Environmental Must-Reads – November 7, 2013


While New Brunswick Fracking Protests Continue, Neighboring Newfoundland Enacts Moratorium

As First Nations continue to fight fracking in New Brunswick, the neighboring provincial government of Newfoundland and Labrador has halted the controversial drilling technique.

The government is arguing that more research is needed to see if it is safe for both people and the environment.

ALEC Agenda Reveals Anti-Renewable Energy Strategies for December Summit

The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) had no success influencing states to roll back clean energy standards this year, but that doesn’t mean the organization is done trying.

For the first time, ALEC posted an online agenda for its Energy, Environment and Agriculture (EEA) task force, which will meet at the States and Nation Policy Summit Dec. 4-6 in Washington D.C. The agenda is seemingly filled with resolutions aimed at slowing the growth of key elements within the renewable energy sector.

Plan Proposed to Allow Fracking Wastewater to Be Shipped by Barge on Rivers and Lakes

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.

The Coast Guard began studying the issue nearly two years ago at the request of its Pittsburgh office, which had inquiries from companies transporting Marcellus Shale wastewater.

Colorado an energy battleground as towns ban fracking

Three Colorado cities have rejected oil and gas production work that relies on so-called fracking, unofficial election returns showed on Wednesday in a setback for an industry that won other battles this year in Democratic strongholds such as California.

Boulder, Lafayette and Fort Collins passed measures with solid margins to suspend or ban the technique formally known as hydraulic fracturing. But a fourth community, Broomfield, just east of Boulder, narrowly rejected a fracking moratorium.

Three of four Colorado cities pass fracking ban, but similar measures fail in two of three Ohio cities

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

Oil Industry Spending Big To Win Unfettered Fracking Rights In The Golden State

There’s a lot of money at stake for oil companies that want to frack California’s Monterey Shale, so it’s no wonder Big Oil is spending big to forestall any new environmental regulations from biting into profits

Drilling for hydrocarbons can impact aquatic life

The degradation of drilling sumps associated with hydrocarbon extraction can negatively affect aquatic ecosystems, according to new research published November 6th in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Joshua Thienpont and colleagues at Queen’s University and other institutions.

What You Read On MSNBC.com Might Be Written By The Fossil Fuel Industry

MSNBC relaunched on October 30 with a pretty new website, an impressive slate of newly-hired progressive reporters, plus a couple of questionable “launch partners,” corporate sponsors who will write content for the site. General Electric (GE) and America’s Natural Gas Alliance (ANGA) will contribute “native advertisements,” meaning ads branded as MSNBC stories, to the news site in exchange for sponsorship.

Fracking Victim Steve Lipsky’s Flaming Water is No Joke

Weatherford, Texas, homeowner Steve Lipsky has nothing to hide. He is not trying to take down Range Resources, a large oil and gas company with a reputation for bullying its critics, nor is he trying to defame the company as it has accused him of in a defamation lawsuit demanding over $3 million.

BP launches website to “set the record straight” on the Gulf

British oil giant BP has set up a website to “set the record straight” about the economic and environmental recovery in the Gulf of Mexico, where the company’s Macondo well spilled millions of barrels of oil into the ocean in 2010.

Amnesty accuses Shell of making false claims on Niger Delta oil spill

An Amnesty International report issued Wednesday blasts Shell Oil Co. for its handling of the hundreds of oil spills that occur each year in Nigeria and accuses the company of “serious deficiencies and abuses” that render “wholly unreliable” its claims about how much oil is spilled and how often.

Amnesty Rejects Shell Nigeria Oil-Spill Claims as Untrue

Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA)’s assertions that its Nigerian oil spills are caused by theft and sabotage are often untrue, according to Amnesty International, which said investigations into the incidents have been manipulated.

Shell’s assessment of official probes into the spills has been “subjective, misleading and downright false,” the human-rights group said today in a report. The analysis was carried out by U.S. consultants AccuFacts at the request of London-based Amnesty and the Nigeria-based Centre for Environment, Human Rights and Development.

Arkansas: ExxonMobil Fines Proposed After Oil Spill

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration is proposing more than $2.6 million in penalties against ExxonMobil, citing the company for nine probable violations after one of its pipelines spilled thousands of barrels of oil in Mayflower in March. A company spokesman said it appeared that the agency’s analysis was flawed.

Exxon faces stiff penalty for Arkansas spill

Exxon Mobil Corp. faces nearly $2.7 million in fines for a violations tied to a March oil spill from its Pegasus pipeline in Arkansas, federal regulators said.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration issued an 18-page statement Wednesday to Gary Pruessing, president of Exxon Mobil Pipeline Co., listing nine likely violations of safety rules associated with the Pegasus pipeline.

Koch has 400-barrel oil spill from Hill Country pipeline

State and federal authorities are overseeing the cleanup of a 400-barrel oil spill in a rural area of Texas.

