Environmental Must-Reads – November 28, 2014


Fracking a ‘Violation of Our Basic Human Rights’, Argues New Report

A hard hitting report commissioned by the Bianca Jagger Human Rights Foundation was delivered this week to David Cameron and called on the government to investigate the impact of fracking on the rights of individuals.

The report cites human rights liabilities for the British government if fracking is to commence commercially across the UK. It was co-authored by the Global Network for the Study of Human Rights and the Environment as well as the Environment and Human Rights Advisory and the Human Rights Consortium at the University of London.

Fracking risk compared to thalidomide and asbestos in Walport report

Fracking carries potential risks on a par with those from thalidomide, tobacco and asbestos, warns a report produced by the government’s chief scientific adviser.

The flagship annual report by the UK’s chief scientist, Mark Walport, argues that history holds many examples of innovations that were adopted hastily and later had serious negative environmental and health impacts.

Industry Blames College Voters for Denton Fracking Ban

Did college students tilt the outcome of Denton’s vote to ban hydraulic fracturing?

That question has stirred debate since the city – home to the University of North Texas and Texas Woman’s University – became the first in Texas to ban the oilfield technique that sparked a drilling boom and spawned tension in some urban areas.

Minn. Regulators Issue $85,000 Frac-Sand Fine on Tiller Corp.

Last week, Minnesota regulators quietly issued a major fine of $85,000 against frac sand operator Tiller Corp. for a long list of violations, including emitting unsafe levels of toxic dust.

That’s the largest penalty levied against a frac sand company in the state in at least three years. And it’s the second largest fine issued to any industry by regulators at the state’s Pollution Control Agency this year.

O’Malley administration sets out path to fracking in Md.

Capping more than three years of study, the O’Malley administration declared Tuesday that hydraulic fracturing for natural gas can be done safely in Western Maryland, but only after regulations are tightened to reduce air and water pollution and protect residents from well contamination, noise and other disruptions associated with an anticipated drilling boom.

The state Departments of Environment and Natural Resources released a draft final report proposing new rules for “fracking,” as the drilling technique is often called, and recommending legislation to stiffen penalties for spills and to levy a tax on any gas extracted to address impacts on affected communities.

Local concern grows about gas pipeline expansion, fracking waste

A proposed expansion of a gas pipeline that traverses Glastonbury has many concerned about the construction impact, as well as the fracking process from which the natural gas comes, and the potential for fracking wasted dumps becoming part of the Connecticut landscape.

The Algonquin natural gas pipeline runs from New Jersey to just north of Boston, and essentially bisects both Connecticut and the town of Glastonbury. The pipeline crosses underneath the Connecticut River from Rocky Hill near the intersection of Old Maid’s Lane and Tryon Street.

State begins accepting fracking applications

Companies can begin filing for hydraulic fracturing permits in Illinois, though it remains uncertain how soon the hotly debated oil and gas production technique might begin.

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources has posted permit applications online, spokesman Chris Young said Tuesday. Companies must register with the department 30 days prior to submitting the application.

South Strabane approves Range Marcellus drilling site

South Strabane Township supervisors Tuesday approved Range Resources’ plan to begin a new Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling operation in the municipality, setting 46 conditions on the project before it gets under way next year.

The conditions, which range from sound limitations to parking restrictions, were something the Southpointe-based company “could live with,” said its representative Jim Cannon, who attended the township board meeting.

Proposed EPA regulation could knock Baton Rouge, New Orleans out of ozone compliance

The five-parish area around Baton Rouge looks to be headed back out of compliance with federal ozone standards with an announcement Wednesday of new federal air quality regulations to tighten pollution emissions. For the first time, they also could be joined by the greater New Orleans area if the proposed rule is made final next year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released its new proposal Wednesday morning. During a press conference, EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said this new proposal is based on the review of thousands of scientific articles.

BP Oil Spill Settlement to Exclude Hurt Cleanup Workers

BP Plc (BP/), having pledged billions of dollars for damages caused by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, won’t have to make payouts any time soon to more than 95 percent of the workers hurt while cleaning up the mess.

If the workers want money for their physical injuries, they’ll need to sue the company, a federal judge in New Orleans ruled yesterday, saying they no longer qualify for automatic compensation under the company’s medical-benefits settlement.

