Natural Gas Processing Plant, via wikimedia
Natural gas has recently been touted as a major up and coming energy source for getting us off of dirtier sources such as coal and limiting greenhouse gas emissions. However, many communities have complained about one of the main methods of harvesting this resource: hydraulic fracturing or “fracking”. The process involves pumping large amounts of water and proprietary chemicals into the shale rock in order to allow the gas to come up faster and easier. It has already been banned from Pittsburgh, PA and Buffalo, NY and is the subject of a proposed study from the EPA as well. Now, a new study from Cornell argues that during the fracking process so much methane is released that, from production to burning, natural gas from shale may contribute more than 20% more to climate change than coal does. This is in part because methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide, the main GHG from coal. Shale natural gas also about 30% worse for the climate than natural gas gotten by more conventional means. This study adds another weapon for opponents of fracking to use in trying to get the industry to move away from the practice. On the other hand, Andrew Revkin in his Dot Earth column points out that the science is still in its beginning stages. Furthermore, there may be profitable ways to capture the greenhouse gases and make fracking cleaner. See his article and more linked below. Continue Reading »
Volunteers cleaning the coastline in Galicia in the aftermath of the Prestige oil spill, via wikimedia
After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the nation’s primary focus was on the health of the ecosystems affected by the disaster. However, birds and crabs were not the only animals exposed to the toxic chemicals; workers who were involved in the cleanup, especially on the beaches, have reported some alarming side effects. Federal researchers have recently announced the start of a new 10 year study into the health effects those workers are suffering, planning to follow 20,000 workers, most of whom live in Lousiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida. The study is being led by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences who are beginning the process of sending out invitations to take part in the study. The first thousand were sent out last week, the goal being to send out approximately 100,000 invitations in all. The government is providing the initial $8 million investment with BP pitching in another $6 million. Continue Reading »
Photo by Kelci Block
Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law? Read on for a (non-comprehensive) list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.
– NYT: @nytimesgreen A study requested by Sen. Inhofe found that NOAA did not mishandle climate change data http://bit.ly/h4vdHA
– EPA: @EPAairmarkets Air Pollution Triggers More Heart Attacks Than Cocaine http://ow.ly/42KnM (RT)
– YE360: @YaleE360 The connection between climate change and cholera outbreaks http://bit.ly/dYk47G
– BBC: @BBCNews Three-quarters of all coral reefs are at risk from overfishing, pollution, and climate change http://bbc.in/i6Pprz
– HP: @HuffPostGreen Texas mayor flees town fearing ‘fracking’ effects on family’s health http://huff.to/gsnAOM (RT)
– LAT: @LATenvironment The UN is pushing for more storylines in movies and TV relating to the dangers of climate change http://lat.ms/gwfeMf Continue Reading »
Tidal wetlands of the Chesapeake Bay, via National Scenic Byways
The Chesapeake Bay’s 64,000 square mile watershed was put on a “pollution diet” (also known as “Total Maximum Daily Load” or TMDL) by the EPA in late December and that regulation has come under fire, both in court and out. The diet, which requires cuts in urban and farm runoff in the six states that are within the Bay’s watershed, is the largest the EPA has ever developed. Its first challenge will come from the Farm Bureau who claims that the regulation is an overreach and will starve agriculture in the areas affected. The Bureau says it plans to file suit against this action along with challenging several other EPA regulations, including the regulation of greenhouse gases. Most recently, Representative Bob Goodlatte of the 6th district of Virginia has introduced an amendment to a House spending bill that would strip funding for the TMDL regulation. Goodlatte believes that the EPA has overreached its power under the Clean Water Act.
UPDATE: The House has approved Representative Goodlatte’s amendment on a vote of 230-195 with 8 Democrats joining the Republicans to vote for cutting funding. Continue Reading »
Anchor-handling tugboats battle the blazing remnants of the off shore oil rig Deepwater Horizon, via wikimedia
Environmental Law and Policy Review Symposium – “Looking Beyond the Deepwater Horizon: The Future of Offshore Drilling”
Calvin M. Lederer – Response to the Deepwater Horizon Spill of National Significance – An Overview
Calvin Lederer is a Deputy Judge Advocate General in the United States Coast Guard.
Mr. Lederer began by giving an overview of the Deepwater Horizon spill time line and response efforts, including keeping the oil offshore with booms and skimming. The response represented the first time that a “Spill of National Significance” (SONS) had occurred and the first time the prepared response was put into action. Interestingly enough, approximately 30 days before the spill there had been a drill of the SONS procedure that Thad Allen participated in. Some of the problems he indicated was the difficulty in hearing technical opinions through the thousands of people responding to the spill.
During the open forum questioning, he suggested a few changes he thought could be made to future responses. One of these was to include more upper-level decision makers, such as the relevant cabinet members, in the drills. Mr. Lederer also mentioned a specific preparedness review that would be coming out and detailing areas of improvement. Also during the open forum, Mr. Lederer defended burning the oil, saying that environmental and wildlife impacts were minimal compared to its effectiveness, though he also recommended that investment should be made to decrease the necessity of such “blunt” techniques. ELPR Summary Continue Reading »
Photo by Kelci Block
Afraid you missed something interesting in the world of environmental law? Read on for a list of articles posted on our Twitter feed @WMELSBlog.
– SA: Several Pacific island nations are championing a ban on bluefin tuna fishing http://bit.ly/hrPSPE
– NYT: NOAA restricts fishing of certain species in order to help save sea lions http://bit.ly/hMp3WV
– NYT: Environmentalists and pro-nuclear groups don’t like the Oyster Creek deal in NJ, but for different reasons http://bit.ly/ght9g2
– SA: New EPA smog rules are postponed until July http://bit.ly/g6EaWC
– SA: Former Ag Chief says biotechnology is crucial to secure food safety in the future http://bit.ly/eSPF3u
Continue Reading »