Weekend Environmental Must-Reads – February 9-10, 2013


Fracking Waste: Is It Safe To Ship Natural Gas Drilling Byproduct By Barge?

Should a Texas company be allowed to ship fracking wastewater by barge up the Ohio River prior to disposal? The company says yes. Environmental groups say no. The U.S. Coast Guard, which has final authority over river cargo, says it is investigating.

Beer brewers are joining forces to fight fracking

Larry Bennett, who operates Brewery Ommegang in Cooperstown, N.Y. — which, we don’t mind saying, makes very good beer — has some serious realtalk for the state about fracking and its potential impact.

In North Carolina, Fracking Rights Rise To Surface

Three years ago, Vince and Jeanne Rhea found the house of their dreams in Shirley, Arkansas. They couldn’t believe the deal: 40 acres complete with a separate workshop that Jeanne could use as an art studio and two nearby lakes. It was also thousands of dollars cheaper than a property of that quality should have been. They booked a plane ticket from Raleigh, North Carolina that day to fly down and buy it.

When they got to Arkansas, they found out why it was so cheap.

State might miss 2 key Feb. fracking deadlines

Could the state actually miss its Feb. 27 deadline to issue its fracking regulations, which would mean yet more delay in the four-and-a-half-year process?

Here’s why we shouldn’t be surprised if it does: First, the Department of Environmental Conservation must publish the thousands of pages of its environmental impact study on the natural-gas extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, by Wednesday.

That study, the SGEIS, is the basis for its regulations.

Landowners coalition ready to sue if state misses fracking deadline

A landowners’ coalition says it’s laying the groundwork for a lawsuit against New York State if regulators miss a Feb. 27 deadline to complete rules for shale gas development.

Activists Protest As Fracking Deadline Looms

Governor Andrew Cuomo faces a critical decision this month on whether to allow a controversial natural gas extraction procedure known as hydraulic fracturing in New York State, and the impending deadline has stirred up activists who are staunchly against the procedure they call “fracking”.

A winter storm made Friday a relatively quiet day in the political world, but the nasty weather didn’t stop several committed activists from holding a demonstration in front of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Manhattan office.

Pa. Lawmaker Wants to Spend Impact Fee Money on Fracking Health Study

Suburban Philadelphia Republican State Sen. Stewart Greenleaf is working on a bill that would allocate $2 million from the state’s impact fee fund to study the public health impacts of Marcellus Shale drilling.

Oil and Gas Sector Ranks Number Two in Global Warming Pollution

When it comes to greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, power plants are the 800-pound gorilla in the room. But a new report from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) shows that oil and natural gas are a pretty sizable monkey on our climate back as well.

Yoko Ono Buys TV Ad Time to Speak to Gov. Cuomo About Fracking

As the deadline for New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s decision on gas fracking approaches later this month, Artists Against Fracking has stepped up its campaign calling for a permanent moratorium on fracking.

President Obama, Don’t Appoint a Fracking Proponent as Energy Secretary

President Obama is considering naming Ernest Moniz, head of the oil and gas industry funded MIT Energy Initiative, as the next Energy Secretary. Moniz is a proponent of using natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to renewable energy. But in reality, fracking for natural gas only prolongs our dependence on fossil fuels, while contributing to global climate change and polluting our scarce fresh water resources. According to an exclusive story by Reuters, Moniz “believes the water and air pollution risks associated with hydraulic fracturing, or ‘fracking’ were ‘challenging but manageable.’

Pennsylvania Dairy Farmer Loses 3 Calves in 9 Days: Fracking is the most likely suspect.

Last fall when I attended Shale Gas Outrage, I had the opportunity to go to the press conference before the demonstration and listen to those who have been affected by fracking.  One of the people who spoke at the press conference was Carol French, a dairy farmer from Bradford County who has lost many cows due to fracking processes in her area.  In the last 9 days, Mrs. French has had 3 pregnant cows abort their calves, and in desperation she took to Facebook to post her story.

Gulf Coast congressmen to federal government: Stop killing red snapper

A federal program to destroy idle oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico may be killing thousands of red snapper – even as the government is tightening restrictions on the popular fish.

Gulf Coast political leaders are calling on the U.S. Interior Department to halt its “Idle Iron” program, designed to clear abandoned oil and gas drilling platforms from the Gulf.

