Environmental Must-Reads – October 30, 2014


Fracking-well explosion forces 400 families from homes in eastern Ohio

From his fishing boat on a rural Jefferson County pond, Mike Poole could see the natural-gas wellhead less than a tenth of a mile away.

Poole spent part of his Tuesday afternoon on that boat with a friend and his dog. The well, at that time, was just part of the landscape.

By Tuesday evening, though, it had forced him from his home in Bloomingdale, Ohio.

Toxic Chemicals, Carcinogens Skyrocket Near Fracking Sites

Oil and gas wells across the country are spewing “dangerous” cancer-causing chemicals into the air, according to a new study that further corroborates reports of health problems around hydraulic fracturing sites.

“This is a significant public health risk,” says Dr. David Carpenter, director of the Institute for Health and the Environment at the University at Albany-State University of New York and lead author of the study, which was published Thursday in the journal Environmental Health. “Cancer has a long latency, so you’re not seeing an elevation in cancer in these communities. But five, 10, 15 years from now, elevation in cancer is almost certain to happen.”

Gas wastewater likely triggered 2011 quake in Colorado: USGS

Underground disposal of wastewater from gas production likely triggered a moderate earthquake in Colorado in 2011, the U.S. Geological Survey said on Wednesday in a study that may fuel debate over the impact of the U.S. energy boom.

The finding in the Journal of Geophysical Research is the latest research suggesting the injection into wells of wastewater generated by oil and gas extraction can induce earthquakes.

Pennsylvania Congressman Launches Frack Waste Investigation as Concern Rises

In a reflection of growing national concern about the disposal of oil and gas waste, a Pennsylvania congressman launched an investigation Wednesday into the way his state regulates the discarding of the unwanted, often toxic material.

Rep. Matthew Cartwright, a first-term Democrat from eastern Pennsylvania, wants to know more about how the contaminated leftovers from hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, are regulated.

Colorado’s Great Divide: Oil and the Environment

Take off from Aspen’s tiny airport and head straight west, and you’ll soon find yourself over an area known as the Thompson Divide – 221,500 acres of what Teddy Roosevelt described as “great, wild country… where the mountains crowded together in chain, peak, and tableland; all of the higher ones wrapped in a shroud of snow.” This time of year, the leaves change from green to yellow to red.

The center of White River National Forest – America’s most frequently visited national forest – the Thompson Divide is one of the largest remaining roadless areas in the West, except for the occasional new oil drilling platforms that now dot its landscape.

Texas Railroad Commission tightens drilling-waste disposal rules after earthquake scare

Oil and gas companies must check local seismic records before opening a new waste disposal well, the Texas Railroad Commission decided Tuesday.

The new rule follows a series of small but unexpected earthquakes last year around the North Texas town of Azle atop the natural gas-rich Barnett Shale. The earthquakes are under study by scientists at Southern Methodist University to determine if they were induced by nearby injection wells used to dispose of drilling waste.

Oil tanker trains threaten to trash US northwest

Oil and coal producers in the US are planning to use mile-long tanker trains to transport vast quantities of fossil fuels to the coast through areas that environmental groups believe should be protected.

The change in world fossil fuel production, consumption and costs caused by tar sands exploitation in Canada and the fracking boom in the US is causing what Bill McKibben ? author, environmental activist and co-founder of the international climate campaign group 350.org ? calls a “chokepoint” in the unspoiled Northwest of the country.

Fracking waste disposal approved for Colchester County

An additional five million litres of treated hydraulic fracturing waste water will be disposed of at a Nova Scotia cement plant following a successful pilot project earlier this spring, the province’s environment minister said Tuesday.

Randy Delorey said he has approved a request from Atlantic Industrial Services to use the waste water at the Lafarge plant in Brookfield.

Drilling for oil and gas is on the decline in Michigan

News of a decline might sound surprising since there has been so much excitement and controversy over horizontal hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” in recent years.

But not many high-volume, horizontal wells were actually drilled since 2010, and the company that led the recent fracking boom has left the state.

That leaves the industry and its watchdogs wondering where new action will come from.

Environmental groups question refinery benefits of Energy East pipeline in new report

A new report being released by environmental groups questions whether the proposed Energy East pipeline is necessary to supplant Eastern Canada’s oil imports from the foreign suppliers frequently mentioned by TransCanada Corp. (TSX:TRP), the company proposing the $12-billion project.

