Environmental Must-Reads – September 9, 2013


U.S. Forest Service set to decide on fracking in George Washington National Forest

George Washington National Forest is more than just one of the largest expanses of pristine land in the East. It’s the leafy cradle of the Shenandoah, James and Potomac rivers, a source of drinking water for millions of people in greater Washington.

The forest — nearly 2 million acres of natural splendor straddling Virginia and West Virginia — might also hold another treasure: natural gas trapped under a deep layer of rock called the Marcellus Shale.

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.

Steve Israel: Court to rule on patchwork fracking policies

You can not underestimate the importance of New York’s highest court deciding, once and for all, whether communities can ban fracking.

The ruling could determine the future of the natural gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in New York.

Fracking industry says fracking made you $1,200 richer last year

If you keep a close eye on energy news, you probably know by now that fracking for oil and natural gas is injecting $1,200 a year into the bank accounts of American households.

How One State Gets It Right On Fracking

Mounting evidence of water contamination, air pollution and even earthquakes has been piling on to the natural gas drilling method known as fracking, while state and federal agencies have been scrambling to develop a platform for managing future impacts. They’ve been left far behind in the dust, partly because a Titanic-sized loophole exempts fracking operations from key federal regulations.

However, at least one state appears to be determined to get ahead of the game. Michigan, which has yet to see widespread deep-well drilling within its borders, has just released a series of seven studies designed to anticipate and prevent negative impacts, if and when it gets hit by the fracking boom.

What the Media Left Out: Pro-Fracking Report Funded By Gas Industry

Multiple mainstream media outlets have covered a new report touting the economic benefits from fracking without disclosing the report’s industry funding.

The recently released study, America’s New Energy Future: The Unconventional Oil & Gas Revolution and the U.S. Economy, received widespread media attention on Thursday. The report, conducted by consulting group IHS CERA, was commissioned by multiple fossil fuel organizations that stand to benefit from growth in the oil and gas industry.

New oil & gas economic report tries to scare America into unfettered fracking

A new oil and gas industry-funded report concludes that protections for clean water, clean air, and American communities would lead to lower corporate profits and fewer jobs in the future. The report–-funded by the American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, the Natural Gas Supply Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and the American Chemistry Council–-reads like something out of a bad mob movie racket scene. Cut to the oil and gas men menacingly threatening: “Nice economy ya got there… It would be a shame if something happened to it…”

Some corruption in BP oil spill settlement program, Freeh says, but not on part of claims administrator

An independent probe by former FBI director Louis Freeh has concluded that several private plaintiffs’ attorneys worked together to corrupt a settlement process designed to compensate victims of BP’s 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Probe Clears BP Oil Spill Claims Chief But Finds Staff Misconduct

An investigation led by former FBI Director Louis Freeh cleared the BP claims administrator of misconduct in handling settlement payouts from the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on Friday, but found some of his staff took kickbacks for referrals.

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.

Rebel claimants in BP spill settlement get expedited hearing

A U.S. appeals court will hold an expedited hearing for a small group of claimants in a Gulf spill settlement with BP Plc, with oral arguments set for the week of November 4, the court said on Friday.

Have the coastal areas recovered from the BP oil spill effects

From the very beginning, it was obvious that the BP oil spill of 2010 was not just another environmental disaster that will blow over in a few months and that no one will feel the effects of except for people involved in cleaning up of the mess. It became obvious that the BP oil spill will become an event with far-reaching and even perhaps global economic and political impact. And it became exactly that. Three years later and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill is still affecting the livelihoods of thousands, if not millions of people.

Exxon’s Attempt To Stop Paying Oil Spill Victims Is Epic Failure

Just another bump in the road in swampy, sinking south Louisiana or a more ominous early warning from the growing Assumption Parish sinkhole?

State highway officials say they are trying, in an abundance of caution, to get to the bottom of a newly discovered rough patch on La. 70 near the 25-acre Bayou Corne-area sinkhole.

Assumption sinkhole swallows more trees (Video)

The Assumption Parish sinkhole swallowed about a dozen trees overnight Friday in a “slough-in” similar to the one captured on video several weeks ago that drew national media attention.

Alberta’s unstoppable oil spill

New figures released yesterday from the Alberta Energy Regulator (AER) show a concerted effort is still underway to clean up the growing amount of bitumen emulsion – a mixture of tar sands oil and water – that is pooling in a forested area surrounding Canada Natural Resource Ltd.’s Cold Lake project.

Enbridge moves ahead with Kalamazoo River cleanup

A pipeline company responsible for an oil spill three years ago in southwestern Michigan is moving forward with dredging activity as part of the cleanup ordered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Dilbit in Exxon’s Pegasus May Have Contributed to Pipeline’s Rupture

In the five months since ExxonMobil’s Pegasus oil pipeline burst in Arkansas, two things have become clear. Flawed, 1940s-era welding techniques used when the Pegasus was built set the stage for the rupture, and an internal pipeline inspection failed to spot the problem just weeks before the spill.

Train or Pipeline, the Answer is the Same

The catastrophic crash of an oil-carrying train in the province of Quebec last month, which devastated the town of Lac-Mégantic and killed dozens, has brought the Keystone XL pipeline into the headlines again.

