Category: oil


“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice,” laureates write.

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Jimmy Carter with his grandson Hugo. Photo: Jeffrey Moore/The Elders

 

A group of 10 Nobel Peace Prize laureates including former President Jimmy Carter has sent a letter to President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry urging them to reject the “linchpin for tar sands expansion” — the Keystone XL.

The open letter, which appears in a full-page ad in Wednesday’s Politico, is the third sent by a group of Nobel Peace Laureates to Obama urging him to reject TransCanada’s tar sands carrying pipeline, and the first one to which Carter has added his name. Carter is now the first ex-president to voice opposition to the pipeline.

This additional letter shows “the growing urgency we feel for the hundreds of millions of people globally whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened and lost as a result of the changing climate and environmental damage caused by our dangerous addiction to oil,” the signatories, which also include landmine activist Jody Williams, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and human rights activist Shirin Ebadi, write.

“You stand on the brink of making a choice that will define your legacy on one of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced – climate change. As you deliberate the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, you are poised to make a decision that will signal either a dangerous commitment to the status quo, or bold leadership that will inspire millions counting on you to do the right thing for our shared climate,” the laureates write.

As for the argument some have made that if the pipeline is rejected the Alberta tar sands crude will just travel by rail, the laureates write that this is “a red herring” because “[i]ndustry experts agree that the Keystone XL project is the linchpin for tar sands expansion and the increased pollution that will follow, triggering more climate upheaval with impacts felt around the world.”

Photo: Steven Tuttle/cc/flickrSusan Casey-Lefkowitz, International Program Director at NRDC, one of the groups sponsoring the Politico ad, writes:

As leaders struggle with what the need to fight climate change means in terms of energy decisions at home, the voice of moral leaders such as these Nobel Peace laureates becomes more important than ever. And they are sending a clear message that political leadership is essential to stand up to entrenched fossil fuel interests and to take the kinds of decisions that will put us on the path of a cleaner energy future.

“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice,” the laureates’ letter states.

The State Department recommendation on the project is expected soon. While the State Department’s review is required because the northern leg of the pipeline crosses an international border, the final decision sits with President Obama, who has indicated his decision could come in the next few months.

Next week, Carter will join two fellow members of The Elders, Pakistani pro-democracy activist Hina Jilani and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, in leading a discussion on climate leadership and activism Paris.

___________________

…..

Calgary Herald

Nobel laureates condemn Keystone as climate-change trigger

Nobel laureates condemn Keystone as climate-change trigger

Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter sits down for a conversation with Mark Updegrove, director of the LBJ Presidential Library, on the first day of the Civil Rights Summit at the LBJ Presidential Library on April 8 in Austin, Texas. Carter is one of 10 Nobel Peace Prize winners who have issued a letter urging President Barrack Obama to reject the proposed Keystone XL pipeline that would connect Alberta’s oilsands to refineries on Texas’s Gulf Coast.

Photograph by: Ralph Barrera-Pool/Getty Images/File , Postmedia News

WASHINGTON — Ten Nobel Peace Prize winners from as far afield as Yemen, South Africa and Argentina have signed a letter asking U.S. President Barack Obama to deny a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline that would transport oilsands bitumen to Texas Gulf Coast refineries.

The laureates, who include former U.S. president Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, argue that denial of a permit would send a strong signal to the world that the U.S. is rejecting a fossil fuels future.

“Let this reflect the growing urgency we feel for the hundreds of millions of people globally whose lives and livelihoods are being threatened and lost as a result of the changing climate and environmental damage caused by our dangerous addiction to oil,” the letter says.

Rejection of the pipeline would set “a powerful precedent” and “would signal a new course for the world’s largest economy,” the letter says.

“History will reflect on this moment and it will be clear to our children and grandchildren if you made the right choice.”

The letter underscores Obama’s dilemma: By allowing the assessment process to take so long, he has awakened both national and international interest in a project that normally would garner only passing concern.

 

Read More Here

Enhanced by Zemanta
About these ads
…..

