Environmental Must-Reads – October 23, 2013


Natural Gas Boom Is Part of Climate Problem, Not Its Solution: Report

The current explosion of shale gas production in the U.S., driven by the fracking boom, will not decrease carbon emissions in the long term as claimed by its proponents, according to a study released by Stanford’s Energy Modeling Forum this week.

While shale gas may have lower carbon emissions than dirtier forms of fossil fuel such as coal and crude oil, the exponential extraction and use of shale gas, says the report—Changing the Game? Emissions and Market Implications of New Natural Gas Supplies—will push out the use of sustainable energy solutions such as wind and solar and will thus increase, not decrease, overall carbon outputs going forward.

State proposes new “fracking” rules

State environmental regulators have rolled out proposed new rules to cover hydraulic “fracking” for natural gas. “Fracking” is a process where developers pump water and chemicals into a well to clear a path to hard-to-reach deposits of gas.

Data lacking on gas drilling waste disposal

A 2011 law has provided new information about what natural gas companies are doing with the huge amounts of waste generated by West Virginia’s drilling boom, but major data gaps remain, a legislative committee heard Tuesday.

‘Battle Won, War Continues’: Court Affirms First Nation’s Right to Protest Fracking

Members of the Elsipogtog First Nation are declaring a people’s victory after a Canadian judge on Monday overruled an energy company’s push for a permanent injunction on protests against fracking exploration in New Brunswick.

Despite last week’s violent police crackdown on their fracking blockade, the group is celebrating the ruling and vowing to continue their mobilization against shale oil exploration in their territories.

Fracking: Controversy hot over flammable water

The controversy remains hot over hydraulic fracturing. While the process has made fortunes, it allegedly ruined groundwater supplies in some sites where it is employed.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, happens when pressured water mixed with sand and chemicals is pumped into well holes to crack open fissures and boost the productivity of oil and gas wells.

Waste water from fracking a danger to CT

Several Connecticut environmental groups say there is a danger to the state from ‘fracking.’

That’s the drilling technology that pumps pressurized water and chemicals into the ground to release natural gas.

Anti-fracking campaign gets financial boost, still miles behind pro-fracking spending

Environmentalists have kicked in more money to support an anti-fracking measure on the Fort Collins ballot but still lag well behind the spending of the proposal’s opponents.

The Sierra Club contributed $2,500 to Citizens for a Healthy Fort Collins and its campaign in support of a five-year moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, within city limits, according to campaign finance reports filed Tuesday.

Geologists warn of increased Oklahoma quake risk

State and federal geologists are teaming up to study a swarm of earthquakes that have rattled central Oklahoma, evaluating possible links between these earthquakes and wastewater disposal related to oil and gas production activities in the region.

WV Frack Waste: Poorly Monitored, Much Stays Underground

West Virginia’s Marcellus wells leave huge quantities of fracking fluid underground, and the industry’s use of water and waste production is very poorly monitored, according to a new report to state lawmakers.

Why Isn’t the Administration Doing a Better Job on Pipeline Safety?

What’s going on with pipelines? Has there been a high number of major pipeline tragedies recently, or are such incidents just more in the news with widespread attention to potential federal approval of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline?

As someone who has worked on pipeline safety and associated environmental protection issues since I began serving on a pipeline federal advisory committee in the mid-1990s, I can say confidently that the period from 2010-2013 has had a very large number of serious transmission pipeline tragedies compared to the previous decade

BP oil spill case could mean millions for Manatee County’s environmental conservation

Pending the ruling from the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill case, Manatee County will submit plans to spend any restitution funds it may receive to restore and conserve the habitat and water quality.

Manatee County is hoping and applying for nearly $70 million. It expects to receive much less.

Oil-spill projections paint big black stain

A deep-sea oil spill could devastate some of New Zealand’s favourite beaches, with the effects stretching as far as the international dateline, new modelling from Greenpeace suggests.

Texan oil giant Anadarko begins exploratory drilling in the Taranaki and Canterbury Basins this summer.

Greenpeace New Zealand asked scientists to make detailed estimates of how far an oil slick could stretch, based on wind, tide and sea currents.

Brazil Creates Contingency Plan to Combat Deep-Water Oil Spills

Having taken its largest step so far towards becoming an energy powerhouse, Brazil is now gearing up to react to potential oil spills deep under the ocean.

Brazil’s National Contingency Plan to react to oil spills was expected to be signed into law late Tuesday by President Dilma Rousseff. It creates an agency made up of officials from several ministries with the purpose of “facilitating and expanding prevention, preparedness and response capacity to oil-polluting incidents.”

Pipeline Regulators Spend More Time With Industry Than Oil Spills: Watchdog Report

The Transportation Department office charged with overseeing the 2.6 million miles of pipelines in the United States is spending more time at oil and gas industry conferences than it is addressing spills and other incidents, a watchdog group contends in a new report.

