Environmental Must-Reads – October 18, 2013


Cop cars burned, 40 arrested at Canada fracking protest

Several police cars were torched and at least 40 people arrested Thursday during an anti-fracking protest near native land in Maritime Canada.

The violence erupted after the Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved in to arrest demonstrators and remove a blockade that members of the Elsipogtog First Nation erected two weeks to stop a shale gas project in Rexton, New Brunswick. The Elsipogtog claim hydraulic fracturing, popularly known as fracking, could irreparably damage their land and the surrounding area.

First Nations clash with police at anti-fracking protest

An anti-fracking protest by hundreds of indigenous Canadians turned violent on Thursday when police came to break up the action. Members of the Elsipogtog and Mi’kmaq First Nations tribes blocked a highway in the province of New Brunswick to stop shale gas company SWN Resources from continuing development in the area. Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) arrested at least 40 protesters and attempted to disperse the group with dogs, pepper spray, fire hoses, tear gas, rubber bullets, and snipers. Protesters responded by torching cars and throwing Molotov cocktails.

Fracking: The Other EPA Shutdown

Positive news stories during the shutdown of government services were scarce, so it was nice to read this one about furloughed scientists from the Water Protection Division of the EPA in Atlanta deciding to volunteer some of their (unexpectedly) free time cleaning up a local creek. “All of us really believe that our life’s work is to protect and restore rivers and streams for people and animals that rely on them — paid or not,” said EPA biologist Lisa Gordon.

Romania: a small village’s anti-fracking protest spreads to the capital

Some 2,000 anti-fracking demonstrators gathered outside government buildings in the Romanian capital Bucharest in solidarity with residents of rural Pungesti. The village is located near a site where drilling is due to begin.

Fracking Opponents Find Lawyers Beat Superglue in Slowing Shale

Campaigners desperate to prevent the birth of a U.K. shale-gas industry have glued themselves to walls, barricaded country lanes and climbed drill rigs. Yet their most potent weapon is more prosaic: lawyers.

Wyo. high court to hear fracking disclosure suit

The Wyoming Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments Nov. 20 over whether the public has the right to obtain lists of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing or if those ingredients are corporate trade secrets that may be shielded.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission adopted its first-in-the-nation fracking chemical disclosure rule three years ago. The rule requires companies that frack in Wyoming to provide the commission with lists of the chemical ingredients in the fracking fluids they use.

Fracking Gave Me Gonorrhea

Trucks loaded with drilling equipment and industrial chemicals have begun arriving in tumbleweed towns across America to conduct the controversial oil and gas drilling method known ashydraulic fracturing. Fracking allows energy firms to tap once unreachable supplies of methane and oil beneath the Earth’s surface by fissuring shale rock thousands of feet below ground with a highly pressurized elixir of water, silicon sand, and chemicals like benzene and formaldehyde. In tow with the heavy drilling machinery that is hitting the United States’ one horse towns are workingmen with an insatiable appetite for raw sex and hard drugs.

Chevron halts search for shale gas in Romania following public outrage

US oil giant Chevron says the company has suspended the search for shale gas in Romania after anti-fracking protests took place across the country.

“Chevron can today confirm it has suspended activities in Silistea, Pungesti commune, Vaslui County,” the company said in a Thursday statement.

Unable to drill in state, Norse Energy closes its N.Y. doors

Norse Energy, a company that had been seeking to drill in New York’s portion of the Marcellus Shale, is shutting its doors in the U.S.

The Norwegian company’s stateside headquarters were based near Buffalo.

Colorado frackers pump out cash to ward off ballot initiatives

Flush with cash, the fracking industry is liberally throwing bills around as it battles anti-fracking groups pushing suspensions and outright bans on the practice in four Colorado cities.

Anti-fracking ballot measures have been put forth by residents of Fort Collins, Boulder, Lafayette, and Broomfield. (Similar initiatives are planned in Greeley and Loveland — and some activists are pushing for a statewide initiative.)

Tesoro detected anomalies on N.Dakota line before spill

Tesoro Logistics LP detected anomalies during an inspection of its 20-year-old North Dakota pipeline just days before the line ruptured and spilled 20,600 barrels of oil onto farmland, the company said on Thursday.

New mass of tar on Louisiana coast linked to 2010 BP oil spill

The US Coast Guard has discovered a 4,100-pound tar mat under the sand around Louisiana’s southernmost port. It is believed to be left over from the 2010 BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

The tar mat was uncovered while the Gulf Coast Incident Management team combed the coast following Tropical Storm Karen, which developed in southern portions of the Gulf of Mexico in early October.

