking waste-water emails

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources failed to supply all of the public records that a Trumbull County city and business should have received in a dispute over fracking waste, a federal appeals court ruled yesterday.

Judge John A. Connor of Ohio’s 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus wrote the 3-0 opinion that ordered the agency to provide the city of Warren and Patriot Water Treatment with all of the remaining documents.

Are You A Fracking Ignoramus?

The heat is being turned up in the fight against fracking, but where is the science? It turns out that there is a lot of rhetoric and not a lot of science — yet — behind what most people are hearing about this infamous method for extracting more natural gas from the ground.

Park Service chief withdraws ‘fracking’ comments

The National Park Service (NPS) is walking back comments that showcased doubts about whether natural gas development can help battle climate change, acknowledging they “did not receive appropriate review.”

NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis, in a letter to a House Republican, withdrew the unsigned comments that the service sent months ago to a separate federal agency crafting regulations on hydraulic fracturing.

Poll: Fracking opposition increases in New York

A new poll suggests opposition to hydraulic fracturing for natural gas is increasing in New York, with the strongest opposition coming north of New York City’s suburbs.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC 4 New York/Marist College survey found 47 percent of New York adults “generally oppose” fracking in the Marcellus Shale, up eight percentage points from the last time Marist polled the issue in March. A total of 37 percent support it, which was unchanged from March.

Obama Approves Major Fracked Gas Pipeline

Although TransCanada’s Keystone XL tar sands pipeline has received the lion’s share of media attention, another key border-crossing pipeline benefitting tar sands producers was approved on November 19 by the U.S. State Department.

Enter Cochin, Kinder Morgan’s 1,900-mile proposed pipeline to transport gas produced via the controversial hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) of the Eagle Ford Shale basin in Texas north through Kankakee, Illinois, and eventually into Alberta, Canada, the home of the tar sands.

Oil Company Caught Illegally Dumping Fracking Discharge In Central Valley

For the first time, California has penalized an oil company over illegal fracking activity after the discovery of a video showing wrongful dumping of the fracking discharge.

The video has now led the state to look into the drilling activity of dozens of other companies.

Bombshell: U.S. is pumping 50% more methane into atmosphere than government reports

Methane may be a bigger global warming issue than thought, according to a new study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Methane is 21 times more potent at trapping heat than carbon dioxide, the most abundant global warming gas, although it doesn’t stay in the air as long.

Residents: Stronger rules needed overseeing caverns

Though generally complimentary of the efforts, environmentalists and Bayou Corne homeowners said Tuesday the state’s proposed rules fail to go far enough in overseeing the making and maintaining of storage caverns in salt domes.

Stronger rules proposed for using salt domes

The State Department of Natural Resources proposes new regulations to deal with salt dome caverns  to prevent collapses like the one in Assumption Parish causing the giant sinkhole.

Most people in Southwest Louisiana, who live near salt domes, feel safe and secure. Yet at least one local environmentalist warns it’s only a matter of time before there are problems.

Katrina general developing legislative package for environmental justice

Standing on the grounds in front of the State Capitol earlier this month, Russel Honoré joined other independent authors pushing their wares at the Louisiana Book Festival.

Towboat Sinks In Mississippi River, Releasing Oil Into The Water Near LeClaire, Iowa

A towboat sank Monday in the Mississippi River near the Quad Cities-area community of LeClaire, releasing oil into the water and prompting a response from several agencies who were trying to determine how much fluid leaked, the Coast Guard said.

Fuel, oil leaking from sunken boat on the Mississippi

Officials were assessing the environmental damage Tuesday after a towboat carrying 100,000 gallons of diesel fuel and oil sank in the Mississippi River in eastern Iowa, closing the river to barge traffic.

Cleanup at oil spill to include well site

Cleanup is scheduled at a former oil-well pad and reserve pit encountered while containing the Tesoro oil spill near Tioga earlier this fall, according to the North Dakota Health Department.

The old well site had been operated by Hess Corp. The company issued a statement noting that it has been investigating since learning of the discovery of an abandoned well site. The company reported it is working closely with state officials to take appropriate action.

Focusing on jobs, Quebec leans in favour of Enbridge’s pipeline plan

The Quebec government contends the economic impact of reversing the flow of Enbridge’s 9B oil pipeline cannot be overlooked as it moves to support the controversial project.

Quebec Minister of the Environment Yves-François Blanchet said a final decision won’t be made until after a National Assembly committee completes its hearings, but indicated he was leaning in favour of the project.

New Keystone XL Report Calls Pipeline A Mirage for Tar Sands Investors

New research from the Carbon Tracker Initiative reveals approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline would only have a marginal positive impact of the economics of the Canadian oil-sands industry, but could trigger a rush of investment into additional risky high-cost, high-carbon projects, dependent on rising oil prices.

Pipeline leak in southwest North Dakota spills 17,000 barrels of saltwater

A saltwater pipeline leak in Montana has released 17,000 barrels of brine, polluting more than a mile of a creek in the Badlands of southwest North Dakota, authorities said Tuesday.

The spill, reported Monday by Denbury Onshore, reached the Big Gumbo Creek and flowed down 1.4 miles of the creek into a rural area of Bowman County, about 14 miles south of Marmarth, the North Dakota Department of Health said.

Phillips 66 plans to build San Luis Obispo County rail terminal

Phillips 66, which operates refineries across California, is moving forward with a plan to build a rail terminal in San Luis Obispo County that would send trains with up to 80 tank cars of crude oil through Southern California and the Bay Area.

In a draft environmental impact statement filed this week, Phillips said it wants to build five sets of parallel tracks that would accommodate trains as often as 250 times per year at its Santa Maria Refinery.

Rail-safety audit days before fatal Quebec crash found ‘significant weaknesses’ in government oversight

A rail-safety audit completed just days before the deadly July train crash in Lac-Megantic, Que., found “significant weaknesses” in Transport Canada’s oversight of federally regulated railways.

Those weaknesses include a lack of knowledge of rail routes used to transport dangerous goods, too few safety auditors, poorly trained inspectors and an absence of follow-up or sanctions when safety problems are identified.

Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant

In April 2011, while Fukushima’s fires still smouldered, journalists scrambled to find sources who could shed any light on the nuclear crisis. In a car park 25 miles south of the plant, a nervous maintenance worker on a rare break told The Independent that conditions onsite were chaotic and dangerous. Workers were exhausted; nobody at the top seemed to know what they were doing.

Govt to buy land near Fukushima N-plant

The government plans to buy about 15 square kilometers of land near Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant to set up interim facilities to store contaminated soil coming from decontamination work sites, government officials have said.

Fukushima accident has ripple effect in worldwide nuclear industry

The Fukushima nuclear crisis is creating business opportunities for Britain’s nuclear industry, helping Germany shutter its nuclear reactors and leaving questions over the future of Japan’s nuclear fuel recycling ambitions.

Nuclear waste burial debate produces odd alliances

Ordinarily, a proposal to bury radioactive waste in a scenic area that relies on tourism would inspire “not in my backyard” protests from local residents — and relief in places that were spared.

But conventional wisdom has been turned on its head in the Canadian province of Ontario, where a publicly owned power company wants to entomb waste from its nuclear plants 2,230 feet below the surface and less than a mile from Lake Huron.

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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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