Environmental Must-Reads – October 12, 2012


Fracking Companies Using ‘Psychological Warfare’ Tactics To Silence Critics?

Roughly a year ago today in Houston, the shale gas industry was caught red-handed discussing its use of military tactics and personnel on U.S. soil to intimidate and divide communities in order to continue its fracking bonanza.

NJ firm planning gas-fueled power plant in Pa.

A New Jersey firm has plans to build a 900 megawatt, $750 million natural gas-fired power plant in western Pennsylvania.

EPA fracking investigation in Wyoming revisited after objections

In December of last year, Ars reported on a major EPA study in Pavillion, Wyoming that concluded hydraulic fracking operations there had contaminated the groundwater aquifer. While there wasn’t a clear link to contamination detected in some shallow private water wells, EPA believed the deeper contamination was very likely related to fracking. This determination came primarily from two deep monitoring wells that EPA had installed for the investigation.

Frackademia: Controversial SUNY Buffalo Shale Institute’s Reputation Unraveling

A storm is brewing in Buffalo and it’s not the record snow storm typically associated with upstate New York. Rather, it’s taking place in the ivory tower of academia and revolves around hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” for unconventional gas in the Marcellus Shale basin.

Fracking in Urban Oilfields: A New Study Sparks More Debate

This week a consultant’s report basically stated that hydraulic fracturing in one of the country’s largest urban oilfields is not harmful. The study will arouse lots of comment by proponents and opponents of “fracking,” but both sides will find limited support for their arguments.

Chesapeake Pleads Guilty to Clean Water Act Violations Associated with Marcellus Shale Drilling

According to a Department of Justice press release, Chesapeake Appalachia pled guilty on Oct. 5 in federal court to three violations of the Clean Water Act related to natural gas drilling activity in northern West Virginia.

Pennsylvania Fracking Law Opens Up Drilling on College Campuses

Last year, when Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett suggested offsetting college tuition fees by leasing parts of state-owned college campuses to natural gas drillers, more than a few Pennsylvanians were left blinking and rubbing their eyes. But it was no idle threat: After quietly moving through the state Senate and House, this week the governor signed into law a bill that opens up 14 of the state’s public universities to fracking, oil drilling, and coal mining on campus.

Officials blame salt cavern

The Louisiana Office of Conservation on Thursday night placed the blame for a 4.2-acre sinkhole, gas trapped in an underground aquifer and other events in northern Assumption Parish on the owner of a failed salt cavern inside the Napoleonville Dome.

25 foot pipeline section floats to sinkhole surface

A twenty-five foot section of a pipe identified as part of Acadian Gas’ pipeline floated to the surface of the Bayou Corne sinkhole Wednesday after cleanup of the slurry hole in northern Assumption Parish was indefinitely halted, according to parish officials.

La. sinkhole was predicted, grows 500 square feet larger after seismic activity

Louisiana’s giant sinkhole in Assumption Parish expanded 500 square feet Tuesday morning, according to officials. Earlier Tuesday, amid debating whether earthquakes caused the nearby breached salt cavern to fail, extra seismic activity was recorded, according to USGS monitors observed by this reporter, also noting that in 2010, experts foretold a methane crisis, one saying a methane-caused sinkhole could result from BP’s oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico.

Niger Delta oil spills: Nigerian villagers sue Shell over pollution

Shell was in court on Thursday to face claims that its oil has poisoned the Niger Delta and destroyed residents’ livelihoods, in what’s been hailed as a landmark pollution case.

BP Oil Spill Fine Upset: Likely to Soar Tens of Billions

Just after mainstream financial news outlets reported that BP p.l.c. is close to a settlement for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon explosion that killed 11 workers and caused the worst oil spill U.S. history, there is more bad news for BP that could cause its fine to soar tens of billions of dollars.

Gulf oil sheen blamed on 2010 wreckage, not well

Federal scientists and BP say oil appears to have leaked last month from the drilling wreckage lying at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico near where a BP well blew out in 2010, causing the nation’s worst offshore spill.

Federal Officials Interrupt Enbridge’s Greenwash of Kalamazoo River Tar Sands Spill

Federal officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) have pulled the curtain behind Enbridge’s effort to greenwash its tar sands pipeline spill into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. On the same day that Enbridge told its investors that its tar sands spill and cleanup had made the Kalamazoo River cleaner, EPA ordered the Canadian tar sands pipeline company to resume its cleanup of the Kalamazoo River after finding that submerged oil “exists throughout approximately 38 miles of the Kalamazoo.” EPA’s findings, based on technical analysis from prominent scientists from the international oil spill response and recovery community, stand in stark contrast with the alternate reality that Enbridge is selling to investors and the public. Enbridge’s legacy in Kalamazoo was outlined by federal investigators as a company whose poor safety practices and failures to learn from past mistakes which resulted in the most expensive onshore pipeline disaster in U.S. history. The Canadian tar sands company’s recent attempt to gloss over this reality with a public relations campaign reveals the company has yet to learn this basic truth — simply saying something doesn’t make it so.

Judge upholds Nov. 1 deadline to opt out of oil-spill settlement

A judge has refused to extend a Nov. 1 deadline for plaintiffs to opt out of a proposed settlement of economic claims against BP over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Chevron pays $17M fine for oil spill off Brazil

Chevron Corp. has paid a multimillion-dollar fine for several “irregularities” in connection with last year’s oil spill off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil’s National Petroleum Agency said.

Fresh sheen in Gulf off La. coast matches BP oil

In New Orleans yesterday, the federal on-scene coordinator for the BP oil spill issued a Notice of Federal Interest to BP and Transocean. Coast Guard Capt. Duke Walker issued the NOFI following sample results from an oil sheen located in the vicinity of where the Deepwater Horizon drill rig exploded and sank in 2010.

BP Can’t Plug Claims of Stealing Oil Spill Fix

TAMPA, Fla. (CN) – A federal judge refused to dismiss claims that BP stole a Clearwater man’s invention to clean up the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill that contaminated the Gulf Coast.

Alabama officials vow to fight BP settlement

Alabama political leaders today vowed to fight any deal between the U.S. Department of Justice and BP that would shift control of fine money from the 2010 oil spill to the federal government, away from the Gulf Coast states harmed by the catastrophe.

Oil sheen near BP Gulf spill site from Macondo well

An oil sheen spotted on the Gulf of Mexico near the site of the sunken Deepwater Horizon rig matches samples from BP Plc’s ill-fated Macondo well, the U.S. Coast Guard said.

New oil sheen in Gulf worries BP, lawmakers

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is causing new headaches for BP and has prompted coastal communities and members of Congress to call for more oversight from the U.S. government

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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