Environmental Must-Reads – October 15, 2014


Fracking Linked to More Ohio Earthquakes

Another rare case of fracking-caused earthquakes has jolted Ohio.

A new study connects some 400 micro-earthquakes in Harrison County, near the town of Canton, to hydraulic fracturing wells. The three wells operated from September through October 2013 in the Utica Shale. Ten of the quakes registered between magnitude 1.7 and magnitude 2.2, but the tremors were too deep to cause damage or to be easily felt by people, according to the study, published today (Oct. 14) in the journal Seismological Research Letters.

Long After Fracking Stops, The Noise Lives On

Most of the noise created by natural gas development is temporary. After drilling and fracking, the workers and equipment are gone. But compressor stations can stay noisy for years — even decades.

UK to allow fracking companies to use ‘any substance’ under homes

The UK government plans to allow fracking companies to put “any substance” under people’s homes and property and leave it there, as part of the Infrastructure Bill which will be debated by the House of Lords on Tuesday.

The legal change makes a “mockery” of ministers’ claims that the UK has the best shale gas regulation in the world, according to green campaigners, who said it is so loosely worded it could also enable the burial of nuclear waste. The government said the changes were “vital to kickstarting shale” gas exploration.

Germans Line Up Against Fracking, Spurred by Fears of a U.S.-Style Boom

In Germany debate is raging over whether to allow fracking, and America’s example is serving as the cautionary tale for both supporters and critics.

Germany’s biggest energy companies and some politicians are using the U.S. drilling boom to argue the country would benefit from tapping shale gas buried under two of its 16 states. Supporters say Germany must greenlight fracking—especially as calls intensify to end dependency on Russia, which supplies a third of Germany’s oil and gas.

Businesses feel left out as railways shift trains toward frac sand, oil

Skyrocketing propane prices and long shipping delays for Wisconsin-made products like cheese, gravel and paper are likely to occur again this winter because of continued problems moving goods by rail, state officials say.

“We have some serious challenges here in Wisconsin,” said Ben Brancel, secretary of the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

After two years, local family still awaiting answers Investigation into complaint about methane in water supply still ongoing

A state Department of Environmental Protection investigation of methane in a private water supply in Bradford County has lasted almost two years, records show.

In late October 2012, the DEP received a complaint about a private water supply in Springfield Twp. The complaint sparked an investigation that is still ongoing.

In correspondence with the gas company, EOG Resources Inc., the DEP stated the problem has affected at least three water supplies.

Suspected frac water dump under investigation in Greene

An investigation was launched into the dumping of 3,000 to 4,000 gallons of suspected hydraulic fracturing water into Waynesburg Borough’s sewer system between 8 and 9 a.m. Sept. 30.

When personnel at the Waynesburg Sewage Treatment Plant in Meadowlark Park noticed a spike in the flow coming through the system, borough officials were contacted.

Fracking a key issue in NY governor’s race

Pennsylvania drilling sites are emerging as destinations for political pilgrimage for candidates for governor in New York as politicians and voters alike weigh in on whether to allow the technique of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas.

Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins opposes the drilling technique of fracking, and last week toured drilling sites in Pennsylvania to highlight what he says are negative health and environmental impacts.

More fracking produces more open waste pits

The United States is on the verge of becoming the world’s top producer of oil, according to the International Energy Agency. But the oil boom is also leading to a boom in toxic oil field waste that can end up in open pit disposal sites. There are increasing concerns over the dangers these disposal sites pose for air quality.

All energy producing states have to deal with an ever-escalating amount of waste. In Wyoming, there are 35 commercial waste pits and permits pending on six more. North Dakota shipped 1.75 million tons of oil and gas waste to landfills in 2013. And, while Colorado – like North Dakota – has been tightening regulations on the waste water resulting from drilling operations, the state’s solid waste pits are still left uncovered.

Sand may become weak link in fracking

Demand is exploding for the huge amounts of sand used in fracking, generating a windfall for mines from Texas to Wisconsin but leading to worries about the health impacts of breathing silica dust.

Drillers are expected to use nearly 95 billion pounds of “frac sand” this year. That’s up 30 percent from last year, according to energy specialists at PacWest Consulting Partners, who expect the market to keep growing as drillers increasingly accept that using more sand increases the oil and gas production from each well.

I Worked in a Strip Club in a North Dakota Fracking Boomtown

At 9 p.m. on that August night, when I arrived for my first shift as a cocktail waitress at Whispers, one of the two strip clubs in downtown Williston, I didn’t expect a 25-year-old man to get beaten to death outside the joint. Then again, I didn’t really expect most of the things I encountered reporting on the oil boom in western North Dakota this past summer.

Treasury clears way for oil spill recovery grants

The U.S. Treasury Department says it has cleared the way for Gulf Coast states and local governments to begin applying for recovery grants through a federal RESTORE Act trust fund containing money from civil penalties in the 2010 BP oil spill.

A department statement says that, so far, the trust fund has $653 million. That figure is expected to grow by billions.

Hazmat crews working oil spill in Mooringsport

Caddo Parish hazmat crews are on the scene of a crude oil spill in Mooringsport that flowed into a nearby creek.

The spill happened at 11:45 a.m. Monday on Old Mooringsport Latex Road. Deputies say a pipeline ruptured. The break was detected by Mid-Valley Pipeline employees.

