Environmental Must-Reads – November 8, 2012


Voters approve Longmont fracking ban

LONGMONT, Colo. (AP) — Longmont voters have approved a ban on oil and gas fracking and the storage of fracking waste in city limits.

Researchers Find Fracking Might Cause Earthquakes After All

Hydraulic fracturing, the process of pumping high-pressure liquid and sand into a gas well to crack open the surrounding rock, has come under fire by those who argue that fracking could cause earthquakes around the extraction site. The technique is often employed with the intent of extracting otherwise difficult-to-reach natural gas, and based on the known scientific research, those claiming that “fracking causes earthquakes” have been, for the most part, wrong. Or, more delicately, not quite correct. But that may be changing.

Of Fracking and Frankenstorms

More than a week has passed since Sandy ravaged the Northeast.

Though far too many remain without power, shelter and other basic necessities throughout the tri-state area, most of us in Manhattan are resuming some semblance of normalcy.  Before we get too distracted by the immediacies of our daily lives, it is a good time to reflect on Sandy’s implications – including with respect to prospective widespread fracking in New York.

Vote Elevates Community Rights Over Corporate Privileges—Bans Fracking and Injection Wells

Voters in Ferguson Township, Centre County Pennsylvania adopted a Community Bill of Rights guaranteeing the right to clean air, pure water, a sustainable energy future, the peaceful enjoyment of home, the right of ecosystems to exist and flourish, and the right to exercise self-government in the local community. To protect these rights, the amendment also bans corporations from conducting shale gas drilling and related activities in the community.

Ohio Voters Pass Two Community Bills of Rights Banning Fracking-Related Activity

Yesterday, voters in Broadview Heights, Ohio came out in record numbers to say yes to the adoption of a Community Bill of Rights banning corporations from conducting new gas and oil drilling and related activities in their city. A similar Charter Amendment was also adopted by voters in Mansfield, Ohio by a wide margin of 62 percent yes votes to 37 percent no votes. It adds a Community Bill of Rights to the City Charter and prohibits injection wells without written city approval.

Angry Tunisians Protest Shell’s Shale Plans

Having met strict regulations in the United States and other developed countries that have slowed down their ambitions, Shell has sought to use less developed nations as guinea pigs for an as-yet unproven shale gas extraction technology. But they have met surprise opposition in Tunisia, which boasts a relatively strong civil society despite the rising influence of Islamic extremists.

Fracking: Has the USGS Been Co-opted by the Oil and Gas Industry?

Known for its objective and scientifically rigorous research, the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) has been pulled into the battle between environmentalists and the oil and gas industry. One skirmish in the larger battle involves the radioactive gas radon in natural gas, and the potential of radon entering consumers’ homes through kitchen stoves. When stove burners are turned on, radon, a gas that does not burn, enters a home or apartment. This potential hazard has appeared in the New York City press and energized battles against the Spectra pipeline from Jersey City into New York City under the Hudson River. The pipeline would bring natural gas from the Marcellus shale formation in Pennsylvania and New York into New York City.

Gas burn-off duration increases at sinkhole

Texas Brine Co. LLC is burning off natural gas being vented from an aquifer near a Bayou Corne-area sinkhole 24 hours a day, company officials said Wednesday.

Natural gas detected closer to community near sinkhole than previously thought

Louisiana officials will be asking property owners near a massive sinkhole for permission to do additional monitoring.

Canada’s push for dirty tar sands oil is out of step with an Obama administration second term

Immediately after the U.S. election, Canadian Minister Joe Oliver said that he fully expected the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline to be approved by the reelected Obama administration. This is wishful thinking on the part of the Canadian federal government. Approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is certainly not a given, especially when a second term for President Barack Obama is going to mean a strong commitment to fighting climate change pollution and promoting clean energy choices.  More than ever, Canada’s current approach to energy development – which strongly favors a massive build up of tar sands production – is at odds with America’s path.

Oil industry lobbies feds for sunlight on endangered species reviews

Oil industry leaders are pleading for a window into the government’s court-ordered review of whether to give endangered species protections to hundreds of plants and animals.

Keystone pipeline pushed to forefront

With a second term now in hand, President Obama no longer can delay a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and must either side with environmentalists within his party or greenlight a major step toward North American energy independence.

Northern Gateway pipeline threatens caribou, group warns

For years, first nations have pointed to salmon and sea life to argue that a spill from the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline would damage wildlife important for both cultural and culinary reasons.

Pipeline tour points to damage

MILFORD — A biologist from the Delaware Riverkeeper Network on Sunday raised the alarm about environmental risks from a natural gas pipeline that loops through Pike County, and the greater risk posed by its proposed expansion.

