Environmental Must-Reads – September 17, 2013


Fracking and Colorado Flooding Don’t Mix

A lot is being written in the state and national press about the terrible human devastation week-long rain storms have created in Colorado. The impact has been greatest along what is known locally as the Front Range, the flat land directly east of the Rocky Mountains. The city of Boulder and smaller towns such as Lyons and Jamestown have been particularly hard hit, but no city along the front range from the Wyoming state line through Denver to Colorado Springs has been spared. In Colorado, we’ve experienced massive drought, wildfires and flooding all in the same year. Welcome to the brave new world of climate change.

Oil & gas association monitoring wells; Industry critics worried

As the state begins cleaning up after one of the worst and most widespread floods in history, many are worried about the status of oil and natural gas wells in the northeast.

Oil and natural gas drills are scattered across the plains in Weld and Larimer counties and many were flooded.

Industry Funded Fracking Study Fatally Flawed

Today, the Center for Energy and Environmental Resources released a study funded by the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the natural gas industry that stated two things: that the sample size it looked at is “not sufficient” to fully understand the methane pollution from fracking, and that the rates of methane pollution from this sample size are nonetheless 10 to 20 times lower than those calculated from more complete measurements in other peer reviewed studies. This discrepancy may be attributable to the fact that industry chose the locations and times of the wells that were studied.

Study: Natural gas industry can cut fracking emissions

How much damage does fracking do to the environment? Not quite as much as federal estimates suggest, if natural gas companies take steps to reduce methane emissions, researchers find.

Frackademia: The People & Money Behind the EDF Methane Emissions Study

The long-awaited Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)-sponsored hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) fugitive methane emissions study is finally out. Unfortunately, it’s another case of “frackademia” or industry-funded ‘science’ dressed up to look like objective academic analysis

New Industry-Sponsored Study on Fracking More Spin Than Science, Produces Findings Dramatically Out of Step With Other Recent Studies

In response to a new study on methane leakage from fracking wells, Americans Against Fracking released the following statement:

“This industry-sponsored ‘study’ is more spin than science,” said Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch. “The Environmental Defense Fund is running interference for the industry, and the result will be more drilling and fracking around the world. The only responsible path forward is deploying renewables and increasing energy efficiency—not building another 30 years of infrastructure for the oil and gas industry.”

NRDC: Governor Brown Must Impose a Fracking Moratorium Immediately

Governor Brown’s last minute amendments to the newly passed California fracking legislation (SB 4) undermine critical fracking safeguards as well as foundational state environmental review processes, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.  Due to the risks this legislation allows, Governor Brown should immediately impose a moratorium on fracking in the state in order to fully assess the health and environmental threats posed by the dangerous practice.

Will Fracking Go Bust in Pennsylvania?

In 2012, journalists began warning of an impending bust in Pennsylvania’s fracking boom. Since 2010, experts found, drilling in the Marcellus Shale formation—one of the largest in North America—has seen a 50 percent decline in natural gas production, according to the Philadelphia Daily News. The number of drilling rigs skyrocketed from 20 in 2009 to 120 in 2011, making the state the de facto ground zero for the fracking revolution. Now that number has dropped to 90—though the total number of wells remains in the thousands.

How the Fracking Boom Impacts Rural Ohio 

The shale gas drilling boom is not just a theoretical possibility for the 28,587 people of Carroll County, OH. They are already living with dramatic changes to the county’s woods and fields and rolling hills. This photo tour provides a glimpse of what it looks like when fracking comes to rural Ohio.

Finger Lakes group sues NY for health-related fracking documents

Since the state Department of Health launched its own review of hydraulic fracturing almost one year ago, both supporters and opponents of shale-gas drilling have expressed frustration with the level of secrecy surrounding the state’s decision-making process.

Sierra Club Sues For Records In Ohio Dumping Case

An environmental group seeking documents related to alleged illegal dumping of wastewater from oil and gas drilling into a northeast Ohio storm sewer is suing the state for access to the records.

The Sierra Club filed its suit Monday in the Ohio Supreme Court. The group alleges the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has failed to produce public records it requested six months ago.

Fracking protesters can remain at Balcombe until October, court rules

Protesters camping at a potential fracking site in Sussex have been told they can stay in place until early October, following a high court ruling on Monday.

The Balcombe protesters were challenging an eviction notice from the local council, and gained a partial victory as the court ruled that the notice from the council was flawed, and adjourned proceedings.

Illegal brine disposal ends with fines

Fines have been levied against two oil and gas companies related to Utica shale drilling in Ohio after one is accused of intentionally dumping brine water into a pond on a farm in St. Clairsville in May.

