Environmental Must-Reads – October 10, 2012


Report: EPA struggling to keep pace with ‘fracking’ boom

Congressional auditors conclude in new reports that the Environmental Protection Agency faces big hurdles overseeing a U.S. oil-and-gas drilling boom that’s creating “unknown” long-term health risks.

Fracking: There Is No Objective Role

On Sept. 24, President Skorton and Glenn Altschuler, Vice President of University Relations co-authored Forbes article entitled, “Fracking: A Role for Universities.” In this piece, the authors insist that hydraulic fracturing has swept the nation and globe, and is imminent in New York. They argue that “we cannot put this genie back in the bottle,” the most we can do is ensure that we do our homework and that all necessary precautions are taken. In order to avoid “public perceptions that lobbyists will influence policies and that the foxes are guarding the henhouse,” Skorton and Altschuler argue that government and industry should turn to universities (READ: Cornell), and pay them to conduct unbiased research. Universities, they say, have “a commitment to and reputation for rigor and objectivity in research.” As evidence for their argument, they vaguely refer to two Cornell studies that reached opposite conclusions concerning the relative impacts of fracking on climate change. They fail to mention, as one commentator pointed out, that the study conducted by Robert Howarth, which found that methane leaks from fracking would have a larger impact on climate change than burning coal, was consistent with EPA estimates for methane emissions and the other was not.

Lady Gaga backs Yoko Ono’s anti-fracking coalition

When Lady Gaga tweets or posts to Facebook, she instantly connects with tens of millions of people hooked into social media – instantly thrusting whatever issue she supports into the spotlight and raising instant awareness for a cause

Spying activities on Anti-Fracking Groups in Poland Impede Open Debate about the Risks of Shale Gas

Recent media reports from Poland show that heavy-handed tactics such as spying and undercover operations are being used there against groups and individuals who question shale gas development. Shale gas companies have sent spies to anti-fracking meetings and reported their findings to the highest levels of the Polish government and internal security services, according to reports in a Polish daily newspaper. Food & Water Europe today urged Polish MEPs who are active in the policy debates on shale gas in Brussels to distance themselves from such tactics and to acknowledge that the work of environmentalists and local groups are based on legitimate environmental and economic concerns about the impacts of fracking.

Does Fracking Cause Earthquakes?

A geologist told state lawmakers Tuesday there’s a potential that hydraulic fracking can cause small earthquakes but the number of incidents to date is very small.

Will We Allow New York To Be Fracked Too?

The woman standing at the podium may seem small and unassuming but don’t be fooled she’s a powerhouse and has a warning to share with the world.  Vera Scroggins is a mother, a grandmother, resident of Susquehanna County, PA and a member of Citizens for Clean Water, a citizen-watch group of volunteers who keep an eye on the gas-drilling process by videotaping and keeping tabs on any problems or concerns.  But today Vera’s in New York City at Saint John the Divine for the Global Frackdown and her message is loud and clear.  “Don’t let them in.”

Houston driller begins New York shale gas exploration Marcellus test well sunk in Tioga County woods

A Houston company has begun confidentially exploring the potential of the Marcellus Shale pay zone in New York in a remote area less than 10 miles north of the Pennsylvania border.

Maryland Students’ Water Quality Monitoring Comes In Anticipation Of Gas Drilling

Some high school students in Frostburg, Md. are monitoring the quality of the area’s drinking water in anticipation of natural gas drilling. The Allegany County school board said Monday that environmental science students at Mountain Ridge High School have received a grant of more than $69,000 to collect water samples monthly for several years. The money is from the State Farm insurance company’s Youth Advisory Board.

Project SWIFT researches effect of hydrofracking on water

With hydrofracking a looming possibility in New York, a group of Syracuse University professors has created a project to assess the effects of hydrofracking on the quality of drinking water.

Perilous Pathways: How Drilling Near An Abandoned Well Produced a Methane Geyser

In Feb­ru­ary 1932, the United States was in the midst of the Great Depres­sion.  Franklin Roosevelt was plotting a run for the White House. And in Union Township, Tioga County, the Morris Run Coal com­pany had just fin­ished drilling a gas well on a farm owned by Mr. W.J. Butters. The Butters well was 5,385 feet deep, and lined with four layers of metal casing. Morris Run Coal had a bit of trouble drilling it, though. Two different times, according to the company’s drilling log, workers hit pockets of gas that “blew tools up [the well’s] hole.”

Exxon Mobile hit with an array of lawsuits over Yellowstone oil spill

Exxon Mobil Corp. has become the latest oil company to face litigation this year, after a group of more than a dozen eastern Montana landowners have filed lawsuits. The lawsuits came after the company ignored warnings before a pipeline break that spilled an estimated 1,500 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River.

From spill containment to prevention

Following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill, the words “well containment” have become a major topic for the oil and gas industry as it moves into unconventional shale plays and more extreme deep-water drilling.

Post Hurricane Isaac oil washing up on Gulf of Mexico shores tied to BP Deepwater Horizon blowout

Louisiana, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi were last month hit by tar balls and oil exposed by waves from the hurricane, which made landfall at the mouth of the Mississippi river on August 28. Laboratories from across the states affected by the hurricane – and previously oil sludge from the  Deepwater Horizon explosion, the largest oil spill in US history – said to Bellona in emails that their own independent chemical analyses revealed that most of the oil found along beaches in the coastal states had come from the Macondo well.

90 Gallons of Oil Spill from Transformer Explosion

A transformer exploded at the Connecticut Light & Power substation at 2 Hoskins Road in Bloomfield and released around 90 gallons of oil, according to the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection and the Bloomfield Fire Department.

Sinkhole clean up halted as it pulls in more land

Cleanup of a sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish has been indefinitely halted after another section of land collapsed, pulling down at least five trees along the southwest side of the four-acre depression.

Sinkhole Saga Continues: Toxic Air Reported as Drilling Progresses

The Earth continues to swallow trees as officials from Louisiana and a Texas energy company continue to seek s solution to the Assumption Parish sinkhole. About 11 a.m. today, a 10 ft. X 50 ft. slough pulled in five trees and halted cleanup activity at the site, according to a report from the Parish. The slurry area near Bayou Corne was discovered August 3 and continues to grow in both size and danger. Many people in the area are worried about methane deposits that may be ignited from a quake.

Legal expert says sinkhole Incredibly dangerous situation, gas explosive force

Fears are mounting that the Bayou Corne sinkhole area methane gas could burst through the ground with explosive force, according to officials and one of the nation’s top environmental legal experts Monday, speaking about what has become a grave violation of health and security human rights.

Gas found in aquifer previously

The latest release of natural gas discovered in an underground aquifer near Bayou Corne may be the third time in the past 13 years that gas has been loosed in shallow formations over or near the subterranean Napoleonville salt dome, according to a review of regulatory filings.

Another chunk of land falls into sinkhole

A shallow well recently drilled into the aquifer underneath the Bayou Corne area has hit natural gas, Shaw Environmental officials said Tuesday.

Cell Phones Toxic to Humans and Earth

The pollution produced by cell phones can be hard to locate, and it’s not just the fault of the iPhone 5’s much maligned map app.  From production to disposal, cell phones contaminate the environment. A recent study by the Ecology Center of Ann Arbor, Michigan and ifixit.com dissected 36 different models of cell phone and found that every one of them contained at least one of the toxic elements: lead, bromine, chlorine, mercury or cadmium.

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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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