December 27, 2013

Fracking Saves Water, Prevents Droughts, New Study Claims

Source:, December 23, 2013
By: David Kashi

Even though hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, uses millions of gallons of water to blast shale rock to release trapped gas, the controversial technique actually saves water, according to a recent study by the University of Texas.

The study claims that the Lone Star State is less vulnerable to drought because of its transition from coal to natural gas as the main fuel source used to generate electricity.

“Natural gas also enhances drought resilience by providing so-called peaking plants to complement increasing wind generation, which doesn’t consume water,” the study said.

Thanks to fracking, Texas is now extracting more oil and gas than ever. The state’s production could surpass that of Kuwait, UAE, Iraq, Iran and even Canada by the end of next year. The drilling technique has been heavily criticized, as some environmentalists contend fracking contaminates and wastes groundwater.

“The bottom line is that hydraulic fracturing, by boosting natural gas production and moving the state from water-intensive coal technologies, makes our electric power system more drought-resilient,” Bridget Scanlon, senior research scientist at the university’s Bureau of Economic Geology, who led the study, said.

While the study asserts that fracking accounts for less than 1 percent of the water consumed in Texas, it also acknowledged that it strains local water supplies in areas where the technique is heavily concentrated.…

October 30, 2013

In-situ oilsands mines may skirt environmental assessments

Source: The Hamilton Spectator (Ontario, Canada), October 26, 2013
Posted on:

The federal government has confirmed it is backing away from assessing the environmental impact of new oilsands projects, one day after acknowledging it won’t come close to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

A final list of the types of projects that will require a federal environmental assessment was released Friday. The list contains no mention of in-situ oilsands mines, which are expected to be the industry’s most common type of development in the future.

“This is the largest single source of (greenhouse gas) growth in the country and yet the federal government is not going to be playing a role there,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

On Thursday, Environment Canada released a report concluding that Canada is on pace to get halfway to its 2020 emissions target under the Copenhagen accord.

In-situ mines involve heating underground bitumen deposits enough to soften them so they can be pumped up. In some ways, they are considered more environment-friendly. They require no vast open pits or tailings ponds of toxic water.

Environmentalists have pointed out they still result in habitat fragmentation on the surface through seismic lines and roads to wellheads. But their biggest impact results from heating the bitumen, usually through steam. Generating that steam burns a lot of natural gas, increasing the carbon intensity of the resulting barrel of oil.

The industry’s gradual shift toward in-situ production is generally blamed for a recent rise in the average amount of carbon dioxide released per barrel of oilsands crude. About 80 per cent of the resource can only be recovered using in-situ methods.

Alberta government figures say in-situ production creates anywhere from one to 10 more kilograms of CO{-2} per barrel than open-pit mining.

Stewart said there are also unanswered questions about some in-situ techniques. He points to a Canadian Natural Resources project that has been leaking bitumen for months near Cold Lake, Alta., despite attempts to stop it.

Large expansions to existing open-pit mines will still be reviewed. As well, the federal environment minister has discretion to call a review into any project if the minister feels it is warranted. And all new oilsands projects will still be reviewed by Alberta.


June 18, 2013

Great American Insurance Group’s Environmental Division Launches Enhanced Premises Environmental Liability Product

Great American Insurance Group`s Environmental Division is pleased to announce the launch of its enhanced Premises Environmental Liability Insurance Policy. The policy speaks to many newer exposures now faced by site owners, operators, property managers and tenants, including:

– Contingent Business Interruption
– Emergency Response Costs
– Green Building Materials
– Methamphetamine Labs
– Biological Hazards

Limits of liability of up to $35 million per occurrence, $70 million in aggregate, are available with policy terms of up to 10 years.

John Reynolds, President of Great American’s Environmental Division, stated, “This innovative coverage further solidifies Great American Insurance Company as one of the leading insurers in the environmental liability arena.” Great American’s robust suite of environmental liability products and capacity are available to retail and wholesale brokers throughout the US and Canada. Environmental Division offices are located in Plymouth Meeting, PA, San Francisco, CA, and its newest location in New York, NY.

Please contact your Great American Environmental Underwriter to see how the new enhancements may help your clients manage their pollution exposures.


May 29, 2013

Road Work Stirs up a Dust Claim

Source: Great American Environmental Division, May 2013

A street and road contractor was engaged in a long-term re-construction project of a major highway. A nearby resident filed a lawsuit against all entities working on the project for damage to her home and bodily injuries allegedly from exposure to construction dust from the highway project.…

April 25, 2013

Do Bacteria and Other Living Things Qualify as "Pollution" Under Insurance Policies?

