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Entries in environmental defense (4)

Friday
Feb082013

Hydraulic Fracking in California - This Means War

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

Environmental Defense

 

 

Here comes the boom: If someone told you that California could become the next Texas in terms of oil production, how would you react?

Do you envision barren tracts of land featuring nothing but the mechanical bob of pump jacks? Or do you picture thriving cities and an end to the state budget crisis?

It's these conflicting images that may very well spark the next great political wars, as the oil and gas industries face off with environmental watch groups over what's known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking. The likely battleground is Monterey Shale – a stretch of rock formation lying between Los Angeles and San Francisco, which potentially holds 15.4 billion barrels of oil, according to the United States Energy Information Administration.

That's a lot of crude – adding about two thirds more to the national oil reserve, in fact.

 

California Fracking: Frightening Consequences or Financial Boon?

 

For the environmentalists, drilling is bad enough.

But fracking means injecting fluid, sand and chemicals to open up cracks in the shale, which allow more natural resources to flow into oil and gas wells.

The oil and gas industries have been fracking in California for decades, but a recent boom in technology now allows companies to drill horizontally, targeting very specific areas for the injection technique. With less guesswork involved, speculators are moving in. The environmentalists are on heightened watch. 

State and national green groups claim hydraulic fracturing may pose risks to ground water, air quality and seismic stability, citing problems in Pennsylvania where fracking for natural gas has caused some concern.

Environmental Defense Lawyer - Fracking

Earthjustice, representing four environmental plaintiffs, filed a suit in October against the California Department of Conservation Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR) for insufficient evaluation of fracking risks. The Center for Biological Diversity filed another complaint against DOGGR in January, claiming the Department issued permits for fracking-related oil and gas well operations without tracking, monitoring or supervising the high-risk practice.

However, a recent study by Plains Exploration & Production Co., owner of the Inglewood oil field, found that hydraulic fracturing of two test wells here in Los Angeles posed no threats to either groundwater or air quality, and did not induce seismic activity.

 

Expect Fracking Complications

 

As the environmentalists demand oversight to deal with land, water and air safety, oil and gas companies will fight back.

One of the issues they're already voicing is that of trade secret protection. The industry seems to be willing to disclose the identity and nature of the chemicals used in fracking to a certain point – but not enough to risk the years of investment they've made to perfect their new technology. It will be interesting to watch how all of this plays out in California courts over the coming year.

In the meantime though, here comes the boom: The Monterey Shale's liquid assets are already helping California's economy. Speculating oil companies are already moving in, bidding more than a thousand dollars an acre in some land auctions, according to the New York Times. Fracking advocates agree this is the very thing we need to bolster our red-ink economy.

Stephen T. Holzer is the Chair of our Environmental Practice Group. Direct your questions regarding environmental concerns and your property to Mr. Holzer via email.

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
Jul262012

Green the Color of Choice for British Olympic Planners

 

Los Angeles Litigation AttorneyEnvironmental Law & Civil Litigation AttorneyJuly 26, 2012
by Stephen T. Holzer

Los Angeles Environmental Attorney

The British aren't just eyeing the gold in the upcoming summer Olympic games, they've got their sights fastened on green.

That's right, eco-friendly is the newest game in international competition, and the United Kingdom is a strong contender.

They've managed to convert an old industrial section of London by "washing" two million tons of soil, planting about 4,000 trees, and reclaiming hundreds of acres of soiled riverbanks and other lands in the process. Many of the Olympic competition venues like the Velodrome, will be relying primarily on natural ventilation and light.

Spectators better be strong contenders too, as few will be allowed to actually drive onto the game grounds. Visitors will all have to rely on public transit, do "Mind the Gap" please, and then hoof it to their seats.

At least they'll be traveling in style, via high-speed Javelin trains. The Javelins will carry about 25,000 passengers per hour between central London and Olympic Park.

According to the United Kingdom's Foreign & Commonwealth Office, the London 2012 Olympics will be the first Olympic Summer Games event with a pre-calculated carbon footprint. Of course, the website does NOT say how large that footprint actually is. 

Further, what is included in the footprint measurement? 

Keep in mind that over 180 countries are sending their athletes in by fuel-guzzling jetliners, even more of which will be bustling in tourists. Let's not forget Europe's greenhouse gas war on airlines, and what havoc that has already created in the international community.

Moreover, the Commission for a Sustainable London has roasted the Olympic torch makers for failure to be low-carbon despite the torch designers' claim that they ran out of time to design such a low-carbon device. The head of the Commission  stated,

“The promise of a low-carbon torch was made in 2007 and so the excuse of ‘we ran out of time’ is not acceptable.”

Stephen T. Holzer is the Chair of the Environmental Practice Group at our Firm. Contact him via e-mail: sholzer@lewitthackman.com.


 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

Thursday
Mar012012

Carb Wars - Europe the Latest Evil Empire in the Greenhouse Gas Wars?

Litigation Los AngelesEnvironmental Litigation  

Stephen T. Holzer
818.907.3299

 

Just over a decade after the Cold War ended, we may be beginning another highly stressful, albeit less deadly face-off: a Carbon War. 

Highly stressful, because it will probably mean skyrocketing airfares in the near future. This will be bad for both individuals and companies that require travel to do business, international shippers and the businesses that rely on their services, and even the smaller mom-and-pop stores that thrive on the tourism economy.

Not to mention tensions between countries. 

Less deadly, because world Super Powers aren't pointing ballistic missiles at each other—at least not yet. 

