Weekend Environmental Must-Reads – December 15-16, 2012


California Prepares First Fracking Regulations, Joining Nationwide Debate

The controversial drilling technique known as hydraulic fracturing has created an oil and gas boom around the country – and that’s left state governments grappling with how to regulate it.

Alto Pass board bans fracking

Although unlikely to occur in Alto Pass, village board members took a symbolic stand against hydraulic fracturing this week by unanimously approving a ban against the practice.

Pa. fracking has been a disaster

All those bucolic scenes of gas wells set against a blue sky are fantasies. I know because I have a farm in upstate Pennsylvania in Tioga County. Nearby there are many dirty, polluting gas wells. They spew out carcinogenic chemicals, some radioactive. Tons of methane gas, 20 times worse than carbon dioxide, contribute to greenhouse gas, according to the EPA. Children near gas wells in Texas had three times the rate of asthma as those in other parts of the state.

The Number of Fracking Trade Secrets in Texas Will Likely Surprise You

What’s in the water? Or, to be precise, what’s in the mix of water, sand and chemicals that oil and gas drillers are sending deep underground in the drilling process known as hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking?”

Taking a hard look at fracking from the ground up

Your coverage of the fracking conference held by Maryland environmental, faith and health organizations (“Activists rally for fracking conference”, Dec. 9) states that activists met “to organize a push for a legislative ban” on fracking. The focus of the discussion was actually to put a legislative “pause” or moratorium on fracking into law that would allow science, open debate and democracy to ultimately decide the fate of fracking in Maryland.

Fracking’s Lure, Trap And Endless Damage

Say what you will about Yoko Ono’s art, there is no denying that she is unique. Who else will put several $100,000 full-page notices in The New York Times displaying only the word “Peace” or “Imagine Peace” in small type with the rest of the page blank? No elaboration, no examples of the ravages of war or mention of people “waging peace” around the country and world. Inscrutable, yes. Effective, who knows, except maybe Yoko Ono?

Fracking Fudged: Looking at Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Job and Economic Numbers

The Illinois Chamber of Commerce yesterday released a pretty, remarkably rosy sounding report, speculating on the potential impacts that fracking might have on Illinois’ economy. It is, as I say, remarkable stuff. “Natural gas development could create more than 45,000 jobs” according to the “first comprehensive look at Illinois jobs” that could be created when fracking comes. The Chamber’s spokesman has even invoked the “Beverly Hillbillies” in conjunction with the promise of fracking. It is interesting to bring up fictional characters to promote a supposedly reality-based report. None the less, as a native of Southern Illinois, I was intrigued.

Eco-group hails Westchester County for fracking wastewater ban

A coalition of health and environmental groups gathered in White Plains today to congratulate the Westchester County Board of Legislators for unanimously voting to prohibit the sale, application and disposal of waste products from natural gas drilling anywhere in the county. The new law, which applies to all wastewater treatment plants and all roads within the County, bans the sale of fracking waste, the processing of fracking waste at wastewater treatment plants, and the spreading of fracking wastewater on roads including applications for de-icing and dust control purposes. The groups are urging County Executive Rob Astorino to sign the bi-partisan legislation immediately.

Deep disposal well fight comes to small town

A signature battle of the energy boom, a public fight over a waste-water deep disposal well, plays out amid scientific uncertainty over safety in a small town.

This fracking fantasy is the delusion of fossil fuel addiction

Shale gas may possibly offset the decline in the UK’s North Sea supplies. But David Cameron and George Osborne’s dreams of an energy revolution are a dangerous hallucination

Sinkhole prompts road study

State highway officials plan to start early next year with a six-month study into the feasibility of an alternative route around an 8-acre sinkhole in northern Assumption Parish.

Telling truth may land BP employee in jail

If the government has its way, Kurt Mix will go to jail for telling the truth.

That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn by comparing the government’s claims in two separate criminal cases related to the Deepwater Horizon – one against BP filed last month and one against Mix, the rank-and-file BP engineer who had nothing to do with the accident itself.

Louisiana river project sparks contentious debate

To coastal scientists, releasing thousands of gallons of fresh water into southern Louisiana’s briny swampland would help revitalize wetlands that have vanished over the years.

