Environmental Must-Reads – October 28, 2014


St. Tammany Parish can proceed with fracking lawsuit, judge rules

St. Tammany Parish’s lawsuit seeking to block fracking can move forward, a judge ruled Monday (Oct. 27), rejecting the state’s request to dismiss the case. Judge William Morvant of the 19th Judicial District Court made his decision after hearing about 40 minutes of oral arguments from attorneys for the parish and the state Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation.

“In a nutshell, he found that at least some of St. Tammany Parish’s requests for judicial review are substantive,” Mike Sevante, an attorney for the parish, said immediately after the hearing.

Poisoned by the shale? Investigations leave questions in oil tank deaths

Dustin Bergsing was 21 and six weeks a father when he arrived here at Marathon Oil Corp.’s Buffalo 34-12H well pad, a square of red gravel carved into a low hill.

By dawn, he was dead.

A co-worker found him shortly after midnight, slumped below the open hatch of a tank of Bakken Shale crude oil. It was Bergsing’s job to pop the hatch and record how much was inside. An autopsy found he died of “hydrocarbon poisoning due to inhalation of petroleum vapors.”

Fracking debate gets personal one week before historic Denton vote

People on both ends of the fracking spectrum challenged the validity of the other’s research Monday night at Brookhaven College in Farmers Branch.

The debate featured Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of DISH, against Philem McAleer, who directed the pro-industry film “FrackNation.”

On the Fracking Ban-Wagon in Denton

One day in August 2013, Alyse Ogletree was turning onto her street in a new, unfinished development in Denton when she saw them. Across from her new home: tall, bulky walls that looked like tan sheets attached to rusting metal poles. She had no idea what to make of them. What were they hiding? Weeks later, she got her answer. Eagle Ridge Energy left a notice on her door explaining that the fracking company would be drilling a natural gas well across the street. The walls, the notice explained, were meant to reduce the noise. Alyse and her husband Lance, both in their 20s, had just bought their spacious brick home two years before, never expecting to discover their savings had gone into a house that would eventually have an industrial nightmare for a neighbor.

Tracking Fracking in Mississippi

Amite and Wilkinson counties plan a two-county water district to oversee the use of billions of gallons of water that will be needed for hydraulic fracturing at oil wells.

The Amite County Board of Supervisors held a public hearing Friday to tell residents about the plan, The Enterprise-Journal reported.

Fracking’s Slow-Motion Train Wreck Revealed In New Report

If you are one of those people who smell the stench of bust behind today’s fracking-fueled oil and gas boom, the Post Carbon Institute has an early Christmas present for you. In its latest report, the organization makes the case that US shale oil and gas reserves will peak and drop off rapidly, long before officially predicted by the US Energy Information Agency.

The new Post Carbon Institute report is titled “Drilling Deeper: A Reality Check on U.S. Government Forecasts for a Lasting Tight Oil & Shale Gas Boom.” It was prepared by the same consultant who correctly predicted that official estimates of oil reserves in California’s Monterey Shale 1 formation would fall off the cliff.

Satellite Dishes Can Turn Toxic Waste From Fracking Into Clean Water

In the past few years, earthquakes in Oklahoma have been on the mysterious rise—the state has had more earthquakes than even California. Why? One big fat finger has been pointed at fracking, in which toxic wastewater is injected into wells that can leak and lubricate faults. We clearly need a better solution for this wastewater, and that solution may involve satellite dishes.

Epiphany Solar Water Systems in Pennsylvania has taken three ordinary 8-foot satellite dishes and covered them in a shiny reflective coating. If you’re thinking these silvery contraptions look like solar dishes, you’re exactly right. They harvest solar energy that is used to heat up wastewater. The water that evaporates off is pure—it’s essentially been distilled—and you’re left with a bunch of solid salts instead of toxic brine.

Electrodialysis identified as potential way to remove salt from fracking waste water

Fracking is a highly controversial and divisive issue. Proponents argue that it could be the biggest energy boom since the Arabian oil fields were opened almost 80 years ago, but this comes at a serious cost to the environment. Among the detrimental effects of the process is that the waste water it produces is over five times saltier than seawater, which is, to put it mildly, not good. A research team led by MIT that has found an economical way of removing salt from fracking waste water that promises to not only reduce pollution, but conserve water as well.

Group urges fracking moratorium in Windsor

A Boulder lawyer and an anti-fracking activist told people gathered Thursday evening in Windsor that they should learn more about the oil and gas industry, organize and not rule out asking the town to impose a moratorium on fracking.

