Environmental Must-Reads – September 11, 2013


Fracking won’t lower energy bills, says Davey

Fracking for shale gas in the UK will not have “any effect” on gas prices, Ed Davey, the energy secretary has said, contradicting the Prime Minister’s promise that it will lead to lower energy bills.

A Fracking Pioneer Abandons One of Its Earliest Land Grabs

Back in 2000, men from Chesapeake Energy (CHK) started showing up on people’s doorsteps around Broome County, New York, a few miles north of the Pennsylvania border. Once a hub of manufacturing and technology jobs (IBM (IBM) was founded there), Broome had long since peaked by the year 2000 and was now on the same downward trajectory as other Rust Belt towns in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Strangers didn’t typically show up offering cash to lease the drilling rights for people’s land. Sure, Broome was right on top of the natural gas-rich Marcellus Shale, but only geologists really knew what that meant, and back then, no one had ever heard of fracking.

Sens. Heitkamp, Hoeven seek North Dakota exemption from Interior ‘fracking’ rules

North Dakota’s congressional delegation is pressing the Interior Department to defer to their state’s s oil-and-gas “fracking” regulations instead of imposing new federal requirements.

Ohio Communities Stand Up to Protect Themselves from the Hazards of Hydraulic Fracturing

Imagine you live in a small city or town, one that prides itself on its welcoming neighborhoods and community values, and that draws residents as a great place to raise a family. Over the years, your hometown or city has defined areas for agricultural activities, shops and stores, residences and industry, possibly in keeping with a community development plan. It’s also adopted a careful set of reasonable standards for how each of these community aspects should establish themselves and evolve.

Marcellus Shale Industry Lobbies For New Endangered Species Laws

Pennsylvania’s shale gas industry is throwing its support behind new proposed legislation that would change the way creatures are added to the state’s endangered species list.

University of Tennessee “Frackademia” Program Put to Rest, For Now

University of Tennessee-Knoxville’s “frackademia” program proposal  — set to transform UT’s Institute of Agriculture into a de facto fracking land leasing agency — has been put to rest for now, according to The Tennesseean. In short: the university’s premiere leasing proposal for acreage didn’t recieve a single bid.

How the West Texas Drilling Boom Could Go Bust. Again.

It’s happened before, and it could well happen again. The current surge in drilling in West Texas is a product of advancing technique and technology, but it’s also a function of price and demand. So if the market will pay a certain price for oil or gas, it makes sense to drill. If it doesn’t? Well, that’s the side of the boom that people don’t like to talk about. Welcome to The Bust.

Grandparents Tell Gov. Hickenlooper Not to Frack Their Grandchildren’s Future

Concerned grandparents from across Colorado delivered a letter yesterday to tell Gov. Hickenlooper (D-CO) and other governors from across the country to say no to fracking and yes to a renewable energy future in celebration of National Grandparents’ Day. The delivery took place before Gov. Hickenlooper’s keynote address to the Western Governor’s Association Policy Forum on Shale Energy Development in Broomfield.

PG&E to pay $565 million to victims in San Bruno pipeline explosion

Utility giant Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will pay out $565 million in legal settlements and other claims stemming from the 2010 natural gas explosion in San Bruno, Calif., that killed eight people and devastated a neighborhood, company officials said this week.

Blown out Gulf well secured — but not killed

A natural gas well that blew out in the Gulf of Mexico in July has been plugged, though it may be a long time before it is permanently killed, federal regulators confirmed Monday.

Pa. fracking boom goes bust

IT WAS JUST a couple of years ago that fracking was booming in upstate Pennsylvania’s Bradford County, and Janet Geiger, a retired hospital worker living on a 10-acre spread near the New York border, could count on getting a $300 to $400 check every month from the gas giant Chesapeake Energy Corp., which was drilling under her land.

Secrets of fracking fluids pave way for cleaner recipe

The myriad liquid concoctions used in hydraulic fracturing make for quite a recipe book. Since January 2011, FracFocus, an online chemical-disclosure registry, has assembled a list of the mixtures used at more than 52,000 oil and gas wells across the United States. In these data, geochemist Brian Ellis sees opportunity. He plans to mix different chemicals into oil- and gas-rich shale rock inside a pair of high-pressure chambers that he is building. This will allow him to explore the reactions that occur when these ‘fracking’ fluids are injected deep underground.

BP’s traveling a different road to redemption

Three years after the worst offshore oil spill in U.S. history, BP’s post-disaster demeanor has gone from contrite to combative.

The oil giant is increasingly sparring with the federal government; Louisiana leaders, like Gov. Bobby Jindal; and the throngs of businesses that still want compensation for the April 2010 explosion and spill that killed 11 people and dumped 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.

BP Opposes Extending Spill Accord to Moratorium Losses

BP Plc (BP/)’s oil-spill claims administrator shouldn’t be allowed to extend a settlement to cover the claims of losses caused by the Obama administration’s deep-water drilling ban, the company told a court.