To St. Bernard Parish oysterman Sam Slavich, the thought is like a noose tightening around his livelihood. Freshwater diversions that were opened to repel crude from the 2010 BP oil spill may have contributed to 70% of his oyster harvests dying.

Oil Spill Threatens Bird Sanctuary Off Staten Island

Oil from a barge spilled into the waters off Staten Island, spreading to a bird sanctuary on an island in Newark Bay, the Coast Guard said on Saturday.

The spill was detected shortly after 11 p.m. Friday at May Ship Repair, said Petty Officer Erik Swanson, a Coast Guard spokesman. Petty Officer Swanson said that fuel oil was being transferred from a barge called Boston 30 to another barge, DBL 25, when workers noticed that it was also darkening the water between the vessels.

Chevron to pay $155 million for Brazil oil spill

US oil giant Chevron has agreed to pay 310 million reales ($155 million) to Brazil for an oil spill last year that fouled beaches in Rio de Janeiro, officials said Saturday.

Pingpong robots could clean up oil spills

If one robot can accomplish a singular task, then much more could be done with hundreds of them, including cleaning up huge oil spills, shows a study.

Pipeline leaked more than 2,000 gallons of gasoline in Hillsborough

More than 2,000 gallons of gasoline spilled last week from a pipeline at the intersection of Route 206 and New Amwell Road, according to officials from Buckeye Pipe Line Co. L.P. on Saturday.

That is a significant increase from the company’s original estimate of 25 gallons.

Worries follow pipeline route through Pawnee’s ancestral grounds

Landowners who want the Keystone XL pipeline off the ground where they live often speak on behalf of generations of Nebraska families.

Montana reviews oil pipeline easement request

The Montana Land Board is preparing to sell easements to a Canadian company so that the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline can run through the state as it crosses some of Montana’s most important rivers.

Texas Landowner Gabe Cordova Says Keystone Pipeline Forces Him To Give Up Land

The Keystone Pipeline may be held up in Congress, but the private sector’s moving forward. Just ask Gabe Cordova, a Texas landowner who says Trans Canada is pushing him off his land.

International nuclear safety meet starts in Fukushima

A three-day international conference aimed at ensuring nuclear plant safety–in the wake of the nation’s worst nuclear accident last year–kicked off Saturday in Koriyama, Fukushima Prefecture.

IAEA, Fukushima Prefecture sign agreement to cooperate on decontamination, radiation monitoring

The International Atomic Energy Agency and the Fukushima Prefectural Government agreed Saturday to closely cooperate on decontamination and radiation monitoring in view of last year’s nuclear crisis.

No Japan revival unless Fukushima recovers: Minister

Without the recovery of Fukushima, the Japanese prefecture hit by a devastating earthquake, a tsunami and a nuclear disaster in March last year, there will be no revival of Japan, the Asian country’s foreign minister, Koichiro Gemba, has said.

WHO downplayed health effects of nuclear crisis on Fukushima residents : German physician

A German doctor and member of a Nobel Peace Prize-winning physicians’ group has criticized a World Health Organization report on the Fukushima nuclear catastrophe for underestimating its impact on human health.

Why Japan’s ‘Fukushima 50’ remain unknown

Entering the exclusion zone around the crippled Fukushima nuclear power plant is an unnerving experience.

It is, strictly speaking, also illegal. It is an old cliché to say that radiation is invisible. But without a Geiger counter, it would be easy to forget that this is now one of the most contaminated places on Earth.

Nuclear regulator admits errors in radiation projects all over Japan

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA)’s projections for spread of radiation showed numerous mistakes in the data of all atomic power plants in Japan after thorough review, it said Thursday. The NRA carefully examined in detail all data to make sure that no further mistakes will show in the projections. With this information, it is expected that the local governments will restructure its plans or make new ones for the preparation of nuclear disasters.

Radiation forecast maps corrected again for all nuke plants

The Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) on Dec. 13 released corrections to all of its radiation forecast maps, which show the likely spread of radioactive substances from a serious accident at 16 nuclear power plants across Japan.

Worsening radiation levels at SC nuclear dump go without cleanup

Radioactive pollution is getting worse on parts of South Carolina’s nuclear-waste dump near Barnwell, but state regulators say cleaning up the contaminated groundwater isn’t in their plan.

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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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