Today’s Essential Reads
The Bulgarian government, preparing a full ban on shale gas drilling due to environmental concerns, on Tuesday cancelled a exploration permit for the unconventional energy source that it granted to U.S. energy major Chevron in June.
Hydraulic fracturing of an oil well in southern Alberta could have caused an oil well blowout a kilometre away, according to provincial regulators.
The Environmental Working Group warned New York officials that the state currently lacks the resources and knowledge to adequately protect residents and public water supplies from the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. EWG submitted comments to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation on the agency’s draft environmental impact assessment of fracking and commented separately on its proposed regulations of natural gas drilling.
New York’s emerging plan to regulate natural gas drilling in the gas-rich Marcellus Shale needs to go further to safeguard drinking water, environmentally sensitive areas and gas industry workers, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has informed state officials. The EPA’s comments, in a series of letters  this week to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, are significant because they suggest the agency will be watching closely as states in the Northeast and Midwest embrace new drilling technologies to tap vast reserves of shale gas.
BP OIL SPILL:
Even while oil was spilling into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon disaster, British Petroleum, which was ultimately responsible for the rig that exploded, bought TV ads that claimed it would “make it right” for the people and the environment of the Gulf Coast.
Think the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico has been tough to clean up? Well, wait till it happens in the Arctic. For much of the year, the Arctic seas are covered with ice and impassable for oil-spill response ships — oil could gush unabated for up to eight months. The nearest Coast Guard facilities are 1,000 miles away, and any attempted cleanup would be hampered by ice, cold, hurricane-strength storms and blinding fogs.
Two bills pending in Congress would free billions of dollars for Louisiana’s coastal restoration efforts. But as a bitterly divided Congress returns this week after a three-week holiday recess, prospects that either bill, or other significant legislation, can make it through the process in an election year are uncertain.
When scientist David Valentine and colleagues published results of a study in early 2011 reporting that bacterial blooms had consumed almost all the deepwater methane plumes after the 2010 Gulf of Mexico Deepwater Horizon oil spill, some were skeptical. How, they asked the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) geochemist, could almost all the gas emitted disappear?
In the amoral milieu of the corporate bottom line, you can’t blame Tokyo Electric Power Co. for trying. Tepco owns the six-reactor Fukushima complex that was wrecked by Japan’s March 11 earthquake and smashed by the resulting tsunami. It faces more than $350 billion in compensation and clean-up costs, as well as likely prosecution for withholding crucial information that may have prevented some radiation exposures and for operating the giant station after being warned about the inadequacy of its protections against disasters.