Instead, they're levying fees: Unlike California's controversial Cap and Trade System, the European Union enacted a law that makes airline companies pay for greenhouse gas emissions outright. But they're not just taxing their own aircraft's carbon emissions, but all carriers coming into Europe. 

 

European Union Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS) Opposition 

 

The European Union has been charging for aircraft emissions since January 1, 2012. Environmental Law Carbon EmissionsIf an airline refuses to pay up, the airline will be fined 100 Euros for each ton of carbon dioxide emitted. Those companies still refusing to pay the fees or fines may find their wings clipped in Europe. 

In response, a "Rebel Alliance" of unlikely players has formed: Brazil, South Africa, India and China call themselves the BASIC bloc, though the United States and Russia are also involved. Saudi Arabia may even host the next rebellion planning meeting. 

Russia, which like the other countries just mentioned, opposed the EU’s greenhouse gas fees, is threatening in retaliation to reinstate over-flight fees for planes cruising over Siberia, which Russia gave up for World Trade Organization membership. The United States' State Department is also against the greenhouse gas fees, though there's no talk of retaliation or counter charges of any kind as of yet. 

China refuses to allow their air carriers to pay. Companies who feel they must will need special permissions from the Chinese government. 

A joint statement from environmental ministers of the BASIC countries said, 

"Ministers noted that the unilateral action by EU in the name of climate change was taken despite strong international opposition and would seriously jeopardize the international efforts to combat climate change." 

The EU's response is that it wouldn't be charging these fees if there were a global response to solving the greenhouse gas problem. It may take the United Nations' International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to step in and suggest a resolution. But the EU says talks through ICAO haven't worked for the past 10 years, that's why they enacted the aviation emissions law in the first place. 

Moreover, history teaches that countries act only in their own interest and that the United Nations is an impotent organization unless the major powers want it to act.  No wonder talks through the ICAO haven’t worked. 

On the other hand, the EU’s carbon fees may be worse than not acting.  If one government (here, the EU) essentially places a tariff on doing business in that government’s jurisdiction, retaliation is sure to follow (example:  Russia, as discussed above). 

Whatever happens, the carbon emissions war is sure to do one thing: raise airfares for everyone. 

Stephen T. Holzer is a Business Litigation Attorney and the Chair of our Environmental Law Practice Group. Contact him by calling 818.990.2120.

 

 

Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

Thursday
May262011

Cap and Trade System Capped for Now

Los Angeles Environmental AttorneyEnvironmental AttorneyStephen T. Holzer
May 26, 2011

Los Angeles Environmental Attorney

What is Cap and Trade? In 2006, California passed Assembly Bill 32, the Global Warming Solutions Act, meant to help the state meet a set goal of reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. The California Air Resources Board (CARB) developed plans to meet those goals. 

One strategy included a cap and trade system which allowed companies emitting fixed amounts of greenhouse gases to earn credits when they emit less, and to buy credits when they emit more. But critics of the plan say the strategy wasn’t well thought out.

In late March, Judge Ernest Goldsmith of the San Francisco Superior Court issued a tentative ruling invalidating CARB’s program. The Judge has now finalized his ruling. 

 

Why Is CARB Under Fire?

 

The implementation of AB 32 was challenged not by industry, but by a coalition of environmental justice advocacy groups, which claimed CARB had not adequately considered viable alternatives to a cap-and-trade system. Who are the parties that filed suit? 

     ▪ Association of Irritated Residents
     ▪ Communities Against Toxics
     ▪ Communities For a Better Environment
     ▪ Coalition For a Safe Environment
     ▪ Society For Positive Action
     ▪ West County Toxics Coalition
     ▪ Various Individuals

The plaintiffs complained that the system, which sets an overall level of greenhouse gases that industry may emit into the environment imposes burdens on low-income communities. 

The unfairness allegedly arises because, while an overall pollution limit may be set, companies exceeding emissions allowances can buy credits from other companies and continue existing levels of individual company pollution. 

The advocacy groups complained that the companies benefitting from a cap and trade system are disproportionately in low-income areas. While the system may cap pollution in the long run, the groups allege that the end result would actually raise greenhouse gas levels in low-income communities. 

 

Cap and Trade & CEQA

 

CARB’s approach to curbing greenhouse-gas pollution was specifically challenged on the basis of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Judge Goldsmith’s final Statement of Decision agreed with the groups’ claim that CARB violated CEQA by, “failing to adequately analyze alternatives” to cap and trade. In other words,  the Judge said, CARB had failed to determine whether the goals of greenhouse gas regulation could be achieved without the flaws identified by the plaintiff groups.

You can find Judge Goldsmith’s Statement of Decision at  http://www.latimes.com/media/acrobat/2011-03/60311754.pdf  (Association of Irritated Residents, et al. v. California Air Resources Board, et al., Case No. CPF-09-509562). 

CARB was supposed to finalize the cap and trade program by the end of October. Will they make their own deadline? Some say we will be trading carbon by 2012, while others expect a court appeal. 

Stephen T. Holzer is a Los Angeles Environmental Lawyer, Shareholder and Chair of the Environmental Law Department. Contact him by calling 818.990.2120.

 

 
Disclaimer:
This Blog/Web Site is made available by the lawyer or law firm publisher for educational purposes only, to provide general information and a general understanding of the law, not to provide specific legal advice. By using this blog site you understand there is no attorney client relationship between you and the Blog/Web Site publisher. The Blog/Web Site should not be used as a substitute for obtaining legal advice from a licensed professional attorney in your state.

 

 

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