Environmental groups win court ruling against the Ruby natural gas pipeline

A Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling recently found the Ruby natural gas pipeline in violation of several environmental laws, including jeopardizing endangered species, which means that the owners of the pipeline must take measures to demonstrate conservation. Lawsuits have been in the works since 2010 after the pipeline was first approved, according to David von Seggern, emeritus professor at the University of Nevada, Reno and member of the Toiyabe chapter of the Sierra Club, a national conservation project. The Sierra Club is part of a group of organizations which filed a formal appeal, Center for Biological Diversity v. BLM (Bureau of Land Management), against BLM and Fish and Wildlife Services. Other filing organizations include the Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, the Great Basin Resource Watch and the Summit Lake Paiute Tribe.

Lawyer says judge embargoes Chevron assets in Argentina over Ecuadorean oil spill

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina — An Argentine judge embargoed Chevron Corp.’s assets in Argentina to carry out an Ecuadorean court order that awarded $19 billion to plaintiffs in an environmental damage lawsuit in the Amazon, a lawyer said Wednesday.

Judge to hold fairness hearing on BP settlement

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A federal judge in New Orleans is set to hold a hearing on whether a proposed class-action deal is a fair settlement for economic damage claims from the BP oil spill,

During Thursday’s hearing, the London-based oil giant and a team of private plaintiffs’ attorneys will urge U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier to give his final approval to the agreement. The judge also will hear from other plaintiffs’ attorneys who object to portions of the deal.

BP, Plaintiffs Ask Judge to Approve $7.8 Billion Spill Pact

BP Plc (BP/) and the lead lawyers representing victims of the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill are set to ask a judge today to approve a proposed $7.8 billion partial settlement of claims, while attorneys for thousands of plaintiffs seek rejection or modification of the agreement.

Feds urge more than $7 million in oil spill habitat rehab projects for state

A state panel this week recommended that federal oil spill response plans for Florida coastal communities be updated in response to the 2010 Gulf oil spill with an emphasis on prioritizing natural areas that need protection.

How pregnancy tests could help find oil spills

Scientists from the United States and England are testing how fluorescence detection — the same principles used for tracking fertility or diagnosing pregnancy — could act as an early warning system for offshore oil leaks.

Oil Spill: Ogoni Community, Families Drag Shell To Court

The people of Kegbara-Dere community in Gokana Local Government Area of Rivers State have dragged oil giant, Shell, to court over hydrocarbon contamination of their environment arising from the company’s questionable oil production activities in the community.

Louisiana agencies get $16 million in BP funds for tourism, seafood promotion

More than 100 nonprofit organizations and government entities will share almost $44 million in BP funds to promote Gulf Coast tourism and the seafood industries impacted by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the court-appointed oil-spill claims administrator said Wednesday.

Japan utility seeks more funds for nuclear crisis

TOKYO — The Japanese operator of the nuclear power plant devastated in last year’s disasters is seeking more government financial support, saying the cost of the cleanup could be double the 5 trillion yen ($62.5 billion) allocated so far.

Fukushima Watch: Active or Not? The Battle Over the Oi Nuclear Plant’s Seismic Fault

Japan’s new nuclear regulator could this week recommend that the country’s sole pair of online reactors be shut again — a mere three months after they were restarted. The decision hangs on the deliberations of a group of four scientists charged with figuring out whether a fault that runs underneath the Oi nuclear power plant, where both the reactors in question are located, is active or not.

Fukushima Watch: Status of Oi Fault Still Up in the Air

The panel of four Japanese seismologists debating whether there’s an active fault under the Oi nuclear plant failed to reach an agreement Wednesday, leading the government to push for more surveys to settle the matter

Fukushima Daiichi plant given special status for enhanced oversight

Japan’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority today designated the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant as a facility that requires special management, a move aimed to enhance regulators’ oversight of the complex hit by a meltdown disaster.

Fukushima $137B Cost Has Tepco Seeking More Aid

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) asked the government for more aid after estimating it may need at least 11 trillion yen ($137 billion) to cover costs from last year’s nuclear disaster at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi power plant.

Chernobyl cleanup workers had significantly increased risk of leukemia

A 20-year study following 110,645 workers who helped clean up after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in the former Soviet territory of Ukraine shows that the workers share a significant increased risk of developing leukemia. The results may help scientists better define cancer risk associated with low doses of radiation from medical diagnostic radiation procedures such as computed tomography scans and other sources.

Entergy Palisades plant leak contained radiation

COVERT TOWNSHIP, Mich. — Federal regulators say a recent steam leak inside an auxiliary building at Entergy Corp.’s Palisades nuclear power plant in southwestern Michigan contained low levels of radiation.

Nuclear watchdog admits additional errors in radiation forecast maps

Japan’s new nuclear industry watchdog acknowledged additional errors in its maps for the expected spread of radioactive substances from a serious nuclear accident, further exasperating local governments that must draw up evacuation plans.

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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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