Environmental Must-Reads – October 31, 2013


New Fracking Report Finds High Levels of Water Consumption and Waste Generation

Today, a report was released that provides the most recent and comprehensive investigation of water used and waste generated by Marcellus Shale gas extraction operations in West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Based on state and industry data, the report finds that the volumes of water and waste are a cause for concern, and inadequate industry reporting requirements leave the true extent of the problem unknown.

New Report Exposes Impacts of Fracking on Water

A new report released today reveals the impacts of Marcellus Shale gas development on freshwater resources in Pennsylvania and West Virginia. The report, Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania, provides the most recent and comprehensive investigation of water used and waste generated by fracking operations in the two states.

David V. Goliath: Colorado Towns Take On Gas Giants To Rein In Fracking

On a recent Saturday, buoyed by picture-perfect autumn weather, Merrily Mazza was knocking on doors in her adopted community on Colorado’s booming Front Range north of Denver. The Chicago transplant and retired McGraw-Hill executive is running for city council in next week’s city election and she’s looking for votes.

NEB OK’s 1st fracking project in N.W.T.

Permission to drill two fracking wells near Tulita, N.W.T., has been given to ConocoPhillips by the National Energy Board, the first authorization for hydraulic fracturing that the board has issued anywhere in the North.

Eyes of the Nation on Colorado Towns’ Fracking Fight

In what many are calling the new “ground zero” in the national fight against fracking, the toxic gas and oil extracting process is on the ballot in four Colorado towns where citizens are taking on the heavyweights of the fossil fuel industry.

Jerry Brown Lashes Out Against Environmentalists Over Fracking

Gov. Jerry Brown was on KQED Forum today discussing the recently signed regional pact with Oregon, Washington state, and British Columbia to fight global warming.

But as Paul Rogers, managing editor of KQED Science and an environmental reporter for the San Jose Mercury News wrote yesterday, rather than hailing Brown, environmentalists are focusing on an area in which they disagree with Brown. Just a day after the global warming pact was signed

Leak shuts fracking-water storage pond; Talisman says environmental risks are low

A Talisman Energy storage pond for water used in the hydraulic fracturing process has been taken out of service after inspectors detected a leak.

Routine inspections uncovered problems in July with the double liner at the pond – one of five that the company operates in the Farrell Creek area of the Montney gas play in northeastern B.C., Talisman Canada spokeswoman Berta Gomez said on Wednesday.

Region’s residents divided over fracking

Southern Illinoisans are split over whether hydraulic fracturing, otherwise known as “fracking” should become a mainstay for mining energy resources in the region, according to a new poll.

The Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at SIU Carbondale recently found voters are evenly divided on the topic, whether it should be encouraged for its economic benefits or discouraged because of its environmental impact.

Fracking foes speak against drilling in Allegheny County parks

A town hall meeting on Thursday evening in Harrison attracted more than 100 people who are concerned about a fracking proposal in Allegheny County parks, particularly Deer Lakes Park in West Deer and Frazer.

County officials are considering an offer from Huntley & Huntley Inc. to extract natural gas under Deer Lakes Park from wellheads outside the park’s borders.

Fracking companies try to calm public fears with new code of conduct

Eleven companies that perform hydraulic fracturing in Canada have signed onto a new code of conduct aimed at alleviating public fears about the practice.

The code — which outlines standard practices for technical and environmental performance, as well as guidelines companies should follow when dealing with community groups and other stakeholders — was unveiled Wednesday in Calgary by the Petroleum Services Association of Canada.

Trains Gain Steam In Race To Transport Crude Oil In The U.S.

On a quiet fall morning in the Delaware countryside, a lone sustained whistle pierces the air. Within moments, a train sweeps around a broad curve, its two heavy locomotives hauling dozens of white, cylindrical rail cars, loaded with 70,000 barrels of crude oil.

It’s a scene playing out with growing frequency across the United States and Canada. The U.S. is awash in oil, due in large part to advances in drilling techniques such as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. U.S. production hit a 24-year-high in September. Yet there is a challenge getting the crude from the field to the refinery.

Environmentalists File Intervention, Oppose Pipeline

The environmental groups Food and Water Watch, Environment New Jersey, and the New Jersey chapter of the Sierra Club filed a “notice of intervention” on Tuesday, October 22, with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) in Washington D.C.

