CRUDE

Jury Deliberating in Former BP Engineer’s Oil Spill Trial

A former BP engineer awaited a federal jury’s verdict Thursday in his trial on a charge of negligence that contributed to the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

Robert Kaluza was a rig supervisor aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore rig when it exploded, killing 11 workers and resulting in millions of gallons of oil spewing into the Gulf and fouling wetlands and beaches.

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/bp-engineers-trial-nears-end-closing-arguments-37191860

Bathing in Crude: Villages Sick After Oil Spill

After a heavy rain washed a huge oil slick down the Chiriaco River in northern Peru, 12-year-old Elías Taijín Rivera recalls, a man in a pickup truck offered to pay villagers in the Awajún village of Nazareth for any oil they collected along the riverbank.

“We went out in a canoe and scooped oil into buckets,” said the boy, who spent most of the day on February 10 filling containers with oil, along with other children, some as young as 7 or 8.

http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/02/25/bathing-crude-villages-sick-after-oil-spill-163526

After oil spill, nuns wonder where students will bathe and play

Five hundred indigenous middle- and high-school students will arrive in early March at a Catholic-run boarding school in this Awajun village, but the sisters and staff do not know where they will take baths.

The Chiriaco River, where the students usually bathe, play and wash their clothes, turned black Feb. 10, as oil from a broken pipeline upriver washed downstream in a heavy rain.

http://catholicphilly.com/2016/02/news/world-news/after-oil-spill-nuns-wonder-where-students-will-bathe-and-play/

BNSF Railway agrees to resolve oil spill incidents and improve prevention and response capacity in Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Justice have reached an agreement with the BNSF Railway Company (BNSF), resolving alleged violations of the Clean Water Act and the Oil Pollution Act at several locations in the states of Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming. The agreement, filed as a stipulated settlement in the U.S. District Court of Colorado, resolves four oil and diesel spills to waters of the United States from BNSF locomotives as well as inadequate plans at the company’s rail yards in Denver, Colorado; Guernsey, Wyoming; Grand Forks, North Dakota; and Minot, North Dakota. As part of the agreement, the Fort Worth, Texas- based company will pay a civil penalty of $600,000.

http://yosemite.epa.gov/opa/admpress.nsf/0/98c6550e4d0d04e385257f64006aabf6?OpenDocument

Cause of Norwalk River oil spill remains a mystery

Days later, the cause of a spill that let 50 to 75 gallons of oil into parts of the Norwalk River in Wilton, Ridgefield and Redding on Friday, Feb. 19, is yet to be determined.

The source of the spill was determined Friday afternoon to have been a leaking 200-gallon underground heating oil tank behind the building at 58 Ethan Allen Highway, Ridgefield.

http://www.wiltonbulletin.com/66753/cause-of-norwalk-river-oil-spill-remains-a-mystery/

Oil spill: Ruptured oil pipeline destroys property in Delta, Bayelsa

PROPERTY worth several billions of naira have been destroyed in the oil-rich states of Delta and Bayelsa as a result of spill involving 35,000 barrels of oil from ruptured oil pipelines. The development which has adversely affected the environment in the two neighbouring states, yesterday, caused the House of Representatives to mandate its Committees on Emergency Management and Disaster to visit the affect areas to ascertain the gravity of the disaster with a view to avoiding future occurrence.

http://www.vanguardngr.com/2016/02/oil-spill-ruptured-oil-pipeline-destroys-property-in-delta-bayelsa/

Oil-train opponents want low-income community involved in permit review

Opponents of oil trains are asking the state Department of Environmental Conservation to analyze the effects of crude oil terminals at the Port of Albany on a nearby minority and low-income community.

The coalition — which includes Albany County, a public housing tenants’ association, Sierra Club and Environmental Advocates of New York — wants the state to conduct an environmental justice analysis of the Global Companies and Buckeye Partners terminals in Albany, which handle billions of gallons of crude oil annually. The state is now reviewing a renewal of permits for the facilities, which offload crude oil from trains onto Hudson River barges.

http://www.capitalnewyork.com/article/albany/2016/02/8591883/oil-train-opponents-want-low-income-community-involved-permit-review

 

SHALE

Florida Senate panel halts fracking bill

Fracking in Florida has hit a wall in the state Senate.

