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Category Archives: Environmental Law

New Environmental Report Documents Fracking’s Toxic Loophole

News release: “Despite a federal ban on the use of diesel fuel in hydraulic fracturing without a permit, several oil and gas companies are exploiting a Safe Drinking Water Act loophole pushed through by Halliburton to frack with petroleum-based products containing even more dangerous toxic chemicals than diesel. For example, a drilling company in West Texas injected up to 48,000 gallons of benzene (a carcinogen) into the ground just last month. The report by the Environmental Integrity Project, Fracking’s Toxic Loophole, describes how a gap in the Safe Drinking Water Act – nicknamed the “Halliburton Loophole” – requires permits for fracking with diesel fuel, but allows companies to inject other petroleum products even more toxic than diesel without any permitting requirements or safeguards for underground water supplies…Fracking with fluids containing benzene (a carcinogen), ethylbenzene (a probable carcinogen), and other highly toxic chemicals is a potential threat to drinking water supplies and public health, but it appears to be common, according to the Environmental Integrity Project’s review of product descriptions available online and company disclosures to an industry-sponsored database of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, called “FracFocus.” At least six fracking fluid additives on the market today contain more benzene (a carcinogen) than diesel fuel. And at least 21 fluids sold by Halliburton and other companies contain much higher concentrations of ethylbenzene (a probable carcinogen) than benzene, according to industry product descriptions available online. These fracking fluid additives also contained very high levels of xylene and toluene, which can cause neurological problems and other health effects.”

NRC Staff Issues Volume 3 of Yucca Mountain Safety Evaluation Report

News release: “The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has published Volume 3 of its safety evaluation  report on the proposed underground geologic nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev. Volume 3 covers the period after a repository at Yucca Mountain would be permanently closed should NRC authorize construction following completion of the remaining steps in the licensing process.Continue Reading

Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action

“The Georgetown Climate Center released 100 recommendations … to improve federal programs that could be used to prepare for climate change. The new report will inform the White House State, Local and Tribal Leaders Task Force on Climate Preparedness and Resilience. The report, Preparing Our Communities for Climate Impacts: Recommendations for Federal Action, draws from a seriesContinue Reading

New GAO Reports – Combatting Nuclear Smuggling, CPSC, Ocean Acidification

COMBATING NUCLEAR SMUGGLING: Risk-Informed Covert Assessments and Oversight of Corrective Actions Could Strengthen Capabilities at the Border, GAO-14-826: Published: Sep 22, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: CONSUMER PRODUCT SAFETY COMMISSION: Challenges and Options for Responding to New and Emerging Risks, GAO-15-17: Published: Oct 14, 2014. Publicly Released: Oct 14, 2014: “CPSC is responsible for ensuring the safety of thousands ofContinue Reading

The Public Interest Conception of Public Law

Varuhas, Jason N. E., The Public Interest Conception of Public Law: Its Procedural Origins and Substantive Implications (October 12, 2014). Available for download at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2508981 “This paper charts the development and identifies the core features of a unitary conception of public law that emerged in English law in the wake of procedural reforms inContinue Reading

Priority Agenda Enhancing the Climate Resilience of America’s Natural Resources

“The interagency Council on Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience, established by Section 6 of the Order, convened a Climate and Natural Resources Working Group (CNRWG) to complete the inventory, assessment, and plan called for in Section 3 of the Order. The CNRWG includes Departments of Defense, Interior, and Agriculture, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National OceanicContinue Reading

FISHWATCH – U.S. Seafood Facts

“Today, 91 percent of seafood consumed in the United States is imported, and about half of this is wild-caught. Because of our interests both as a seafood-consuming nation and a fishing nation, it is critical that NOAA take an active role in shaping the conservation and management of international fisheries. For U.S. consumers of importedContinue Reading

Dead or Alive? Valuing an Elephant

“Elephants are among the world’s most charismatic mega fauna and our largest living land mammals. However, the survival of Africa’s elephants is threatened by continuing demand for ivory desired for trinkets, religious statues, ornaments and accessories from Far Eastern Countries. As a result, elephant poaching is rife across Africa, with elephants being killed even inContinue Reading

Where GMOs hide in your food – Consumer Reports

“More than 70 percent of Americans say they don’t want genetically modified organisms in their food, according to a recent Consumer Reports National Research Center survey of 1,000 adults. The trouble is, it’s hard to avoid them. Consumer Reports’ tests of breakfast cereals, chips, soy infant formulas, and other popular products found that GMOs lurkContinue Reading

The Global Movement and Tracking of Chemical Manufacturing Equipment

“Dual-use applications for chemical manufacturing equipment have been recognized as a concern for many years, and export-control regulations worldwide are in place as a result. These regulations, in conjunction with the verification and inspection requirements of Article VI of the Chemical Weapons Convention, are designed to support non-proliferation of manufacturing equipment suitable for production ofContinue Reading

Living Planet Report 2014

World Wildlife Fund: “The Living Planet Report documents the state of the planet—including biodiversity, ecosystems, and demand on natural resources—and what this means for humans and wildlife. Published by WWF every two years, the report brings together a variety of research to provide a comprehensive view of the health of the earth. Population sizes of vertebrate species—mammals, birds,Continue Reading

NOAA’s Marine Debris Blog

“Marine debris is everyone’s problem. It is a global problem affecting everything from the environment to the economy; from fishing and navigation to human health and safety; from the tiniest coral polyps to giant blue whales. Marine debris also comes in many forms, from a cigarette butt to a 4,000-pound derelict fishing net. Marine debris is aContinue Reading