Environmental Must-Reads – November 5, 2013


MSNBC Promotes Fracking

Three years into its “Lean Forward” re-branding campaign, MSNBC has given new meaning to the catchphrase, leaning forward into running branded content promoting hydraulic fracturing (“fracking).

CO2 injections likely culprit in Texas earthquakes

Carbon dioxide injected into oil and gas wells may have caused a series of minor earthquakes in Texas long before the adoption of current hydraulic fracking, according to a study published on Monday in a national science journal.

Gas injection probably triggered small earthquakes near Snyder, Texas

A new study correlates a series of small earthquakes near Snyder, Texas between 2006 and 2011 with the underground injection of large volumes of gas, primarily carbon dioxide (CO2)—a finding that is relevant to the process of capturing and storing CO2 underground.

Coast Guard Proposes Policy to Transport Radioactive Fracking Wastewater by Barge

The U.S. Coast Guard, which regulates the country’s waterways, will allow shale gas companies to ship fracking wastewater on the nation’s rivers and lakes under a proposed policy published Wednesday.

Say no to barging brine

This week the U.S. Coast Guard announced a 30 day comment period on their decision to allow millions of gallons of fracking fluid to be barged up and down the Ohio River. Texas based Green Hunter Water, plans to ship million of gallons of toxic, radioactive drilling waste by barge on the Ohio River for disposal in Ohio class II injection wells. Green Hunter has secured three locations along a 150 mile stretch of the river where they will receive the waste from the oil and gas industry.

Five charts that explain the great energy shift

The United States is undergoing the greatest revolution in energy production in decades thanks to the shale gas boom and the rise of renewable energy.

The lure of cheap natural gas has led utilities to shutter aging and carbon-spewing coal-fired power plants in favor of much cleaner burning gas. Pending federal emissions regulations make it unlikely that any new coal plants will get built in the years ahead, while state renewable energy mandates and the declining cost of solar and wind technologies have triggered a boom in green power.

Dirty Water? Offshore Fracking Reports Alarm Activists

Oil platforms have long been a familiar presence off Southern California’s coast, but until recently, federal and state officials didn’t know the offshore rigs were doing more than traditional drilling.

They didn’t know they were fracking.

In Britain, to frack, or not to frack?

A British government report said it’s unlikely that hydraulic fracturing in shale natural gas sites will lead to groundwater contamination. While the British shale story is in its infancy, the government’s report said policymakers may want to monitor everything from radioactive elements to noise pollution when mulling their shale future. Spills above ground may pose a risk but the report said that threat stems from operational failures or poor regulation, not so much the drilling practice itself. Critics have long challenged the practice, dubbed fracking. With science moving ahead of the debate, however, those opponents may be forced to change their tune.

Court Hears Arguments on BP Oil Spill Settlement

A federal appeals court heard dueling arguments Monday on whether a judge should have approved BP’s multibillion-dollar settlement for compensating victims of its 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Theodore Olson, a lawyer for BP, said the class-action deal it reached last year with a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys “became something else” after U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier upheld a court-appointed claims administrator’s interpretation of terms governing payouts to businesses.

BP tells 5th Circuit to throw out private oil spill settlement if business claims rules aren’t fixed

The U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals should throw out a multi-billion-dollar settlement of private claims against BP stemming from the April 2010 Macondo well blowout if a lower court judge refuses to require businesses to prove their losses were caused by the accident and spill, a BP attorney argued Monday.

Canadian oil rides south even without Keystone pipeline

The equivalent of hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil a day will soon be moving from western Canada into the U.S.—even if the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline is never built.

The energy industry is moving full steam ahead to move crude on rail cars—a fast growing business, booming along with increased North American oil production and already responsible for moving most of the oil out of the Bakken region in North Dakota.

Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Fight: Critical Part of Tackling Dirty Energy and Climate Change

When it comes to fighting climate change, we need to tackle every source of dirty energy while building clear pathways for clean energy to succeed. Today’s energy challenges include a continued global dependence on coal as well as on ever dirtier sources of transportation fuel such as tar sands. In the face of the fossil fuel industry’s interest in business as usual, grappling with climate change requires many people, engaging on many fronts. We can’t fight climate change by nibbling away at the fossil fuel industry – we need to tackle our dependence on coal, oil and gas head on.

Beyond Keystone XL: Why One Maine Town Is On The Front Lines Of The Battle Against Tar Sands

On Tuesday, approximately 25,000 residents of South Portland will decide the future of what could soon become America’s next tar sands pipeline. Not Keystone XL; the Portland-Montreal Pipeline.

In 1941, as Germany choked off Canada’s fuel supply during the early stages of World War II, the US opened a pipeline to allow imported crude to flow from Maine to Montreal. Today, that same pipeline has made Portland the second biggest oil port on the Eastern Seaboard. Tankers steam into Casco Bay almost daily, navigating among lobster buoys and kayakers and dwarfing the fishing boats that once lined the waterfront of Maine’s largest city.

