Environmental Must-Reads – September 26, 2013


One Way to Solve Fracking’s Dirty Problem

Hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—has unlocked vast amounts of oil and natural gas from shale rock in the United States, and has the potential to do the same around the globe (see “Natural Gas Changes the Energy Map”). But fracking also consumes huge quantities of water, which it contaminates with a heady mix of toxic chemicals, a problem that threatens to slow this expansion.

GE says it has a technology that could help—an energy-efficient process that could cut the cost of water treatment in half. The technology could also decrease the chances of toxic waste spills.

Fracking-Harmed Residents Demand U.S. EPA Renew Investigations

Residents of three states who say they were harmed by gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, held a news conference in front of the White House today to demand that the government reopen investigations into fracking-related drinking water pollution in Pennsylvania, Texas and Wyoming.

The Social Costs of Fracking

Pennsylvania’s natural gas boom has brought thousands of new gas wells, a number of transient workers and a host of social problems. Food & Water Watch found that traffic accidents, civic disturbances and public health problems in rural Pennsylvania counties have increased since the shale rush began in 2005, diminishing the quality of life for residents of once-bucolic communities.

California’s Top Chefs Join Together to Fight Fracking

Chez Panisse chefs Alice Waters and Jerome Waag today launched a chefs’ petition urging their colleagues to take a stand against fracking in California. Working in collaboration with Food & Water Watch, founding member of Californians Against Fracking, the chefs are concerned about the threat fracking poses to the world-renown food and wine grown, served and sold in California. The petition includes a letter calling on Governor Brown to place a moratorium on fracking now.

FrackSwarm: Harnessing the Power of the Anti-Fracking Movement into a Valuable Web Resource

Snow drifts arc along the Interstate as a frigid wind rips through this austere landscape of western North Dakota. The scene is something out of a colorful and lonely C.M. Russell painting. If it weren’t for the long line of semi-trucks backed up along Highway 85, leading into the nearby rural enclave of Williston, you may not have any idea there is something huge going on in this remote region that straddles Montana’s eastern-most border.

North Carolina rejects $600K grant to study fracking’s effects

If ignorance is bliss, then North Carolina has apparently decided that it’s happy not to know whether its planned fracking activity will poison its water supply. The state’s Department of Environment and Natural Resources returned two federal grants intended to study the risk drilling poses to the state’s streams and wetlands.

For Democrats Nationwide, Pennsylvania Offers a Lens on the Widening Rift Over Fracking

The Democratic Party has a few problems. Recently, President Obama has been forced to confront growing discord within his own party over a number of issues, from foreign policy to economics and the nomination of a new Federal Reserve chair. But another fissure between the Obama Administration and rank-and-file Democrats across the country, one that’s been slowly developing for years, has suddenly cracked wide open. It threatens to split the party in two, just as it quite literally splits the bedrock beneath our feet. It is the extreme gas drilling and extraction process know as fracking.

Boom in Unregulated Natural Gas Pipelines Posing New Risks

Thousands of miles of pipelines are being built at natural gas drilling sites throughout the nation without supervision or regulation by state or federal authorities.

These specialized pipelines, known as gathering lines, carry gas from wells to nearby separation facilities for processing. Many of the pipes are as large as regulated pipelines and operate at the same or higher pressures. Some run close to homes and businesses.

In Wake Of Colo. Floods, A Scramble To Clean Up Spilled Oil

The in Colorado this month caused more than 37,000 gallons of oil to spill into or near rivers, and the state’s oil and gas industry is rushing to fix equipment damaged during the storm. It comes at a time when there’s growing public concern about the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing in the state.

Feds to frackers: “No, please — let us help you find a place to dump your wastewater”

The Northeast’s fracking boom has left drillers with millions and millions of barrels of wastewater and nowhere to dump it. Some frackers have simply injected into deep wells, causing earthquakes; others have simply allowed their waste to flow into rivers.

The Hawkwoods

The Hawkwoods’ story is the first in a series of films on hydraulic fracturing released every Tuesday.

The westerly wind is not a welcome presence at the Hawkwoods’ cattle ranch just north of Cochrane in Lochend, Alberta. It often carries the flaring emissions from many of the 70 some hydraulically fractured wells in the “sweet spot” of the Cardium play upwind of property owned by the family for 40 years.

Since 2009, when horizontal hydraulic fracturing was first earnestly employed in the extraction of Lochend’s tight oil, Nielle and Howard have endured a disheartening array of struggles from compromised health and dead cattle to earthquakes and fractured community. With the collaboration of a small handful of neighbours, they have slowly uncovered the source of their misfortune.

Researcher: Extent of BP oil spill’s damage to sea-floor life “astounding”

The vast 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill damaged the tiny animals that live on the sea floor for about 57 square miles around the blown-out BP oil well, with severe damage in about nine square miles of that area, says a researcher from Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.

Oil Spill Claims Admin. Fires Back on BP

The appointed Deep Water Horizon Claims Administrator Patrick Juneau made his was across the Gulf Coast to visit offices and its employees. He stopped by Gulf Shores, Bayou La Batre, and Mobile Wednesday.

Going Small To Mop Up Big Oil Spills

When 4.9 million barrels of crude oil spewed into the Gulf of Mexico following the April 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil rig disaster, cleanup crews rushed to deploy floating barriers to contain crude oil collecting on the water’s surface. However, this did nothing for the oil that never reached the top.

Can bacteria combat oil spill disasters?

