Environmental Must-Reads – September 15, 2014


Contractor dies in Chevron pipeline accident off Louisiana coast

A Chevron contractor was fatally injured and two people suffered minor injuries on Saturday while performing maintenance on a natural gas pipeline off the Louisiana coast, a Chevron spokesman said.

Few other details were immediately available about the accident, which took place shortly after 11 a.m. local time on Saturday.

Chevron Shuts Gas Pipeline After Accident

Chevron Pipe Line Co. has shut down a natural-gas pipeline that feeds Gulf of Mexico production to the Henry Hub storage and delivery point in Louisiana in the wake of a deadly accident.

A contract worker performing routine maintenance on an offshore gas pipeline was killed Saturday and two other workers were injured, the company said. The accident occurred 6 miles south of Timbalier Bay off the southeast coast of Louisiana, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.

Chevron draining natural gas after worker death

Authorities said that a Chevron Corp. subsidiary was still releasing natural gas Sunday from a pipeline off the Louisiana coast where a Saturday incident killed a maintenance worker.

Col. Mike Edmonson, the superintendent of the Louisiana State Police, said his agency and the U.S. Coast Guard intend to send a joint team to the platform Monday to start an investigation.

Fracking or Drinking Water? That May Become the Choice

Fracking for oil and natural gas—or having enough water to drink.

That’s the possible dilemma facing a number of countries including the United States, according to a new report released by the World Resources Institute last week—though experts disagree on the real implications of the report and what should be done about it.

When fracking and free speech collide

What started as a short YouTube video and a couple of local news interviews about a Texas landowner being able to light his water on fire has ballooned into a free speech fight that’s being closely watched by anti-fracking activists across the country.

Steve Lipsky has complained for years that fracking company Range Resources polluted his drinking water and streams that run through his property. The company sued him in 2011 for defaming its reputation for environmental stewardship.

Permian oilfield water use increases

Oilfield water usage should reach 540 million barrels through 2014, according to a recent projection from PacWest Consulting Partners in Houston, one of the few firms who tracks industry use of the increasingly competitive resource.

The estimate represents an upward revision from the firm’s analysts, who in February forecast 375 million barrels would be used during the entire year and an increase to 430 barrels through 2015. The firm still projects increased usage as activity ramps up.

St. Tammany Parish seeks quicker court hearing on its fracking lawsuit

St. Tammany Parish government asked a judge Friday (Sept. 12) for an expedited court hearing on its lawsuit seeking to prevent the state from issuing a drilling permit to Helis Oil & Gas Co., which wants to drill a well near Mandeville and use the controversial fracking method to extract oil. The parish’s move comes two days after Helis announced it had filed an application for a state drilling permit from the state Department of Natural Resources’ Office of Conservation.

Fracking exposes workers to benzene

Oil and natural-gas workers on fracking sites are exposed to potentially unsafe levels of benzene, a colorless gas that can cause cancer, according to a case study by a federal agency.

The study, first published at the end of August in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Hygiene, found that workers on oil and gas sites were most likely to be exposed to the chemical when they opened hatches during a phase of fracking known as “flowback.”

Large crowd turns thumbs down on fracking rules

Fracking would endanger the environment in Western North Carolina and proposed state rules are inadequate to prevent problems, speaker after speaker said at a public hearing here Friday.

About 600 people attended the four-hour hearing held by the state Mining and Energy Commission in Western Carolina University’s Ramsey Center and hardly an encouraging word was heard for the practice or the regulations being considered.

Railroad Commissioner candidate proposes ‘water conservation plan’ for fracking

Amid concerns over drought and earthquakes, Steve Brown, the Democrat running for Railroad Commissioner, proposed a plan Tuesday that would incentivize water reuse projects, increase local control in groundwater permitting and phase out permits for new hydraulic fracturing wastewater disposal wells.

The amount of water used in drilling—about 40,000 Olympic size pools each year statewide, according to the Texas Water Development Board—puts an “unsustainable burden on local municipalities, farmers and landowners,” Brown said.

UTSA, Southwest Research find a new way to clean frack water

The University of Texas at San Antonio and the Southwest Research Institute say they have found an inexpensive way to treat the water that flows back to the surface after hydraulic fracturing.

A team of researchers used a plant matter called biochar to remove impurities from the flowback water.

