Los Angeles

December 27, 2013

Benefits from fracking

Source: http://www.fresnobee.com, December 23, 2013

A Dec. 8 letter asks: “Exactly how many Californians will get out of the unemployment line due to fracking?”

According to a study by the Craig School of Business at Fresno State, developing the Monterey shale could create up to 195,000 direct jobs and generate more than $22 billion in personal income in the unemployment-ravaged San Joaquin Valley. Further, a study by USC found that development of the Monterey shale could potentially create one million jobs by 2015 and 2.8 million by 2020.

Contrary to the author’s claims, hydraulic fracturing does not pose a credible threat for earthquakes. A recent study from Durham University found “it is extremely unlikely that any of us will ever be able to feel an earthquake caused by fracking.” A study from the National Research Council affirmed a low risk of fracking inducing a felt seismic event.

As for water contamination, U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has said, “I still have not seen any evidence of fracking per se contaminating groundwater.” Numerous Obama administration officials and state regulators agree.

The science clearly tells us that fracking is safe, and developing California’s vast resources will create jobs and grow our economy. That’s something we should welcome.

Dave Quast

California Director of Energy in Depth

Los Angeles


May 16, 2013

How will Brown Balance Oil, Environmental Interests?

Source: http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com, May 14, 2013
By: Daniel Weintraub

California’s economy has been powered for decades by technology, trade and tourism — businesses and jobs mostly near the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles and around the San Francisco Bay Area. The state’s great inland valleys, while serving as a breadbasket for the world, have not been a land of high-paying employment or tax-producing industry.

A glance at the most recent unemployment numbers reflects this reality. While the state’s overall jobless rate is still high by historic standards, it has fallen to 6.3 percent in Orange County, 6.0 percent in San Francisco and 5.7 percent in San Mateo County. In the Central Valley, by contrast, unemployment remains in double digits from Kern County (13.6) all the way to San Joaquin (14.1).

Could Big Oil change all that?

A revolution in the oil industry that’s been taking place in Pennsylvania, Ohio and North Dakota is poised to sweep through California’s oil patch, with the potential to produce hundreds of thousands of jobs and billions in tax revenue for the state.

But there’s a big catch. That same revolution also brings the chance of environmental degradation, threatening the water supply and abetting a carbon-based economy that many were hoping would soon become a thing of the past. That might not be a problem in the rust belt or the job-starved upper Midwest, but environmental protection is one of California’s passions. It is also one of its attractions.

At issue is the future of what is known as the Monterey Shale, a geologic formation that stretches beneath the Central Valley from Bakersfield to Modesto. Parts of this region have been a source of oil for generations. Despite recent declines, California still ranks fourth among the states in crude oil production, behind Texas, Alaska and a surging North Dakota, and most of that oil comes from the southern Central Valley and the surrounding hills.…

May 1, 2013

California Assembly panel OKs three measures to halt fracking for more study

Source: The Sacramento Bee, May 1, 2013
Posted on: http://envfpn.advisen.com

In the latest sign of Democrats’ determination to rein in the disputed extraction process known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, a California Assembly committee has advanced three bills that would halt the practice in the state for the foreseeable future.

They were not the first fracking bills to make it out of committee this year, but they go further than other fracking legislation by calling for a moratorium to allow more time to study the impacts of hydraulic fracturing, which involves blasting a mix of chemicals and water deep underground.

Senate Bill 4 by Sen. Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, for instance, would prohibit the state from issuing new fracking permits only if a study on fracking was not completed by Jan. 1, 2015.

Paul Deiro, a lobbyist testifying Monday before the Assembly Natural Resources Committee on behalf of the Western States Petroleum Association, told committee members that other proposals were “far more reasonable than the three moratorium bills you hear today,” arguing that there is no evidence that fracking is unsafe.

“The proponents of a moratorium have often said we don’t know, we need to collect information and find out,” but there are no cases of proven well failure or groundwater contamination in California, Deiro said. He added that a fracking ban would mean that the energy-rich Central Valley “loses the potential of creating millions of jobs.”

But Assembly members said they were responding to constituents alarmed that fracking is moving forward in California with seemingly little oversight or regulation.…

March 22, 2013

Tank Farm Near RPV Faces EPA Lawsuit

Source: Palos Verdes Patch, March 16, 2013

Federal regulators have just sided with San Pedro area activists who claim that a tank farm storing up to 26 million gallons of liquid petroleum gas sits in an earthquake danger zone and is otherwise unsafe.

The Environmental Protection Agency late last week told Plains LPG Services it will soon be sued over alleged violations of Clean Air Act that stem from safety risks at the tank farm, which is located at the intersection of Gaffey Street and Westmont Drive in San Pedro near the border of Rancho Palos Verdes.

“This means the beginning of the end for them,” said Janet Schaaf-Gunter, leader of the San Pedro Peninsula Homeowners United group. That group has been campaigning for years to shut down the tank farm, which activists contend could trigger an accidental blast with a radius of 3.6 miles.

The tank farm stores 25 million gallons of propane and liquefied butane in two large tanks and multiple smaller ones.