Exxon to keep pipeline shut 90 more days

Exxon Mobil will not restart its crude-oil pipeline that ruptured in a Mayflower subdivision March 29 and spilled tens of thousands of gallons of oil into the neighborhood before early next year at the soonest, a spokesman confirmed Tuesday.

Keystone Foes Pledge Sit-Ins If Pipeline Advances

Critics of the Keystone XL pipeline say they’re still optimistic President Barack Obama will block TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s planned $5.3 billion link between the oil sands in Alberta and refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast.

Train vs. pipeline: What’s the safest way to transport oil?

The public debate about the trade-offs between rail and pipeline transportation is relatively new, Johnston writes, but most evidence thus far has found that pipelines are safer but have a higher leak-rate than rail.

Underground pipeline now pumping gasoline from Norco to Mississippi

Construction of a 141-mile underground pipeline from Norco to southern Mississippi has been completed and the pipe is now transporting refined petroleum products to major markets in the eastern United States. Work began on the approximately $250 million Parkway Pipeline in August of 2012 and was completed this fall as scheduled, according to operators of the system.

Tar sands expansion projects and associated climate emissions waiting on Keystone XL decision

While the tar sands industry has announced nearly 10 million barrels worth of production projects – a plan with an enormous carbon footprint – that new growth is dependent on whether industry can cobble together the transportation options from land-locked Alberta.[1]  Limited pipeline capacity is becoming a major obstacle to the tar sands industry’s massive expansion plan, as the existing pipeline network does not have the capacity to transport the 3.1 million bpd of current tar sands production and tar sands projects which are currently in construction and will come online in the next couple of years.

Keystone XL pipeline could land Koch brothers $100 billion in profits

As reported by the Huffington Post, a new study from the International Forum on Globalization, a liberal think tank, finds that the Koch brothers stand to yield as much as $100 billion if the Keystone XL pipeline is built.

The study finds that the Koch brothers’ private company, Koch Industries, owns as much as 2 million acres of land in Alberta, Canada, where the pipeline has been planned to begin. The Kochs would also profit through their subsidiary companies, like Koch Exploration Canada, and Koch Supply and Trading.

Fear vs. Radiation: The Mismatch

It has been more than two and a half years since the Fukushima nuclear disaster began to unfold, and still the world watches events closely, fearfully. The drumbeat of danger seems never ending: Earlier this month, to take just one example, international news reports spread word that six workers at the plant had been accidentally doused with radioactive water.

Yet leading health scientists say the radiation from Fukushima has been relatively harmless, which is similar to results found after studying the health effects of Chernobyl. With all that evidence, why does our fear of all things nuclear persist? And what peril does that fear itself pose for society?

Japan Mayor Offers Fukushima Kids Home in His Town

A generation ago, Dr. Akira Sugenoya performed lifesaving cancer surgery on more than 100 children after the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe. Today, as mayor of a central Japanese city, he’s trying to avoid a repeat of his own history.

Japan nuclear plant radiation cleanup delayed up to three years

Radiation cleanup in some of the most contaminated towns around Fukushima’s damagednuclear power plant is behind schedule, so some residents will have to wait a few more years before returning, Japanese officials said Monday.

Radioactive leaks top priority at Fukushima: nuclear watchdog

Contaminated water remains the greatest challenge at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant after the 2011 meltdown, the worst atomic disaster in a generation, the UN’s nuclear watchdog said Tuesday.

“The crippled reactors are in a stable condition generally,” International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) head Yukiya Amano told AFP while in the Slovak capital Bratislava.

Typhoon Season Raises Concerns About Fukushima Plant

The Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet so far, but in the Pacific, two typhoons are moving toward Japan. Of particular concern is the Fukushima nuclear power plant, which sits right on the coast. Its reactors melted down after a massive earthquake and tsunami in 2011.

Fukushima Radioactive Plume To Reach US In 2014

The radioactive ocean plume from the 2011 Fukushima nuclear plant disaster will reach the US in 2014, according to a study published in the journal Deep Sea Research Part 1.

While atmospheric radiation was detected on the US west coast within days of the incident, the radioactive particles in the ocean plume (likely to be harmless) take longer to travel the same distance. Researchers from the Australian Research Council’s (ARC) Center of Excellence for Climate System Science used a range of ocean simulations to track the path of the radiation from the Fukushima incident. The models showed where it would likely travel through the world’s oceans for the next ten years.

India Opens Largest Nuclear Plant on Tsunami-Exposed Coast, Defying Mass Protests

Despite years of opposition and protest from local residents, India opened its largest nuclear power plant on Tuesday in the southeastern state of Tamil Nadu on a stretch of coast slammed by a 2004 tsunami.

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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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