Environmental Must-Reads – October 2, 2013


As California Begins Regulating Fracking, Agricultural Concerns Arise

Last month, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law a bill that will enforce the nation’s toughest restrictions on hydraulic fracturing, a process through which oil and natural gas is extracted from rock deposits in the earth.

The technique – commonly known as “fracking” – had not been regulated in the state until the signing of the new law, called SB-4, which the oil industry opposed.

State environmental secretary says he’s open to fracking ban

Recent surveying of a potential natural-gas reserve in the Springfield area is unlikely to herald a new gas-extraction industry in Massachusetts, Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Richard Sullivan told the News Service, adding that he could likely support a ban on such drilling as an extra check to ensure it does not occur.

Frackers are chewing up Pennsylvania’s forests

Frackers don’t just foul the air and the water — they trample nature and carve up ecosystems into inadequate little pieces.

That’s the message coming out of the U.S. Geological Survey, which studied aerial photographs of a handful of Pennsylvania counties where gas companies are using hydraulic fracturing to tap deposits in  the Marcellus Shale. The survey’s analysis revealed sweeping damage and forests fragmented by new well pads, roads, and pipelines.

Recycling Dirt: A New Niche in the Fracking Industry

Fracking for natural gas has been vilified for the millions of gallons of wastewater the process generates. But drilling gas wells thousands of feet into the ground also produces another huge stream of waste –tons of rock shavings and dirt tainted with oily chemicals.

To get a better picture of this, imagine using an electric drill to bore a hole into a thick block of wood. All of the wood shavings that fly out are called “cuttings.”

Catskill asked to ban use of fracking fluids on town roads

The Town Board has been asked to prohibit use of fluids containing hydraulic fracturing materials as highway deicing agents.

The request was made during a meeting Tuesday, when members of the grassroots group Green Renewable Energy and Environmental Network said the ban would help protect the environment from radioactive material.

The Campbells: Alberta Ranchers – Methane migration into drinking water aquifer

Since 2005, Ronalie and Shawn Campbell have devoted themselves to learning about the oil and gas industry so that they can ranch cattle with clean water. Regulators have linked the thermogenic gas that started burping from their taps to the activities of at least one of four possible oil companies, but after seven years the Campbells’ case with the Alberta Energy Regulator has been officially closed without being resolved. Alberta Environment and then the ERCB (now the AER) were responsible for the investigation of their water contamination.

Divided Fort Collins City Council opposes fracking moratorium

The Fort Collins City Council is formally opposed to a ballot issue that would impose a five-year moratorium on fracking within the city.

But that doesn’t mean all council members are in agreement with that position.

BP trial witnesses, lawyers tussle over characterizing what happened during the Gulf oil spill

Tuesday at the BP trial was an exercise in conflicting characterizations of the same events that unfolded as oil gushed from the Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010: BP was diligently working on multiple solutions simultaneously, or it was jumping among options without following through. A plan to lower another blowout preventer contraption atop the blown-out one was imminently ready to deploy in May 2010, or risky and far from achievable. Icy buildups in the deep sea threatened the operation, or they weren’t a major concern.

Testimony at oil spill trial faults BP response

An employee of the company that owned the doomed Deepwater Horizon drilling rig testified Tuesday that he was surprised when BP scrapped his team’s design to stop the gusher in the Gulf of Mexico.

Robert Turlak, a Transocean manager, was a witness for his employer at a federal trial that is focusing on BP’s response to the April 2010 well blowout. BP’s trial adversaries argue the company could have sealed the blown-out well much sooner if it had employed a capping strategy that Turlak and others had devised. It was ready for installation in early June.

BP Executive Defends Spill Response Tactics

A BP executive who led the company’s efforts to halt its massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico testified Tuesday that his decisions were guided by the principle that they shouldn’t do anything that could make the crisis even worse.