Teams of international scientists have decrypted the effectiveness of two types of bacteria, which could be used in the future to help combat oil spill disasters. According to a report written by scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research and the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in the peer-reviewed journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology (“Adaptation of the Hydrocarbonoclastic Bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis SK2 to Alkanes and Toxic Organic Compounds: a Physiological and Transcriptomic Approach “), Alcanivorax borkumensis converts hydrocarbons into fatty acids which then form along the cell membrane.

Ground Gives Way, and a Louisiana Town Struggles to Find Its Footing

It was nearly 16 months ago that Dennis P. Landry and his wife, Pat, on a leisurely cruise in their Starcraft pontoon boat, first noticed a froth of bubbles issuing from the depths of Bayou Corne, an idyllic, cypress-draped stream that meanders through swampy southern Louisiana. They figured it was a leaky gas pipeline. So did everyone else.

Just over two months later, in the predawn blackness of Aug. 3, 2012, the earth opened up — a voracious maw 325 feet across and hundreds of feet deep, swallowing 100-foot trees, guzzling water from adjacent swamps and belching methane from a thousand feet or more beneath the surface.

ExxonMobil agrees to release information to CAW under one condition

With the threat of a lawsuit, ExxonMobil agreed to release critical information about the pipeline that ruptured in Mayflower but it may not be enough.

Central Arkansas Water gave the oil giant sixty days to turn over the information and Wednesday Exxon announced it would do it under one condition.

Town hall meeting to focus on petroleum pipeline running under Cedar Creek Lake

Arkansas residents will recount the disastrous petroleum spill on Lake Conway six months ago when a petroleum pipeline that also runs under Cedar Creek Lake burst.

Canadian Natural Resources Told To Drain Alberta Lake Thanks To Oil Sands Leak

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd has been ordered to drain a lake on the site of its northern Alberta oil sands project so that contamination on the lake’s bottom, from a leak that has been spilling tar-like bitumen for months, can be cleaned up.

Pipeline threatens vulnerable species, report says

The Keystone XL pipeline could have devastating effects on at least a dozen threatened and endangered species and the habitats that lie in the project’s path, according to a new analysis from the Center for Biological Diversity.

The report, released Wednesday by the environmental advocacy group, found that power lines used to operate the pipeline pose collision threats for birds and bats; construction would disturb 15,500 acres, potentially crushing endangered foxes with young in their dens; and the project itself would exacerbate climate change by increasing production of the oil sands.

Keystone XL’s Ugly Toll on America’s Endangered Species

Much of the debate over the Keystone XL pipeline has rightly been focused on the staggering damage it’ll do to our climate.

But often overlooked in the controversy is the ugly toll this pipeline will take on some of America’s most endangered species.

Senior Republican, amid Keystone battle, floats bill to speed pipeline reviews

A senior House Republican is pushing a bill to speed up approval of cross-border oil pipelines, end the State Department’s lead review role and cut environmental study.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Gene Green (D-Texas) unveiled a draft bill Wednesday that would revamp permitting for these oil pipelines, as well as gas pipelines and electricity transmission projects that cross the U.S. border.

Antero Resources’s Proposed $500M Fracking Water Pipeline a Costly Wager for Drinking Water Supply

There’s been a lot of hype about Keystone XL over the past few months. The proposed pipeline extension, which would carry tar sands crude from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico for refinement, has caused an uprising among environmentalists. There have been protests in front of the White House and U.S. State Department, countless news articles and even President Obama has made public statements about the project.

Court hearing on Keystone XL pipeline live Friday on NET

NET will run live television coverage and web streaming from the Friday afternoon Lancaster County District Court hearing on a lawsuit filed by three Nebraska landowners who oppose the Keystone XL pipeline.

7 members of Greenpeace group detained for 2 months in Arctic oil rig case

Six Greenpeace activists and a photographer involved in the oil rig platform ‘piracy’ case will spend two months in pre-trial detention, a Russian court has ruled, according to the environmental advocacy group’s official Twitter account.

Shell Oil’s Arctic drilling operations in limbo

Six months after federal officials chastised Shell Oil for its faulty offshore drilling operations in the Arctic, the company has yet to explain what safeguards it has put in place or when it plans to resume exploring for oil in the vulnerable region.

Putin Defends Seizure of Activists’ Ship but Questions Piracy Charges

President Vladimir Putin said Wednesday that the Russian authorities were justified in seizing a Greenpeace International ship at an offshore oil platform in the Arctic last week, but he questioned whether the activities of the ship’s 30 crew members warranted the piracy charges that authorities said they would pursue.

Attempts to Link Fukushima, Hiroshima Upset Some

“No more Hiroshimas!” ”No more Fukushimas!” Those slogans are chanted together at rallies by Japanese who want both an end to nuclear power in the island nation and an end to nuclear weapons around the world. But many in this city, where the world’s first atomic-bomb attack killed tens of thousands, are distressed by efforts to connect their suffering to the tsunami-triggered meltdowns at the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant.

Anti-radiation fence at Fukushima has hole: TEPCO

Workers at Japan’s crippled Fukushima nuclear plant Thursday spotted a hole in one of the barriers intended to keep radioactive particles contained in the harbour, the operator said.

Trial fishing resumes off Fukushima after radiation tests

Local fishermen in Fukushima Prefecture on Wednesday restarted operations suspended late last month after heavy amounts of contaminated water from the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant was found leaking into the ocean.

Fukushima Prefecture resumes selling seafood products to local markets

Fish and other marine products are now available at local shops in Fukushima Prefecture as offshore test-fishing was shown to be safe from contamination by the local fisheries cooperative. The test was made on Wednesday while selling of the marine products resumed early Thursday.

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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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