Celebs star in Keystone XL pipeline horror trailer spoof

Halloween may have come and gone, but for activists fighting the Keystone XL pipeline, every day the project is allowed to exist portends a terrifying future for the environment.

To convey such frightening prospects, the Environmental Media Association recently gathered Amy Smart, Justin Chatwin, Wendie Malick and Ed Begley Jr. to film a horror trailer on the Keystone. Titled “Keystone Horror,” the trailer is a spoof on the 1979 “Amityville Horror” film. Instead of a haunted house, however, this one involves a home threatened by a pipeline in the backyard.

Will a mountain of refinery waste be your new neighbor?

Over the past year, residents of Chicago’s Southeast Side have seen mountains of refinery waste called petcoke grow as tall as five stories near the Calumet River.

The mountains are directly tied to the growing use of tar sands oil, which technology has made economically viable.

AG sues over petroleum coke pollution in Chicago

Attorney General Lisa Madigan is suing a Chicago company for alleged air pollution violations involving piles of petroleum coke and coal.

Madigan filed the lawsuit Monday against KCBX Terminals Co., which stores petroleum coke, or “petcoke” in huge piles along the Calumet River on the city’s southeast side. Petcoke is a byproduct of oil refining, and can be burned as an industrial fuel.

The Next Frontier for Pipeline Organizing Is Your Backyard

This past weekend I was thrilled to attend the second annual Great Lakes Bioneers conference in Chicago, which has been a wonderful introduction for me this year and last to the remarkably dedicated work citizens are doing around the concept of “resilience”—a word frequently used in psychology to refers to people’s ability to bounce back in the face of life challenges and which environmentalists have adopted into an umbrella term for practices centered around how communities can create a sustainable future within an unsustainable present—to build a new world in a shell of the old. In 2012, I learned about one of the movement’s coolest big ideas, “biomimicry”—the concept of better design through imitating nature. This year I learned about “food forests,” which is amazing stuff too—“a gardening technique or land management system that mimics a woodland ecosystem but substitutes in edible trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals.”

I also learned something horrifying. Please allow me to share.

The Sandpiper pipeline: Enbridge profits and the destruction of local farms and livelihoods

On the morning of September 29, North Dakota farmer Steven Jensen discovered a gurgling pool of oil in his wheat field. From a quarter-inch hole in the pipeline, 865,000 gallons of crude oil from the Bakken oil field leaked into his fields. It was 11 days before there was any public notification of the spill. In the last two years, North Dakota has had over 300 pipeline oil spills that were never publicly reported.

Accidents? What accidents? Shell’s Arctic drillers are ready to roll again

OK, so last year was a nightmare for the officials at Shell charged with figuring out how to plunder the Arctic for oil. Shell gets that. Both of the company’s exploratory oil rigs in the region were damaged in accidents, wells were abandoned, a vice president lost his job, and the Obama administration prevented the company from resuming its Arctic work this year.

Greenpeace ‘Arctic 30? Fail to Stop Gazprom Drilling Plans

Russia is moving the 30 Greenpeacers who tried to scale a Gazprom drilling platform in the Barents Sea from the Arctic port of Murmansk to St. Petersburg. Despite global demonstrations of support for the “Arctic 30,” Russia has piled charges of hooliganism and vandalism on top of piracy charges and shows no signs of leniency towards what Greenpeace calls “a peaceful protest.”

David Suzuki’s Fukushima Warning Is Dire And Scary (VIDEO)

David Suzuki has issued a scary warning about Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, saying that if it falls in a future earthquake, it’s “bye bye Japan” and the entire west coast of North America should be evacuated.

The Nuclear Meltdown at Fukushima: Danger, Deception and Betrayal

Last month I watched a documentary on the March 11, 2011 nuclear disaster in Fukushima prefecture, Japan. The showing of the 2013 documentary, A2-B-C, took place in a cafeteria of Pomona College where students gather at tables and speak foreign languages. I am a guest at the Greek table.

The American producer, Ian Thomas Ash, introduced his film and answered questions. He is young and unusually virtuous and talented. He sees himself as a witness of a tragedy he has to report to the world.

High thyroid cancer rates detected in Fukushima children

One of the terrible legacies of the radioactive fallout from the Russian disaster at Chernobyl is now being visited upon people in Japan.

Researchers in Fukushima are uncovering higher than expected rates of thyroid cancer in children.

Fukushima and Iwaki reconstruction: eyewitness report

During my visit to Iwaki, I stayed with two Japanese families, and got to see how little reconstruction there is, and how 25,000 people in the area have been displaced by tsunami damage or radiation contamination, writes Garry Thomas, a British architect.

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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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