The Fayette County Office of Emergency Management says its officials toured the site of the crude oil spill along with employees from Koch Pipeline Co.

Greenville, Texas Oil Spill: Plains Pipeline Leaks Northeast Of Dallas

An oil spill was reported several miles north of Greenville, Texas this week. Hunt County officials first received word of a rupture in the Plains Pipeline on Tuesday night, KETR radio reports. At least one family has been evacuated.

The extent of the damage remains unknown and cleanup will take at least several days, KLTV reports.

Texas farmer wins entry of default in Keystone pipeline case

A Texas farmer has won an entry of default against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which failed to respond to a federal lawsuit claiming it illegally granted environmental permits to TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline.

Enbridge to Move Ahead With Northern U.S. Pipeline

Enbridge Inc. ENB +2.50% (ENB) said Wednesday it is forging ahead with efforts to build a pipeline to move oil from North Dakota to Midwestern U.S. refineries, despite regulatory hurdles and local opposition.

Talks with shippers who might use the Sandpiper pipeline have been promising enough that Enbridge filed a permit request with North Dakota regulators last week. The pipeline company’s new line would move up to 225,000 barrels a day of oil from the Bakken shale formation to refineries in Wisconsin and Illinois and could link up with another pipeline that connects to the east coast of Canada.

Canadian firm applies to build pipeline from North Dakota to Superior

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 Superior, Wis.

U.S. senators boast of Keystone XL benefits

Building the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada would build on a strong bilateral trade relationship, senators from Montana and North Dakota said.

Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Max Baucus, D-Mont., met in Montana with a Canadian delegation on an energy-related trade mission to the United States.

Shell launches formal bid to resume Arctic drilling

Shell Oil Co. on Wednesday filed a broad drilling blueprint with federal regulators in Alaska, officially launching its bid to resume drilling in Arctic waters north of the state next summer.

The Scramble for the Arctic and the Dangers of Russia’s Race for Oil

One of our favorite sons of South Africa, Kumi Naidoo — executive director of Greenpeace International — faces his biggest test of leadership: wrestling with a Russian bear over the intentions of Gazprom, the Russian state-owned oil company, to drill for oil in the Arctic.

Dutch ask sea tribunal to order Russia to release Greenpeace ‘Arctic 30’

The Netherlands asked an international court on Wednesday to order Russia to release 30 people detained during a Greenpeace protest against oil drilling in the Arctic at a tribunal Moscow refused to attend.

Dutch government representative Liesbeth Lijnzaad said Russia had “violated the human rights” of the activists who tried to climb onto Russia’s first offshore Arctic oil rig in September, detaining them for seven weeks “without grounds”.

Explained: Fukushima nuclear plant clean-up

The company which runs the stricken Fukushima plant releases a video explaining the risky operation to remove 1,534 nuclear fuel rods from the site, which was devastated by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami in March 2011

TEPCO to begin removing nuclear fuel rods at Fukushima

More than two years after an earthquake and tsunami brought disaster to a nuclear plant in eastern Japan, operators Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) announced plans Wednesday to begin the painstaking and dangerous process of removing fuel rods from a crippled reactor at the site.

Fukushima nuclear plant set for risky operation

A task of extraordinary delicacy and danger is about to begin at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power station.

Engineers are preparing to extract the first of thousands of nuclear fuel rods from one of the wrecked reactor buildings.

This is seen as an essential but risky step on the long road towards stabilising the site.

The ‘nuclear renaissance:’ What went wrong?

For more than 30 years, Dan Dominguez helped operate the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station near San Diego. Now he’s helping to button it up for good.

Dominguez is one of nearly 600 people still working at the two-reactor plant, down from a work force of more than 1,500 when the plant was still running — “all solid, middle-class jobs,” he said.

Japanese politician causes uproar by giving letter on Fukushima to emperor

A novice Japanese lawmaker who wanted to draw attention to the Fukushima nuclear crisis has caused an uproar by doing something taboo: handing a letter to the emperor.

It began at an annual autumn Imperial Palace garden party last week. As Emperor Akihito and his wife, Michiko, greeted a line of guests, the outspoken actor-turned-lawmaker Taro Yamamoto gave the emperor the letter – a gesture considered both impolite and inappropriate.

UAF researcher concerned about Fukushima debris headed toward Alaska

A scientist with the University of Alaska Fairbanks says he is concerned about the radiation in the debris floating across the Pacific Ocean from the crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan toward Alaska and the U.S. and Canadian west coast.

Shunned at home, Fukushima fruit farmers turn to Southeast Asia for turnaround

-Toshiyuki Saito still manages to smile as he carefully packs his products that are banned in some overseas markets and the subject of health scares in Japan.

“It excites me just wondering who will be eating these in a distant country,” the 64-year-old said of his light-pink peaches on Oct. 4.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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