Environmental Must-Reads – October 11, 2013


France’s Fracking Ban ‘Absolute’ After Court Upholds Law

France’s constitutional court upheld a ban on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the law against the energy-exploration technique known as fracking is a valid means of protecting the environment.

The 2011 law “conforms to the constitution” and is not “disproportionate,” the court in Paris said in a decision posted on its website today.

Fracking firm was barred from using chemical, Balcombe meeting told

The UK’s fracking pioneer Cuadrilla was prevented by the Environment Agency from using a hazardous chemical at its drilling site in Sussex, local residents have been told. But permission was granted for another chemical despite concerns over its safety.

Scientists: Fracking study results obscured by politics

Advocates on both sides of the debate on hydraulic fracturing are using the results of a recent study to back their political agendas.

However, the scientists behind the report say they’re jumping to conclusions.

Is Fracking Poisoning Your Beer? Mark Ruffalo And Environmentalists Say So

On a crisp autumn day, in your plaid shirt and hipster scarf, a nice seasonal pale ale could be just the thing to get you fully into the spirit of fall. But you might want to think twice about that brew if it’s made with water from areas where fracking is going on, according to opponents of the controversial oil-drilling technique.

U.S. Shale-Oil Boom May Not Last as Fracking Wells Lack Staying Power

Chesapeake Energy’s (CHK) Serenity 1-3H well near Oklahoma City came in as a gusher in 2009, pumping more than 1,200 barrels of oil a day and kicking off a rush to drill that extended into Kansas. Now the well produces less than 100 barrels a day, state records show. Serenity’s swift decline sheds light on a dirty secret of the oil boom: It may not last. Shale wells start strong and fade fast, and producers are drilling at a breakneck pace to hold output steady. In the fields, this incessant need to drill is known as the Red Queen, after the character in Through the Looking-Glass who tells Alice, “It takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.”

Scientists: U.S. Climate Credibility Getting Fracked

As fracking catapults the United States to the top of the list of the world’s largest crude oil and natural gas producers, climate scientists worry that the nation’s booming fossil fuels production is growing too quickly with too little concern about its impact on climate change, possibly endangering America’s efforts to curb global greenhouse gas emissions.

Fracking by the Numbers

Many Americans have an image of the damage caused by fracking. Documentaries and YouTube videos have shown us tap water catching on fire and families experiencing headaches, dizziness, nausea and other illnesses while living near fracking operations. Plane trips over Texas or Colorado reveal the grids of wells across the landscape.

These snapshots illustrate the damage that fracking does to the environment and our health. But, until now, it has been difficult to comprehend the cumulative extent of that damage. Individual fracking wells, we know, can pollute the air and water of a neighborhood or town. But what does it mean now that the nation has not dozens or hundreds but tens of thousands of fracking wells in at least 17 states? What, for example, is the magnitude of the risk those wells present to drinking water? How many iconic landscapes are being damaged?

Wisconsin at ‘global epicenter’ of frac sand mining industry

In Wisconsin, frac sand is the new gold. And by most accounts, the rush is only beginning.

The type of ancient, coarse-grained sand that form the hills and river bluffs of west central Wisconsin is now highly prized by the oil and gas industry.

Marcellus & Utica Shale Fracking Taking a Toll on Our Land

An environmental group released a report Thursday that it says quantifies the environmental costs of fracking in Ohio and across the country.

“The numbers don’t lie,” said Christian Adams, Clean Energy Associate with Environment Ohio, during a press conference next to the Mahoning River. “Fracking has taken a dirty and destructive toll on our environment and if fracking continues unchecked, it’s only going to get worse.”

How Oil & Gas Drillers Are Trying to Earn Cred with Environmentalists

When the Environmental Defense Fund and researchers from the University of Texas wanted to find out just how much methane gas was coming from natural gas production sites, they ended up getting “unprecedented” access. The researchers had approached nine, big oil & gas exploration companies, gaining permission to do testing on 190 production sites nationwide.

In remote field, North Dakota oil boom suffers first big spill

A Tesoro Logistics LP pipeline has spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into a North Dakota wheat field, the biggest leak in the state since it became a major U.S. producer.

The six-inch pipeline was carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale play to the Stampede rail facility outside Columbus, North Dakota. The affected part of the line has been shut down, Tesoro said.

Tesoro oil spill: over 20,000 barrels seep into North Dakota wheat field

More than 20,000 barrels of crude oil have spewed out of a Tesoro oil pipeline in a wheat field in northwestern North Dakota, the state health department said Thursday.