US Puts off Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline

 

The Obama administration is putting off its decision on the Keystone XL oil pipeline, likely until after the November elections, by extending its review of the controversial project indefinitely.

In a surprise announcement Friday as Washington was winding down for Easter, the State Department said federal agencies will have more time to weigh in on the politically fraught decision — but declined to say how much longer. Officials said the decision will have to wait for the dust to settle in Nebraska, where a judge in February overturned a state law that allowed the pipeline’s path through the state.

Nebraska’s Supreme Court isn’t expected to hear an appeal to that ruling until September or October, and there could be more legal maneuvering after the high court rules. So President Barack Obama will almost surely have until after the November congressional elections to make the final call about whether the pipeline carrying oil from Canada should be built.

Approving the pipeline before the election would rankle Obama’s allies and donors in the environmental community, but nixing it could be politically damaging to vulnerable Democrats running this year in conservative-leaning areas.

“This decision is irresponsible, unnecessary and unacceptable,” said Democratic Sen. Mary Landrieu, who faces a difficult re-election in oil-rich Louisiana. Landrieu said Obama was signaling that a small minority can tie up the process in the courts, sacrificing 42,000 jobs and billions in economic activity.

In an ironic show of bipartisanship, Republicans joined Landrieu and other Democrats like Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska in immediately condemning the announcement — the latest in a string of delays in a review process that has dragged on for more than five years.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., accused Obama of kowtowing to “radical activists” from the environmental community, while House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, called the decision “shameful” and said there were no credible reasons for further delay.

“This job-creating project has cleared every environmental hurdle and overwhelmingly passed the test of public opinion, yet it’s been blocked for more than 2,000 days,” Boehner said in a statement.

But environmental groups fighting the pipeline hailed the delay, arguing that it shows the State Department is taking the arguments against the pipeline seriously.

“This is definitely great news,” said Tiernan Sittenfeld, senior vice president for the League of Conservation Voters. “We are very confident as they continue to examine the issues with the lack of legal route in Nebraska and the terrible climate impacts, at the end of the day the pipeline will be rejected.”

Keystone XL would carry oil from western Canada’s tar sands to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. The project requires State Department approval because it crosses an international border. The State Department vowed to move forward with other aspects of its review even while the situation in Nebraska remains in limbo.

“The agency consultation process is not starting over,” the State Department said in a statement.

State Department officials said other U.S. agencies, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, won’t be notified of their new deadline for comment until the legal situation in Nebraska becomes clearer. Driving the delay is a concern that the legal wrangling could lead to a change in the pipeline’s route that would affect agencies’ assessments, said the officials, who weren’t authorized to comment by name and demanded anonymity.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

ABC News

US Extends Keystone Review as Pipeline Supporters Cry Foul

By Ali Weinberg

Apr 18, 2014 3:16pm

The State Department says it needs more time to make a decision about whether to approve the Keystone XL pipeline project, citing uncertainty about the route’s direction through Nebraska, which is currently under litigation there.

The department is delaying the deadline for eight federal agencies to submit their recommendations to on the pipeline, which President Obama had requested they do via an executive order. The original deadline was early May, but because Nebraska’s Supreme Court is hearing a case on the proposed Keystone route through that state, the agencies will have about two weeks after the case is closed to submit their recommendations.

The process ahead, including whether the State Department will have to redo its initial assessments on the project, now depends on the outcome of the Nebraska case – the conclusion of which a senior State Department official declined to speculate about Friday.

“I can’t render a judgment on when the final decision could take place. We want this to move as expeditiously as possible,” the official told reporters on a conference call.

The officials also noted that there had been an unprecedented 2.5 million public comments regarding the pipeline, which State Department staff and private contractors are still going through. Usually, the official said on the call, there are less than 100 public comments on pipeline projects.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Earth Watch Report  -  Hazmat

"James

James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the United States Bureau of Land Management, examines an oil-covered rock with the Forest Service’s Joe Harris and BLM’s Sarah Schlanger in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

…..

April 01 2014 07:40 AM Environment Pollution USA State of Utah, [Little Valley Wash, Grand Staircase National Monument] Damage level Details

 

…..

