Environmental Must-Reads – October 16, 2013


California’s Big Fracking Mess

California is almost 3,000 miles away from where the anti-fracking documentary Gasland gained its fame in Pennsylvania, but the fights playing out in the Northeast are now migrating west.

South Africa Seen Facing Legal Battle Over Fracking Rules

South Africa’s plans to exploit shale-gas reserves are “indefensible” and will lead to a legal battle, an environmental group said after the government published draft regulations on drilling in the Karoo region.

Fracking Booms, Workers Busted

Fracking is promoted by everyone from the CEO of Exxon to President Obama as the solution to climate change, economic growth, jobs, and energy independence.

But a closer look at the facts suggests fracking is another Ponzi scheme. Booms always result in busts…and somehow, those who do best in the boom, like big banks, never get busted as badly as the workers who believed their promises.

Numbers support ban on fracking

Last year, when the U.S. Geological Survey announced the discovery of shale gas deposits beneath the Pioneer Valley, the debate over fracking — the controversial drilling practice — came to Massachusetts.

What lies beneath: Is the ground underneath your home ripe for fracking?

Around this time of year, an extra amount of attention is lavished upon stigmatized properties and homes that may or may not be built atop bulldozed-over cemeteries. However, there’s been a fair amount of chatter as of late about an all together more scary prospect: Finding out that the home that you rightfully own and dutifully pay  mortgage on was built atop land where everything underneath the surface — be it natural gas, oil, water, and other natural resources — is still technically owned by the homebuilder or developer.

Oil industry spends $250,000 to fight fracking moratorium

The Colorado oil and gas industry has spent more than $250,000 to beat back a Fort Collins ballot question that seeks to impose a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing in the city. Meanwhile, supporters of the initiative have raised $3,853, according to campaign finance records released Tuesday.

In Pennsylvania town, fracking presents unclear future

On Sandra Brown’s 45-acre farm in Greene County, located in the very southwest corner of Pennsylvania, it’s a great time to be selling organic beef.

“There’s much more demand than I can supply,” she said.

Fracking won’t get us out of this mess

Quarterly growth of 0.7 per cent would once have been a tedious titbit hidden away on page 34. Now it’s proof that Britain is booming again. No wonder politicians can’t help dreaming that they have discovered a magic cure to our economic disease, whether it’s building HS2, leaving the EU or fracking.

Environmentalists, industry propose changes to Wyoming water testing rule

Environmentalists, landowners and the oil and natural gas industry all had changes to propose for Wyoming’s draft rule for testing nearby groundwater before drilling oil and gas wells.

Q&A: Anadarko VP on Colorado floods, fracking

Anadarko Petroleum Corp., one of the biggest oil and gas companies operating in Colorado, employs 1,100 people in the state — and had significant operations in the area affected by September’s devastating floods.

Brad Holly, the company’s newly appointed vice president for Colorado, talked to the Denver Business Journal about Anadarko’s Colorado plans.

Anti-Fracking Protesters Block Chevron Test-Drilling in Romania

Hundreds of Romanian villagers opposed to fracking blocked Monday a convoy of vehicles intending to start test drilling for US energy giant Chevron.

Booming oil towns in Texas, North Dakota spend cautiously to prepare for inevitable bust

In a faded West Texas town dotted with vacant buildings and potholed streets is a sparkling storefront window and a curious display: rows of diamond-studded Rolex watches, awaiting buyers whose pockets are packed with oil money.

The surge in oil drilling has drawn money and men like a magnet to run-down communities that haven’t seen a boom since the 1980s.

Not Again, Flood-Battered Cajuns Say

Residents sued Plaquemines Parish, Ground Zero of the BP oil disaster, claiming the parish’s approval of a building permit for a 5 million gallon oil terminal on the Mississippi River is another catastrophe waiting to happen.

BP oil spill: Ex-Halliburton manager pleads guilty to destroying evidence

A former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty Tuesday to destroying evidence in the aftermath of the deadly rig explosion that spawned BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Anthony Badalamenti, 62, of Katy, Texas, faces a maximum sentence of a year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in US district court to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence. His sentencing by US district judge Jay Zainey is set for 21 January.

BP witnesses continue to bolster company’s low Gulf oil spill estimates

Three more BP expert witnesses on Tuesday delivered testimony during the federal trial over the company’s Macondo oil well blowout designed to support BP’s estimate that only 3.26 million barrels of oil were released during the 87-day spill.

More oily material discovered on Fourchon beaches

More than two tons of oily material have been pulled from a tar mat discovered this weekend on Fourchon Beach as part of a post-Tropical Storm Karen cleanup to look for oil from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil leak.

Environmentalists threaten lawsuit as drilling continues despite shutdown

Environmentalists on Tuesday accused the Obama administration of illegally allowing oil companies to keep drilling on public lands during the government shutdown, even as officials erect barricades around national monuments and close park gates to visitors.

How long did the North Dakota oil spill remain undetected?

