Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Environmental News Notes 6

Item #1 - 
An article published recently in Science might prove to be of interest for some ...

A. McGarr, B. Bekins, N. Burkardt, J. Dewey, P. Earle, W. Ellsworth, S. Ge, S. Hickman, A. Holland, E. Majer, J. Rubinstein, and A. Sheehan
Coping with earthquakes induced by fluid injection
Science 20 February 2015: Vol. 347 no. 6224 pp. 830-831 DOI: 10.1126/science.aaa0494   link to the original paper (the full article is behind a paywall - use the library to access a copy)

According to a USGS Press Release:

A paper published today in Science provides a case for increasing transparency and data collection to enable strategies for mitigating the effects of human-induced earthquakes caused by wastewater injection associated with oil and gas production in the United States.  

Large areas of the United States that used to experience few or no earthquakes have, in recent years, experienced a remarkable increase in earthquake activity that has caused considerable public concern as well as damage to structures. This rise in seismic activity, especially in the central United States, is not the result of natural processes.

Instead, the increased seismicity is due to fluid injection associated with new technologies that enable the extraction of oil and gas from previously unproductive reservoirs. These modern extraction techniques result in large quantities of wastewater produced along with the oil and gas. The disposal of this wastewater by deep injection occasionally results in earthquakes that are large enough to be felt, and sometimes damaging. Deep injection of wastewater is the primary cause of the dramatic rise in detected earthquakes and the corresponding increase in seismic hazard in the central U.S.
My bolding in the quote from the press release.  The USGS goes on to call for more transparency in reporting and research in order to "provide the timely guidance needed to reduce the hazard and consequences of induced earthquakes."

Item #2 -
If you remember, there was a pipeline break back in January (Environmental News 4) where some 50,000 gallons of oil spilled into the Yellowstone River. Well, it turns out that detectable levels of petroleum are still showing up in fish. The Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks Department issued a statement on 02/20 wherein they "advised fishermen to use caution when deciding whether to eat fish caught in the area affected by the oil spill." They are awaiting the results of additional testing. According to the statement ...

"Published research indicates that petroleum compounds can accumulate in fish for 40 or more days after a spill. FWP will resume catching fish after the ice leaves the river and test tissues for PAH accumulation. Petroleum compounds can also be passed on to fish through the food chain when micro-organisms, insects, worms, crustaceans and other aquatic animals absorb petroleum compounds then are eaten by fish.

Until all of the tests are complete and the data is analyzed, Selch advised anglers to continue to use caution when deciding whether to eat fish." 

attribution: Larry Mayer, Billings Gazette

Use caution to decide ... I am trying to work that one out ... Don't eat the fish if it ignites when you try to cook it?

Item #3 -

Feb. 17, 2015 - Aerial file photo photo made available by the Office of the Governor of West Virginia shows a derailed train in Mount Carbon, W Va.
CREDIT: AP Photo/ Office of the Governor of West Virginia, Steven Wayne Rotsch

Think Progress has an interesting article about the issue of rail transport of crude oil ...

After a CSX Corp. train carrying 3 million gallons of crude oil derailed and exploded in West Virginia last week, the company is quietly rerouting its volatile cargo through 16 Virginia cities and counties, according to Reuters.
Among those is Pembroke, a riverside town with a population of about 1,128. After visiting Pembroke and speaking with store owners and town officials, Reuters reporter Edward McAllister said “barely anyone” aside from the 35-member fire department was aware that large oil trains would be hugging the nearby New River and briefly traveling through town limits.
This is an issue that’s been largely overlooked in the debate about the safety of oil trains: secrecy. Many people who live near railroad lines across the country want to know what trains are carrying, where they’re going, and when they’re coming through. But railroads argue that is a security hazard, and that only emergency services agencies, like fire departments, need to know that information. Federal right-to-know laws exempt CSX and other shipping companies from having to disclose it.

Again, my bolding - I had no idea that these shipping companies were exempt from right-to-know laws (provided for under SARA, as we discussed in class). Holy cow!

Item #4 -

So, there is big money in climate change science - for people who systematically distort the science and are climate change deniers!  This is from Think Progress again ...

Wei-Hock Soon (known mainly as “Willie”) is aerospace engineer at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, and has written papers on how the sun’s role in the Earth’s climate outshines the warming impact of humans burning fossil fuels. His papers have cast doubt on how hot the last century really was, whether polar bears are negatively impacted by a warming Arctic, and concluded the sun plays a larger role in climate change than greenhouse gas emissions. He has said that mainstream climate scientists and those concerned by the causes and impacts of human-caused climate change are “out of their minds.”
Soon received hundreds of thousands of dollars each from ExxonMobil, the American Petroleum Institute, coal utility Southern Company, the Charles G. Koch Foundation, and other conservative groups, according to documents obtained by Greenpeace and the Climate Investigations Center, and spotlighted by the New York Times on Saturday. Over the last decade, Soon failed to disclose this funding in at least 11 of his scientific papers, likely violating ethical guidelines in eight of those cases .
In many cases he referred to scientific papers or congressional testimony as “deliverables” in correspondence with his funders.

Yep - my bold. Just, GRRRRRROWWWWWWWWLLLLLLLL !  Deliverables for #$*&%*$&=#'s sake!

Item #5 -

President Obama just vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline extension. (via NPR)
Updated at 3:34 p.m. ET
The White House has notified the Senate that President Obama has, as promised, vetoed congressional legislation to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project.
"Through this bill, the United States Congress attempts to circumvent longstanding and proven processes for determining whether or not building and operating a cross-border pipeline serves the national interest," Obama said in the notification to the Senate.

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