A bill that could eventually allow fracking statewide has already passed the Florida House. But the Senate’s Appropriations Committee voted it down 10-9 on Thursday after three hours of testimony from experts and environmentalists, including an entire fifth grade class from a Tallahassee elementary school.

http://www.sun-sentinel.com/news/florida/fl-fracking-senate-appropriations-20160225-story.html

Fracking Opponents Say Idaho Pols Want to Give Tax Money to Big Oil

Idaho politicians are paving the way for the oil and gas industry to frack the state and spend tax dollars to provide the industry with information it can hide from the public, stripping landowners of property rights and due process, a grassroots coalition claims.

Citizens Allied for Integrity and Accountability held a public rally Monday at the statehouse after the Idaho Senate Resources Committee approved S.B. 1339 Friday as an “emergency” trade-secrets bill. A floor vote is expected this week.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2016/02/25/fracking-opponents-say-idaho-pols-want-to-give-tax-money-to-big-oil.htm

Battle over fracking in Monterey County intensifies.

About a dozen activists gathered in front of the Monterey County courthouse Feb. 23 to announce a proposed ballot measure that would ban, among other things, hydraulic fracturing—commonly known as fracking—within the county.

The gathering was led by Robert Frischmuth, a retired chemical engineer who spent most of his career in the fossil fuel industry. He laid out the proposal’s basic tenets: Aside from a ban on fracking, it would phase out wastewater injection wells, and ban new oil and gas wells. Frischmuth also emphasized that the current method of extraction being used in the county, called cyclic steam injection, would not be banned in the proposed measure.

http://www.montereycountyweekly.com/news/local_news/battle-over-fracking-in-monterey-county-intensifies/article_2c2791e2-db43-11e5-ba01-47b7d541193a.html

Little Elm files formal protest against Lewisville Lake fracking

The recent buzz around the upcoming sale of a section of Lewisville Lake for drilling activities caused the Little Elm Town Council to file a formal protest to the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) opposing the auction.

On Jan. 20, the BLM stated that there would be an auction for the drilling rights of a section of Lewisville Lake which is within the Barnett Shale. The section, owned by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, is on the Hickory Creek side of the lake and covers 259 acres of land.

http://starlocalmedia.com/littleelmjournal/little-elm-files-formal-protest-against-lewisville-lake-fracking/article_bff58658-db35-11e5-956e-7b1cba8826a2.html

Porter Ranch gas leak doubled methane emissions for the entire L.A. Basin, scientists say

Scientists who flew an airplane equipped with sensors through the plume of natural gas leaking into the Porter Ranch area have found that while it was ongoing, the nearly four-month leak released roughly 100,000 tons of methane — effectively doubling the methane emissions of the entire Los Angeles Basin.

The findings, published by the journal Science, cement the leak’s position as the largest methane leak in U.S. history — and highlight the need for rapid scientific response if and when such disasters do strike.

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-porter-ranch-methane-20160225-story.html

Residents return to Porter Ranch gas leak site

Four months after natural gas began leaking from a storage facility, residents of Porter Ranch, California, are returning home. Among them, 8-year-old Taylor Lee, who got a chance to ride his new bike, a Christmas present.

“It’s really fast! I like it!” said Taylor. He and his family have been living in a hotel provided by Southern California Gas since the methane leak began.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/health/residents-return-to-porter-ranch-gas-leak-site/

L.A. Methane Leak Was Officially the Largest in American History

Two weeks ago—after seven unsuccessful attempts—Los Angeles finally ended a disaster of historical proportions. On February 11engineers plugged a natural gas storage well that had been steadily leaking for almost four months. Today scientists who studied the full impact of this calamity released a report saying the 112-day blowout was easily the largest human-caused release of methane gas in American history.

http://www.popularmechanics.com/science/environment/news/a19620/la-methane-leak-was-officially-the-largest-in-american-history/

Gas Export Decision Stirs Debate Over Mass. Pipeline Need

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy approved plans permitting companies to export gas from Massachusetts to Canada and beyond.

