Environmental Must-Reads – October 11, 2012


Property owners sue over gas drilling waste wells

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — A group of residents in Independence and Faulkner counties are suing three natural gas drilling companies, claiming that waste fluids are improperly being pumped underneath land the companies don’t own or lease

Guest Post: Waterless Fracking?

With all the negative attention surrounding hydraulic fracturing, a process that stimulates shale plays but requires the use of millions of gallons of water, it is no surprise that companies are looking at alternatives.  One such alternative that has recently emerged uses gelled propane instead of water. According to GasFrac Services, a relatively new Canadian oilfield service company, this type of “[propane] fracturing can deliver economic and environmental benefits.”

New Study To Provide Important, Direct Measurement Data On Methane Emissions From Natural Gas Production

While natural gas burns cleaner than other fossil fuels when combusted, methane leakage from the production, transportation, and use of natural gas has the potential to undermine some or all of those benefits, depending on the leakage rate.  Methane is the main ingredient in natural gas and a greenhouse gas (GHG) pollutant many times more potent than carbon dioxide (CO2), the principal contributor to man-made climate change.

Long-Awaited Study of Fracking in Southern California Oil Field Is Released

Late last night, Plains Exploration and Production Company (PXP) released a long-awaited study on the oil drilling company’s hydraulic fracturing operations at the Inglewood Oil Field in the Baldwin Hills area of south Los Angeles. While it took a year to compile the study, this report actually was years in the making as it comprised one of a host of new requirements imposed on PXP through a July 2011 settlement that resolved a lawsuit brought by NRDC and three other plaintiffs in 2008.

Collectively Photographing Fracking

The most basic thing that photography does is visually describe what can be seen. The problem facing photographers of the Marcellus Shale Documentary Project is that what they wish to describe cannot be seen — an invisible gas buried deep underground. They have struggled to document the effect of the natural gas drilling commonly known as fracking.

TX-based co. drills exploratory well in NY shale

A Texas company has begun drilling a vertical well to explore the potential of the Marcellus Shale natural gas formation, joining about a dozen others probing the potentially lucrative rock beneath New York’s southern tier.

Industry-Funded Study Finds Fracking Safe for Los Angeles

Fracking for oil in Los Angeles County poses no threat to the environment and doesn’t add to the risk of earthquakes, according to a report funded by the owner of one of the largest urban oil fields in the U.S.

New EPA Findings Test Fracking Site

New tests of water surrounding natural-gas-drilling sites near Pavillion, Wyo., have turned up results that are “generally consistent” with earlier findings showing a link between contamination and hydraulic fracturing, the Environmental Protection Agency said Wednesday.

The latest science from Europe on fracking

There are a few new reports from Europe on fracking that provide a lot of valuable information:

A joint report from Germany’s Federal Environment Agency and Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety was released in September.

Groups FOIL fracking documents; towns that adopted pro-drilling resolutions are targeted

NEW YORK STATE — The battle between pro- and anti-fracking forces in New York State opened on a new front this week as two groups sent Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) requests to three towns that have passed pro-gas drilling resolutions. In letters dated October 2, the National Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy contacted the towns of Delaware and Fremont in Sullivan County and Sanford in Broome County.

Pinkwashing Fracking?

The Wizard of Oz was spot on when he said to “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.” That’s good life advice if you fall into the “Ignorance is bliss” camp. For a journalist though, it’s doing the exact opposite that’s a sin qua non for the job.

Kevin Begos of the Associated Press took the Wizard’s advice to heart in his July 22 story titled, “Experts: Some fracking critics use bad science.”

Louisiana: Oil Sheen Linked to 2010 BP Spill

The United States Coast Guard reported late Wednesday that samples from an oil sheen spotted in the Gulf of Mexico last month have been matched to the oil that gushed from the Macondo 252 well, the source of the massive BP oil spill of 2010. The sheen was first reported on Sept. 16, and its size has varied in the weeks since, the Coast Guard reported. Samples were sent to the Marine Safety Lab in Connecticut and found to match the oil from the well, which was plugged with cement in September 2010. The Coast Guard said that the sheen “is not feasible to recover and does not pose a risk to the shoreline,” but that BP and Transocean “may be held accountable for any cost associated” with assessment and cleanup. The Coast Guard also suggested that the oil could have come from wreckage or debris on the sea floor.