Study reveals link between oil spill exposure and hematologic and hepatic toxicity

A new study reports that workers exposed to crude oil and dispersants used during the Gulf oil spill cleanup display significantly altered blood profiles, liver enzymes, and somatic symptoms compared to an unexposed control group. Investigators found that platelet counts were significantly decreased in the exposed group, while both hemoglobin and hematocrit levels were notably increased. Their findings, reported in The American Journal of Medicine, suggest that oil spill cleanup workers are at risk for developing hepatic or blood-related disorders.

BP claims investigation finds attorney took $40K kickback in exchange for referring nearly $8 million claim

The results of a two-month long investigation into allegations of fraud within the 2010 oil spill settlement program has revealed an alleged kickback scheme involving a claims attorney.

Oil Spill Cold Lake: First Nation Says 6 Sites At Oilsands Project Leaking Bitumen, Up From 4

A First Nation says it is concerned about two other leaks at an oilsands project in northeastern Alberta, bringing the total in recent months to six.

Chief Bernice Martial of Cold Lake First Nation said Monday that she is worried about the safety of drinking water, animals and vegetation in her region.

Exxon Valdez spill is long past, but not the oil – or the legal case

During the chaos of the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, one oil industry representative famously predicted that “lawyers yet to be born will work on this spill.” Today, as we approach the 25-year anniversary of the spill, the legal case remains unresolved. The Exxon Valdez case is now the longest-lasting environmental litigation in history.

Debate Revs As Decision Stalls Over Oil Pipeline From Canada

Five years ago this week, a Canadian company proposed building a pipeline to send heavy crude oil from Alberta to U.S. refineries. Although the Obama administration’s answer on the Keystone XL pipeline is not expected anytime soon, politicians in Washington and Canada are ramping up the pressure for the project, while environmentalists are pushing hard against it.

Americans Finding Themselves Powerless to Stop Pipeline Companies From Taking Their Land

The distant rumbling starts about the time David Gallagher pours his first cup of coffee in the morning.

It’s a signal that work crews from Enbridge Inc. are beginning another day of construction on an underground pipeline that will someday carry 21 million gallons of heavy crude oil a day just 14 feet from his Ceresco, Mich. home.

Opponents of Keystone Pipeline Add Economic Arrows to Their Quiver

As President Obama considers the climate impact of the Keystone XL pipeline, some of the project’s most vocal opponents are putting a renewed focus on its economic effects.

The pipeline, which would carry heavy crude from Canada’s tar sands to U.S. refineries on the Gulf Coast, is still pending approval by the State Department, and Obama said this summer he will only issue a permit if the project does not exacerbate climate change.

Keystone XL completion unlikely this year -Canada minister

The approval of the Keystone XL pipeline is unlikely to be completed this year, Canada’s natural resources minister Joe Oliver said on Monday.

This is the first specific comment on the project’s timeline from a Canadian minister.

Bill McKibben pushes Obama on pipeline

On Sept. 21, the environmental organization 350.org will convene a “day of action” around the country to, among other things, protest Keystone XL and the group’s founder, Bill McKibben, is speaking out about the need for President Obama to stop the proposed pipeline.

Keystone XL protesters arrested in downtown Houston (video)

Thirteen Keystone XL opponents were arrested Monday during a protest in downtown Houston after they refused to move from the front of pipeline owner TransCanada’s offices.

Lac-Mégantic: 31 hectares of land affected by oil contamination

Quebec’s Environment Department has released a preliminary report into the soil contamination caused by the July 6 train derailment in Lac-Mégantic.

The Worst Thing About Hawaii’s Molasses Spill Isn’t Even the 1,400 Tons of Dead Fish

Matt Cox, the CEO of Matson Navigation, apologized for the molasses spill and said the company “will fully pay for cleanup and other costs without passing them on to taxpayers or customers,” reports the Associated Press.

Typhoon Man-yi complicates Fukushima nuclear cleanup (+video)

Typhoon Man-yi brought heavy rain and wind to Japan Monday, raising concerns over the fragile cleanup at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant. Workers already struggle to contain contaminated wastewater, and rain from Typhoon Man-yi adds to the complications at Fukushima.

Tepco Drains 1,130 Tons of Rainwater at Fukushima After Typhoon

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (9501) revised down the amount of rainwater it drained into the soil and Pacific Ocean at the wrecked Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant after a typhoon lashed the area.

Fukushima and the right to responsible government

Reprinted dozens of times since it was first published in 1967, “The Legal Consciousness of the Japanese People” by the late Takeyoshi Kawashima is arguably the most influential book on Japanese law ever written.

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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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