Environmental Must-Reads – October 22, 2013


The Oil And Gas Industry Wants To Start Fracking At The Source Of D.C.’s Water Supply

GEORGE WASHINGTON NATIONAL FOREST, VIRGINA — Standing at the top of the Staunton Dam in Virginia’s million-acre George Washington National Forest, Nancy Sorrells describes herself as the “fourth generation not to be born here, but to wind up here.” Looking out at the sun pouring through the reds and rusts of oaks and maples that have just begun to turn, next to clumps of light purple asters rocking in the balmy breeze, it’s easy to see why she says “there are beautiful places in the world, but this forest is one of the most beautiful.

Fracking linked to rape, meth addiction, and STDs

Yet another reason to hate fracking: It’s connected with an increase in STDs, car crashes, drug-related crimes, and sexual assault in areas where the oil and gas industry sets up shop. Or in Vice-speak, fracking workers have “an insatiable appetite for raw sex and hard drugs.” Writes Peter Rugh on Vice.

‘Gasland’ director: Obama is AWOL on fracking

Documentary filmmaker and activist Josh Fox has a warning for Washington policymakers: You’ll face “political consequences” if you ignore the anti-fracking movement.

And yes, that includes President Barack Obama.

“I think he ignores us at his own moral peril,” the “Gasland” director and fracking opponent told POLITICO in an interview last week.

South Side company wants to recycle fracking debris

A South Side company’s plan to recycle shale-drilling wastes has brought the state’s fracking boom, and its environmental concerns, to Columbus.

Ohio Soil Recycling said it makes sense to clean the thousands of tons of crushed rock and shale — called cuttings — that oil and gas companies churn out of the ground as rigs drill the Utica shale in eastern Ohio.

Thousands Worldwide Urge Leaders to Ban Fracking

On Saturday, Oct. 19, thousands of people joined together in an international day of action, with more than 250 events on six continents, calling for a ban on fracking.

The second annual Global Frackdown 2, a project of Food & Water Watch, challenged policy makers to oppose fracking and support investment in renewable energy.

Fracking Indigenous Country

If anyone doubted that it’s a good thing that Sun News in Canada has been both going broke and also denied the ability to force their way onto Canada’s basic cable system (vastly expanding their audience and getting themselves included in most homes with television subscriptions by default), the racist rantings of Ezra Levant in response to the recent RCMP attack on the Mi’kmaq community of Elpisogtog ought to clear it up.

Native protesters celebrate, vow to keep fighting as judge lifts injunction

Opponents of shale gas development including members of the Elsipogtog First Nation beat drums and sang in celebration on Monday after a New Brunswick judge lifted an injunction that ordered them to end their blockade outside a compound owned by SWN Resources Canada.

Colorado frackers paying tiny fines for keeping chemicals secret

One of the few things that frackers need to do when they operate in fracker-friendly Colorado is post information about some of the chemicals they pump into the ground. But even that seems too hard for the industry.

Following press reports that Colorado frackers were failing to report their chemicals as required on the FracFocus website, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission warned companies it would begin actively enforcing its rules in the summer.

DEC Commissioner Martens: State health report on hydrofracking not coming any time soon

Don’t expect a final, state report on the health aspects of hydrofracking any time soon, said Joe Martens, commissioner of the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Martens was referring to a report being compiled by state Health Commissioner Dr. Nirav Shah, who this past summer said he was examining other studies across the country, including those being done by the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state of Pennsylvania.

Spectra Pipeline In NYC Approved By Federal Government To Start Natural Gas Pumping

A pipeline under the West Village and Chelsea has won federal government approval to start pumping natural gas, prompting an outcry from residents and opponents who fear the project could cause an explosion and environmental contamination.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted permission last Thursday for the pipeline, built by Texas-based Spectra Energy, to be put into service on Nov. 1, according to a letter from commission director Lauren O’Donnell.

Federal judge sets rules for submission of summary documents in BP oil spill trial

U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier has ordered parties in the second phase of the BP oil spill trial, which ended Friday, to submit summaries of the evidence presented in the trial and proposed “findings of fact and conclusions of law” by Dec. 20, with responses to the post-trial briefs to be filed by Jan. 24, 2014.

Federal judge mandates changes to rules for business claims in BP settlement, reacting to appeals court ruling

A federal judge in New Orleans is extending a pause on payments for some business losses tied to BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil spill, while ordering the claims administrator to adjust the rules for some companies in response to a federal appeals court ruling earlier this month.

Judge orders oil spill claims chief to set terms

BP and private plaintiffs have been fighting for a year over how to interpret their own oil spill claims settlement agreement, so it’s little wonder that both sides have now repeatedly failed to agree on which claims they’re even fighting over.

Gulf of Mexico moves toward a comeback (photos)

Polluted by crude, crises and fears of ceaseless political entanglements, the Gulf of Mexico looked endangered as an oil hub after BP’s massive 86-day spill three years ago.

But international oil companies, including BP, are ramping up in the largest U.S. offshore oil and gas region again, drilling some of the largest new fields and jostling for lucrative reserves as oil gets harder to find in the much-tapped reservoirs of the Middle East.

WSJ: Penn. can’t compete with Gulf Coast in plastics manufacturing

Royal Dutch Shell’s plans for a multibillion-dollar petrochemical plant in Pennsylvania remain just that, although more than a year has passed since the project’s announcement, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal.

Lac-Mégantic oil spill even worse than first feared, investigation shows

More oil spilled in the Lac-Mégantic train disaster than was previously reported, according to new information made public by Quebec’s environment department.

