Environmental Must-Reads – October 14, 2013


‘Fracking By The Numbers’ Report Urges U.S. To Ban ‘Environmental Nightmare’

What impact has natural gas development had on the U.S.?

“Fracking by the Numbers,” a new report from advocacy group Environment America, seeks to quantify the environmental toll of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking.

Fracking faces land rights challenge from Lancashire farmer and Greenpeace

A Lancashire dairy farmer has joined forces with Greenpeace to launch a challenge to fracking in England.

The environmental charity is working with people in Lancashire and the West Sussex village of Balcombe whose homes are near sites where the energy company Cuadrilla is looking at using hydraulic fracturing to extract shale gas and oil.

Fracking comes to Saudi Arabia despite limited water resources

The U.S. shale gas boom will spread “far and wide,” the head of Saudi Aramco said Monday, announcing the state oil giant was set to supply gas to a massive Saudi power plant project.

The world’s largest oil exporter launched an unconventional gas program in northern Saudi Arabia two years ago, as it sought alternative domestic fuel supplies that would allow an expansion of lucrative oil exports.

Study, cleanup under way in PA streams contaminated by wastewater radiation

A study published by the journal Environmental Science & Technology last week brought widespread attention to a fact Pennsylvania regulators have known for over two years: Radioactive material in treated oil and gas wastewater has accumulated in the stream sediment near a discharge pipe for a western Pennsylvania treatment plant.

Court To Weigh In On Ohio Fracking

Utica Shale development could mean billions of dollars worth of development and thousands of jobs for Ohio, but it can also bring air, noise and visual pollution for those living near fracking sites.

Corrosion may have led to North Dakota pipeline leak: regulator

Initial investigations following a 20,600-barrel leak on Tesoro Logistics LP pipeline in North Dakota point to corrosion on the 20-year-old pipeline, state regulators said on Friday.

The six-inch pipeline was carrying crude oil from the Bakken shale play to the Stampede rail facility outside Columbus, North Dakota when a farmer discovered oil spouting from the pipeline on September 29.

Pipeline Spews 20,600 Barrels of Fracked Oil Amidst Government Shutdown

More than 20,600 barrels of oil fracked from the Bakken Shale has spilled from a Tesoro Logistics pipeline in Tioga, North Dakota in one of the biggest onshore oil spills in recent U.S. history.

Laws Promising Health Professionals Access to Fracking Chemical Information Probably Won’t Work: How to Fix Them

New evidence confirms that oil and gas producers don’t always know what chemicals are in the fracking fluids they are injecting into the ground—and it may take months to find out. Documents from a Pennsylvania family’s lawsuit claiming that Range Resources, a Texas drilling company, contaminated their water, suggest that Range could not find a way to identify some of the chemicals it used, even more than eight months after it had committed to using its “best efforts” to do so.* Months into its search, all Range had been able to learn about one of its fracking chemicals was that the company it thought was the manufacturer actually just “purchases it from another company, applies a label, and resells it.”

Hundreds of Earthquakes on Catalan Coast Stir Protests Against Gas Company

Over 300 microtremors hit the northern area of Valencia and southern Catalonia the first week of October. The quakes could be related to the recent injection of natural gas by the Castor Project [es], a submarine natural gas company found along the Mediterranean coasts of those areas.

Flaws in Environmental Defense Fund’s Methane Study Draw Criticism from Scientists

Perhaps the single most consequential and controversial issue at the center of the onshore natural gas drilling boom is the question of methane leaks. Natural gas is primarily made of methane, a powerful greenhouse gas, and if enough escapes into the atmosphere, these leaks could potentially make natural gas a worse fuel for the climate than coal.

Gas Flare Draws Thousands of Birds to Their Deaths, and Ignites Questions

The conditions that night were a perfect storm — foggy, low cloud cover, an early fall evening that was right for flight.

How many birds flew past the flare on a recent September night at the Canaport LNG plant, north of Maine in New Brunswick, Canada, isn’t known.

But managers at the liquefied natural gas import facility estimate that about 7,500 migrating birds, mostly small songbirds, were drawn into the flare and died from its heat.

Shutdown delays BP lawsuit over federal contracts freeze

A federal court has extended the Environmental Protection’s Agency’s (EPA) looming deadline to respond to BP’s lawsuit challenging the freeze on winning new federal contracts that EPA imposed over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Federal judge orders BP, private plaintiffs to hammer out changes to business claims rules

Attorneys for BP and private plaintiffs who entered into a multibillion-dollar settlement of economic claims from the 2012 Deepwater Horizon accident and oil spill have been given until 5 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 15) to recommend new language to govern the way “business economic claims” are paid under the settlement.

Oil spill legal worries still haunt BP investors

Before its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico blew out in 2010, killing 11 workers and causing a massive oil gusher at the bottom of the ocean, BP ruled the industry along with other Big Oil titans.

More than three years later, the slimmed-down London oil company is still years away from putting the spill behind it, as protracted legal battles and potential liabilities still haunt the company and its investors.

ND Waits 11 Days to Tell Public About Oil Spill

When a pipeline rupture sent more than 20,000 barrels of crude spewing across a North Dakota wheat field, it took nearly two weeks for officials to tell the public about it.

