Environmental Must-Reads – September 6, 2013


Media Tout Pro-Fracking Report, Fail to Mention it Was Funded By the Gas Industry

Major news outlets failed to mention it was paid for by America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the American Petroleum Institute, the American Chemistry Council and the Natural Gas Supply Association.

Fracking Limits for Virginia Forest Spark Debate on Water

A proposal to restrict natural gas production in a Virginia national forest has become a flashpoint in the debate over whether drilling endangers water — in this case water used by millions of people in the Washington region.

New law could allow fracking without property owners’ consent

A revived North Carolina law means that, in some cases, landowners may have to sell their oil and gas resources to energy companies—even if they do not give consent.

Understanding Fracking: Arguments for and Against Natural Gas Extraction

Fracking for natural gas has become a hotly debated issue across the United States, as industry leaders highlight the benefits the practice holds and health and environmental groups question its safety.

Fracking concerns in Allegan State Game Area prompt lawsuit against federal government

An Allegan County couple has filed a lawsuit against the federal government to prevent leasing of mineral rights for fracking in the Allegan State Game Area.

California must regulate fracking, acidizing

The stakes keep getting higher for California in the quest to regulate the removal of massive amounts of oil and gas from rock formations stretching from Modesto to Bakersfield. The latest development is that petroleum companies believe acidizing — the practice of pouring powerful acids underground — may be even more effective in California wells than high-pressure hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, which involves pumping water and various chemicals into the shale formations.

U-M research: Fracking could create jobs but poses many hazards

High-volume hydraulic fracturing, a controversial method for extracting natural gas from the ground through high-pressure injection of large amounts of water mixed with chemicals and sand, has the potential to create a “gas boom” of activity and economic growth in Michigan, but fracking could also harm air and water quality and degrade ecosystems, according to a series of reports released by University of Michigan researchers today.

Lawsuit Launched to Protect Endangered Species From Fracking in Michigan

The Center for Biological Diversity launched federal litigation today challenging the Bureau of Land Management for failing to protect endangered species like the Karner blue butterfly and Indiana bat by properly assessing the risks posed to them by fracking on public land being leased for oil and gas production in a game reserve in southwestern Michigan.

Bureau of Labor Statistics’ National Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries Shows Oil and Gas, Construction, and Mining Industries Rates Climbing

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) recently released its preliminary “Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries.”  The findings show an increase of twenty-three percent in the oil and gas extraction industries, a fourteen percent increase in the mining sector, and a five percent increase in the construction industry.

Pennsylvania Drillers May Soon Face Tightened Environmental Regulations

Oil and gas drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale formation may soon find themselves subject to more stringent environmental protection standards under regulations proposed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (“the Department”).  The Department announced on August 27, 2013 that the proposed regulations were approved by the state’s Environmental Quality Board.  The proposal now moves to the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office and the Office of General Counsel, followed by a public comment period.

Showdown in the Ohio Valley: War Veterans Prepare to Fight Fracking

What could make a former Marine, retired cop, and self-described “ultra-conservative” oppose fracking in his home state of Ohio? At a diner off of Route 22 near Steubenville, OH, Ed Hashberger had the answer. Dressed in a red polo shirt emblazoned with the U.S. Marine Corps logo and carrying a Marine Corps notebook, Hashberger first described his bona fides.

L.A. City Councilmembers Call for Fracking Moratorium 

Yesterday, in city hall, Councilmembers Paul Koretz and Mike Bonin introduced a motion to place a moratorium on fracking within the city of Los Angeles and along the city’s water supply route. They were joined outside beforehand by the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch, the environmental health group Physicians for Social Responsibly-Los Angeles, Citizens Coalition for a Safe Community (CCSC) and the Sierra Club to announce the motion at a press conference.

Research examines changing role of patents in natural gas industry

New research from Penn State and the University of Alberta suggests that patents related to hydraulic fracturing—or fracking—can be used in the industry to limit the availability of information about the fluids expended as part of the natural gas extraction process.

Fracking Away Our Water Supply

As many areas of the country experience severe droughts, the fight for clean, fresh water is becoming vital to survival for many American citizens.  The problem has been made worse by the expansion of hydraulic fracturing (fracking), which gobbles up hundreds of millions (billions, according to some estimates) of gallons of potable water every month.