Transocean and federal prosecutors defend plea agreement in memo to judge; blame BP for Gulf oil spill

The Justice Department and Transocean filed a memo in federal court Friday defending the plea agreement the company recently reached with prosecutors for its role in the BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill. In the memo, they argue that the plea deal, which requires Transocean to pay $400 million in fines and plead guilty to criminal environmental charges, was appropriate because BP is largely to blame for the tragic blowout of its Macondo well in the Gulf of Mexico.

Transocean seeks OK on its spill plea

Transocean and federal prosecutors are urging a judge to accept a criminal plea deal under which the Swiss drilling contractor would admit to a misdemeanor and pay a $400 million penalty for its role in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

A 21-page joint memo filed Friday by federal prosecutors and Transocean asserts that the guilty plea – to a violation of the Clean Water Act – and punishment are fair.

Draft Arctic Oil Spill Agreement “Inadequate”

Washington – Environmentalists are warning that a meeting of environment ministers that took place Monday in Sweden has agreed on a weak and inadequate response plan in case of an oil spill in the Arctic Ocean.

According to Greenpeace, an environment watchdog, a leaked copy of the document suggests that the eight member states that make up a group dubbed the Arctic Council have failed to agree on the technical details necessary for dealing with a large-scale disaster, even while it opens the way for increased drilling and oil exploration in the Arctic.

Assessor Says State Taxes Don’t Apply To Kulluk Drill Rig

After the grounding of Shell’s Kulluk drill rig in January, reports circulated that the company had been moving it from Unalaska to Seattle in order to avoid Alaska’s oil and gas property tax. But this week, as the Kodiak Daily Mirror first reported, the state decided that tax doesn’t actually apply to the offshore rig. That’s despite the Kulluk being grounding in Alaskan waters on Jan. 1, when the state’s oil and gas property tax rolls were drafted.

Kerry wants Keystone pipeline decision in ‘near term’

Secretary of State John Kerry said Friday that a federal decision on the proposed Keystone XL oil sands pipeline should arrive in the “near term,” but did not define what “near term” means.

Kerry, after meeting with Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird, said his State Department predecessor, Hillary Clinton, had established a “very open and transparent process, which I am committed to seeing through.”

Keystone XL pipeline action is near, Kerry suggests

Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Friday that he would stick to a “very open and transparent” permitting process for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, adding, “I hope we will be able to make an announcement in the near term.”

Emerging from a meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird, Kerry said, “We have a legitimate process that is underway, and I’m going to honor that.” He said it was “fair and accountable.”

TEPCO needs govt aid to deal with Fukushima compensation

Management reconstruction of the troubled Tokyo Electric Power Co. is becoming increasingly uncertain.

If its business erodes further, the power company might have difficulty dealing with the crisis at its Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant and stably supplying electricity to its customers. The government should consider additional official assistance as quickly as possible.

Ministry: Many Fukushima laborers deprived of danger pay

The Environment Ministry has admitted danger pay has not been reaching some laborers entitled to a hefty bonus for their work on decontamination projects near the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant.

Unscrupulous employers likely pocketed the missing cash, but the ministry says it will neither penalize them nor name and shame them because that “would have a big adverse effect,” an official in charge of the matter said.

Hanford Advisory Board wants to speed cleanup of highly radioactive waste spill

The Department of Energy should not delay work to clean up the highly radioactive spill from a hot cell in a Hanford building just north of Richland, the Hanford Advisory Board said Friday.

DOE and its regulators, the Washington State Department of Ecology and the Environmental Protection Agency, have proposed revised deadlines to the legally binding Tri-Party Agreement.

Minnesota is a hotbed for radioactive gas radon

Wes and Mary Anne Bry moved their three daughters to Lakeville 18 years ago, thinking their new house on a quiet cul-de-sac would be a dream home.

But last September, just days before their 30th wedding anniversary, Wes was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and he began to wonder.

Wes, who is 60, had never smoked, and an Internet search led him to radon gas, the nation’s second-leading cause of lung cancer. The Brys bought a test kit at a local hardware store, placed it in their basement — and learned that the house where they have lived for nearly two decades has radon levels roughly three times above the federal safety level.

Add comment

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

Follow Us

© Stuart H Smith, LLC
Share This