Environmental Must-Reads – October 30, 2013


Fracking and reducing climate change: Can Jerry Brown have it both ways?

Gov. Jerry Brown and the governors of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia gained international attention Monday for signing a pact in San Francisco aimed at reducing the pollution that causes global warming.

But a day later environmentalists lashed out at Brown for his full-throated support during the event of fracking, the controversial practice in which oil and gas companies inject water, sand and chemicals into the ground to fracture underground rock formations and release huge amounts of fossil fuels. Those are the very substances that scientists say are causing more global warming.

Josh Fox: anti-fracking protests could stop drilling in the UK

The anti-fracking movement could potentially stop drilling in the UK, according to a film director and activist who cited protests in the US that have brought fracking developments to a standstill.

American film-maker Josh Fox told the Guardian that anti-fracking campaigns in the UK could turn the tide on developments, but said it was incumbent on protesters to also campaign for renewable alternatives.

Anti-fracking groups in Albany to protest NY’s plan to allow new liquefied natural gas centers

A coalition of groups dedicated to keeping New York state’s 5-year-old ban on fracking in place is demanding that the Department of Environmental Conservation withdraw its proposed regulations for new liquefied natural gas facilities, citing safety concerns and other issues.

West Virginia Investigating House, Creek Damage from Fracking Spills

State regulators are investigating spills from a drilling operation in West Virginia’s Ohio County that damaged a house and entered a creek.

More than 6,000 gallons of water and a non-toxic clay mixture called drilling mud from a MarkWest operation entered the basement of Becky and John Wieczorkowski’s house in Valley Grove last week, media outlets reported.

Voters To Weigh In On Fracking In Colorado

A contentious and costly battle is taking shape in Colorado around the practice of hydraulic fracturing. In November, four communities will vote on local ballot issues seeking to limit or ban fracking. A similar measure is on the ballot in Ohio. Proponents say they’re worried about health and environmental effects of the practice.

True cost of B.C.’s LNG plan is getting too high for First Nations to pay

For the past year, government and industry have worked hard to make “LNG” part of British Columbians’ everyday language. Hailed as a generational opportunity, LNG promises to deliver trillions of dollars of investment, a debt-free future and tens of thousands of jobs while ensuring the highest environmental standards in the world. It all seems simple, almost elegant.

B.C. First Nation calls for natural-gas royalties amid frustration over fracking

Taking a page from Premier Christy Clark’s playbook, a First Nations leader in the heart of British Columbia’s shale-gas fields is calling for a fair share of the benefits from natural gas as compensation for the environmental impact that development brings.

Conflict over indigenous rights and fracking has put the spotlight on the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick in recent weeks, and leaders of the Fort Nelson First Nation in B.C. say frustration is also brewing over fast-paced development in their territory.

As Fracking Spreads Ever-Wider, Communities Increasingly Fight to Determine Own Fate

There’s been a lot of coverage in the national news of late shining a spotlight on the real impacts fracking is having on small towns across the country.  Just this past weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a new analysis on fracking’s ever-widening presence in our lives, finding that at least 15 million Americans now live within a mile of a fracking site.

Ohio To Allow Underground Pools Of Fracking Water

Ohio plans to implement looser wastewater regulations at fracking sites starting next year.

Under existing rules, fracking wastewater must be stored in above-ground, steel tanks before it is reused or disposed of, according to The Youngstown Vindicator. But a provision in the most recent state budget will lift that rule in January.

Where do Pennsylvania’s gas industry jobs numbers come from?

It seems like a simple question: how many Pennsylvanians work in the Marcellus Shale industry?

The answer depends on how you decide to count. One of Governor Corbett’s recent campaign commercials touts the natural gas industry as “supporting over 200,000 jobs.”

North Dakota Fails to Disclose Hundreds of Oil Spills to the Public

A September oil pipeline spill is calling into question North Dakota’s lack of disclosure laws, which have allowed nearly 300 spills in the last few years to go unreported in the burgeoning oil state.

In 2012 and 2013, roughly 300 pipeline spills in the state went unreported, according to an Associated Press (AP) report that also uncovered roughly 750 oil incidents that had previously not been publicized.

Honore delivers startlingly radical call to action against forces destroying coast

How to hold mineral extraction industries accountable for the damage done to our state — that was the topic as two-dozen civic and environmental leaders convened earlier this month at a West End restaurant to discuss ways to work together. A remarkable cross-section of local and regional activists turned up. Longtime coastal-restoration stalwarts dined next to Tea Partyers, who have been spurred to action by the sinkhole disaster at Bayou Corne.

Crack in Bayou Corne sinkhole berm concerns residents

The small community of Bayou Corne has fallen quiet. Gone are the days where folks gathered and fished from the Bayous. Longtime resident Mike Schaff says he hardly recognizes his own home.

“Right now it’s a ghost town, an empty shell of what it once was,” said Schaff.

Bayou Corne sinkhole expected to double in size

A massive sinkhole in Assumption Parish will likely double in size.

People monitoring the sinkhole near Bayou Corne expect the area to grow to 50 acres. It has taken a year for the site to grow to its current size of about 26 acres.

