Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Texas couple awarded $3M in fracking-damage suit

[Updated at 5 p.m. to add more detailed story—see below: “In landmark ruling…]

A jury in Dallas has
awarded Bob and Lisa Parr of Decatur nearly $3 million for damages resulting from a nearby fracking operation.
 
The Parrs sued Aruba Petroleum in 2011 for fracking operations that "fouled the family’s 40-acre ranch property, their home and quality of life, sickened them and their pets and livestock," according to the plaintiffs' law firm Matthews and Associates.
 
The April 22 verdict included $275,000 for the Parr’s property loss of market value and $2 million for past physical pain and suffering by Bob and Lisa Parr and their daughter, $250,000 for future physical pain and suffering, $400,000 for past mental anguish.


The attorneys claim that the case is the first fracking verdict in Texas.
A copy of the Parrs' amended court petition is available here 

Jury awards Parrs $2.9 Million


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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

NY college, solar company announce $700M investment



A Japanese solar cell manufacturing company could build its North American headquarters at the
College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering in Albany, NY.
The Albany Business Review reports that "Solar Frontier K.K. and the College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering have signed an agreement to explore establishing
a site at the nanocollege."
"The partnership also is looking into the potential construction of a solar manufacturing plant in western New York. If the two organizations move forward with the partnership,
it would create about 1,000 jobs and result in a $678 million investment."

Fish swap brings salmon to New Jersey lakes

Catch a salmon in a New Jersey lake? Yep, it's possible. See Andre Malok's
Star-Ledger video to learn about the program and people who made it possible.




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Snowy Owl, a former D.C. celeb, is released to the wild
Meet NJ Gov Christie's Ombudsman, Patrick Hobbs 
Different cleanups for Ford's paint sludge in NY and NJ 
Big oil prepares to cross the border into bandito territory  
Gov. Christie makes appointments to LPG safety board   

Snowy Owl, a former D.C. celeb, is released to the wild

The Snowy Owl who captured the attention of residents and reporters in the nation's capital, perching atop a lobbying firm's awning and then at the Washington Post building, has taken flight in Minnesota after two months of rehabilitation for injuries sustained after being struck by a D.C. bus.

The Associated Press reports:
The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota released the owl on Saturday outside Superior, Wis., near the Minnesota and Wisconsin state border.
Center director Julia Ponder says the owl is in great condition and flew off with strong, steady wing beats. She says it will hopefully head north.

The owl was found injured in downtown Washington in late January and taken to the National Zoo before being transferred to a Washington, D.C., wildlife rehabilitation center. It then came to Minnesota for rehab, because The Raptor Center has expertise in replacing damaged feathers.

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Recent Posts
: 
Meet NJ Gov Christie's Ombudsman, Patrick Hobbs
Different cleanups for Ford's paint sludge in NY and NJ 
Big oil prepares to cross the border into bandito territory 
Gov. Christie makes appointments to LPG safety board   
As tech lowers cost, fuel cell commercial uses expand 

Monday, April 21, 2014

Meet NJ Gov Christie's Ombudsman, Patrick Hobbs

Patrick E. Hobbs
"As part of the internal review into the scandals whirling around New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, lawyers recommended the governor hire an ombudsman. On Friday, Christie announced that he appointed Patrick Hobbs for the position."

That's the introduction to a short but interesting sketch about Mr. Hobbs, provided by Matt Katz in his blog, Katz on Christie, hosted by NJ Spotlight.

Katz tells us that Hobbs is the dean of Seton Hall Law School and chair of the State Commission on Investigation, which in recent years has been more focused on criminal issues than public corruption.  

Hobbs will be paid
$75,000 for the part-time job and is not resigning from his dean's position.


What's  his relationship to Christie? They have known each other professionally for the last 15 years through Christie's involvement as an alumnus of Seton Hall Law. Hobbs said they have never socialized.
Oh, yes, we almost forgot...Hobbs is a Democrat.

Different cleanups for Ford's paint sludge in NY and NJ

    Soil would be excavated from this site in Ramapo, N.Y. (Record photo) 
New York State has ordered Ford Motor Co. to remove almost all the toxic paint sludge that was trucked from its former Mahwah plant and dumped at a site in Rockland County, a stark contrast to a proposal by federal officials that would leave much of the automaker’s waste next to an Upper Ringwood neighborhood, Scott Fallon reports in The Record.
 
"The $7.5 million plan would be the second major cleanup of Ford’s pollution in Ramapo, N.Y., which calls for the majority of the paint sludge to be dug up and hauled away. The move has upset some in Upper Ringwood who want to see the Environmental Protection Agency take a similar approach at the borough’s 500-acre Superfund site instead of considering a plan that would remove far less contaminated soil than originally planned."

“Even though I understand the importance of cleaning the paint sludge out of that area, I think it’s important to clean it out of all areas,” said Vincent Mann, a chief of the Ramapough Lenape Nation, whose members have lived in the mountains of Ringwood for centuries.

The story explains that the two communities, just a few miles apart, “share a common history as a dumping ground from the mid-1960s to the early 1970s for tons of paint sludge that Ford generated at its former Mahwah plant. But in recent years, the EPA and the New York Department of Environmental Conservation have taken vastly different approaches to the problem: Ringwood could have waste entombed there in perpetuity, while in Ramapo, sludge could be nearly completely removed.”

