Environmental Must-Reads – October 25, 2013


Oklahoma ‘Earthquake Swarm’ May Be Linked Wastewater Disposal From Fracking

From 1975 to 2008, central Oklahoma experienced an average of one to three magnitude 3.0 earthquakes or larger. Since 2008, that average has increased to around 40 per year, according to data collected by the U.S. Geological Survey.

The USGS has termed the swell an “earthquake swarm,” and on Tuesday, it ruled out the possibility this sharp increase is a naturally occurring phenomenon.

Fracking Goes To Sea: California Regulators Startled To Learn Of Offshore Hydraulic Fracturing

It still surprises many Americans when they learn that California, a state with perhaps the greenest of environmental reputations, remains home to offshore oil and gas production in waters better known for surfers and sea lions. In recent weeks, Californians themselves, including even some state regulators, have been surprised to find out that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, has been secretly occurring along their coastline for years, without any analysis of its potential environmental impact.

New fracking regulations spell out what companies must disclose

New regulations governing hydraulic fracturing will limit the circumstances in which a company must disclose the chemicals it uses, but Kansas Corporation Commission staff members said Thursday that emergency personnel will have all the information they may need.

Once a week an oil or gas spill contaminates groundwater in Colorado (on average)

There’s a startling new video from the Center on Western Prioirities (CWP). According to CWP, so far this year in Colorado there have been 328 spills reported to state authorities (and there were probably some more that weren’t reported). Of those, 23 percent resulted In water contamination.

Proposed Fracked-Gas Export Facility from Maryland to Asia Vehemently Opposed

The first town hall meeting concerning the risks of the proposed Cove Point Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) export terminal in Maryland was held Tuesday night, Oct. 23. It was a big and rousing success. At least 300 people attended, most of them local residents. It was held at the Southern Community Center in Lusby, MD, in Calvert County, just a few miles from where Dominion Resources wants to build an industrial terminal to export fracked natural gas—piped in from Appalachia—and ship it to India and Japan. The $3.8 billion facility would chill the gas to 270 degrees below zero, turning it into liquid for 1000-foot-long shipping tankers coming into the Bay. It would generate 3.3 million tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) pollution per year.

Atleo renews support to Elsipogtog leaders in efforts to protect lands

The national chief of the Assembly of First Nations says aboriginal peoples will not support resource development at any cost after he met Thursday with leaders of a band embroiled in a battle against shale gas exploration in eastern New Brunswick.

Downstream Strategies Reports Missing Data on Marcellus Wastes

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.

China’s Coming Shale Gas Bonanza—in One Map

More evidence that the U.S. shale gas boom is changing the nation’s energy landscape: Shale gas accounted for 39 percent of total natural gas production in 2012, according to statistics released today by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Tesoro Documents Reveal Oil Spill in North Dakota

North Dakota, long known for its cattle ranches and open spaces, has recently become one of the oil and gas industry’s most prized—and profitable—possessions, thanks to the advent of fracking. However, the price of oil and gas industry development is paid in destruction to the environment and strains to the regulatory framework meant to protect the public from a reckless industry, as Tesoro’s massive oil spill attests.

Mississippi River Plume Played Role in BP Oil Spill

The Mississippi River plume played a significant role in the transportation of oil following the 2009 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, according to a new study, which suggests the complex circulation of the river plume was directly connected to the outcome of the disaster.

By developing a high-resolution model of the oil spill, Villy Kourafalou, a scientist with the University of Miami, was able to demonstrate that the oil patch was under the influence of daily variability in the Mississippi River.

Anadarko erects newest oil platform in the deep-water Gulf (video)

Anadarko has released a series of videos providing a cool look inside the journey of its Lucius platform, the company’s latest technological marvel to work in the deep-water Gulf of Mexico.

The massive facility, which can process 80,000 barrels per day, now is floating 340 miles southeast of Corpus Christi, Texas. Earlier this year, the spar hull — the enormous floating cylinder that supports and stabilizes the structure — made a month-long trip from its construction site in Pori, Finland to a shipyard in Corpus Christi

Louisiana residents suffer effects of Texas wildfire smoke, study says

Just because Louisiana doesn’t have many wildfires, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t get hit with lots of wildfire smoke, according to a new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council.

Louisiana ranked sixth worst in terms of number of residents affected by wildfire smoke in 2011, the report said. It said 4.5 million of the state’s 4.6 million residents living in areas affected by wildfire smoke suffer such conditions for a week or longer.

Environmental NGOs launch B.C. oil-spill study

In coming weeks, more than a thousand small, yellow cards will traverse the waters around Vancouver and the Gulf and San Juan islands, washing up along the shores of the Salish Sea. Those who stop to pick them up will see a simple message: “This could be oil.”

The cards are part of an oil-spill study launched Thursday by members of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation and the Georgia Strait Alliance.

N26.5bn Oil Spill Fund: Community Shuts Down ExxonMobil Operations

Operations at ExxonMobil in Eket, Akwa Ibom State have come to an abrupt halt, as the people of Eket community took to the streets on Thursday to say enough is enough.

The mass protest, which was staged simultaneously around Mobil facilities namely the Airstrip in Eket, Mobil Terminal in Ibeno and Mobil Housing Estate in Eket, saw placard carrying indigenes of Eket federal constituency crying for the full payment of N26.5bn oil spill compensation to the four oil producing local governments as previously proposed by the oil firm.

