TagProduced Waters

Big Oil digs deeper in La. — will it be any different this time?


When I started practicing environmental law out of New Orleans in the late 1980s, the Deep South was still scarred by the last big oil rush. The Arab oil embargo and spike in prices during the 1970s had sparked a big boom in the Gulf Coast oil patch, but a decade later the price had plummeted and many of the wells were sealed off. What the oil giants left behind would keep me busy as a lawyer for...

Magazine exposes how Big Oil lobbyists run Louisiana


The new November issue of Harper’s magazine — available on newsstands now — features a must-read article on the issues that launched this blog in the first place: Big Oil’s domination of Louisiana politics and its fight to protect polluters over landowners whose property has been dumped on. The piece entitled “Dirty South: The foul legacy of Louisiana oil,” by...

Fracking and radioactivity: It’s worse than you think


I built the foundation of my career as an environmental lawyer upon the issue of fighting the radioactivity that results from oil and gas production. It was the end of the 1980s, and workers and pipe-cleaning yard owners in the Gulf Coast oil patch were just learning that the water that’s produced in oil wells is laced with radium-226 and — highly concentrated as it builds up...

Jindal leaves the polluted waters of Louisiana to test the political waters in Iowa


It’s been a pretty stressful month down here in Louisiana. Folks in communities like Braithwaite over in Plaquemines Parish are still trying to dry out from Hurricane Isaac, which was the worst storm to batter these parts in the last four years, flooding about 13,000 homes, causing an estimated $1.5 billion in storm damage, and stirring up a ton of BP oil that’s still out there in the...

The people know the truth: Fracking just isn’t safe


This past week, the natural gas industry — the people who’ve brought fracking to a community near you — held a major convention in Philadelphia, not far from the Marcellus Shale region where some of the most frenetic drilling is taking place. Inside a gleaming convention center, the multi-millionaire CEOs of Big Gas and their political hand-puppets like the Republican governor...

“We’re drilling all over the place”: Why Americans have to protest fracking in the streets

Remember when the election of Barack Obama was supposed to change everything on environmental policy? Some days that seems like it was a long time ago, doesn’t it? To be sure, no administration could have been worse that George W. Bush’s crew, which was filled with oil men who couldn’t sign off fast enough on drilling from sea to shining sea — and on a lot of federal lands...

Blinding us with pseudo-science: Tainted studies distort real fracking story


When it comes to science, the big money folks behind Big Oil and Gas — and their ideological buddies on the Far Right — have two very different strategies. When confronted with the many, many studies showing that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, for natural gas has tainted groundwater, polluted the air, led to improper disposal of wastewater and possibly even caused earthquakes, the...

Reason No. 317 to be alarmed about fracking: It’s hot outside!


It was Bob Dylan who famously said that you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. In the summer of 2012, you don’t need a weatherman to know it’s hot out there. Heck, just open your front door. As someone who’s lived in New Orleans my entire life, I’ve seen some of the worst that summer has to offer — August nights when the streets of the...

“The Sky Is Pink,” and how big oil and gas companies get to drill first, answer questions later


I read a lot of environmental headlines every day, but this one really caught my eye. It said, “After six decades of fracking, regulation considered.” The story was out of California, but its essence captured what’s going on from New York to Oklahoma and beyond. From coast to coast, government officials are allowing the big oil and gas companies to drill first, while asking...

“The poison beneath us”: Big Oil’s toxic legacy grows to unthinkable proportions


I became an environmental lawyer because of the reckless way that Big Oil has been treating the American landscape for decades. My first big case was launched more than 20 years ago, after we learned that companies like Chevron were dumping tons of radioactive pipe and wastewater across rural Mississippi — used, even, to construct school playgrounds. I brought cases in small towns in rural...

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