Fallon notes that the two sites are different. "The amount of pollution in Ramapo is much smaller than what was dumped in Ringwood. The paint sludge is also dumped in more shallow pits in Ramapo, making it less costly and complicated to excavate. "

Read the entire story here 

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Sunday, April 20, 2014

Big oil prepares to cross the border into bandito territory


A worker walks up to the floor of Orion Drilling Co.'s Perseus drilling rig near Encinal in Webb County, Texas. The Perseus is drilling for oil and gas in the Eagle Ford Shale Play, a sedimentary rock formation under an area of south and east Texas. Credit:Eddie Seal/Bloomberg News

The Eagle Ford Shale Play is one of the biggest oil bonanzas in American history. In southern Texas, thousands of rigs are tapping it but drilling into the formation on the Mexican side of the border has been slim. That’s about to change due to a
landmark energy bill approved by Mexico’s Congress in December that has opened the country’s oil industry to private and foreign investment for the first time in 75 years.
The Washington Post reports that “lawmakers will be hashing out the nuts and bolts of the law over the coming weeks, but expectations are that U.S. and other global companies will be able to bid on oil and gas projects by the end of this year, beckoning the fracking crews across the border — into some of Mexico’s most violent areas.”
A potential for great rewards but risks, too

Industry estimates say Mexico’s shale formations hold the energy equivalent of 60 billion barrels of oil, an amount exceeding the entire volume the country has pumped out by conventional means since 1904.

The problem is that the Eagle Ford underlies territory run by the Zeta drug cartel that 
specializes in kidnapping and extortion. When Mexican geologists and survey crews need to look for new well sites, they often travel in the company of a military escort.  
A group of Weatherford employees came under fire at their hotel in the nearby town of Ciudad Mier this month during a cartel gun battle, though none of the workers were hit.

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“You can hire private security to keep workers safe, but all of that implies cost and slows down business,” said Duncan Wood, an energy expert and the director of the Mexico Institute at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

“And if a company has a shipment of supplies hijacked, that’s lost time,” Wood said. “It’s something they wouldn’t have to deal with in Texas.”

Industry experts say the current rate of return on the Eagle Ford shale is so high, and the backlog of pending drilling permits so large, that it may take years for U.S. companies to begin moving crews into Mexico.

“The first step will be getting land in the right places, and the rest of the operation will follow,” said Chris Robart, a consultant at PacWest Consulting Partners in Houston. “It’ll depend how interested people are in bringing equipment over the border.”

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Friday, April 18, 2014

Gov. Christie makes appointments to LPG safety board

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie yesterday announced the following appointments to the state's Liquefied Petroleum Gas Education and Safety Board:
 
Industry Representatives
Appoint Michael G. Merrill (Chester, Morris)
Reappoint William P. Curcio (Sparta, Sussex)
Reappoint Larry A. Horowitz (Perrineville, Monmouth)
Reappoint Thomas A. Leahy (Brick, Ocean)

Representative of a Gas Public Utility Involved in the Storage and Distribution of Liquefied Petroleum Gas
Reappoint Gene Doughtery (Franklinville, Gloucester)

*Like what you're reading? Click here for free updates**  

Public Members/Fire Safety Professionals
Appoint Louis B. Kilmer (Cinnaminson, Burlington)
Appoint Robert H. Zander (Colts Neck, Monmouth)

Public Member
Appoint Michael Ticktin (Roosevelt, Monmouth) 

Environmental Community Representative
Appoint Chuck Feinberg (Rockaway Township, Morris) 

The LPG board functions under the Division of Codes and Standards within the Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The board is required to meet quarterly to advise the Department on the enforcement of the Liquefied Petroleum Gas Safety Act and the DCA's Liquefied Petroleum Gas regulations. 

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

As tech lowers cost, fuel cell commercial uses expand

Recently, Wal-Mart placed an order for 1,738 fuel cell powered forklifts that move products in the giant retailers' warehouses.

Gibbons attorneys
Uzoamaka N. Okoye and Samuel H. Megerditchian write in their firm's Environmental and Green Issues blog that this: "highly publicized order spotlights the emerging commercial markets and the technologies and patents that have made the production of energy through fuel cells more cost effective."

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The attorneys note that the
Clean Energy Patent Growth Index shows that "for the last decade fuel cell related patents outpaced all other clean energy technology patents until 2013 when solar patents for the first time surpassed fuel cell patents."

Read the full post here     

Related:
Wal-Mart Chooses Fuel Cell Forklifts 
DOE fuels US competitiveness in fuel cell market with $3-million project 
European Hydrogen Fuel Cell Charging Clusters Planned 
FuelCell CEO Expects First Big Sale in Europe This Year  
Toyota's North America chief seeks fuel cell sedan supply boost

Monday, April 14, 2014

Want shore protection funds? Make your beaches public


With New Jersey spending more tax dollars on shore protection projects after
Superstorm Sandy, advocates for greater public access to beaches see the
time is ripe for legislative change
.


Tom Johnson reports today in NJ Spotlight that a bill moving in Trenton (S-183) would
require any shore protection projects receiving public funding to include public access
to the waterfront, an amendment urged by a conservation group in a vote by a committee considering the bill last month.

Beyond the public access requirement, the measure also would require the DEP to establish a priority system for ranking shore protection projects.
It also requires all shore protection projects that include a structural component, such as seawalls and other permanent facilities, to also include non-structural components, like sand dunes. Towns with dunes fared much better during Hurricane Sandy than those without these natural barriers.

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