No Free Pass For Fracking In California

We are (regrettably) used to seeing end-of-session hijinks in Sacramento when “gut and amend” bills and other special interest tricks get rolled out.  But today we’re seeing a new one:  an entire industry that wants a free pass to pollute by evading the protections of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

BP, feds offer dueling Gulf oil spill estimates as second phase of trial approaches

With a high-stakes trial set to resume in less than a month, BP and the federal government on Thursday offered conflicting estimates of how much oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the blowout of the company’s Macondo well triggered a deadly explosion.

BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill RESTORE Act regulations released by Treasury

The U.S. Department of the Treasury on Thursday announced a new proposed regulation to govern the spending of billions of dollars of Clean Water Act fines to restore the Gulf Coast in the aftermath of the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

BP, federal government offer dueling estimates of how much oil spilled into Gulf of Mexico

Less than a month before a high-stakes trial resumes, BP and the federal government have offered conflicting estimates of how much oil spilled into the Gulf of Mexico after the blowout of the company’s Macondo well triggered a deadly explosion.

BP Wants To Halt Deepwater Horizon Claims Process

BP is fighting the settlement it agreed to last summer that let the oil company avoid thousands of potential lawsuits over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Just after the spill, when oil was still gushing into the Gulf, BP touted the $20 billion it set aside for claims. But now it says the claim process is corrupt and is hoping a court will overturn the settlement that established the claims fund.

Seismic activity reported at giant Louisiana sinkhole

Authorities are investigating what is causing the seismic activity reported Wednesday at the giant Louisiana Sinkhole in Assumption Parish.

According to the Assumption Parish Police Jury blog, seismic monitoring detected elevated fluid and gas movement in the sinkhole Tuesday and Wednesday, and an isolated seismic event that was “comparatively stronger” to most resent signals happened Wednesday mid-afternoon.

In Exxon Pipeline Relocation Push, Zero Risk to Drinking Water Is the Goal

Only one manually-operated valve exists along the watershed’s pipeline. About a million gallons of oil could escape in the time it could take to close it.

Oil refiners don’t care about Keystone XL anymore

We’ve heard from the Canadian oil industry that the Keystone XL pipeline is essential for the expansion of tar-sands operations. But here in America, oil refiners are now saying they don’t much care whether the damned thing ever gets built.

After North Sea Gas Leak, Drillers Fear Corrosive Fluid Could Threaten Deep Sea Wells Across The World

A corrosive drilling fluid that triggered the North Sea’s worst gas leak in 20 years could threaten similar deep-sea wells across the world, and operator Total has already warned Shell that its nearby Shearwater field may be at risk.

Shell to negotiate compensation for 2008 Nigeria oil spill

Five years after a Shell pipeline burst twice, massively polluting fishing grounds in the Niger delta, the company will finally sit down on Monday with affected villagers to negotiate compensation and possibly start to clean up what some experts say was one of the largest spills in one of the world’s poorest regions.

8-km oil slick in Sept-Iles, Quebec

A botched reservoir transfer caused 450,000 litres of oil to spill into a bay 900 km northeast of Montreal on Tuesday.

Details released for oil-exploration deal on Quebec island of Anticosti

The long-awaited details of a Quebec oil-exploration deal, kept quiet for five years, have been released to the public.

Petrolia has finally shed light on the agreement it signed in 2008 with Hydro-Quebec to explore for oil on Anticosti Island.

Danger on the tracks: Unsafe rail cars carry oil through US towns

The number of freight trains carrying oil across America has soared in the past five years, but federal officials warn that the massive steel tank cars that carry most of that oil through towns and past schools – the same cars that exploded in Quebec this summer, killing 47 — may be unsafe and prone to rupture.

Fukushima: The long road home after 2011 disaster

“You’re listening to Fukushima FM.” The cheery jingle on the radio reminds you of a different time in this part of eastern Japan, a different world that existed before March 11, 2011.

Driving past houses that residents can no longer call home, you can still see sandbags holding down tarpaulins on damaged roofs. They’re the result of the devastating earthquake and tsunami more than two years ago, and repairs the owners have not yet been able to carry out.

Monitoring the spreading radiation from Fukushima, in real time

As the operators of the Fukushima nuclear power plant embrace the crazy-sounding (but not) plan to build an ice wall to contain radioactive water after a series of leaks and mishaps, concern is growing about the levels of radiation spreading to the surrounding area.

Fukushima Water Leak Risk Exaggerated: Watchdog

The chief of Japan’s nuclear watchdog chided the operator of the Fukushima plant Thursday for its inability properly to explain problems, which he said was inflating fears around the world.

South Korea bans fisheries imports from Fukushima area

South Korea has banned all fisheries imports from eight Japanese prefectures, amid concern over leaks of radioactive water from the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant.

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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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