Environmental Must-Reads – November 6, 2013


Votes on Fracking Limits Show Mixed Results

The national debate over hydraulic fracturing and oil and gas drilling found its way to ballots on Tuesday in several communities in Ohio and Colorado, where voters considered proposals to ban or restrict fracking.

Sides square off over $900,000 spent on Colorado anti-fracking measures

Broomfield is too close to call. With 18,186 votes counted, 248 separate supporters and those opposed to the five-year moratorium on fracking. Opponents lead with 50.68 percent.

Bundles of ballots counted each hour has increased in the past two hours. Nate Troup, vice president of anti-fracking group Our Broomfield, said he is not the only one in town staying up late to watch the heated race.

Three Colorado Cities Vote In Favor Of Anti-Fracking Measures, While Initiative Fails In Broomfield By 194 Votes

Voters in three out of four cities in Colorado where a fracking ban was on the ballots on Tuesday chose to say no to the controversial technique of extracting oil and gas from the ground by injecting a mix of water, air and chemicals.

Inland Barges Carrying Fracking Waste Proposed

The U.S. Coast Guard requests comments on a proposed policy letter that outlines conditions for commercial barge owners who want to ship Shale Gas Extraction Waste Water on inland waterways.
The wastewater is produced by hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” operations. Fracking is a relatively new process of using pressurized water to extracting natural gas and oil from shale deposits that were previously unreachable using conventional technologies. The technique, however, produces waste material that can include radioactive isotopes like radium-226 and radium-228, according to the USCG.

Fracking Wastewater May Be Transported By Barge Under Coast Guard Proposal

The U.S. Coast Guard is seeking public comments on a proposal that would allow barges to transport shale gas wastewater.

The wastewater is a byproduct of the drilling process, and it can include both man-made chemicals and naturally occurring heavy metals and radiation. The wastewater is currently stored at drilling sites or transported by truck or train to treatment plants and deep underground wells.

Congress Wants to Keep the Feds Out of Fracking: Bad Idea

In July, before our Science and Democracy forum on fracking, I wrote about the important role the federal government has to play, working with state and local government, to address the risks of hydraulic fracturing and the associated development of unconventional oil and gas resources. Apparently, members of the U.S. House of Representatives didn’t read my blog.

MSNBC ‘Leans Forward’ Into Running ‘Native Ads’ Promoting 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”).

Looking to beef up its Web presence, MSNBC has brought “Lean Forward” online with a new and improved website, calling it a “[p]latform for the Lean Forward, progressive community.” A key part of funding that platform: running “native advertisements” for America’s Natural Gas Alliance and General Electric.

Oklahoma Scientist to Test if Fracking Causes Earthquakes

Oklahoma is a leading U.S. energy producer with an economy increasingly concentrated on the oil and gas industry. Economist and Dean of the University of Central Oklahoma’s College of Business Administration, Dr. Mickey Hepner, notes that roughly 25 percent of all employment in Oklahoma is either directly or indirectly connected to the energy industry.

Carbon Capture and Storage Can Cause Earthquakes, Making It ‘A Risky And Likely Unsuccessful Strategy’

New research suggests that carbon capture and storage (CCS) may be a far more limited climate solution than previously thought because it can induce earthquakes, which can cause CO2 leakage.

We’ve known for a long time that underground injection of massive quantities of liquids or high-pressure gases can induce earthquakes. Indeed, recent research finds that fracking wastewater reinjection has caused “a rise in small to mid-sized earthquakes in the United States.”

Texas company fined $600,000 for fiscal mismanagement in Utah oil and gas fields

A Texas-based company will be dinged for $600,000 after the EPA found that it did not meet all legal requirements for operating several hundred injection wells on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation in Utah.

If you think fracking is a free-market success story, think again

Last week I noted that a deregulated coal industry is not actually a free-market beacon, but rather a ward of the welfare state, since it is the government and society that bear the cost of CO2 emissions and other pollution from coal mining and burning. Well, coal is not the only subsidized fossil fuel. And in Pennsylvania, the subsidies for natural gas go way beyond society paying for the negative externalities from extraction and pollution.

Oil Lobbyists Treated California Lawmakers To A $13,000 Dinner The Week Before A Major Fracking Vote

A major oil lobbying group spent $13,000 on a dinner for California lawmakers just one week before the state’s watered-down fracking regulatory bill passed the state Legislature, according to the state’s quarterly reports.