Opponents of the construction of two new natural gas pipelines in Massachusetts claim the DOE’s decision demonstrates that the state already has enough natural gas and doesn’t need new pipelines.

http://www.wbur.org/2016/02/25/natural-gas-massachusetts-pipelines

Pipeline opponents say tree-cutting along Pa.-NY border is illegal

A coalition of environmental activists, attorneys and residents of Pennsylvania and New York met last Thursday in Albany to urge Gov. Andrew Cuomo to reject the construction of the Constitution Pipeline and to denounce current tree-cutting associated with the project.

The proposed pipeline is being developed by Williams, an energy infrastructure company and Cabot Oil & Gas to connect Appalachian natural gas supplies in northern Pennsylvania with major Northeastern markets.

http://legislativegazette.com/archives/2790

Pipeline regulators pressed to act on gas storage leaks

Lawmakers repeatedly pressed the federal government’s pipeline safety agency to crack down on the potential for leaks at natural gas storage facilities.

A Thursday hearing in a subcommittee of the House Transportation Committee came days after workers with a California gas utility stopped a massive leak that had gone on for 117 days at a storage well just north of Los Angeles.

http://thehill.com/policy/energy-environment/270734-pipeline-regulators-pressed-to-act-on-gas-storage-leaks

Gas company sues Burlco over pipeline standoff

New Jersey Natural Gas is suing Burlington County over rules the utility sees as an impediment to its proposed pipeline through three county municipalities.

The lawsuit filed in Superior Court challenges the county’s policies on disturbing county roads for projects such as water, sewer or gas line installations.

http://www.courierpostonline.com/story/news/local/south-jersey/2016/02/24/gas-company-sues-burlco-proposed-pipeline/80891030/

 

RADIATION

Nuclear waste dumped illegally in Ky.

After learning in January that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations had been dumped illegally in Kentucky last year, state officials are warning this week that all landfills be on the lookout and to not accept any of the radioactive material.

Kentucky Division of Waste Management Director Tony Hatton said officials have confirmed that low-level nuclear waste from drilling operations in Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia was sent to a landfill in Estill County between July and November. Officials are also investigating possible illegal shipments of similar waste to a landfill in Greenup County.

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/tech/science/environment/2016/02/25/nuclear-waste-dumped-illegally-kentucky/80924622/

Scrap contaminated with radioactive material shipped from Beaver Falls facility

A Beaver Falls scrapyard is working to develop a plan to decontaminate its facility, along with sites in Ohio to which scrap contaminated with radioactive material was shipped.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection was notified Tuesday that the contaminated recycled scrap was shipped from PSC Metals Inc. in Beaver Falls to two facilities in Ohio, according to a news release.

http://www.wpxi.com/news/news/local/scrap-contaminated-radioactive-material-shipped-be/nqX2t/

Buried vault of radioactive material OK to stay on site of future Manchester shopping center

Despite the presence of a buried vault of radioactive material on the site, members of the city’s planning board have conditionally approved a developer’s request for a subdivision as part of plans to convert the former Osram Sylvania light-bulb factory to a $60 million shopping center.

Developer Dick Anagnost disclosed the existence of the vault to Planning Board members during a public hearing on Feb. 4.

http://www.unionleader.com/article/20160225/NEWS0606/302259999

See inside the underground bunker that could launch a nuclear war

During the Cold War, the United States developed a vast nuclear arsenal with weapons on aircraft, submarines and land-based missiles. These three ways of delivering nuclear weapons became known as the triad, with the Soviet Union was the primary target. The strategy was to deter an attack on the United States by having enough nuclear weapons that could survive a strike and retaliate.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/see-inside-the-underground-bunker-that-could-launch-a-nuclear-war/

Japan: Amid Population Collapse, Fukushima Families Falling Apart

Given the option of leaving their hometowns or risking radiation poisoning five years ago, families living near the Fukushima radiation disaster are falling apart, facing divorce, suicide, and cancer. The breakdown of Fukushima families comes as Japan faces a dwindling population it continues to struggle to replenish.

http://www.breitbart.com/national-security/2016/02/24/five-years-after-fukushima-families-remain-torn-apart-by-evacuation/

Japanese nuclear reactors get tentative extension

Japan’s Nuclear Regulation Authority (NRA) approved Wednesday a draft of screening results for extending the operation periods of the Nos. 1 and 2 reactors at Kansai Electric Power Co.’s Takahama nuclear power plant, saying the draft fulfills the criteria of the NRA’s new safety regulations.