In making the case for the massive cross-Canada project, TransCanada has said repeatedly that eastern Canadian refiners rely on imports for 86 per cent of their daily needs. It often lists Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Venezuela and Algeria as the top suppliers to Quebec and the Atlantic provinces.

“Yeil” – The New Energy Buzzword in Argentina

In Argentina they call it “yeil”, the hispanicised version of “shale”. But while these unconventional gas and oil reserves are seen by many as offering a means to development and a route towards energy self-sufficiency, others believe the term should fall into disuse because the global trend is towards clean, renewable sources of energy.

Wearing an oil-soaked uniform, the drilling supervisor in the state oil company YPF, Claudio Rueda, feels like he is playing a part in an important story that is unfolding in southern Argentina.

Gas industry pumps big bucks into Denton fracking election

protests across Texas, the oil and gas industry is pumping nearly $700,000 into mailers, television ads and billboards to defeat the initiative on Tuesday’s ballot.

The pro-drilling group Denton Taxpayers for a Strong Economy, which was formed with the gas industry’s aid, filed campaign finance reports this week that show it has raised nearly 10 times as much as the $75,000 raised by its opponent, Pass the Ban.

Fracking Evacuation Raises New Concerns In Ohio

Last night barricades went up, and people moved out, after a mandatory evacuation went out in Jefferson County after a frack well leaked natural gas and fluid into the air.

“It’s powerfully toxic if it gets in your community and neighborhood and you’re breathing it,” said Carolyn Harding, an anti-fracking activist.  “I’m not afraid of it.  What I am afraid of is that we are going to embrace it so fast, so furiously that we will create too many sacrifice zones.

Vermont Governor Who Banned Fracking Supports Fracked Gas Pipeline

Despite Vermont becoming the first state in the U.S. to ban the practice of fracking more than two years ago, Vermonters are, to this day, willfully risking arrest to stop more fracking infrastructure from coming into their state.

On Monday, 64 Vermonters were arrested at Governor Peter Shumlin’s office in protest of a new fracked gas pipeline proposal — the largest civil disobedience action the state has seen since the Winooski 44’s protest of the Iran-Contra scandal in 1984. On October 10, the three Shumlin-appointed board members of the Vermont Public Service Commission, the agency charged with regulating utility projects in Vermont, granted a “certificate of public good” (CPG) to a pipeline project proposed by Gaz Metro, Quebec’s largest natural gas company, and subsidiary Vermont Gas (phase 1). The phase 1 proposal has become controversial due to projected costs skyrocketing from $86 million to $120 million. The granting of the CPG was unprecedented, given that previous public hearings on the pipeline project were packed with citizens opposing the project.

These Guys Were on the Deepwater Horizon When It Blew Up

After the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling platform exploded in June 2010, killing 11 workers and sending roughly five million barrels of oil gushing into the Gulf of Mexico, much of the media coverage featured sludge-covered seabirds, empty shrimp baskets, and other environmental impacts. But for Doug Brown, the catastrophe was even more immediate. He was the rig’s chief engineer, standing in the control room when a deafening blast sent him flying and turned his workplace into a fiery, oil-soaked hell.

In The Great Invisible, a documentary about the blowout and its aftermath that premieres today in Los Angeles and New York, Brown breaks into tears as he recalls the “incoherent screamings of pain” of his coworkers: “I saw men completely lose control.”

Media question decision to publish BP spokesman’s defense of oil spill response, magazine reports

The Columbia Journalism Review, which covers and critiques journalism outlets, focused on the reaction by a number of media to the publication of an opinion column defending BP’s response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, written by the company’s senior public relations executive.

“When Politico Magazine published a piece by senior BP spokesman Geoff Morrell last week — chalking coverage of the slow recovery of the gulf from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill to ‘advocacy groups cherry-picking studies’ — it unleashed a tirade of criticism,” wrote CJR writer Alexis Sobel Fitts.

Help Oil Spill Witness Stop State from Using BP Restoration Money to Harm Habitat

Over the years Care2 petitions have helped bring about significant changes to national and international issues alike.