20,600 barrels of crude oil spilled from a six inch pipeline owned and operated by Tesoro Logistics, according to the company, spreading over 7 acres of a North Dakota wheat field until a farmer discovered it on September 29. But information about this major spill wasn’t made public for another 11 days – and only after the Associated Press asked the North Dakota Health Department about it. The oil spill is raising questions about the company’s leak detection and response efforts, as well as the adequacy of oversight from state and federal regulators amid North Dakota’s oil boom. The state recently passed Alaska as the number two oil producing state, as oil companies exploit the Bakken oil shale field using controversial fracking processes.

More Lawsuits Filed Against Exxon in Faulkner Co.

The lawsuits against ExxonMobil are still piling up.

Plaintiffs filed seven lawsuits in Faulkner County Court on Tuesday in connection to the March 29 rupturing of the Pegasus Pipeline, which sent oil spilling into the Northwoods Subdivision in Mayflower.

Justice Delayed For Mayflower Oil Spill Victims

As the government shutdown enters its third week, new and disturbing side effects are beginning to surface.  These adverse affects are arising from the U.S. court system, where federal prosecutors are unable to perform their day-to-day activities in many cases due to a lack of federal funding.

First-Ever Footage of Aging Tar Sands Pipelines Beneath Great Lakes

This past July, National Wildlife Federation (NWF) conducted a diving expedition to obtain footage of aging oil pipelines strung across one of the most sensitive locations in the Great Lakes, and possibly the world: the Straits of Mackinac. Footage of these pipelines has never been released to the public until now.

Chevron Sues Rainforest Communities It Contaminated

The Gambino crime family. The Chicago outfit. The Latin Kings. You’ve probably heard of these infamous crime families—a.k.a., the mob, the mafia. “Don” Corleone. Capiche?

But have you heard of Hugo Camacho? Or Javier Piaguaje? They’re not exactly household names. Nor gangster names for that matter. And that’s because one is a campesino farmer that makes about $200 a month growing cacao. The other is a leader of the Secoya indigenous people, and both are from the rainforests of Ecuador’s Amazon. Their crime? Suing the second largest oil company for the worst oil-related environmental disaster on the planet. And winning.

Google can’t solve the Keystone pipeline test

Some problems of society lend themselves to a savior’s arriving in the form of processing power. Google search activity can help catch deadly viruses before they spread, satellites and supercomputers can monitor deforestation, and data analysis can identify and eliminate inefficiencies in legacy bureaucracies.

Ask an algorithm a straightforward question that requires massive amounts of data and it can help find an answer. But what about the seemingly straightforward test President Barack Obama has mandated for the Keystone XL Pipeline, which would take fossil fuels from the Canadian oil sands to the Gulf Coast?

Pipeline has secured land deals in 9 Ky. Counties

A company planning to build a natural gas pipeline in Kentucky says it has secured land-use deals in parts of nine counties along the pipeline’s proposed path.

Officials with the Bluegrass Pipeline say they have reached easement agreements with private landowners in nine of the 13 counties along the proposed route. The entire 500-mile pipeline route also stretches through Ohio and Pennsylvania.

Behind Russia vs. Greenpeace Furor, Unreported Oil Pollution of the Arctic

An environmental organization with a $350 million war chest, a giant protest vessel, 28 activists and a rubber raft have succeeded in drawing Russian President Vladimir V. Putin into a very public global dispute.

17 dead as Typhoon Wipha pounds Japan

Typhoon Wipha shot through Tokyo and up Japan’s Pacific coastline early Wednesday, killing at least 17 people. Thousands were advised to evacuate, although no major damage was reported.

The storm, with sustained winds of 126 kph (78 mph) at its center, was marked by hurricane-level winds and rain that soaked the city’s morning rush hour, leading to disrupted flights, train services, and school activities.

Plummeting morale at Fukushima Daiichi as nuclear cleanup takes its toll

Dressed in a hazardous materials suit, full-face mask and hard hat, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, left his audience in no doubt: “The future of Japan,” he said, “rests on your shoulders. I am counting on you.”

Abe’s exhortation, delivered during a recent visit to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, was only heard by a small group of men inside the plant’s emergency control room. But it was directed at almost 6,000 more: the technicians and engineers, truck drivers and builders who, almost three years after the plant suffered a triple meltdown, remain on the frontline of the world’s most dangerous industrial cleanup.

Japan Regulator Tells Tepco to Focus on Fukushima Not Restarts

Japan’s nuclear regulator batted away questions on when it will run safety checks at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, saying the utility should focus on the crisis-ridden Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant.

Meet Fukuppy, the inadvertent Fukushima mascot

It wasn’t a refrigeration company’s decision to use a cartoon egg with wings, of indeterminate gender and with “a strong sense of justice” as its corporate mascot that got Japan-based internet users giggling. It was, simply, the character’s name.

Fukuppy has become an unlikely online star after someone spotted his unintentionally hilarious name on the firm’s website.

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This