Deepwater Horizon damages paid with almost no error, audit shows

The office that BP contends has paid millions of dollars in bogus claims over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill in fact disbursed damage awards with a 99.5 percent accuracy rate, according to an audit released in court papers Tuesday.

An independent accounting firm working on BP’s dime found  $2.1 million in errors within a sample of $741 million in paid claims, figures that undercut a key argument in BP’s attempts to modify the multibillion-dollar 2012 settlement it reached with Gulf Coast residents and businesses.

Bayou Recovery Project offers a Thanksgiving for those struggling from oil spill: ‘This is what we have to do’

John Michael Evans loaded up his 16-passenger van full of energetic and hungry children and brought them to a nondescript concrete structure that the Bayou Recovery Project received as a donation earlier this year.

The building, aptly called “Children’s Place,” hosted its first community Thanksgiving dinner Thursday to the people in Bayou La Batre the Recovery Project has helped since its founding about nine years ago.

Nigeria’s parliament says Shell should pay $4 billion for 2011 oil spill

Nigeria’s National Assembly said on Wednesday oil major Shell should pay $3.96 billion for a 2011 spill at its offshore Bonga oilfield in the latest assessment of damage to the environment.

The non-binding decision comes after years of analysis by various Nigerian state agencies, which have proposed a range of fines as high as $11.5 billion.

Oilsands study confirms link between tailings ponds and air pollution

New federal government research has confirmed that oilsands tailings ponds are releasing toxic and potentially cancer-causing chemicals into the air.

And Environment Canada scientist Elisabeth Galarneau said her study — the first using actual, in-the-field measurements — agrees with earlier research that suggests the amount of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons emitted by the industry has been dramatically underestimated.

Pipeline company MarkWest fined for repeated spills into Ohio streams

It took more than two years, but the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has reached a settlement with a pipeline company that repeatedly spilled thousands of gallons of drilling slurry into wetlands and streams in eastern Ohio.

Under the agreement, MarkWest Energy Partners will pay more than $300,000 in fines for 19 spills in eastern Ohio from September 2012 to November 2013. Of that, $200,000 will go to the village of Cadiz, near one the largest spills, to pay for upgrades to the Harrison County community’s sewer system; $95,000 will go to the state; and $25,000 will go to researchers at Ohio State University to help find ways to prevent future pipeline spills.

Enbridge wants southern route for Line 3 pipeline

Enbridge Energy has announced a series of public meetings in December to explain plans for its proposed reconstruction of a pipeline from Canada to Superior, including the company’s preferred route across northern Minnesota.

The 1,031-mile Pipeline No. 3 would replace the company’s 1968-vintage Line No. 3, and would bring more Canadian tar sands crude oil into the U.S.

TransCanada and Enbridge pipelines rejected by Quebec municipalities

TransCanada and Enbridge’s pipelines won’t be welcome in southern Quebec municipalities until they respond to all of the region’s mayors’ concerns, said Denis Coderre.

Coderre, speaking as the president of the Montreal Metropolitan Community — an organization representing 82 communities in the greater Montreal region — said both pipeline companies had failed to meet all the conditions the mayors had set out.

Northwest Territories optimistic about concept for Alberta-Arctic pipeline

The Northwest Territories government, frequently disappointed by failed energy projects, is optimistic about a new concept for a crude oil pipeline to the Arctic from Alberta, although a senior official cautions that aboriginal participation will be crucial.

A study commissioned by Alberta concluded that a south-to-north oil pipeline could benefit the energy industry, especially as other major export initiatives, such as Enbridge Inc.’s Northern Gateway and TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline proposals, face regulatory delays and opposition from native communities.

Arctic Offshore Won’t Be Developed in My Lifetime: Fedun

Russian oil tycoon Leonid Fedun says the development of crude reserves on a significant scale won’t happen in his lifetime: it’s just too expensive.

“I’ve always been skeptical as far as the Arctic projects are concerned,” OAO Lukoil (LKOH) Vice President Leonid Fedun said in an interview at London’s Dorchester Hotel yesterday. “If something happens, it’s not within my lifetime.”

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