Environmental Must-Reads – October 1, 2013


Friction over ‘fracking’ grows in South

Environmental activists chalked it up as a victory when the University of Tennessee failed this month to receive any bids for a natural gas drilling project on an 8,600-acre publicly owned research forest.

State envronmental chief open to fracking ban

Recent surveying of a potential natural gas reserve in the Springfield area is unlikely to herald a new gas extraction industry in Massachusetts, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan said, adding that he could likely support a ban on such drilling as an extra check to ensure it does not occur.

North Carolina rejects federal funds for fracking studies

North Carolina’s water department doesn’t know if fracking will poison drinking water or despoil wetlands — and that’s just how department leaders like it.

Fracking Advance That Cuts Water Use May Appease Some Opposition To Controversial Practice

The oil and gas industry in the U.S. may have found a way to appease critics of fracking, a controversial natural gas drilling practice and technology, by reducing the amount of water used in the process.

Poll: Fracking opposition at an all-time high in NY

The gap between opponents and supporters of hydraulic fracturing has grown to an all-time high in New York, according to a new poll.

The Siena College survey released Monday shows 45 percent of New York voters do not support allowing high-volume fracking in the state, compared to 37 percent who do. Eighteen percent had no opinion or not enough information to formulate one.

New Poll Confirms Governor Cuomo Should Continue His Cautious Approach to Fracking

Once again, we have clear evidence that New Yorkers are worried about fracking. A new poll, released today by the Siena College Research Institute, shows that 45% of voters in New York are opposed to fracking, the highest percentage to date. Notably, strong opposition to fracking in upstate New York jumped from 34% to 52%, a sentiment that has been steadily on the rise. And not just in New York, but nationwide.

FrackFinder: TADPOLE Pennsylvania Results

sked you all to help us identify and classify wellpads in the Marcellus Shale region of Pennsylvania. We used state drilling data to identify 2,963 hydraulic fracturing (fracking) sites that might have had drilling and fracking activity occur sometime in or after 2005. Why these dates? Because in 2005, 2008, and 2010, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Aerial Imagery Program (NAIP) flew high resolution aerial photographic surveys, which you may already be familiar with from the “satellite” view in Google Maps. And because most of the drilling and fracking targeting the Marcellus Shale has happened since 2004.

As His State Suffers From Ongoing Drought, Utah Senator Decries ‘Oppressive’ Water Use Regulations

Even with his home state of Utah suffering one of the worst droughts in recent memory, Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) decried “oppressive” government regulations limiting personal water use.

This summer, a record heat wave scorched Utah, causing droughts across the entire state. Currently, water reservoirs have reached a 20-year low as a drought rages on across the state.

State Charges Exxon Mobil Unit For Toxic Wastewater Leak On Fracking Site

An Exxon Mobil subsidiary may have allowed huge amounts of toxic drilling wastewater to escape a fracking site in Pennsylvania and contaminating a creek.

That’s according to an accusation from Pennsylvania State Attorney General Kathleen Kane, who announced this month she is pressing charges against a unit of Exxon Mobil known as XTO Energy.

Explosions & Fire in Marshall County: Local Residents at Risk near Blue Racer Plant

0 a.m. Saturday, September 21.  Lorri Davisson heard the same pounding just minutes later. A neighbor stood outside. Nearby, at the Blue Racer Midstream Plant operated by Dominion Resources and Caiman Energy, which process natural gas and natural gas liquids, a fire raged.

Ohio: Shale drillers must report chemicals locally

A list of toxic chemicals used by Ohio shale drillers must be made available locally to governments, first responders and residents under a new state directive.

Ohio officials notified companies that a federal chemical disclosure law trumps a 2001 state law requiring that the information only be filed with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources,

Tell Congress to close the oil and gas loopholes in our environmental laws

gotten favors from Congress for years, and is exempt from some of the most important provisions in our federal environmental laws. Thanks to this special treatment, the oil and gas industry doesn’t have to abide by sections of the Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, National Environmental Policy Act, or the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (the federal law that protects the public from toxic waste).

BP trial over the 2010 oil spill reopens, revisits talk of flow rates, ‘top kills’ and ‘junk shots’

After a five-month break, the BP trial resumed in New Orleans on Monday (Sept. 30) for its second phase, with lawyers accusing the oil company of failing in its disaster preparations and attempts to stop to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and a BP lawyer countering with descriptions of extensive efforts amid uncertain conditions.

Judge rejects bid to cut BP claims czar’s budget

A federal magistrate has refused to order an additional $25.5 million in cuts to the proposed fourth quarter budget for the claims administrator handling BP’s settlement with Gulf Coast residents and businesses following its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Accused of Lying to Govt During Gulf Oil Spill

BP lied to the U.S. government and withheld information about the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after its well blew out in 2010, attorneys told a judge Monday.

Judge hears claims BP lied about oil spill

BP lied to the U.S. government and withheld information about the amount of oil spilling into the Gulf of Mexico after its well blew out in 2010, attorneys told a judge Monday.