Cold Lake Bitumen Spill Photos Leaked By Government Scientist: Report

Photos that show a series of underground oil spills seeping to the surface at an Alberta oilsands operation were leaked from a government source.

Postmedia News has confirmed the photos, which show bitumen emulsion coating more than two feet up tree trunks in an unnamed water body on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, were obtained by researcher and Huffington Post blogger Emma Pullman.

The President and the Pipeline

On the day of his second Inauguration, in January, Barack Obama delivered an address of unabashed liberal ambition and promise. As recently as early April, before the realities of the world and the House of Representatives made themselves painfully evident, the President retained the confidence of a leader on the brink of enormous achievements. It seemed possible, even probable, that he would win modest gun-control legislation, an immigration-reform law, and the elusive grand bargain with Republicans to resolve the serial crises over the federal budget. And he seemed determined to take on even the most complicated and ominous problem of all: climate change. The President, who had a mixed environmental record after his first term, vowed that he would commit his Administration to combatting global warming, saying that “failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”

Keystone pipeline foe Steyer launches $1 million ad push

Billionaire climate change activist Tom Steyer is launching a four-part, $1 million ad buy that attacks the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

The former hedge fund chief’s first ad, slated to run during today’s political talk shows, alleges Keystone wouldn’t help the U.S. because the oil would be  “refined and loaded on ships to be sold overseas to countries like China.”

Global Power Project, Part 10: TransCanada Corporation, Kings of the Keystone Pipeline

TransCanada Corporation describes itself as “a leader in the responsible development and reliable and safe operation of North American energy infrastructure.” Beginning in 2005, the company announced plans for the Keystone XL pipeline. In 2010, Canada’s National Energy Board (NEB) approved the full pipeline project, stating that it was in the “public interest” to transport Canadian tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast in the United States.

Harper Offers Obama Climate Action for Keystone Approval

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has offered to participate in joint efforts with the U.S. to cut greenhouse-gas emissions to win approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Shell to negotiate with Nigerians affected by 2 of largest oil spills in Niger Delta

Shell officials on Monday begin talks in the southern city of Port Harcourt with representatives for the Bodo community on compensation and cleanup five years after one of the worst oil spills in Nigeria’s history.

Exxon confirms oil spill in Bass Strait

Federal agencies are investigating an oil spill in Bass Strait after they were alerted to problems at one of the offshore platforms owned by Exxon Mobil and BHP Billiton.

Exxon, which operates the rigs, said the ”Cobia” platform had been shut down recently after an oily sheen was observed on the surface of the ocean about 70 kilometres off the eastern Victorian coast.

Alaska’s conference on Arctic oil pipelines has a fatal flaw: Key stakeholders left out

When the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation holds its Arctic/Cold Regions Oil Pipeline Conference in September, participants will get only a partial picture of the challenges of operating in Alaska because there will be “no time” to hear from the conservation community.

Tullow makes first Arctic oil discovery

Tullow Oil, one of the Britain’s most successful exploration groups, has made its first discovery in the Arctic in a move which will encourage more drilling and anger green groups campaigning against fossil fuel extraction in the region.

Japan’s Fukushima Ice Wall and Other Crazy Measures to Fight Disasters

The construction of an “ice wall” around Fukushima has a sci-fi tinge to it — but it’s far from the first experimental measure used to avert environmental catastrophe. Neither is freezing the soil itself new. The technique has been used in mines and tunnels for over a hundred years.

Fukushima’s financial fallout

The shutting down of the plant removed thousands of megawatts from the country’s power grid – but that was just the beginning of the problems caused by Fukushima’s meltdown.

Japan anticipates Olympic boost, but Fukushima shadows linger

Japan savoured its victory on Monday in the race to host the 2020 Olympic Games, anticipating an economic boost to spur its revival from two decades of stagnation and help it recover from the devastating 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

As Fukushima Continues Releasing Radioactive Water, Chernobyl Is Close To Getting New Casing

The incident would last only five hours, but it continues to haunt the nuclear power industry 27 years later.

It was just a little after 1 a.m. on April 26, 1986, a quiet night like any other in the small Ukrainian city of Pripyat, near the northern border with Belarus and only 95 miles from the capital, Kiev. According to records, it was a warm evening, more like summer than early spring.

Pripyat’s population at that time was just under 50,000, but within four days it would be just a handful. The city had experienced the worst nuclear power plant disaster in history.

British diplomats shrug off nuclear fears with Fukushima cricket match

For most cricketers, a green pitch might conjure worries of a sticky wicket. But for one British Embassy team, the phrase may have taken on a different meaning as they played a match near the damaged Fukushima nuclear plant.

Canada Should Keep an Eye on the Fukushima Disaster

This week, Japanese authorities released terrifying new information about radiation leaking into the Pacific Ocean from a damaged nuclear plant in Fukushima. On Sunday, the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) said radiation levels near a water storage tank at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant were 18 times higher than previously reported—enough to kill a person in a few hours. Then on Wednesday, radiation levels jumped another 20 percent in the same spot. And most recently, South Korea, banned all fish imports from the Fukushima region.

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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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