Video: Sylva, North Carolina says No to Fracking.

*USA. There are some 240,000 miles of oil and gas gathering lines across our fair country and you’ve probably never heard of them. They are relatively small, underground and unrecognized, moving oil and gas in predominantly rural areas “from wells and nearby storage areas to processing plants and transmission lines.” Projections are for 414,000 additional miles of gathering lines by 2035. Federal regulations do not apply to gathering lines in many rural areas, and few states regulate them. Guess which industry is resistant to such regs.

*USA. Research results on fracking’s impact on health are trickling in, accompanied by calls for further research. There appear to be “potential health risks” for babies born near gas wells in CO, possibly in PA and UT.

*USA. Earthquakes tend to get people’s attention. OK usually had 3 quakes a year, but that number jumped to 109 in 2013 and to 238 so far this year. Now TX is experiencing increases in earthquakes, as are AR and OH—interestingly, all “in the vicinity of wastewater injection wells.” Scientists who initially pooh-poohed suggestions that fracking was related to earthquakes are increasingly paying attention.

*AK. Oil companies lost on their big investment in a referendum measure that would have changed how the industry is taxed in Alaska. It was “hard-fought” and “by a narrow margin”, but it failed.

*AK. “Over the last eight years, Shell’s Alaskan Arctic [drilling] efforts have been plagued by blunders and accidents.” Who can forget their oil rig  floating around up there off the Alaskan coast until it finally ran aground on Kodiak Island a few years ago? Yeah, well, they’re now trying to get permission to “explore” in the Alaskan Arctic, aiming for 400,000 barrels/day in the Chukchi Sea.

*CA. Great news from the Land of the Dusty Cars (most everyone is trying hard to conserve water, you see). Unanimous approval of “a [Senate] bill requiring oil companies to report how much water they use in their drilling operations and the water’s source.” It’s on its way to Gov. Jerry Brown (D)’s desk for signature.

*CA. One place in the state is welcoming those oil trains carrying highly flammable crude: Kern County. Looks like they’re going to have “the state’s largest crude oil rail terminal”, in addition to a big one currently being built. The terminals are expected to handle “three 100-car crude oil trains a day.” The city of Berkeley got into the act, sending “Kern a letter contending its [environmental] review is inadequate,” which Kern doesn’t seem to appreciate, somehow. Bringing in volatile crude by rail is becoming an equally volatile issue in the state.

*FL. The feds have approved use of “sonic cannons [off the Eastern seaboard from FL to DE] to discover [oil] deposits under the ocean floor by shooting sound waves 100 times louder than a jet engine through water shared by endangered whales and turtles.” The “detailed information” from this endeavor, which must be costing the taxpayers a tidy sum, will be for energy companies’ use in applying for possible future oil leases. The acting director of the US Bureau of Ocean Energy Management somehow sees this as a “path forward” which protects “marine life and cultural sites.” Tell that to the whales, turtles and other creatures trying to migrate and give birth while getting blasted day-in and day-out by sonic cannons.

*ILDraft rules for fracking have been sent to the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Administrative Rules. There was major negative reaction to the draft rules released last year and the IL Department of Natural Resources is being mum about whether they were modified in the interim. Interesting, too, that “Oil producers, drilling companies and geologists frustrated with the slow process” are piling bucks into Republican Bruce Rauner’s campaign chest for governor.

*INBP has a large refinery in Whiting, IN which leaked 1,638 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan in March. Seems that same refinery caught on fire this week, resulting in an explosion, but BP claims all is ok now. However that may be, BP’s still facing a lawsuit by Chicago residents allegedly suffering from Koch Industries’ petroleum coke, produced by BP and stored “in huge piles along the Calumet River,” which gets carried by the wind into their neighborhoods and homes.

*MDThe second of three fracking reports ordered by Gov. Martin O’Malley (D) in 2011 is now available. Oil and gas companies are eager to begin fracking in the Marcellus Shale, specifically in MD’s Garrett County. In their second report, the University of Maryland warns of air pollution, impact on workers’ health and even “adverse birth outcomes.” Should fracking be ok’d,  the report urged “strict police and state agency monitoring of fracking operations.” We can only hope.

*MI. Gov. Rick Snyder (R) is putting together “an expert panel to review how low-activity radioactive materials are disposed following criticism of the state’s waste-handling policies.” Or lack thereof.

*NC. Legislators seem damned and determined to have fracking. They’re even considering forcing “landowners to submit to fracking whether they wanted to or not if just one neighbor signed a drilling lease.” Open hearings are now being held in the state by the NC Mining and Energy Commission. The meetings are causing so much discomfort to the pro-frackers on the Commission that they’ve threatened to shut the meetings down.

*ND. “More than a month after a million gallons of briny wastewater leaked from an underground pipeline on the Fort Berthold [Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara] Reservation  in North Dakota, a tribal environmental official said he’s still seeking confirmation that the spill did not enter the reservation’s water supply.” The huge saltwater spill flowed for about two miles and “left a swath of dead grass, brushes and trees.” Meanwhile, there seems to be a hide-the-data game going on at the reservation pertaining to the effects of the spill. Stay tuned. Update (already!): A second leak of 126,000 gallons has been reported.

*NDNatural gas flares, a direct result of the fracking frenzy on-going in the Bakken, seem to be everywhere these days as gas spews from the earth along with the crude.  Too often, drillers have nowhere to direct the natural gas since “existing pipelines . . . already are at full capacity.” But, not to worry, “regulators are cracking down” and new standards now exist requiring better capture of the gas. Meanwhile, the “loss” of all that natural gas is estimated to be worth about $100 million/month.

*NYCommunity and environmental organizations’ representatives  converged in Albany, urging Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) to ban “trains carrying oil from entering New York state.” They cited recent National Transportation Safety Board recommendations and a statement from Karl Alexy of the Federal Railroad Administration that “oil tank cars cannot be built robust enough to withstand puncture in derailments at speeds of more than 30 miles per hour.”

*TX. As earthquakes begin to rattle folks in north TX, the Texas Railroad Commission is proposing “tightening regulations for injection wells while scientists explore a potential ink between high-pressure wastewater disposal” and quakes. ‘Induced seismicity’ is the term and the role of fracking wastewater injections in that phenomenon is becoming harder to ignore—just last January the Commission’s Chairman told reporters that quakes were “not linked to fracking.”

*Nova ScotiaAn independent panel headed by the president of Cape Breton University has released a report urging Nova Scotia’s ban on fracking remain in place “until there is more research and a way is found to give local communities a say in the process.”

*Argentina is moving ahead with fracking. A deal has been signed with Petronas, a Malaysian firm, to drill about a dozen wells which, if successful, will lead to 1,000 more. Chevon is already in Argentina in the Loca Campana field, producing “in excess of 25,000 barrels from 245 wells.” Argentina’s shale is also gas-rich, second only to China.

*Colombia will be opening its National Agency of Hydrocarbons in 2015,  consisting of professionals charged with “close supervision of the [oil] industry.” They’re also contracting with the Universidad de los Andes to conduct on-going seismic studies.

*Britain. The founder of “the UK’s largest solar solutions company” discusses the shale boom bubble which is “waiting to burst as economics of extraction falter and the trickle of bad environmental news starts to swell.” Wishful thinking or insightful analysis? Definitely worth a read.

*Norway. Imagine using oil wealth in support of the people! Norway is doing just that and, while longer-range plans haven’t crystallized, they are refreshingly realistic about the future of oil.

*Lebanon. It’s doubtful the transpo portrayed here will be reducing oil consumption significantly, even should it catch on, but the music and charm just might usher in a pleasant weekend for you.