No one could be reached at Plains LPG’s Gaffey Street offices Saturday. The company is owned by a Canadian subsidiary of Plains All American Pipeline in Houston, according to its website, and no one was available in Texas on Saturday.…

February 14, 2013

Industrial Properties and Environmental Risk

Source: http://www.globest.com, February 1, 2013
By: Jay Grenfell

The general consensus seems to be that 2013 will be a year with increased investment in commercial real estate and a return to normalcy in the commercial real estate markets. Multi-family was a popular product type in 2012 and was very helpful in driving recovery. Multi-family is sure to continue to be a favored property type in 2013, but office and industrial properties are expected to be attractive asset classes as well. However, unlike multi-family and office, industrial properties are more likely to have environmental liabilities that need to be identified and managed appropriately.

Demand for warehouse space is hot in many areas of the West Coast, including in Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles, as well as in places like Houston and Philadelphia. These locations are particularly attractive due to their strategic location near transportation hubs and terminals. Although there are some positive signs for retail space, continued growth is expected for eCommerce, and the requirement for more distribution facilities in strategic locations has many investors taking note. Modern distribution facilities will be needed to accommodate growing demands for the storage and shipment of goods bought and sold from online market places.

Unlike multi-family, which primarily encounter issues associated with suspect asbestos-containing materials, lead-based paint, radon, or perhaps off-site releases, industrial property types are more likely to have significant environmental challenges due to a history of tenant use. These uses can include the use of underground storage tanks (USTs) related to vehicle fleet fueling and the generation of hazardous wastes in association with manufacturing, among others. Managing environmental risk is an important consideration for investors looking at opportunities in industrial property in 2013.…

January 15, 2013

Supreme Court Ruling Leaves Los Angeles With Polluted Stormwater

Source: Environment News Service, January 9, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Los Angeles County’s Flood Control District can side-step responsibility for the high levels of polluted stormwater found in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, but only temporarily.

In a lawsuit initiated in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica Baykeeper (now Los Angeles Waterkeeper), the groups sought to hold the county responsible for the mix of mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead and fecal bacteria found in billions of gallons of stormwater that runs from concrete-lined stretches of the two rivers into lower, unlined portions of the same rivers.

The Supreme Court addressed the narrow question – does the flow of water out of a concrete channel within a river rank as a “discharge of a pollutant” under the Clean Water Act?

Los Angeles RiverA concrete-lined section of the Los Angeles River at the Fourth Street Bridge, October 2012 (Photo by Jacob Dickinson)

Before the Supreme Court, all the parties as well as the government of the United States agreed that the answer to this question is “no.”…

February 13, 2012

Assembly drops bill that would have helped hold polluters responsible

Source: http://californiawatch.org, February 9, 2012
By: Corey G. Johnson

Under pressure from construction, architect and other industry groups, state legislators killed a bill that would have closed a loophole used by businesses to evade pollution lawsuits.

Sponsored by Assemblyman Warren Furutani, D-Long Beach, AB 1207 arose out of a lawsuit in Carson, where residents discovered in 2009 that for nearly five decades, their families have been exposed to dangerous levels of cancer-causing toxins emanating from their properties. There is no state law that explicitly puts time limits on pollution cases, which often are discovered decades after the toxic dumping occurs.

However, Shell Oil Co. and a local developer were able to initially get the resident lawsuit thrown out by claiming the state’s 10-year time limit on “construction defect” claims had expired.

Key supporters of the Carson residents told Furutani that new legislation was needed, as other companies were using the state’s construction defects time limits to escape legal responsibility for pollution-related damages.

But construction industry lobbyists argued that Furutani’s bill made architects, builders and developers needlessly vulnerable to lawsuits.…

August 2, 2011

Dueling Las Vegas Hotel Engineering Reports Cloud Conflict Between Perini and MGM

Source: http://enr.construction.com, July 25, 2011
By: Tony Illia

The future of the Las Vegas Strip’s Harmon Hotel remains clouded by competing claims over the unfinished building’s structural soundness.

Released on July 11, an engineering report commissioned by owner MGM Resorts International says construction defects in the 28-story tower are “so pervasive and varied … that it is not possible to quickly implement a temporary or permanent repair” or determine “whether repairs are possible.”

The findings contradict an earlier government report that said Harmon is “structurally stable under design loads from a maximum considered earthquake.” On July 12, Clark County building director Ron Lynn ordered MGM to provide by Aug. 15 substantiating documents and calculations from its report, performed by Weidlinger Associates, New York City. He also ordered MGM to devise a remedy for the half-built tower, including possible demolition.…

June 22, 2011

Insurers of New Orleans Housing Project Offers to Settle Claims

Read here about a $65.5 million offered by insurers of the New Orleans’ public housing authority to settle claims.…

May 31, 2011

Carson residents living on toxic soil have little judicial, legal, legislative luck with cleanup

Source: http://www.scpr.org, May 24, 2011
By: Molly Peterson

Homeowners in Carson’s Carousel neighborhood have faced setbacks in their efforts to hold developers and the Shell Oil company responsible for toxic soil under their houses.

Regional water regulators have told Shell to clean up what was for 40 years a tank farm with open reservoirs of oil. Testing has revealed potentially explosive methane gas, and chemicals like benzene that can raise cancer risks.

People in Carson are skeptical of the plans to clean up those chemicals by removing contaminated soil. Barbara Post heads the Carson Homeowners Association. “Would you really live with truckloads of contaminated soil going out – what did they say, it would take 70 truckloads a day. And then they’re going to haul in clean dirt? To fill that whole tract 10 feet under?”…