The NRA’s decision, which came at a regular meeting, is an effective green light to extend the operation period of the reactors at the plant in Takahama, Fukui Prefecture.

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-wp-japan-nuclear-f1edc4ee-db13-11e5-891a-4ed04f4213e8-20160224-story.html

NRC Eases a Testing Requirement at Indian Point

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has approved Entergy’s license amendment request for Indian Point unit 2, allowing the plant to change the frequency of a certain containment pressure test.

A similar license amendment request was approved by the NRC for unit 3 in March of 2015, according to Entergy officials. The NRC along with the industry created guidance whereby plants can extend the performance of this test from 10 to 15 years, based upon good performance in past tests and following comprehensive engineering analyses, they said.

http://patch.com/new-york/peekskill/nrc-eases-1-testing-requirement-indian-point

 

CLIMATE

Climate change might make flights longer

Think the news about climate change couldn’t get any worse?

Turns out it could make transatlantic flights even longer — and travelers can expect double the turbulence.

Meteorology expert Paul Williams, from the UK’s University of Reading, noticed that when carbon dioxide concentration is doubled it causes jet stream winds to strengthen.

That has a direct impact on planes flying 35,000 feet in the air.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/aviation/climate-change-flights-longer/

Packing up because of climate change

Dan Kipnis — a retired fishing captain on Miami Beach — has a home office so cluttered with sea creatures that it feels like a drained aquarium.

There’s a dead salmon stuck to the wall, a marlin above the bookshelf.

A taxidermic bat ray dangles from a string.

There was something freakishly ironic about sitting in this environment — an ocean waiting for water — while Kipnis told me how scientists expect his home to flood.

http://www.cnn.com/2016/02/25/opinions/sutter-miami-climate-change/

Al Gore: The Case for Optimism on Climate Change

Last week, I had the pleasure of participating in TEDTalks 2016 where I discussed many of the challenges presented by the climate crisis. But a powerful shift has been taking place, and it is clear that we will ultimately prevail.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/al-gore/the-case-for-optimism-on_b_9321148.html

Cyberforests help scientists predict the effects of climate change

Considering that it takes hundreds of years for forests to grow, it can be difficult to assess how they’ll be affected by climate change in the long term. To address that problem, researchers at Washington State University have created the world’s first computer simulation capable of growing realistic forests, using the model to predict how things like frequent wildfires or drought might impact forests across North America.

http://www.gizmag.com/simulated-forests-climate-change-effects/42046/

Farm report: Montana to lose millions to climate change

Montana agriculture losses to climate change could total $736 million a year, estimates an economic study prepared for Montana Farmers Union.

Warmer temperatures and drier summers are withering the future of Montana spring wheat, a major cash crop for state farmers, according to the report released recently.

http://missoulian.com/news/state-and-regional/farm-report-montana-to-lose-millions-to-climate-change/article_e855f52c-5ba7-5dca-accc-a79d956e44ef.html

Looming Ethiopia famine highlights vulnerability to climate change

Food aid will run out for over 10 million Ethiopians by May, according to aid agencies, which fear a repeat of the horrendous famines of the 1970s and 80s.

Chronic drought has sapped vast tracts of the north, central and eastern highlands, hitting crops and livestock as rain patterns have shifted. More than eight in ten people depend on rain-fed agriculture, according to Oxfam.

http://www.climatechangenews.com/2016/02/25/looming-ethiopia-famine-highlights-vulnerability-to-climate-change/

 

POLLUTION

Florida Officials Drain Lake Full Of ‘Toilet’ Water To Coast

With tourist season just around the corner, Florida’s beach communities would normally be preparing for a happy, healthy summer. Instead, they’re reeling from polluted water that is likely to inflict severe damage to the local economy and environment.

Lake Okeechobee, a large inland lake in southern Florida, is experiencing its highest water levels in nearly a century due to heavy rains that fell during the month of January. This should not be suprising, because heavy rainfall events are increasing as the planet warms. But after water levels reached a foot above normal, public officials began to worry that the excess water was putting too much stress on the lake’s aging dike. Officials then made the decision to drain the lake out toward Florida’s coasts. There was one problem: Lake Okeechobee’s waters are toxic.

http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2016/02/25/3753365/okeechobee-beach-water-pollution/

The hidden costs of pollution

We often hear about the economic costs of environmental regulation on the energy industry.

