Posted by: Steven M. Taber | September 9, 2013

Environmental, Climate Change and Energy Stories We Are Following for the Week of September 9 – 13, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013.

Michigan Couple Fighting #Fracking on Federal Lands. John Davis Jr. and Marybeth Pritschet-Davis filed a lawsuit against the federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) to stop a planned lease of oil and gas development rights in the Allegan State Game Area. Because the Area is home to a number of endangered and threatened species, they are concerned that fracking will disrupt and harm those natural resources. The lawsuit alleges BLM violated the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) by improperly preparing two Environmental Assessments related to the planned leases.

Shell Agrees to Clean Air Act Permit Violations in AK Offshore Oil Exploration. Shell Offshore Inc and Shell Gulf of Mexico Inc agreed to pay $1.1M penalty for violations of two air permits for excess air emissions and other air permit violations during their oil exploration in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas off the North Slope of Alaska. The violations were related to the drill ship fleets Discoverer and Kulluk.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Push Is On – Green Groups Target GOP for Action on Climate Change. Ever since Pres Obama asked EPA to roll out by Sept 20 its revised greenhouse gas emission controls for future power plants in his June 2013 speech, there has been much pushing and shoving among the groups for and against the regulations. The most recent entry is the Environmental Defense Fund which will spend $400K on ad buys that target GOP Senators who may be swing votes on any effort to block the EPA rules. Right now, the focus is on the House Subcommittee Sept 18 hearing before which the EPA Administrator and Energy Secretary will testify.

EPA Quietly Withdraw 2 Chemical Safety Regulations. The EPA announced on Sept. 6 that it is withdrawing two proposed rules regarding regulation of chemicals. The first rule ( would have allowed EPA to require chemical mfrs to provide more information, both to the agency and the public, on several chemicals of particularly high health concern. The second rule ( would have clarified EPA’s policy regarding the ability of chemical manufacturers to claim certain chemical information as “confidential business information” (CBI). The rules had been submitted to OMB’s Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs (OIRA) by the EPA in May 2010 & Dec 2011, but had never been released by OIRA to allow EPA to proceed with the regulatory development process.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Arizona and Three Utility Companies’ Request to Delay Power Plant Pollution Controls Denied by 9th Circuit. The U.S. COurt of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (Western U.S.) rejected a bid to postpone pollution control upgrades at three Arizona coal-fired power plants in brief order. Arizona and 4 utility cos asked the 9th Circuit for the delay while the court reviews the EPA’s rule. The EPA partially approved AZ’s air quality plan for the Cholla, Coronado and Apache generating stations. But the agency says the state didn’t do enough to control NOx emissions. The plants’ operators have five years to comply with set limits. Arizona Dept of Environmental Quality said AZ should be making decisions about what’s in the best interest of the state, not the EPA.

XTO Energy, a PA ExxonMobil Subsidiary Hit with Criminal Charges for Dumping Fracking Waste. XTO Energy Inc., a Pennsylvania-based subsidiary of ExxonMobil Corp., has been charged criminally with illegally discharging more than 50,000 gallons of toxic wastewater from a Marcellus Shale gas well site in Penn Township, Lycoming County, in 2010, the state attorney general’s office announced Tuesday. Attorney General Kathleen G. Kane said XTO is being charged with five counts under the Clean Streams Law and three counts under the Solid Waste Management Act. XTO is an ExxonMobil subsidiary, based in Fort Worth, Texas.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Fracking Disclosure Bill Passed By California State Assembly. The California State Assembly on Wednesday voted to approve SBl 4, a measure requiring energy companies to (1) provide public notice before starting hydraulic fracturing operations, and (2) disclose the chemicals used in the oil and gas extraction process to the state agency overseeing drilling activities. Opposition claimed that the Bill would “stop or hurt jobs and economic growth in California.” Proponents stated the Bill provided necessary protections for residents, while permitting fracking. The 48-17 vote brings California a step closer to regulating hydraulic fracturing after the California Senate in May voted 28-11 in favor of SB 4.

9th Circuit Dismisses Water Diversion Suit On Standing. The Wild Fish Conservancy cannot challenge the diversion of water from a Columbia River Tributary to a federal fish hatchery, the 9th Circuit ruled on Wednesday. The group sought to stop the diversion in order to further the rehabilitation of the creek into a “high-altitude pristine refuge for native and migratory fish.” The Group sued under the Administrative Procedure Act and the Reclamation Act.  However, the Court found that the group lacked “prudential standing” because Washington state law did not give the group a right to seek the relief it wanted.

Friday, September 13, 2013

EPA Sued by 4 States Over SO2 Designations.

On Wednesday, four Red states, ND, SD, TX and NV sued EPA in North Dakota federal court to force the EPA to designate areas of the country as either attaining or not attaining the 2010 SO2 NAAQS. The four states allege McCarthy failed to meet a three-year deadline to publish the designations, even after the plaintiffs made timely submissions of the levels of sulfur dioxide in the air in their states.

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