The break in a Tesoro Corp. pipeline happened in a remote area, and officials say no water was contaminated or wildlife hurt. But environmentalists are skeptical and say it’s an example of a boom industry operating too cozily with state regulators.

North Dakota defends oil spill response

North Dakota regulators said it was business as usual with delays in reporting the state’s first major oil spill because public health wasn’t threatened.

More than 20,000 barrels of oil spilled in a rural field in North Dakota in late September. Tesoro Logistics of Texas, working in North Dakota, reported last week there were no injuries associated with the spill. It said no water was contaminated and the surrounding environment should be shielded from any major damage.

North Dakota oil spill drawing national media visits; cleanup will take months

As crews continue cleaning up after a pipeline break spilled 20,600 barrels of oil near here, more national media outlets are finding their way to the site in northwest North Dakota.

Farmer Steve Jensen, who discovered the spill Sept. 29 while harvesting his wheat field, had a TV crew from Al Jazeera America and a freelance photographer from Reuters pull into his yard Sunday.

Geography in the News: Oil Spills

The world has followed news of from British Petroleum’s (BP) Deepwater Horizon’s blowout and oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico since the oil rig exploded April 22, 2010. By the time engineers temporarily capped the well July 15, it had poured an estimated 3.0 million to 8.7 million barrels of oil into Gulf waters. How does the magnitude of this spill compare with past oil spills?

Chevron Protests Amazon Pollution, Says Ecuadorian Courts Used Bribes To Win $18 Billion Judgement

Chevron Corp will try to convince a U.S. judge this week that a group of Ecuadorean villagers and their U.S. lawyer used bribery to win an $18 billion judgment against Chevron from a court in Ecuador, in the latest chapter in a long-running fight over pollution in the Amazon jungle.

In a trial starting Tuesday, the oil company is asking a federal court in New York to prevent the villagers and their Harvard-educated lawyer, Steven Donziger, from using U.S. courts to enforce the Ecuadorean judgment.

Government shutdown delaying Keystone XL pipeline review

A dragging review into proposals to build a pipeline from Canada’s oil sands to the US Gulf Coast may be further delayed due to the US government shutdown, an official said Friday.

The proposed 1,179-mile (1,897 km) Keystone XL pipeline — to carry oil extracted from Alberta’s tar sands south to American refineries — has been on hold for years, awaiting a green light.

US Court: Transcanada’s Keystone XL Profits More Important than Environment

In a major ruling that’s flown under the radar, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit – based in Denver, Colorado – decided not to grant the Sierra Club and Clean Energy Future Oklahoma a temporary injunction on the construction of the southern half of Transcanada’s Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline.

Obama’s Former Communications Director Anita Dunn Pitches “Ethical Oil” Keystone XL Ad

Ezra Levant is the man behind an attempt to re-frame the Alberta tar sands as “ethical oil.” “Ethical” – Levant’s deceptive public relations campaign argues of the tar sands “carbon bomb” – because it doesn’t come from the war-ridden and human rights-abusing Middle East.

Now, the “ethical oil” campaign has a new backer: Anita Dunn, former White House Communications Director for President Barack Obama and current Principal of SKDKnickerbocker, a public relations firm with offices in Washington, D.C.; New York City and Albany.

Canadian Scientists Expose Their Government’s Tar Sands Obsession at DC Briefing

A delegation of Canadian scientists and activists participated in a briefing today at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to set the record straight on the government’s strategy to undermine anything that might stand in the way of its goals to triple tar sands production, according to a Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Sierra Club press release.

UN: Fukushima radiation worse than feared

Japanese authorities may have underestimated by 20 percent the radiation doses workers got in the initial phase of the Fukushima nuclear disaster, a UN panel has said.

A big earthquake and tsunami in March 2011 damaged the power station 150 miles north of Tokyo, causing three partial reactor meltdowns.

U.N. panel says Japan nuclear workers may have got higher radiation: report

Japanese authorities may have underestimated by 20 percent the radiation doses workers got in the initial phase of the Fukushima nuclear power plant disaster, a Japanese newspaper reported on Saturday, citing a U.N. panel.

The Towns Around Fukushima Power Plant Look Like A Post-Apocalyptic Nightmare

In March 2011, one of the most devastating earthquakes on record hit Japan, setting off a chain reaction that included a tsunami and a disastrous nuclear power plant meltdown. The Fukushima Daiichi Power Plant disaster was the largest Nuclear incident since Chernobyl and caused radiation leakage that has lasted to this day. The plant is still not stable.

FUKUSHIMA WATER CRISIS: Water recycling system urgently needed, ex-chairman of U.S. nuclear watchdog says

Japan urgently needs an effective system that reuses radiation-contaminated water to cool down the crippled reactors at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant, said Gregory Jaczko, former chairman of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

Fukushima on the Hudson: Could a nuclear accident happen near NYC?

The crippled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility has again grabbed headlines in recent weeks after reports of radioactive water leaks into the Pacific Ocean and repeated exposure of plant workers to dangerous levels of radiation again focused attention on the disaster and its aftermath. A massive earthquake and ensuing tsunami in March 2011 damaged the Japanese plant’s reactor containment and cooling systems, triggering explosions and three core meltdowns. After a string of troubling revelations surrounding Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games, the Japanese government has finally expressed a more open attitude toward international help to deal with the crisis.

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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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