Tanker spills gasoline after hitting utility pole in Ascension Parish Monday night

A Lavigne Logistics gasoline tanker truck hit a roadside utility pole Monday night on La. 431 in Ascension Parish, puncturing two tanks that leaked 1,200 gallons of gasoline into a small ditch, authorities said Tuesday.

Search continues for man missing in Gulf

The Coast Guard continued the search Tuesday for a man who fell from a Gulf of Mexico platform 55 miles south of Vermilion Parish’s Freshwater Bayou on Sunday, an official said.

No One’s Really Monitoring the Pipeline in Your Back Yard

Last Friday the Associated Press reported that approximately 300 oil pipeline spills have occurred in North Dakota since January 2012 – and that none of those spills were reported to North Dakota residents and landowners. This sort of news raises the question of who, if anyone, is paying attention to the integrity and efficacy of America’s pipelines.

North Dakota Oil Spill Spotlights Obama Delay on Rules

Three years after an oil pipeline rupture in Michigan spilled 843,000 gallons of sludge, government regulators still haven’t produced promised rules to compel operators to detect leaks.

An oil spill in North Dakota last month and the continued debate over construction of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL Pipeline have led to renewed criticism to the government’s inaction on safety measures.

17,000 gallons of crude oil spill near Smithville

Crews have contained a giant oil spill in Fayette County.

Ramona Nye with the Railroad Commission of Texas told KVUE on Tuesday that about 400 barrels of crude oil (17,000 gallons) were spilled near Red Hollow Lane and Old Smithville Road in Smithville. The oil apparently came from an eight-inch diameter pipeline after it leaked.

Oil spill reported near Austin, Texas

Authorities in Texas confirmed about 400 barrels of crude oil spilled near Austin from a pipeline owned by Koch Pipeline Co.

The Texas Railroad Commission said the oil spilled from an 8-inch diameter pipeline in Smithville, about 40 miles southeast of Austin, KVUE-TV, Austin, reported Tuesday.

Ark. Demands More Tests From Exxon on Effects of Oil Spill, Chemicals on Lake

On October 11, ExxonMobil released its investigative report on the results of soil and sediment tests from Mayflower and Lake Conway. The company submitted the 81-page report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) as part of its cleanup obligations, and the document is supposed to provide a definitive picture of the environmental situation in the wake of the Pegasus oil spill.

Final Keystone XL Pipeline Review To Assess Potential Of OIl-By-Rail

U.S. officials weighing the climate impact of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline connecting Canada to U.S. Gulf Coast refiners are zeroing in on the question of whether shipment by rail is a viable alternative to the controversial project, industry sources say.

Sunflowers to Schwinns Proposed for Keystone Pathway

The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has gotten pretty heated and Kinder Baumgardner has an idea to cool the emotions: a really long bike path.

The creative director for the SWA Group, an Houston-based architectural firm that designed Google Inc.’s corporate campus, says building the lane along Keystone’s path through the country’s mid-section could turn what is now a source of rancor into a tourist attraction.

Arctic Sunrise: Inside Greenpeace Crew’s Jail

Sky News has obtained the first pictures from inside the Russian detention centre where 30 Greenpeace protesters and journalists are being held.

The photos show two of the cells where the crew of the Arctic Sunrise have been detained since their arrest at gunpoint near a Russian oil rig last month.

Tepco shouldn’t be in charge of Fukushima shutdown: Japan panel

Tokyo Electric Power Co should be stripped of the responsibility for shutting down its crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant, according to a draft proposal by a panel of Japan’s ruling party.

Tokyo Electric, or Tepco, has been widely criticized for repeated missteps, poor planning and a lack of disclosure in its efforts to clear up the site of the worst nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986.

Fukushima nuclear operator Tepco ‘should split up’

The operator of Japan’s stricken Fukushima nuclear power plant should be broken up, a committee is set to propose according to unnamed sources.

The ruling party panel wants part of the Tokyo Electric Power Company in charge of cleaning to be separated.

Japan govt considers assuming Fukushima decontamination – media

Tokyo is reportedly considering stripping the Fukushima nuclear operator of the responsibility to decontaminate the devastated station and passing it under full government control. That would imply assuming TEPCO’s massive current clean-up expenditures.

Japan nuke agency urges drastic steps at Fukushima

In their first meeting since Japan created a new, more independent nuclear agency 13 months ago, the top regulator urged the head of the utility that runs the crippled Fukushima power plant on Monday to take “drastic steps” to mitigate a spate of mishaps at the complex.

Nuclear Regulation Authority Chairman Shunichi Tanaka summoned Tokyo Electric Power Co. President Naomi Hirose to his office to express concerns about growing problems at the plant, including human errors that have led to a series of leaks of contaminated water used to cool the damaged reactors.

Encountering the Fukushima Daiichi Accident

The accident at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was the most severe accident in the history of mankind. At Unit 1, the fuel rods melted down in about five hours after the earthquake, and molten fuel breached and melted through the reactor pressure vessel. Meltdowns occurred in Units 2 and 3 within one hundred hours of the accident. At around the same time, hydrogen-air blasted in the reactor buildings of Units 1, 3 and 4.

TEPCO may refuse to fund part of Fukushima decontamination

The crippled Fukushima plant operator, TEPCO, is refusing to return more than $300 million already spent in the decontamination of land following the nuclear disaster to the Japanese government.

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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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