The commission is the agency considering the proposal for a pipeline that would go through Princeton and Montgomery Township.

The sinkhole that swallowed a swamp

Everyone in the state of Louisiana knows about the Bayou Corne sinkhole. It even shows up on Google Maps. But it still took a year for the crisis to get national attention, by which time the pit of brackish water was 24 acres across. And when the nation finally turned its eye on Bayou Corne, it wasn’t because of the Mother Jones expose. It was because of a YouTube video.

Valero Meraux Spews Oil Across St. Bernard Highway

At 2 PM on Friday, October 25th Valero Refinery in Meraux, LA reported a discharge of crude oil from a rupture in a crude unit to the National Response Center: map.labucketbrigade.org/reports/view/12186. The rupture caused 200 barrels of oil to spill into the Mississippi River and onto a stretch of St. Bernard Highway around the plant. The first citizen report to the iWitness Pollution map came in 27 minutes after the NRC report. There were 10 citizen reports about the accident to the iWitness Pollution map between Friday, October 25th and Monday, October 28th.

Renato Dominguez, Worker Burned In Deadly 2012 Gulf Oil Platform Explosion, Sues Black Elk Energy

A Filipino worker who was severely burned in a deadly explosion on an oil platform in the Gulf of Mexico last year is suing the platform’s owner and operator.

Lawyers for Renato Dominguez, 53, filed the suit against Houston-based Black Elk Energy LLC on Oct. 16 in a county court in Galveston, Texas.

Smithville, Texas Oil Spill: Koch Pipeline Leaks Crude Southeast Of Austin

A Koch Pipeline Co.-owned pipeline spilled around 400 barrels, or about 17,000 gallons, of crude oil in Central Texas this week, KVUE reported.

A Texas Railroad Commission representative told the station that the spill likely came from a leak in an eight-inch diameter pipeline that delivers crude oil to refineries in Corpus Christi.

Looking for a Way Around Keystone XL, Canadian Oil Hits the Rails

Over the past two years, environmentalists have chained themselves to the White House fence and otherwise coalesced around stopping the Keystone XL pipeline as their top priority in the fight against global warming.

Keystone XL Review Hijacked by Activists TransCanada Says

TransCanada Corp. (TRP) chief executive Russ Girling acknowledged that opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline have slowed its approval, though he said his company remains committed to the project.

“There’s no question that the noise outside is having an influence on the process,” he said today, in an interview in Washington. “The project has been hijacked by activists that are opposed to the development of all fossil fuels.”

Is Nobody Watching Oil Pipeline Safety in the United States?

North Dakota’s governor said he was frustrated with the way in which federal regulators were monitoring pipeline safety. An oil spill in the west of the state went unnoticed until a farmer discovered it in his field last month. Regulators, the governor said, don’t monitor rural areas the same way they do elsewhere. On Capitol Hill, meanwhile, supporters of a controversial pipeline bill say more infrastructure is needed and fast in order to keep up with the oil boom under way in the central United States. That measure, however, does little to allay the safety concerns about the spider web of oil and natural gas pipelines already in place across the country.

State Department Considers Oil by Rail in Keystone XL Decision

A decision on the proposed northern half of the Keystone XL pipeline—under review since 2008—hinges on a final environmental review by the U.S. State Department now taking into consideration the importance oil-by-rail transport might have on growth of Alberta’s tar sands.

Kirtland AFB officials work to clean up massive underground jet fuel spill

State environment and Kirtland Air Force Base officials are pumping 70,000 gallons of contaminated water from the aquifer that feeds new Mexico’s largest city in an attempt to clean up a huge, underground jet fuel spill.

The fuel came from what officials think was a 40-year leak from underground pipes at a Kirtland aircraft fuel loading facility. It was discovered in 1999, and officials are still trying to figure out how to clean it up before it hits city water wells.

Shell announces return to Arctic in 2014 despite mishaps

Shell officials on Thursday said the oil company plans to make another, dramatically scaled-back bid to find crude in Arctic waters, following a headline-grabbing 2012 season that left the firm with air pollution fines and embarrassing equipment failures.

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