State environmental geologist Kris Roberts said the 20,600-barrel spill, among the largest recorded in the state, was discovered on 29 September by a farmer harvesting wheat about nine miles south of Tioga.

BP witness says only 3.26 million barrels of oil escaped from doomed Macondo well

BP’s Macondo well spilled only 3.26 million barrels of oil during the 87 days that followed the April 20, 2010 blowout that sank the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, killing 11 workers, a witness for the company testified Thursday.

Jury absolves BP in gas leak trial

A massive release of noxious gas from a former BP refinery in Texas City caused no harm or nuisance to three people who lived nearby, a Galveston County jury said Thursday.

The jury of eight women and four men deliberated for about two days and three hours before absolving BP of any wrongdoing in a 2010 release of toxic gases that continued for at least 40 days.

Tanker spill would leave majority of oil in water after clean-up, B.C. study suggests

A study on oil spill preparedness commissioned by the B.C. government suggests efforts to clean up tanker spills would leave most of the oil on the ocean.

In six of seven live spill exercises done on the waters of the Dixon Entrance and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, more than 65 per cent of the spill remained on the water at the end of the five-day simulation, according to the $106,000 study by Nuka Research released Thursday. In the seventh exercise, 49 per cent of the oil remained in the water.

Oil Spills Becoming Frequent Hazard for Fishermen Near Mumbai

Naushad Qureshi, 26, who belongs to an indigenous fishing community in the Uran region of Maharashtra, felt his eyes burning and feet tingling when he settled into his dinghy Tuesday morning. He was looking for crabs, lobsters and prawns in the Arabian Sea to sell in Mumbai, which is almost 30 miles southwest from his village, Peerwadi.

But Mr. Qureshi returned in an hour with only dead fish in his net. “They were black with oil and floating on the water,” he told his family of six, whom he supports on his daily earnings of $10 to $30. “We can’t sell these or eat these. How do I run this house now?”

Stay granted in case over Exxon pipeline spill

Federal prosecutors’ request to stay proceedings in the lawsuit over ExxonMobil’s role in the oil spill in Mayflower have been granted by a district judge.

The stay comes two days after Attorney General Dustin McDaniel made public a letter to Congressman Tim Griffin, asking Griffin to use his influence to reopen the federal government because the shutdown was hampering McDaniel’s investigation and litigation against ExxonMobil.

Appeals Court Upholds Denial Of Keystone Pipeline Injunction

A federal appeals court has upheld a lower-court ruling to deny a preliminary injunction to stop construction of an oil pipeline running from Oklahoma to refineries along the Gulf Coast.

U.S. government shutdown could delay Keystone XL pipeline decision

The U.S. government shutdown is making it harder for the State Department to review the Keystone XL pipeline permit process, a State Department official said on Thursday, which could delay President Barack Obama’s decision on the project.

New Pipeline Across Missouri, Illinois Is A Lot Like Keystone – But Have You Heard Of It?

In Quincy, Ill. the Mississippi River is a popular place to go boating.

Just a few miles north of here, in another part of Adams County, Enbridge’s new Flanagan South pipeline project has quietly been given the go-ahead to cross the nation’s busiest river.

Radiation Levels Near Fukushima Reactor Hit 2-Year High

Radiation levels in seawater just outside one of the damaged Fukushima reactors spiked this week to the highest level in two years, the operator of the crippled Japanese nuclear plant said on Thursday.

Radiation levels on Wednesday, the day six workers were exposed to highly radioactive water, jumped 13 times the previous day’s reading, the highest levels since late 2011.

Radioactivity Near Fukushima Nuclear Plant To Be Monitored By Japan And IAEA

The head of the U.N. nuclear agency says Japan should work harder to address international concerns about leaks of contaminated water at its crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and that his agency will jointly monitor radiation levels in the nearby ocean.

14,000 Hiroshimas Still Hang in the Fukushima Air

Japan’s pro-nuclear Prime Minister has finally asked for global help at Fukushima.

It probably hasn’t hurt that more than 100,000 people have signed petitions calling for a global takeover; more than 8,000 have viewed a new YouTube on it.

Massive quantities of heavily contaminated water are pouring into the Pacific Ocean, dousing workers along the way. Hundreds of huge, flimsy tanks are leaking untold tons of highly radioactive fluids.

Fukushima decontamination insufficent, says Greenpeace

Japan’s efforts to scour areas around Fukushima have been insufficient, pressure group Greenpeace said Thursday, as the government considers letting some residents return to homes near the crippled nuclear plant.

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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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