Kasich vows to ‘focus’ on hiking fracking tax

The legislature has steadfastly declined to give Gov. John Kasich what he wants regarding a new severance tax on fracking in Ohio, but the governor says he’s only going to push harder if he wins re-election — and end a “rip-off” of consumers at the same time.

Lawmakers have given Kasich many of his agenda items over three-plus years, but he and GOP legislative leaders, particularly in the House, have butted heads repeatedly over whether, or how much, Ohio should increase severance taxes on the shale fracking industry spreading across eastern Ohio.

Zephyr Teachout mulling Andrew Cuomo endorsement if he opposes fracking

Democratic gubernatorial challenger Zephyr Teachout didn’t succeed in unseating the incumbent in this week’s primary, but she still hopes to make an impact in the November election.

The law professor who had hoped to become New York’s first female governor said Friday her endorsement in the general election will depend on several issues: fracking, school funding, and supporting other Democratic candidates.

Mystery gunk found floating in Muskingum River

What is that brown gunk found floating yesterday in the Muskingum River in Coshocton and Muskingum counties?

Tests ruled out oil or other petroleum products, said Bo Keck, director of the Muskingum County Emergency Management Agency.

“We really don’t know what it is,” Keck said last night as he was about to leave Zanesville’s Riverside Park. The substance was not threatening wildlife or water supplies, he said.

Ohio EPA: No Oil Spilled In Muskingum River

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency reports no oil spilled in the Muskingum River Sunday night.

An on-site coordinator for the EPA said the Muskingum County Environmental Protection Agency ran several tests for oil that came back negative.

Signs of Oil Spill Still Present During River Cleanup

Months after 8 hundred gallons of oil spilled into the grand river– people in Jackson are still seeing the effects.

Back in June an oil spill shut down jackson’s storm sewer system and a portion of the grand river.

Now months after the cleanup— volunteers say they still noticed remnants of the spill during an annual river cleanup.

‘Flawed’ oil spill drill offers lessons to state, feds

In the aftermath of a high-profile, multi-agency oil spill drill in New Windsor last year, officials were pleased by the mostly positive news coverage.

“Thank goodness,” wrote one official from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in an email.

“It was basically lucky that things turned out as well as it did for the public perception,” said a follow-up report from the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Oklahoma oil hub getting bigger with new pipelines

New pipeline projects are expanding the size of an Oklahoma crude oil hub that is already one of the most important oil storage facilities in the world.

One new pipeline is in operation at the hub in Cushing, another is almost complete and a new project was announced earlier this month when Tulsa-based NGL Energy Partners revealed plans for the Grand Mesa Pipeline, a joint venture with Rimrock Midstream LLC, the Tulsa World reported Saturday.

Enbridge’s Line 9 pipeline reversal plan not OK’d by Montreal

Denis Coderre, Montreal’s mayor and head of the Montreal Metropolitan Community, says Enbridge has not met all 30 conditions set out to earn his approval on the controversial Line 9 pipeline project.

Enbridge wants to reverse the flow of Line 9, a 639-kilometre stretch of pipeline between Sarnia, Ont. and Montreal.

Opponents slam Enbridge’s plans to expand flow of oil sands crude into U.S.

Plans by Enbridge, a Canadian pipeline company, to increase the flow of Alberta oil sands crude into the United States while – in the view of opponents – avoiding the presidential permitting process, have enraged environmentalists seeking to block development of Canada’s vast reserves.

Opponents to the Enbridge plan are threatening legal action and demanding the U.S. State Department reverse the green light given Enbridge.

New Sanctions to Stall Exxon’s Arctic Oil Plans

Exxon Mobil’s ambitions in Russia appear to have been dashed, at least until the Ukraine crisis is resolved.

As part of the latest round of sanctions against Russia, the United States government took aim at Exxon’s project in the Arctic Ocean, ordering American companies to cut off exports to Russian oil exploration within 14 days.

Russia’s First Arctic Oil Rig Will Keep Pumping Despite Sanctions

Gazprom Neft, the oil arm of Russian state gas company Gazprom, will stick to its production plans at its Prirazlomnoye oil field in the Arctic despite being put under Western sanctions, First Deputy CEO Vadim Yakovlev said.

“At the moment, we don’t think that this will affect our long-term plans,” he told reporters at the platform, located some 60 km [40 miles] away from the shore in the Pechora Sea.

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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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