Source: Becker’s Hospital Review, April 24, 2013

Hospitals and other medical facilities often deal with the outbreak of viral or bacterial infections in the course of their business. Many may not have considered these outbreaks as a form of “pollution,” but depending on the jurisdiction in which they are located, their insurance companies may very well do so. And doing so may limit severely a facility’s ability to obtain coverage for such incidents. Read more.


April 17, 2013

Failure to Report a Spill Ends Costly for Oil Hauler

Source: Zurich, April 11, 2013

A crude oil carrier has been slapped with two penalties by the US DOT after its tank truck overturned in an accident in January, spilling about 420 gallons of oil onto the roadside soil. One penalty was for failure to notify the National Response Center within the required 24 hours after a reportable environmental spill and the second was for failure to submit the written (U.S. DOT 5800.1) report within 30 days of the incident.

In the incident, nearby residences were evacuated and an elementary school was closed for the day as a precautionary measure due to the nature of the product and potential risks. A contractor was dispatched to perform the cleanup, and absorbent material was applied to absorb free product from the soil, which was excavated, and the site returned to pre-existing condition. About 52 tons of contaminated soils were generated during the cleanup efforts, which were transported for disposal in accordance with local, state and federal regulations. No injuries were reported. And no reports were filed.…

April 17, 2013

Oil proposals for Great Lakes concern environmentalists: Great Lakes oil proposals worry some

Source:, April 14, 2013
Posted on:

Two oil projects in the works could significantly increase the amount of heavy crude oil moving on — and near — the Great Lakes, causing alarm among environmentalists because they involve the same heavy oil that was behind a $1-billion oil spill on the Kalamazoo River in 2010 that remains an ecological disaster.

The company fined for that spill — Canadian oil transport giant Enbridge — is behind one of the new projects. Its new venture would nearly double the amount of crude oil shipped on a major pipeline from Canada to Lake Superior — transporting more oil than the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that has caused an environmental outcry and fierce debate in Congress. The second project involves a refinery on Lake Superior’s shore building a dock to load oil barges, allowing the shipment of up to 13 million barrels of crude oil per year throughout the Great Lakes to Midwest refineries and markets beyond.

Together, the projects would mean a new reality for the Great Lakes basin, heightening risks to the world’s most vital freshwater source, according to environmental groups.

“It’s pretty alarming,” said Beth Wallace of the National Wildlife Federation’s Great Lakes Regional Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. “We’ve known for a while that the Midwest has been the major consumer for these tar sands. Now, we’re becoming the transportation hub for it.”

Added Nancy Shiffler, a Sierra Club volunteer based in Ann Arbor, “Oil tankers on Lake Superior; what could possibly go wrong? That clearly sounds like a bad idea.”…

April 16, 2013

Pulp Mill Pollution Dispute Settled

Read here about a settlement that has been reached in a dispute over pulp mill pollution in Oregon.


April 16, 2013

Latest Environmental Products from XL Environmental

Source: eNews from XL Environmental, April 12, 2013

XL Environmental’s latest eNews highlights their latest environmental products including the following. Click each product to learn more.

February 6, 2013

Tar sands cause heated environmental, economic debate in Maine

Source: Bangor Daily News, February 2, 2013
Posted on:

Since 1941, oil tankers have been a common sight in Casco Bay. They arrive at Portland Head Light sitting low in the water, heavily laden with crude oil from the Middle East or Africa’s offshore oil rigs and destined for refineries in Quebec and Ontario.

For most of that time, the tankers have come and gone without much notice. Recently, however, they’ve become the center of a fierce debate about oil and the 236-mile pipeline that carries it from South Portland northwest, through Westbrook, past Sebago Lake, across the Crooked River, through Raymond and toward Bethel, where it then turns west and enters New Hampshire on its way to its ultimate destination, Montreal.

Portland Pipe Line Corp. has operated the pipeline for 70 years, creating hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs in Maine, Larry Wilson, the company’s CEO, told the Bangor Daily News on Friday.

But markets change, and the Canadian refineries that Portland Pipe Line has delivered oil to now are looking elsewhere. Instead of the crude oil from abroad, they’re looking west toward much more inexpensive oil sands crude, 170 billion barrels worth, coming from northern Alberta. As a result, the Portland-Montreal pipeline has been operating under capacity, Wilson said.

Oil sands, commonly referred to as “tar sands,” consist of bitumen, which is a solid or semisolid petroleum deposit, mixed with sand, water and clay. Getting more of the oil sands to refineries has been a challenge because of limited transportation infrastructure, however, and has sparked much controversy. A case in point: TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would pump oil sands from western Canada to refineries along the U.S. Gulf Coast. President Barack Obama is still determining whether to approve the project.…