“The Lawbreaking is Ongoing”: Louisiana Levee Board Sues BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron for Coast Damage

Beyond the well-known devastation caused by the BP oil spill in 2010, the oil and gas industry in Louisiana has also been blamed for destroying coastal wetlands that provide a vital barrier against flooding from storms like Hurricane Katrina. Speaking from the front lines of this issue in the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, we hear from community organizer Jacques Morial, the son of the city’s first African-American mayor, Dutch Morial. We are also joined by John Barry, vice president of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority–East, the levee board responsible for protecting most of greater New Orleans. Barry led the authority’s lawsuit against 97 oil and gas companies for destruction of the coast. On Monday, following pressure from Gov. Bobby Jindal, who opposed the lawsuit, the board’s nominating committee decided not to renominate Barry to another term on the flood board. Barry is also an award-winning historian and author of several books, including “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America.”

Brazil judge dismisses case against Chevron, Transocean

A Brazilian federal judge on Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit against No. 2 U.S. oil company Chevron Corp after approving a negotiated settlement, a decision that closes a nearly two-year legal battle over an oil spill in November 2011.

Waiting for the Next Oil Spill Disaster

Environmentalists say that six years after the Cosco Busan struck the Bay Bridge and dumped 53,000 gallons of oil into the bay, the state has failed to learn from its mistakes.

Colorado flood-related oil spills total nearly 43,000 gallons

State authorities are tracking 14 “notable releases” of oil and an additional 12 releases of “produced water” related to the September floods that closed about 2,000 oil and gas wells north of Denver.

Arkansas Realtors Struggle in Wake of Oil Leak at Mayflower

Efforts to buy and sell homes in , Ark., have been not been easy since an ExxonMobil Pegasus Pipeline ruptured in March and spilled thousands of barrels of oil in the town near Lake Conway, a local real estate broker said.

Sandy Bridges told the Log Cabin Democrat that she moved to Mayflower in 1995 to sell real estate. She said lenders and appraisers are leery of Mayflower properties since the March 29 spill of about 150,000 gallons of crude oil – even properties far from the spill zone.

Esso Bass Strait oil spill ‘regrettable’

Esso says it will learn from a recent oil spill at its Cobia offshore platform in the Bass Strait.

About 750 litres of oil leaked from the Cobia pipeline into the Bass Strait last month but Esso says there was no environmental damage.

Russia charges Greenpeace activists with piracy over Gazprom oil drilling protest

Russia has charged two Greenpeace activists with piracy over a protest against oil drilling in the Arctic.

They are the British freelance videographer Kieron Bryan and Brazilian crew member Ana Paula Alminhana Maciel, who were among a group of 30 activists arrested last month for using Greenpeace’s Arctic Sunrise ship to approach a platform owned by the Russian state-controlled company Gazprom.

Russia Accuses 5 Greenpeace Activists of Piracy

Russian prosecutors have filed charges of piracy against at least five members of the crew of a Greenpeace ship and accompanying journalists as an arraignment in the case began on Wednesday.

Alaska Hunts Oil as Arctic Damage Shows Most Change From Climate

When Jerry Otto started hunting for Alaskan oil in 1980, his tractor-trailers barreled along ice roads as much as 10 feet thick for 180 days every year.

Last winter, when he set out to drill 80 miles south of the Arctic Ocean for Australia’s Linc Energy Ltd. (LNC), regulators opened the roads for 126 days. The rest of the time, warm weather left the routes too mushy for vehicles, Bloomberg Markets magazine will report in its November issue.

With Returns From Dry Land Diminishing, Russian Oilmen Look to Arctic Waters

The inventor is retired now, living in a wooden home in the countryside with a fox terrier named Maximilian, a stuffed penguin and boxes of black-and-white photographs of his machine on the ice.

Fukushima Plant Operator Reports New Leak

The operator of Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant said on Tuesday that four tonnes of rainwater contaminated with low levels of radiation leaked during an operation to transfer the water between tank holding areas.

4 tons of possibly contaminated water leaks at crippled Fukushima plant

Four tons of possibly contaminated rainwater has leaked during a transfer of radioactive water between tank holding areas at Fukushima, the operator of disaster stricken Japan’s nuclear plant said.

A spokesman for Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO) said heavy rain during a recent typhoon has flooded one of the tank holding areas. It stores excess water which has been flushed over damaged reactors to keep them cool, Reuters reports.

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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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