Sheen at Deepwater Horizon disaster site is BP oil, Coast Guard says

Samples of oil taken from a sheen above the site of the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig and BP’s Macondo 252 well matches oil released from the well during the 2010 spill, the U.S. Coast Guard announced late Wednesday. The Coast Guard has informed BP and Transocean, owner of the sunken Deepwater Horizon oil rig, that they may be held financially liable for the new oil.

BP, U.S. Justice Department close to oil spill settlement: WSJ

BP PLC (BP.L) and the U.S. Justice Department are close to a broad deal that would release the company from additional civil and criminal liabilities arising out of 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the talks.

Exxon faces legal case over Montana spill

Montana landowners said they’re suing Exxon Mobil for a 2011 oil spill in the Yellowstone River because of property damage.

Researchers studies effects of BP oil spill in Gulf of Mexico

That is why a team of researchers and scholars — including biology professor Dr. James Nienow — began identifying the impact of the spill in a proactive attempt to gather comparative information if this ever happens again.

Pipeline opponents to hold “mock oil spill” in Vancouver

Opponents of two major oil-pipeline projects are planning to rally at a B.C. Chamber of Commerce event in Vancouver today (October 10). Activists will hold “a mock oil spill and noise demonstration” outside the B.C. Chamber Energy Summit at the Hyatt Regency hotel, a release from the B.C. Wilderness Committee says.

Documenting Votes From ‘The Most Anti-Clean Energy, Do-Nothing, Pro-Pollution Congress In History’

A new report released this week breaks down 223 of the 315 votes the House of Representatives has made against clean energy and in favor of the fossil fuel industry over the last two years.

Enbridge oil leak effectiveness can’t be known until pipeline is built, lawyer tells hearing

The ability to detect leaks along the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline won’t be known until the pipeline is built and pumping oil through the remote wilderness of northern British Columbia, a lawyer for the province noted at a hearing deciding the pipeline’s fate.

Nation tells Jindal to expand La. sinkhole evacuation area

Giving heart-wrenching reasons, over 150 people from across the nation are telling Gov. Bobby Jindal to expand the Bayou Corne sinkhole mandatory evacuation area, more people than initially hoped, human rights defender Alicia Heilig told Deborah Dupré Monday.

Officials: Crude oil source may link sinkhole and failed cavern

BATON ROUGE, LA – Louisiana Commissioner of Conservation James Welsh said Wednesday that detailed, comparative analysis has revealed that the liquid hydrocarbon from the failed Texas Brine cavern and samples from the nearby sinkhole/slurry area strongly indicate that both are naturally occurring crude oil and not diesel – likely from the same underground source.

Wells hit natural gas

A shallow well recently drilled into the aquifer underneath the Bayou Corne area has hit natural gas, Shaw Environmental officials said Tuesday. That well is one of three that contractors for Louisiana Department of Natural Resources drilled to find and vent natural gas believed trapped in the Mississippi River Alluvial Aquifer.

Bayou Corne Odor and Symptom Log Results

Analysis of air samples in the Bayou Corne/Grand Bayou area by the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality demonstrated that the concentrations of toxic chemicals in the air, including Volatile Organic Compounds such as Benzene, Toluene, Ethyl Benzene and Xylene, were below the Louisiana Ambient Air Standards.  However, though the concentrations of toxic chemicals were  below acceptable standards, health symptoms continue to be experienced and reported by community members.

Sinkhole gas flaring to begin, number of people suffering poisoning mounts

Assumption parish residents, dozens reporting sicknesses and showing signs of poisoning, are bracing for the Shaw Group, contracted by Louisiana Department of Natural Resources, to begin flaring natural gas from two relief/vent wells at the Bayou Corne sinkhole site as early as Friday, but scientists say those fires will not impact nearby methane gas percolating in over twenty places.

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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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