Freeh Report Clears BP Claims Process, but Sees Some Problems

Former FBI Director Louis Freeh’s investigation found that BP’s oil spill claims process is not corrupt, but that a handful of attorneys, within and outside of the program, worked together to expedite a nearly $8 million claim in exchange for a referral fee.

Freeh report – a way forward for BP oil spill deal: Frankel

I’m on record as a skeptic of BP (LSE: BP.L – news) ‘s doomsday predictions about the impact of ballooning claims in its settlement with alleged victims of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Nearly 48,000 suing BP over toxic pollution from Texas refinery

Over the course of 40 days in 2010, BP allowed hundreds of thousands of pounds of chemicals to escape from its refinery in Texas City, Texas. Unfortunate neighbors inhaled a carcinogenic cocktail of benzene, nitrogen oxides, and carbon monoxide.

BP Texas Refinery Neighbors Seek Billions at Toxin Trial

BP Plc (BP/) faces the first of almost 48,000 toxic exposure claims from neighbors of a Texas refinery who say they’ll give the billions of dollars in punitive damages they’re seeking to charity if they win at trial.

Oil Spill Drama Not Enough? BP Also Faces Toxicity Claims

“I don’t see how the jury can be anything but friendly to the plaintiffs,” Houston trial attorney David Berg told Bloomberg in a phone interview, explaining BP’s (NYSE:BP) latest legal battle: 48,000 toxic exposure claims made near residents of a Texas refinery. The company “has such a terrible reputation for recklessness and disregard for safety, you could probably try this case in England and win,” he added. BP is based in London.

Louisiana volunteers to be recognized for environmental work

A few more days remain for the public to vote for one of three finalists in the Louisiana’s 2013 Cox Conserves Heroes program recognizing environmental work by volunteers in the state.

Exxon Files Motion to Dismiss AR Lawsuit, State Responds

ExxonMobil has filed a motion to dismiss lawsuits from the United States and the State of Arkansas.

The original complaint, filed by State and Federal officials in June, alleges six causes of action against the oil giant and seeks civil penalties under the federal Clean Water Act.

Exxon reports oil spill in Australia

Exxon Mobil said it was looking into what led to a spill of about five barrels of oil from its Cobia production platform off the Australian coast.

U.S. decision on Keystone XL pipeline likely to slip into 2014

As the State Department drags out the approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, it is more likely President Barack Obama’s final decision on the project to help link Canada’s oil sands to U.S. refineries will slip into 2014, experts said.

No Keystone? No Problem: TransCanada Pushing Another Major Tar Sands Pipeline

With a decision regarding its proposed Keystone XL pipeline delayed indefinitely in the U.S., TransCanada Corp. has set to work promoting another major tar sands pipeline that would carry almost as much crude as Keystone. On Tuesday, the company released a study projecting that construction of the massive Energy East pipeline will result in 2,300 jobs from now through 2015 during the development phase and 7,700 jobs during the construction phase between 2016 and 2018. After the pipeline is completed, the study estimates it will support 1,000 full-time jobs.

Neil Young pans Keystone pipeline, likens oil sands landscape to Hiroshima

Canadian music legend Neil Young has waded into the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline with inflammatory comments that compare Fort McMurray, Alta., to the scene of an atomic bomb strike.

Canada stumps for Keystone XL

Approving the Keystone XL oil pipeline would displace foreign oil that may have a greater environmental footprint than Canada’s, the Canadian oil minister said.

Keystone XL pipeline has another ‘bug’ to work out

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline has sparked protests in Washington and talk of a special legislative session in Nebraska.

Landowners are pondering lawsuits to halt the controversial 36-inch steel tube of crude oil from Canada.

Keystone pipeline seen as unneeded as more oil moves by rail

Oil producers and refineries are in the midst of a transition to shipping their oil by rail, and that means the Keystone XL pipeline is not needed, a report from Canaccord Genuity Inc. says.

Oil industry and household stoves speed Arctic thaw

The new study, published in the journal Atmospheric Chemistry and Physics by researchers at IIASA and in Norway, Finland, and Russia, finds that gas flaring from oil extraction in the Arctic accounts for 42% of the black carbon concentrations in the Arctic, with even higher levels during certain times of the year. In the month of March for example, the study showed that flaring accounts for more than half of black carbon concentrations near the surface. Globally, in contrast, gas flaring accounts for only 3% of black carbon emissions

Fukushima evacuation has killed more than earthquake and tsunami, survey says

More people have now died because of the Fukushima evacuation process than were killed in the region by the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami which caused the displacement, a survey said.

Insight: Japan ponders Fukushima options, but Tepco too big to fail

Fukushima nuclear plant operator Tepco Electric’s response to the world’s worst atomic disaster in a quarter century has been called ad hoc and more concerned with cost than safety, but 30 months later, the utility is still in charge.

New hotspot: TEPCO detects high groundwater radiation at Fukushima plant

A new hotspot of radiation has been detected in groundwater from an observation well next to one of the leaking tanks at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant, the operator of the facility announced.

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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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