The Sacramento Bee outlined the heft of the oil and gas industry’s spending leading up to the bill’s vote, which was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on September 20.


The oil industry recently completed hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) operations for six more oil wells inside the boundary of the Los Padres National Forest, pumping thousands of gallons of known toxic chemicals into the ground without any public notice or environmental documentation.

As Fracking Expands in California, Water Board Refuses to Regulate Toxic Waste Disposal

As fracking threatens to expand drilling in California, a coalition of environmental justice and community health groups sent a letter yesterday challenging the legality of the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Board’s plan to keep letting oil companies dump toxic drilling-mud waste throughout the valley with minimal safeguards.

First Nations to Resume Blockade in Canadian Fracking Fight

Elsipogtog First Nations members are heading back to the streets in New Brunswick this week to defend their land from a gas drilling company seeking to re-start exploratory fracking operations in the region.

The new wave of local anti-drilling resistance will resume an ongoing battle between the community members who faced a paramilitary-style onslaught by police last month that sparked international outcry and a wave of solidarity protests.

 Insurer claims Texas Brine ignored warnings

Texas Brine ignored warnings from its own people and others for nearly 15 years that disaster loomed if the company continued mining a troubled Assumption Parish salt-dome cavern, which created a massive sinkhole after collapsing in 2012, according to one of its insurers.

Lawsuit Timeline

Internal documents cited in a new lawsuit claim Texas Brine knew as early as 1976 that a well would be risky. The cavern failed in 2012 causing the Bayou Corne sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

Detection of Salt Marsh Vegetation Stress and Recovery after the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in Barataria Bay, Gulf of Mexico Using AVIRIS Data

The British Petroleum Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the biggest oil spill in US history. To assess the impact of the oil spill on the saltmarsh plant community, we examined Advanced Visible Infrared Imaging Spectrometer (AVIRIS) data flown over Barataria Bay, Louisiana in September 2010 and August 2011. Oil contamination was mapped using oil absorption features in pixel spectra and used to examine impact of oil along the oiled shorelines. Results showed that vegetation stress was restricted to the tidal zone extending 14 m inland from the shoreline in September 2010. Four indexes of plant stress and three indexes of canopy water content all consistently showed that stress was highest in pixels next to the shoreline and decreased with increasing distance from the shoreline.

BP launches new website defending the company’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill

BP has launched a new website to counter critics and provide its own spin on developments involving the April 2010 blowout of its Macondo well, which caused the sinking of the Deepwater Horizon drillship, the death of 11 workers and an 87-day oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Gulf Oil Disaster Is the Catastrophe That Never Ended, Despite WH Claims

Last Sunday, on NBC’s Meet the Press, David Alexrod and Bob Woodward were invited to the “roundtable” to discuss Obama’s low approval ratings. Alexrod replied:

Well, you know, I’m having flashbacks when I hear that number, David, because I remember when I was in the White House in the spring of 2010, and we had the oil leak in the Gulf, and Washington was in a twitter about that. And our numbers were damaged by that. And it was, you know, “Why can’t they get it done? Why didn’t he know what was going on in the mineral and mine service? This is Obama’s Katrina.”

And then we plugged the leak, got reparations for the people in the Gulf, helped repair the Gulf. And, you know, it wasn’t mentioned in the 2012 campaign. So I think it’s very hard to make judgments in the midst.

Arkansas legislators seek stronger protection of water supplies from oil spills 

State legislators leery of lax federal oversight of oil pipelines have attempted to beef up safety standards to try to prevent another disastrous spill in their own backyard.

They’re aware, however, that their efforts are largely symbolic.

NOSDRA: Oil Spillage Link to Nigeria‘s Worsening Life Expectancy

The Director General, National Oil Spill Detection and Response Agency (NOSDRA), Mr. Peter Idabor, Tuesday said the nation’s worsening life expectancy may be linked to oil spillage and degradation of the ecosystem by pollutants related to oil.

Idabor observed that the low life expectancy in the country was largely attributed to the increase in rate of oil spillage which contaminates consumables and other food stances in the country.
He stated this during a press briefing in Abuja, on the maiden edition of the agency’s board meeting.