Coast Guard Discovers A 4,000-Pound Mat Of Tar In The Gulf

As Coast Guard crews were scouring the Louisiana coast looking for damage from Tropical Storm Karen this week, they made a startling discovery: A tar mat weighing 4,100 pounds, presumably remnants from the devastating BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill of 2010.

BP oil spill settlement probe target lashes out at special investigator

One of the lawyers singled out in an investigation of alleged misconduct in the settlement program for victims of BP’s 2010 Gulf oil spill is questioning the chief investigator’s impartiality.

Before a judge appointed him to lead the investigation, former FBI Director Louis Freeh disclosed that he is a partner at a law firm that is working on an unrelated case with lawyers for Kirkland & Ellis, a firm that represents the London-based oil giant.

BP experts explain how they gauged the 2010 oil spill, government looks for faults, at trial on Thursday

Thursday morning at the BP oil spill trial continued with experts called by the company explaining techniques they used to estimate the size of the 2010 deep-sea discharge and U.S. Justice Department lawyers scrutinizing them for faults in their methods. BP argues 2.45 million barrels made it into the Gulf of Mexico while the government estimates 4.2 million, setting up a range of possible fines that spans billions of dollars.

BP Oil Spill Cleanup Workers Still Searching for Answers

Court hearings continue over the financial responsibility of oil giant BP for damages caused by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. In a recent news report it was stated that the attorneys for the company and the federal government remain at odds over methods used to estimate how big the massive spill was. Estimates from both sides show that over three million barrels were leaked into the Gulf during the nearly three months it took to stop it.

Oil spill puts North Dakota back in the spotlight

It could be years before the oil spill in North Dakota is cleaned up, a process the pipeline’s operator estimates will cost about $4 million. While North Dakota’s production will likely remain unscathed, how it copes with these new challenges may be a factor in its oil legacy, Graeber writes.

Community rejects ExxonMobil’s N2.5b oil spill compensation

The Eket Federal Constituency Vanguard has rejected the N2.5 billion oil spill compensation offered by ExxonMobil to affected Eket communities.

At least 200,000 barrels of oil, reportedly, spilled off the Atlantic coast on November 9, 2012.

South Portland tar sands opponents fear pipeline project, cite health hazards

Local residents determined to prevent the delivery of Canadian tar sands oil through a pipeline to tankers in South Portland warned Tuesday of the potential health hazards, even as a pipeline official again insisted the company has no such plans.

Officials investigate leak in Alberta pipeline

Canada’s oil and gas regulator says it is investigating a leak in a TransCanada natural gas pipeline in a remote corner of Alberta.

National Energy Board spokeswoman Rebecca Taylor said Thursday that the TransCanada had a rupture on its NOVA gas transmission line. She says the pipeline has been shut down.

Hamm: Hope dwindling for Keystone XL pipeline

Texas oilman Harold Hamm, CEO of Continental Resources, believes the chances that the controversial Keystone XL pipeline will ever be built are rapidly dwindling. Speaking to attendees at the first Bloomberg Oil & Gas Conference Thursday, he also predicted that crude oil prices will stay between $90 and $100 for the foreseeable future.

Pipelines are safer than trains and trucks, report says

When it comes to transporting oil, pipelines are the safest option, trumping trains and trucks, according to a new report from Canada’s Fraser Institute.

The study is just the latest to make the safety case for greater reliance on pipelines, coming while the Obama administration weighs whether Keystone XL is in the national interest and even as Tesoro starts cleaning up a seven-acre oil spill in a North Dakota wheat field.

Ottawa says oil tests now required on any crude shipment bound for Canada

The Canadian government, reacting to the July inferno in Quebec involving a runaway train carrying oil, imposed a new regulation on Thursday requiring tests to be conducted on crude oil before transporting or importing it into Canada.

Greenpeace activist arrested in Russia raises alarm over Arctic Sunrise ship

The Greenpeace ship seized by Russian authorities last month poses a threat to its surroundings and needs proper maintenance, according to the ship’s chief engineer, who appeared in a Murmansk court on Thursday to request bail so that he could tend to the vessel.

Fukushima: why next month is its biggest since 2011

It looms, forbiddingly now, on the coast of Japan, flanked by the sea, forests and a huge nuclear exclusion zone.

Despite recent attempts to demystify the crippled Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant – Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe even visited a few weeks ago – the truth behind what’s happening there and what it actually means for locals and the wider world remains difficult to obtain. And there could be worse to come.

Toxic flush: Typhoon causes radioactive leaks at Fukushima

A powerful typhoon which swept through Japan led to highly radioactive water near the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant being released into a nearby drainage ditch, increasing the risk of it flowing into the sea.

On Wednesday, Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the plant’s operator, said it had detected high levels of radiation in a ditch leading to the Pacific Ocean, and that it suspected heavy rains had lifted contaminated soil.

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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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