But there’s a flip side to that equation — the price society pays for pollution.  One scientist has added up those costs. And she found they’re going down.

http://michiganradio.org/post/hidden-costs-pollution#stream/0

Why Your Hamburger Might Be Leading To Nitrogen Pollution

Meat has a greater impact on the environment than pretty much any other food we eat. As The Salt has reported, billions of cows, pigs, sheep and poultry we raise as livestock guzzle massive quantities of water and generate at least 10 percent of the total greenhouse gases attributed to human activity.

But scientists say we’ve been slow to acknowledge yet another side effect of our taste for meat: nitrogen pollution.

http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2016/02/25/467962593/why-your-hamburger-might-be-leading-to-nitrogen-pollution

Cutting Carbon Pollution Could Save Health Care $

Some 300,000 premature deaths could be avoided by 2030 if the U.S. abides by the ambitious Paris Climate Agreement, according to a new analysis. Christopher Intagliata reports.

The Paris Climate Agreement pledges to limit global temperature rise to “well below 2 degrees Celsius.” “But really nobody—and certainly not the United States—has laid out the plan to get there.” Drew Shindell, a climate scientist at Duke University. “So we wanted to model, what would be the effects of actually putting into place policies that would get us to a level we’ve pledged to reach?”

http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode/cutting-carbon-pollution-could-save-health-care/

Chesapeake Bay Pollution Plan Pits Farmers Against Fishermen

Two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court sided with West Virginia and 26 other states to suspend the Environmental Protection Authority’s Clean Power Plan, designed to eliminate coal-fired power plants from the nation’s electrical grid. This week, West Virginia and some 20 other states are hoping the court will take up another case accusing the EPA of overreach, this time with a plan that would remove hundreds of thousands of acres of farmland from production in regions surrounding the Chesapeake Bay.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/danielfisher/2016/02/25/chesapeake-bay-pollution-plan-pits-farmers-against-fishermen/#2bb8a22e62a4

Tackling China’s pollution crisis

Protective masks, air cleansing, smog apps – for many in Beijing, these are all part of everyday life. China’s leadership has officially declared war on air pollution, but progress so far has been modest. The problem is complex and effective strategies need time. But people are tired of living under a blanket of smog.

http://www.dw.com/en/tackling-chinas-pollution-crisis/av-19072295

Noise Pollution Is a Big Problem for Little Fish

Growing scientific evidence indicates that noise from ships can harm whales, which rely on sound to navigate and find food and mates. Now, new research has discovered that such aural pollution also appears to affect the survival of the tiniest of fish.

Stephen Simpson, the study’s lead author and a marine biologist at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom, wanted to find out how boats affect fish survival and behavior. He first took Ambon damselfish in their larval stage (just half an inch long and three weeks old) and monitored them on artificial reefs under various conditions.

http://www.takepart.com/article/2016/02/25/noise-pollution-big-problem-little-fish

EPA looks to reduce school bus pollution for children’s health

A total of $525,000 in rebates from the Environmental Protection Agency will go toward replacing and improving school buses in six Connecticut communities to reduce air pollution and to improve children’s health, according to a press release from the EPA.

“The bottom line really is that reducing air emissions from automobiles or engines is good for children,” Dave Deegan, spokesman for the EPA, said. “Children’s bodies are small and growing and are more susceptible to air pollution.”

http://dailycampus.com/stories/2016/2/24/epa-looks-to-reduce-school-bus-pollution-for-childrens-health

This is what air pollution does to your skin

Dark spots on skin is one of the signs that tell a person is ageing. As you age, the spots start increasing in number especially after crossing 50. Most women suffer from formation of dark spots on their face or hands over the age of 50.

No matter how expensive creams you use, they do not show any positive signs. And after reading the latest report, there is a high possibility that you will stop using (in return abusing your skin) beauty products. According to the large scale survey by Journal Of Investigative Dermatology, traffic air pollution is linked to the formation of dark spots.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/health-fitness/health-news/This-is-what-air-pollution-does-to-your-skin/articleshow/51133963.cms

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