Citizen activist Tom Hutchings witnessed firsthand the devastation caused by the British Petroleum (BP) deepwater horizon oil spill disaster back in 2010, so after hearing recently about what the State of Alabama is trying to do with $58 million of the reparation money BP owes to fix the environment (hint: it’s not good for wildlife), he was inspired to take action, so he started this petition.

Oceana: Consumers need to know their shrimp’s tale

When John and Reba O’Connell drive more than 11 hours twice a year from St. Louis to visit the Pensacola area, they expect to buy and eat freshly caught shrimp from the Gulf of Mexico.

“We want the royal red Gulf shrimp, absolutely, it’s the best,” said John O’Connell, while picking up a few pounds of the tasty morsels Monday at Joe Patti’s Seafood.

But Reba O’Connell says they never ask restaurants, grocery stores or fish markets where the shrimp is from. They only assume it’s from the Gulf.

Plaintiffs accuse Exxon of stifling Arkansas oil spill case

Plaintiffs in an oil spill lawsuit against Exxon Mobil want documents in the case to be public.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys say the oil company has declared every single page of 872,000 pages about the maintenance and repair of the Pegasus pipeline confidential. They filed a motion on Monday in U.S. District Court, asking a federal judge to order Exxon Mobil to “show cause why any document produced to date is entitled to confidentiality.”

Texas company pays heavily for 2010 spill

The spill of about 2,200 barrels of oil into a Texas wetland area in 2010 will coast Superior Crude Gathering Inc. more than $1 million, the EPA said.

The Environmental Protection Agency said Superior Crude agreed to pay $1.6 million in civil penalties for alleged violations of the Clean Water Act stemming from the spill from a storage facility into wetlands near the Intracoastal Waterway and Redfish Bay.

Ship runs aground near Stockholm, spilling oil among pristine islands

A ship carrying 52 tons of oil in the Baltic Sea ran aground off Stockholm’s sprawling archipelago Wednesday morning and began leaking its cargo into the intricate network of islands and inlets, an online news agency reported.

The ship’s crew was working to transfer the oil from the container damaged by the grounding into an intact reservoir on the vessel, the Local English-language agency reported.

Neither the ship’s name nor country of registry were immediately reported.

TransCanada says ready to seek approval for Energy East pipeline

TransCanada Corp , Canada’s No.2 pipeline company, will file for regulatory approval of its C$12 billion ($10.8 billion) Energy East pipeline on Thursday, pushing forward on its plan to ship oil sands crude to eastern Canadian refineries and Atlantic export ports.

The company said on Wednesday it will file its application for the line with Canada’s National Energy Board, which regulates intra provincial pipelines.

Enbridge files to replace Minnesota pipeline

Enbridge Energy says it wants to build a second major crude oil pipeline across northern Minnesota.

The proposed pipeline would replace a 1960s-era line that has ruptured repeatedly. The Calgary, Alberta-based company says it intends to replace the entire pipeline, known as Line 3, that carries Canadian oil from Alberta to a storage terminal in Superior, Wis. The pipeline operates at reduced capacity because of long-standing concerns about its integrity.

Pipeline fatigue hits landowners

Ranchers say they don’t have time to chase cattle loose because a pipeline crew cut the pasture fence. Nor do they have time to repair equipment damaged from crossing a sunken pipeline trench.

Those problems are giving surface owners a condition called “pipeline fatigue,” and many say they are so tired of dealing with poor reclamation and inconsiderate contractors that they’re starting to say “No” to more pipelines altogether.

South Dakota poll: 60 percent support Keystone pipeline

A scientific poll done by two media organizations found wide support among South Dakotans for the Keystone XL pipeline.

The statewide survey commissioned by the Argus Leader and KELO-TV shows 60 percent backing for the project, with 30 percent opposed and 10 percent undecided.

The ‘Russification’ of Oil Exploration

The American and European sanctions against the Russian oil industry have dashed, at least for now, the Western oil majors’ ambitions to drill in the Arctic Ocean.

But drilling will continue all the same, Russian government and state oil company officials have been taking pains to point out, ever since the sanctions took effect over the summer.

“We will do it on our own,” Igor I. Sechin, the president of Russia’s state-controlled oil company, Rosneft, told journalists in October. “We’ll continue drilling here next year and the years after that.”

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