The comments were made during a resident-organized meeting held at Ricky B’s Sports Pub in Windsor. About 90 people gathered in the downtown bar to hear the executive director of Fractivist Shane Davis and attorney Dan Leftwich discuss the possible dangers of fracking and the options available for residents.

Proposed Natural Gas Pipeline Wouldn’t Have A Major Impact On The Environment, FERC Rules

A new 124-mile natural gas pipeline could soon be running from Pennsylvania to New York, after a federal agency found the project won’t have a major impact on the environment.

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a final environmental impact statement for the Constitution pipeline, which would run from Susquehanna County, PA to Schoharie County, NY. In it, FERC stated that though the pipeline would have “some adverse environmental impacts,” adhering to environmental recommendations from FERC would result in the impacts being “reduced to less than significant levels.”

BP Oil Spill Left Rhode Island-Sized ‘Bathtub Ring’ on Seafloor

New research shows that the BP oil spill left an oily “bathtub ring” on the sea floor that’s about the size of Rhode Island. The study by UC Santa Barbara’s David Valentine, the chief scientist on the federal damage assessment research ships, estimates that about 10 million gallons of oil coagulated on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico around the damaged Deepwater Horizons oil rig. Valentine said the spill left other splotches containing even more oil. The rig blew on April 20, 2010, and spewed 172 million gallons of oil into the Gulf through the summer. Scientists are still trying to figure where all the oil went and what effects it had. The study appears in Monday’s Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Study: Deepwater Horizon Oil Coats Gulf Floor

Deep beneath the Gulf of Mexico’s surface, oil droplets the size of marbles, peas and BBs speckle more than 1,235 square miles of seafloor, a new study finds. The globules are a toxic and permanent legacy of 2010’s deadly Deepwater Horizon explosion and oil spill that spans an area larger than Rhode Island or Yosemite National Park.

“It really brings it home,” says study co-author Sarah Bagby, an environmental microbiologist at the University of California-Santa Barbara. “We just don’t know what the impacts are going to be.”

US ag secy: new Gulf oil spill recovery program

A new $40 million partnership will give money for conservation projects to landowners in states affected by BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says.

He said the department’s Natural Resources Conservation Service and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation could eventually provide a total of up to $100 million over five years, each giving half the money.

Mexican States Appeal Denial of Oil Spill Claims

The 5th Circuit heard oral arguments Monday between an attorney representing Mexican states affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and attorneys for BP, Transocean and Halliburton.

The Mexican states said they need to recover for oil spill damages, including to wildlife and lost taxes, under a claim that is separate from one filed by the Mexican government because the states are autonomous and have separate taxation and needs.

Keystone Foes Energized as Price Pinches Oil Sands Allure

Falling oil prices have energized opponents of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

U.S. benchmark crude has tumbled 10 percent this month, closing at $81.01 a barrel in New York trading last week, and further declines are forecast. At $75, a government analysis said producers may be discouraged from developing Canada’s oil sands without pipelines like Keystone.

South Dakota’s process to re-approve Keystone pipeline draws 3 times more comments

Three times more individuals and groups than four years ago want to have a say in South Dakota’s decision whether to re-approve part of the Keystone XL pipeline that would run through the state if it is ever built, according to filings with the state.

Nearly 45 applications have been submitted to the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission, up from 15 during the original approval process. Most of the individuals and groups have reservations about the project.

Enbridge files to replace problem pipeline in Minnesota

Enbridge Energy said Monday that it wants to build a second major crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota, replacing a 1960s-era line that has ruptured repeatedly.

The Calgary-based pipeline company also asked state regulators to reconsider their recent order that stretches out by a year the review of its other crude-oil pipeline project — the proposed Sandpiper line to carry North Dakota oil across Minnesota.

Shell seeks five more years for Arctic oil-drilling drive

Shell is asking the Obama administration for an extra five years to hunt for oil in Arctic waters near Alaska, saying legal disputes, seasonal drilling restrictions and other challenges justify the additional time.

Without the extension, Shell’s oil and gas leases in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas will begin expiring in 2017.

Low oil prices threaten Norway’s Arctic, UK’s mature fields

Big oil and gas finds in waters along Europe’s northern edge may remain undeveloped now that oil prices have dropped, keeping potential supply of over a billion barrels of oil equivalent out of the market for the foreseeable future.

Discoveries in Arctic Norway could stay dormant, while mature British fields could face early closure and frontier exploration in areas such as Greenland could be called off as oil companies cut capital spending by up to a fifth.

Add comment

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
Cooper Law Firm

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This