Exxon Gets Extension to Submit ‘Work Plan’ for Pegasus Pipeline

The federal government has extended ExxonMobil’s deadline to turn over crucial information relating to the March oil spill in the Northwoods subdivision near Lake Conway.

Keystone XL Contractor’s Conflicts Of Interest Not Mentioned In State Department Documents

State Department documents released to an environmental group are raising new questions about the hiring of a government contractor to evaluate environmental impacts of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

Environmental Resources Management has conflicts of interest that should have prevented it from winning the contract for the analysis of the controversial pipeline, which would carry oil from Canada’s oil sands to the U.S. Gulf Coast, the Sierra Club has said. The group filed a Freedom of Information Act request with the State Department seeking documents that would show how Environmental Resources Management was chosen. Sierra Club provided some of the documents it received to The Huffington Post.

State Department to hand over Keystone XL docs to enviro group

The State Department has agreed to begin providing an environmental group with records of communications with various outside lobbying firms and other parties seeking approval of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

State, in a legal document, agreed to search for documents and begin providing records to the group Friends of the Earth beginning Dec. 6.

Keystone XL and Canadian tar sands are incompatible with solving climate change

The exploitation of the tar sands in Alberta, Canada – which may contain more oil than the entire world has consumed to date – has attracted considerable controversy lately. Massive expansion of tar sands operations are planned, but this cannot happen if many new pipelines out of landlocked Alberta are not built. Two such pipelines – Enbridge Northern Gateway and Kinder Morgan Transmountain – would cross through British Columbia and have ignited such fierce opposition that they have little prospect of going forward. A third pipeline, Keystone XL, would run from Alberta to refineries on the US Gulf of Mexico coast.

Southern Leg of Keystone XL Near Completion as Opponents Lose Last Legal Battle in Texas

American Indians and others who oppose the southern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline have lost their latest, and probably last, legal battle, enabling TransCanada to finish the project by year’s end.

Gore: Keystone Pipeline an ‘Atrocity’

More than once Thursday, Al Gore compared climate deniers to substance abusers during an impassioned speech at a Center for American Progress policy summit. The vice president-turned-climate-activist also went out of his way to put President Obama on notice regarding his pending decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Pipeline planned for ecologically sensitive Princeton Ridge requires vigilance

It seems highly unlikely that the concerns of a relatively few will stop a new pipeline running from the shale fields of Pennsylvania to markets along the East Coast – and in the process crossing about 6.5 miles in Princeton and Montgomery.

Just over a mile of new pipeline is planned to run along pipes installed in the 1950s through the ecologically sensitive Princeton Ridge. That’s understandably upsetting to residents, environmental groups and scientists who anticipate more scars on the land they say is just beginning to heal from the pipeline construction more than 50 years ago.

Quebec pulls out of NEB hearings on Enbridge pipeline

Environmental activists are puzzled by the Quebec government’s last-minute decision to pull out of National Energy Board (NEB) hearings over Enbridge’s plan to reverse the flow of a pipeline between Sarnia, Ont. and Montreal.

Special Report: Help wanted in Fukushima: Low pay, high risks and gangsters

Tetsuya Hayashi went to Fukushima to take a job at ground zero of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl. He lasted less than two weeks.

Hayashi, 41, says he was recruited for a job monitoring the radiation exposure of workers leaving the plant in the summer of 2012. Instead, when he turned up for work, he was handed off through a web of contractors and assigned, to his surprise, to one of Fukushima’s hottest radiation zones.

String of ‘silly mistakes’ at crippled Fukushima plant prompts concern

Workers overfill a tank, spilling radioactive water on the ground. Another mistakenly pushes a button, stalling a pump for a vital cooling system. Six others get soaked with toxic water when they remove the wrong pipe. All over the course of one week in October.

A string of mishaps this year at the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, which was swamped by a tsunami in 2011, is raising doubts about the operator’s ability to tackle the crisis and prompting concern that another disaster could be in the making.

Tepco Says Rains Causing Spikes in Fukushima Radiation Readings

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) said higher radiation readings recorded this week in ditch water at its Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear plant are likely caused by recent heavy rains washing contaminated dirt into the area.

Water samples taken yesterday at a ditch had beta radiation levels of 140,000 becquerels per liter, or more than twice the 59,000 becquerels found on Oct. 22 in the same place, the utility known as Tepco said today in an e-mailed statement.

Human rights experts rap U.N. report on Fukushima radiation

Human rights experts, including a U.N. special rapporteur, are criticizing a U.N. scientific report dismissing concerns about the effects of radiation from the Fukushima nuclear disaster on the Japanese public.

Exploitation of Fukushima workers revealed

Widespread exploitation of Fukushima workers is uncovered as Japan looks to recover from the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl.

Radiation level renews high in Fukushima ditch water

Another record level of radiation was detected in water collected from a drainage ditch at Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s stricken Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, the utility said Thursday.

TEPCO said it detected a maximum of 140,000 becquerels per liter of beta ray-emitting radioactive substances, such as strontium, from a water sample collected Wednesday from the ditch, which extends to the sea outside the plant’s port.

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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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