But lawyers for the London-based oil giant denied those accusations and said there was no way to prepare for such a unique blowout a mile below the sea floor. Second-guessing the company’s efforts to cap the well was “Monday morning quarterbacking at its worst,” BP attorney Mike Brock said during opening statements of the second phase of a trial over the worst offshore oil spill ever in the U.S.

Oil Blights Louisiana’s Coast as Second Phase of BP Oil Spill Trial Begins

The toxic mess left in the wake of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil disaster continues to negatively impact Gulf Coast ecosystems as the second phase of the BP trial begins in New Orleans.

Billions of dollars are on the line in the trial following the explosion of the Macondo well that took 11 lives and damaged the Gulf Coast’s economic and environmental health.

Live: Battle resumes over Gulf oil spill’s size; BP faces up to $18B fine

The legal battle over the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history has resumed, as BP tries to cut a fine that could soar to $18 billion for unleashing millions of barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico in 2010.

The latest round in the ongoing courtroom saga centers on just how much oil gushed from the Macondo well during the three months it took to bring it under control.

BP may face $18bn in fines for gross negligence as federal trial resumes

BP told “outright lies” as it tried to hide the amount of oil that was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico following the Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, a court heard on Monday, in a new phase of the trial that could ultimately determine how much the company will pay in fines.

4 Things You Need to Know As BP Gulf Oil Spill Trial Resumes

The second phase of the trial to determine how much more money BP owes for its Gulf spill begins today. Here’s what you need to know

Feds to release new rules for offshore emergency equipment this year

The nation’s top offshore drilling regulator said he hopes to unveil new requirements for blowout preventers by Dec. 31, nearly four years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster revealed vulnerabilities in the emergency devices.

Government shutdown would stop some oil permitting

Oil and gas companies working to secure drilling permits on federal lands may have just a few more hours to get the job done.

The Bureau of Land Management will halt permitting oil and gas projects on public lands if lawmakers do not reach a deal to continue funding the federal government by Tuesday. Offshore oil and gas permitting, which is handled by a separate agency, would continue.

Lead proponent of oil and gas lawsuit loses spot on levee board

The most prominent public face of a lawsuit against nearly 100 oil and gas companies will not get to serve another term on the East Bank flood protection authority that filed the suit.

A nominating committee rejected author John Barry on Monday during a meeting that focused heavily on the suit and Gov. Bobby Jindal’s promise not to reappoint its supporters.

Obama faces nagging dilemma over Keystone XL pipeline

As thorny diplomatic issues and budget battles at home occupied the White House last week, a series of reports were released that underscored another headache to come for the president: The Keystone XL pipeline.

Aging US Gas Pipeline Infrastructure Costs Consumers Billions

An August 1, 2013 report prepared for Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts illuminates the fact that gas companies have little incentive to replace leaky aging pipes because they are able to pass along the cost of lost gas to consumers. As a consequence, American consumers pay about a billion dollars a year for natural gas that never reaches their homes.

First Nation Riders Protest Enbridge Tar Sands Pipeline

On Sunday, Sept. 29, Anishinaabe horseback riders began a solemn ride along the proposed route of the Enbridge Alberta Clipper Pipeline in northern Minnesota. The ambitious goal is to complete 200-230 miles over 9 days, with one day of rest on thw 8th day. The ride began at the Wisconsin-Minnesota state line and continued 23 miles to the ? camp on the Fond du Lac Reservation.

Forum Discusses Arctic Oil And Gas Searches

A protest in the Russian Arctic has dramatized growing problems with oil drilling there. Every country has a stake in the enormously lucrative search for oil and gas in the Arctic, says professor Lawton Brigham. But pollution from reckless attempts at development are evident on an island near the Polar circle.

Greenpeace activists ‘posed real threat’ to Arctic oil rig staff – investigators

Russian investigators say Greenpeace activists who attempted to board an Arctic oil platform in the Barents Sea “posed a real threat” to employees on the rig. The environmental organization says the action was non-violent and demands the crew be released.

Tokyo Electric says contaminated water leaked at Fukushima

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Tuesday that four tonnes of rainwater contaminated with low levels of radiation leaked during an operation to transfer the water between tank holding areas.

What have we learned from Fukushima?

Since moving to Japan in 2012, I have reported on the aftermath of the Fukushima nuclear disaster – speaking to experts, visiting the site and watching the clean-up. For the Editors, a programme which sets out to ask challenging questions, I consider what I have learned.

Mission Impossible. What Future Fukushima?

Across much of Fukushima’s rolling green countryside they descend on homes like antibodies around a virus, men wielding low-tech tools against a very modern enemy: radiation. Power hoses, shovels and mechanical diggers are used to scour toxins that rained down from the sky nearly 31 months ago. The job is exhausting, expensive and, say some, doomed to failure.

South Korean minister calls Japan ‘immoral’ for covering up Fukushima leaks

Short of calling the Japanese government a liar, South Korea’s fisheries minister strongly blasted Japan on Monday for trying to downplay and cover up the now high-profile contaminated water leaks at the disaster stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant. Yoon Jin-sook, South Korea’s minister of oceans and fisheries said that Japan as a country is without conscience or morality for hiding the leaks for so long before they were eventually admitted by the government and utility operator Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO).

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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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