PFAS Contamination Map Underscores Widespread Pollution

In conjunction with the Social Science Environmental Health Research Institute of Northeastern University, the non-profit watchdog organization Environmental Working Group (EWG) published last week an updated version of their interactive map documenting alleged sites of PFAS contamination in the United States. It purports to chart 610 locations in 43 states that have reported known contamination with PFAS chemicals, potentially affecting the drinking water of approximately 19 million people. A prior version of the map issued in July 2018 documented only 172 contaminated
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New Mexico Joins the PFAS Fight with Major Enforcement Action

We recently reported that the lately-inaugurated governor of New Mexico, Michelle Lujan Grisham, has taken a strong stance on environmental issues, including oil and gas development. Now, the state has taken further steps to enforce its contamination laws and improve the state’s environmental profile. Last week, the State of New Mexico filed suit against the United States based on PFOS and PFOA contamination originating at two Air Force bases — Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico and Holloman
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Coal Ash Alert: Report From Environmental Groups Claim 9 out of 10 Coal Ash Ponds Cause Groundwater Contamination

A collection of environmental groups have released a report claiming that the vast majority of coal ash ponds in the United States have leaked toxic chemicals into nearby groundwater. The report, based on monitoring data released by 250 power plants, found that 91 percent of the nation’s coal-fired power plants reported elevated levels of at least one contaminant such as arsenic, lithium, chromium and other pollutants in nearby groundwater. The report also claims a majority of the plants reported having
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Florida Governor Takes on the Environment

Environmental remediation work is about to pick up steam in Florida. In his first major policy act, recently inaugurated Florida Governor Ron DeSantis issued a broad executive order last Thursday aimed at tackling numerous water and environmental issues confronting the state. DeSantis, who was inaugurated on January 8, took office facing a number of environmental crises, including unprecedented levels of the red tide bacteria that killed wildlife and closed beaches along the Gulf of Mexico last year; toxic blue-green algae that has choked the St.
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Fracking Wastewater Does Not Meet Definition of “Toxic” Under Pennsylvania Law, Appellate Court Says

Pennsylvania’s appellate courts continue to be active in shaping the state’s laws surrounding hydraulic fracturing. Recently, in Protect PT v. Penn Township Zoning Hearing Board and Apex Energy (PA) LLC, the Commonwealth Court affirmed a zoning board’s decision permitting a natural gas company to store large quantities of wastewater from fracking operations at and around multiple drilling sites because it did not meet the definition of “toxic” material, as set forth under local ordinance, among other reasons. In this decision involving multiple
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Tall Drink of Wastewater: EPA Considers Permitting Wastewater Disposal Into Texas Rivers and Streams

For every barrel of oil drilled in Texas, four-to-five barrels of wastewater are produced. The abundance of untreated water has led the EPA to consider whether to permit oil drillers in Texas to discharge wastewater directly into local rivers and streams, avoiding the complicated and costly process of trucking the water to underground wells that may be many miles away. If put into effect, this plan would alter established federal clean water regulations that have been in place for decades.
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Long-Term Environmental Impact of Hurricane Florence Yet to be Seen

As of press time, Hurricane Florence has claimed nearly 40 lives and caused extensive destruction in the hardest-hit areas of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Virginia. Environmental analysts will have their work cut out for them as they attempt to measure the environmental impact of the storm. At present, we have detected three current areas of primary environmental concern — risk to nuclear sites, the spread of coal ash waste, and the flooding of industrial farms.  Nuclear Sites: The Carolinas are uniquely situated
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Appeals Court Leaves Potential for Hydraulic Fracturing Revival in the Delaware River Basin

Earlier this month, the United States Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit issued a decision that leaves a glimmer of hope for hydraulic fracturing entrepreneurs in the Delaware River Basin, which encompasses portions of 24 counties in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and Delaware. On July 3, a three judge panel issued an opinion on their review of a Pennsylvania federal court’s decision to grant a motion to dismiss a case for declaratory relief brought by oil and gas
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Out of the Sludge Pond and into the Fire? Tractor Accident Leads to Spill of 10 million Gallons of Orange-Tinted Water

An industrial accident last month at the Hi-Crush mine in Whitehall, Wisconsin is shaping-up to have some potentially significant environmental effects. A contractor’s bulldozer slid into a deep settling basin at the mine in western Wisconsin, leading to an hours-long effort to rescue the man from a 15-foot-deep pond. Rescuers freed the driver after emptying an estimated 10 million gallons of water from the pond into a Trempealeau River tributary. The settling basin contained a large amount of sludge- water,
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What Happens to Wastewater From Oil and Gas Extraction? EPA Seeks Input

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has begun soliciting information for a new study that will examine how numerous entities across the U.S., including industry, stakeholders, local officials, energy providers, states, and the EPA itself, regulate and manage wastewater produced during the oil and gas extraction processes. The goal of the study is to develop better and more effective ways to dispose of, recycle, or reuse the wastewater generated during extraction. By way of example, and with regard to hydraulic
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