Firm Applies to Build Largest Pipeline yet From ND

A Canadian company has applied to build the largest oil pipeline yet from western North Dakota’s booming oil patch and will soon begin courting oil producers to reserve space, a key step in a $2.6 billion project that would move millions of gallons of oil to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

Despite new energy agreement between British Columbia and Alberta, opposition to tar sands moving west remains strong

A big part of the discussion about the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline hinges on the extent to which Keystone XL would be a driver of tar sands expansion. With Canadians raising concerns about tar sands pipelines crossing their own lands and waters, Keystone XL remains the main chance for the tar sands industry to reach overseas markets with their nearly land-locked product. So what does a new announcement from the leaders of the Canadian provinces of Albert and British Columbia have to do with the likelihood of new tar sands pipelines to Canada’s west coast?

South Portland voters reject anti-oil pipeline initiative

Residents of South Portland voted down an initiative on Tuesday aimed at blocking the flow of tar sands oil to the city.

The proposal, which voters defeated 4,453 to 4,261, would have banned the expansion and enlargement of any existing petroleum storage tanks or distribution facilities in some districts along South Portland’s waterfront.

Public Service Commission approves two-mile oil pipeline in Mobile

The Alabama Public Service Commission this morning approved plans for a 2.2 mile crude oil pipeline in Mobile County .

Plains Mobile Pipeline Inc. had asked permission build a pipeline to carry crude oil from a terminal on the Mobile River to a facility in Ten Mile. The project would replace part of an existing 40-year-old existing pipeline.

Alberta and British Columbia Cancel Pipeline Meeting Amid Strife

Alberta Premier Alison Redford and her British Columbia counterpart Christy Clark canceled a meeting scheduled for today in Vancouver amid a disagreement on how economic benefits of pipeline projects should be shared.

Redford and Clark have clashed over British Columbia’s opposition to Enbridge Inc. (ENB)’s proposed Northern Gateway pipeline, as landlocked Alberta seeks to move its oil-sands crude to Pacific energy markets. Senior officials from both provinces met yesterday in Vancouver.

Attempts to protect the Arctic are not criminal

LESS than a fortnight ago a group of respectable, sign-holding Hunter residents protested outside AGL’s headquarters.

Police kept a quiet watch on proceedings.

 Fukushima Watch: Japan Nuclear Facility Cited for Security Failures

While Japan’s nuclear watchdog has been trying to promote “a culture of safety” for the industry ever since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant accident, a new issue has been raised at the Monju fast-breeder reactor complex. Namely, a failure to adhere to proper security in order to prevent any theft of nuclear materials such as plutonium.

Gov’t plan to repatriate all Fukushima evacuees stalling

Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Toshimitsu Motegi suggested Tuesday that support would be considered for relocating people forced to flee their homes in highly irradiated areas in Fukushima Prefecture, apparently backpedaling from the government’ basic position of repatriating all evacuees.

1 million tons of Fukushima debris floating near US west coast?

Over a million tons of Fukushima debris could be just 1,700 miles off the American coast, floating between Hawaii and California, according to research by a US government agency.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) recently updated its report on the movement of the Japanese debris, generated by the March 2011 tsunami, which killed 16,000 people and led to the Fukushima nuclear power plant meltdown.

California to be hit with massive rubbish island

A FLOATING island of rubbish three times the size of Britain is set to hit the Californian coastline, raising fears over environmental hazards that the debris may bring.

Two Years After Fukushima, Japan Opens Biggest Solar Power Plant, Reaching A National Milestone In Renewable Energy

Steering away from nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima disaster, Japan on Monday opened its biggest solar plant.

Japan’s Kyocera Corp. built the 70-megawatt Kagoshima Nanatsujima Mega Solar Plant in the country’s southwest region. The plant will produce enough electricity to power about 22,000 homes, according to xinhuanet.com.

Fukushima holiday village proposed to tap fascination with disaster

In the exclusion zone around Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant, where most people see a contaminated wasteland that will be uninhabitable for generations, Hiroki Azuma sees opportunity.

Azuma, a philosopher and cultural critic, has gathered a team of eight experts in various fields and proposed a plan to create a new community on the edge of the exclusion zone that will become a centre for tourists wanting to visit the epicentre of the second-worst nuclear disaster in history.

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