While the department had previously estimated that the 72-car train that crashed July 6 was carrying 7.2 million litres of crude oil, it now says it was in fact carrying nearly a half million litres more of oil — an estimated 7.6 million litres.

Petcoke Piles: We should all stand up for Chicago’s Southeast Side

As Commissioner for the Environment for the City of Chicago back in the 90’s, I spent a lot of time dealing with issues on the Southeast Side. It is a mix of highly diverse neighborhoods surrounded by areas thick with industry, and the scars of America’s post-industrial realities, such as the huge swathes of empty acres left by the now departed steel mills that were once the economic might of America and the lifeblood of the community. While I was in City Hall, we were dealing with a variety of “waste” issues in the area: illegal dumping, abandoned factories, contaminated soil and wetlands.

Federal records: Leaky pipeline had previous violation

A pipeline that dumped 20,000 gallons of diesel fuel into a northwest Indianapolis neighborhood has been cited previously by the United States Department of Transportation Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), Call 6 Investigator Kara Kenney reported.

Oil spill veterans share stories with Tioga farmer

A Tioga farmer dealing with a large oil spill said he has been receiving calls from people who have dealt with past spills.

Steve Jensen said the calls have encouraged him to stay involved with cleanup of the spill he discovered in a wheat field in late September. Officials estimate the leak from a Tesoro Corp. pipeline at more than 20,000 barrels.

Motion to lift stay in Ark. oil spill suit gets OK

A judge has granted federal prosecutors’ request to end a delay in a lawsuit over the ExxonMobil oil spill in central Arkansas.

U.S. District Judge James Moody on Monday granted prosecutors’ request to lift a stay in the case. Moody granted their request to delay proceedings earlier this month because of the partial government shutdown.

Keystone Pipeline Opponents Plan Widespread Civil Disobedience

Opponents of the Keystone XL oil pipeline outlined new plans for persuading President Obama to reject the project at a conference for young climate activists here over the weekend.

Petition Pushes Obama Campaign Strategist To Drop Keystone XL Client

A new petition launched by a progressive group is calling on a former communications director and campaign adviser to President Barack Obama to stop her work on behalf of TransCanada, the company seeking permission to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

Canada pushes for new safety measures at Arctic Council

Canada will use its position as chair of the international Arctic Council to push for new safety standards for oil tankers and other northern shipping – a move welcomed by Denmark after one of its ships became the first fully loaded cargo vessel to navigate the Northwest Passage.

Arctic Council Adopts Marine Oil Pollution Agreement

In addition to seeing Canada assume the chair of the Arctic Council for the next two years, the recent Arctic Council’s Ministerial Meeting at Kiruna, Sweden, adopted an important legal text, the “Agreement on Cooperation on Marine Oil Pollution Preparedness and Response in the Arctic”. This is the second major international agreement that has been developed under Arctic Council auspices, the first being the Search and Rescue Agreement concluded at Nuuk, Greenland, in 2011.

Subsea Industry: Drilling on the Floor of the Arctic Ocean

Consider the idea of an industrial Atlantis teeming with activity on the floor of the Arctic Ocean. What science fiction novelists have long dreamed, energy engineers are now trying to bring to reality. Norway-based Statoil has visions for a complete subsea factory by 2020 – an oil and gas production facility that is built entirely on the sea floor. The drilling and processing would take place underwater, with the product piped to shore for shipment. This would make it possible for the company to recover resources from colder, deeper and more remote fields, and it’s the way the industry is headed.

For Tepco and Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, toxic water stymies cleanup

Two and a half years after a series of meltdowns, Japan’s effort to clean up what remains of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant is turning into another kind of disaster.

The site now stores 90 million gallons of radioactive water, more than enough to fill Yankee Stadium to the brim. An additional 400 tons of toxic water is flowing daily into the Pacific Ocean, and almost every week, the plant operator acknowledges a new leak.

Heavy rains overflow barriers surrounding Fukushima water tanks

Water has overflowed at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is attempting to discern the quality of the water and possible radioactive substances which could have been spilled.

TEPCO announced on Monday that the water overflowed in 12 areas of the plant.

Japan extends the Fukushima clean-up deadline to 2017

Plans to decontaminate six towns and villages close to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant have to be delayed by up to three more years, officials say.

Japan: Chernobyl Doctor Akira Sugenoya Offers Fukushima Children His Town

A doctor in Japan who performed surgery on over 100 children after the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 has offered to take in children living in Fukushima to ensure their safety.

Akira Sugenoya, who is now the mayor of Matsumoto, 200 miles from Fukushima, has offered his town to children living at the nuclear site.

Film Director Urges Japan to Improve Nuclear Power

Dressed in white hazmat coveralls and carrying a dosimeter, documentary film director Robert Stone ventured into the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant’s exclusion zone a year after a massive earthquake and tsunami triggered meltdowns in three reactors.

Japanese PM eats seafood caught off Fukushima

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, has tucked into a slice of octopus caught close to the Fukushima nuclear plant and declared local seafood to be “good and safe.”

Mr Abe visited the town of Soma, 26 miles north of the crippled reactors, at the weekend as part of the government’s efforts to convince domestic consumers and the rest of the world that Japanese seafood and produce can be eaten.

Photos highlight the tragedy that befell livestock, pets after Fukushima

Naoto Matsumura kept a visual record of the Fukushima nuclear disaster. But the images he snapped are not of neighbors and others who were forced from their homes.

His photos are of the livestock and pets that were left to fend for themselves after residents were ordered to evacuate as radiation spewed from nuclear reactors.

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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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