News Round-Up: March 8, 2012


Today’s Essential Reads


New Report: Fracking Could Cause a New Global Water Crisis

New technology enabling the extraction of large quantities of oil and natural gas from shale and other rock formations could drive the world’s next great global water crisis unless it is banned, according to a new report released today by national consumer group Food & Water Watch. Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, combined with horizontal drilling, is poised to become a global environmental and public health threat as the oil and gas industry seeks more access to oil and gas trapped in rock formations far beneath the ground.

Science and Policy: What the Fracking Frack?

In the early 80s, an oil and gas company issued a press release about its plans to “frack” a well. But now, you will never hear anyone from the energy industry or conservative politics using the word “frack.” Instead you read “hydraulic fracturing,” or sometimes “fraccing” if they’re trying to be sneaky, or “clean energy” if they’re blatantly lying.  Even Obama didn’t use the word “frack” in his state of the union address when he was offering praise for natural gas development. (…)

Will Fracking Occur Beneath City’s University Estates?

The news that University Estates in Athens may – at least potentially – be open to oil-and-gas drilling has reportedly caused consternation among at least some residents of the housing development.

Senate Committee Hears Fracking Fee Bill

Opponents of using new hydraulic fracturing drilling techniques in western Maryland joined state officials Tuesday in asking lawmakers to support a fee to fund a study of potential environmental impacts.


University of Houston Study Shows BP Oil Spill Hurt Marshes, but Recovery Possible

Crabs, insects and spiders living in coastal salt marshes affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster were damaged by the massive oil spill but were able to recover within a year if their host plants remained healthy, according to a University of Houston study published Wednesday (March 7) in the open access journal PLoS ONE.

Gulf Oil Spill Moratorium Claims Have No Place in BP Settlement

BP buckled on health claims, striking a settlement deal with private plaintiffs to compensate hundreds of thousands of people whose complaints of illness from exposure to oil and cleanup chemicals were once derided as flimsy. The oil giant even caved on paying casino workers for lower earnings, beachfront property owners for loss of enjoyment and fishers for subsistence use — the types of claims that pay czar Kenneth Feinberg often rejected over the last year and a half.

BP Oil Spill: Judge Rules Company Liable For Civil Penalties

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that BP PLC and one of its minority partners in the blown-out Macondo well are liable for civil penalties under the Clean Water Act for their roles in the nation’s worst offshore oil spill.

BP to Pay $7.8 Billion to Settle Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill Lawsuit — Is the Company Getting Off Too Easy?

We turn to news that the worst maritime oil spill in history may now yield one of the largest class action settlements ever. Late Friday night, oil giant British Petroleum agreed to a proposed settlement with more than 120,000 victims of the massive spill that spewed nearly five million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. The settlement will now be reviewed by a judge. It has no cap, but BP estimates it will pay about $7.8 billion in damages to individuals.


No Lessons Learned from Japan’s Nuclear Disaster in U.S. Politics

Super Tuesday demonstrated the rancour rife in Republican ranks, as the four remaining major candidates slug it out to see how far to the right of President Barack Obama they can go. While attacking him daily for the high cost of gasoline, both sides are travelling down the same perilous road in their support of nuclear power.

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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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