Pipeline Remains Shut After Spill in Louisiana on Monday

A section of a Sunoco Logistics oil pipeline remained shut Tuesday after a leak was discovered Monday morning in northwest Louisiana.

A spokesman for the Louisiana State Police said the spill was immediately contained and estimated that about 4,000 barrels of oil were released, making this one of the largest pipeline spills of this year, according to federal records. Sunoco said the size of the spill had not yet been determined.

Permian crudes weaken after Sunoco pipeline spill

Crude extracted from the largest U.S. oil field weakened against the U.S. benchmark after producers lost access to Midwest markets when a 4,000-barrel spill in Louisiana forced the shutdown of a key pipeline.

West Texas Intermediate in Midland, Texas, weakened by 75 cents a barrel to a discount of $7 relative to the same grade in Cushing, Oklahoma, at 11:47 a.m., according to data compiled by Bloomberg. It’s the largest discount since Oct. 1. Midland is the pricing point for the Permian Basin, which produces about 1.76 million barrels of oil a day.

3 convicted in family-run scheme to collect more than $3 million in false BP oil spill claims

A woman, her husband and her brother have been convicted in a family-run scheme to defraud a fund established to help victims of the 2010 Gulf oil spill of more than $3 million.

Marcella Truss and her husband Martee Ray Davis, both of Grand Bay, Ala., and Truss’ brother Howard Lenard Carroway, of Mobile, were convicted on dozens of charges in federal court in Birmingham.

Colorado’s Democratic congressional candidates differ on Keystone XL pipeline

Democrats broke ranks on the question of whether to speed development of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, but both they and the Republican candidates for the three congressional districts representing Denver’s northern suburbs held firm to their parties’ positions on whether to increase the minimum wage at a debate held Tuesday.

The incredible shrinking Keystone

The pipeline that launched so many street protests, ad campaigns and political headaches for the White House is increasingly irrelevant in the midterm elections and the energy markets — even for the groups that have fought so hard to either build it or block it.

Neither side will say publicly that the Keystone XL pipeline is less important than it once was. But after Keystone’s three-year rise to the top of Washington’s energy agenda, fueling lobbying and advertising bills well into the tens of millions of dollars, green groups and the oil industry are both moving on.

The return of Keystone XL: U.S. mid-term election battle rekindles pipeline debate

Canadians with an interest in the proposed Alberta-to-Texas Keystone XL pipeline will be watching closely as Americans go to the polls in next month’s mid-term elections.

While President Barack Obama is not on the ballot, he has acknowledged that his policies are, and whether he should approve completion of the long-delayed, increasingly costly Canadian project has emerged as a major campaign issue.

Lundin makes ‘game-changer’ oil discovery in Norwegian Arctic

Lundin Petroleum has made what could be the biggest oil discovery in the Norwegian Arctic, in what the Swedish company’s executives and analysts are hailing as a potential “game-changer” for the region.

At the end of what had been a disappointing exploration season in the Norwegian Barents Sea, Lundin said it had found between 125m and 400m barrels of oil and natural gas. Of this, oil is estimated to represent between 85m and 310m barrels.

Railways Enlist Lumberyards in U.S. Oil-Train Speed Fight

U.S. railroads are rallying customers, including lumber and steel executives, to fight a government safety proposal to slow trains hauling another commodity: crude oil.

More than a dozen companies and business groups, urged by railroads including Union Pacific Corp. (UNP), are warning regulators that cutting speeds to 40 miles an hour from 50 would have a cascading effect, delaying other trains sharing the tracks carrying cargo such as furniture, grain and electronics.

Japan to pressure South Korea at WTO meeting to lift ban on seafood from Fukushima, other prefectures

Tokyo hopes to boost international pressure on South Korea to remove its import ban on seafood produced in eight prefectures, including Fukushima, according to government officials.

The central government will continue expressing its concern about South Korea’s import ban at meetings of the World Trade Organization, by saying that the South Korean measure runs counter to international trade rules.

South Koreans Still Fear Radiation From Japan

More than three years have passed since the nuclear disaster in Fukushima, Japan, but some South Koreans are still leery over possible radioactive contamination from their neighbor.

Environmental activists and residents of Changwon, a city on South Korea’s southeastern coast, staged a rally Tuesday in front of a steel company to protest its import of scrap steel from Japan through a nearby port of Masan.

Japan’s nuclear restart unlikely this year, local vote expected in December

As Japan pitches an unpopular nuclear restart to residents near Kyushu Electric Power Co’s Sendai plant, local politicians say approval is unlikely until December, delaying an already fraught process to revive the country’s idled reactors.

More than three years after the nuclear meltdowns at Fukushima, the worst disaster since Chernobyl, Japan’s nuclear plants remain offline nationwide even as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pushes to restart reactors that meet new safety guidelines set by an independent regulator.

Nuclear plants must give anti-radiation pills to nearby residents: regulator

Residents and businesses near nuclear power plants must be provided with potassium iodide pills as a precautionary measure in case of an emergency, the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission said Friday.

The pills, which must be preemptively distributed in conjunction with local governments, protect against nuclear exposure by preventing the human thyroid gland from absorbing radiation.

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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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