News Round-Up: January 20, 2012


Today’s Essential Reads


Fracking Forum: ODNR Official, Geophysicist Discuss Proposed Wells in Mansfield

An Ohio Department of Natural Resources official said Thursday his agency conducts unannounced inspections of Ohio’s injection wells every 11 or 12 weeks, far more often than the federally required standard of once per year.

EPA Seeks Experts to Review Wyo. Pollution Study

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking nominees for a peer review panel that will be asked to take a close look at an EPA draft report that theorizes a link between hydraulic fracturing and groundwater pollution in a Wyoming gas field.

Pa. Town With Tainted Wells Getting New EPA Water

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Thursday that it will deliver fresh water to four homes in a northeastern Pennsylvania village where residential water wells were tainted by a gas driller. The agency also said it will begin testing the water supplies of dozens more homes as it ramps up its investigation more than three years after homeowners say the water supply was ruined.

Fracked: The Debate Over Shale Gas Deepens

Is shale gas good for us or not? Most of that argument has been over the potential risks that hydrofracking for shale gas might pose to water supplies—risks that were highlighted again this week when the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) came to Dimock, PA, to test groundwater in the area. You might know Dimock from the anti-fracking film Gasland—a group of residents have claimed for years that fracking poisoned their water supply, and federal involvement indicates there may be more at stake.


Don’t Believe the (BP) Hype!

Notice the increase in BP commercials on television lately? You know, the ones that show pristine beaches, people gallivanting in the water, “locals” claiming that all is well in the Gulf following the devastating explosion and oil spill in April of 2010 that released 4.9 million barrels of crude oil and gas into the ocean, killing 11 and injuring 17 others while virtually shutting down the seafood industry in the area?

Federal Government Asks Court to Declare Companies Liable for Environmental Penalties

In a preview of what’s to come next month when trial over the 2010 oil spill begins, the U.S. Department of Justice asked U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier Thursday to declare BP, Anadarko and Transocean liable for penalties under the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act of 1990, and the companies immediately fought it and pointed fingers at each other. Steven O’Rourke, a senior attorney in the environmental enforcement section of the justice department told the court that the language in the Clean Water Act and Oil Pollution Act is straightforward: owners or operators of vessels or offshore facilities are liable if oil is discharged into water.

BP Seen Agreeing: $20-25Bln Oil Spill Deal

Oil giant BP will likely agree to pay the US Department of Justice $20-$25 billion next month to settle all civil and criminal charges around the Deepwater Horizon rig blast and Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a leading industry analyst predicted on Thursday.

Louisiana Coastal Restoration, Hurricane Levee Spending Plan Proposed

Louisiana would spend $923 million on hurricane protection and coastal restoration projects during fiscal year 2013, including $161 million to pay part of the state’s share of the upgraded New Orleans area hurricane levee system, and $23 million toward the Morganza to the Gulf levee protecting Houma, according to a draft plan presented to the Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority on Wednesday.


Japan Still Pushing Nuclear Power

The Japanese government’s decision to allow nuclear reactors to run as long as 60 years has anti-nuclear activists worried that lessons of Fukushima have not been learned.

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Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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