Environment Pollution in USA on Tuesday, 01 April, 2014 at 07:40 (07:40 AM) UTC.

Description
Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash. The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while. “The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash. The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources. Although preliminary reports last week suggested the spill may have originated from a leak that occurred last month in a nearby pipeline operated by Citation Oil, Crutchfield said the oil found in the wash is very unlikely to have come from a recent leakage.”The Citation oil line did spring a pinhole-sized leak,” Crutchfield said. That leak spilled about 10 barrels of oil before it was discovered and patched last month. The oil that flows through the pipeline has a low viscosity and would be very fluid, he said �” not the thick, viscous, asphalt-like substance found in the wash. The oil in the wash appears to have been there for some time, he said. In fact, investigators currently suspect the spill had been buried beneath the wash until it was exposed by a violent flash flood last fall, which explains why the spill hadn’t been reported in previous years. When asked who might have buried the spill, Crutchfield said it’s quite possible that it was covered by sediment deposited by an earlier flood. There is no way of knowing for sure before BLM investigators complete their assessment of the incident. “We have an idea of where the oil may have come from, but it would be entirely inappropriate for me to speculate at this point,” Crutchfield said. The first priority, he said, is to assess the danger that the oil poses to the surrounding environment. “The important thing at this stage is that we are taking action,” he said. “Citation Oil is taking action. We are working together to figure out what exactly happened.”

 

…..

Sun Independent.com

Massive oil spill discovered at Grand Staircase National Monument

 

Monday, 03-31-2014, 08:30 PM
Written by Michael Flynn

Hikers exploring the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument in Southern Utah last week happened upon an oil spill over four miles in length in an area known as Little Valley Wash.

The spill is thought to be old, based on the dense, asphalt-like consistency of the oil, said Larry Crutchfield, Bureau of Land Management public affairs specialist. And it’s a good thing the oil is so thick, he added, because that means the spill will stay put for a while.

“The good news is that there is no oil actively moving in the wash,” Crutchfield said. Because the oil in the wash is nearly as thick as asphalt, he added, it is not posing an immediate threat to surrounding areas. However, he said there is evidence suggesting it did move last September when massive monsoon rains created a violent flash flood in the wash.

The area typically does receive some rain in the springtime, he said, but not nearly enough to fill the part of the wash where the oil is, which is far upstream. The BLM isn’t taking any chances, however, and plans to secure the area with booms and other equipment to help protect monument resources and water sources.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Published: Friday, April 4 2014 7:46 p.m. MDT

James Holland, hydrologist/geologist with the Kanab Field Office of the federal Bureau of Land Management, left, points to asphalt-like patches of oil in Little Valley Wash in the Upper Valley region of Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument near Escalante on Friday, April 4, 2014. Holland, along with Joe Harris of the Forest Service, Mark Bing, central regional manager of Citation Oil and Gas Corp., Terry Tolbert, wildlife biologist, and Julie Sueker of Arcadis Environmental Consulting Group, hiked the 4-mile stretch of the wash where the oil was discovered.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

 

ESCALANTE, Garfield County — Remnants from at least one large oil spill found by hikers on March 23 in Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument has officials wondering how and when the damage occurred.

As many as 4 miles in the Little Valley Wash now contain the aftermath of the spill, with about 1.5 miles of 6-inch thick oil flows contained in the mostly dry stream bed. Bureau of Land Management officials who manage the monument say it’s likely the leak happened decades ago.

BLM officials hypothesize that the spill became encased in sediment deposits over time, making it difficult or impossible to see in most areas. Last September, intense floods washed down the drainage, possibly unburying the oil deposit and carrying parts of it downstream for 2.5 miles.

Boulders and tree trunks in the drainage now demonstrate the depth of the initial oil flows, with steady black lines as many as 2 feet above the stream bed. Black splotches are found in other areas, with vegetation collecting the oil as it flowed along with the flood waters.

Long stretches of oil patches not mixed with sediment have liquified in regions exposed to the sun.

“It’s not what we want to see here,” associate monument manager Sarah Schlanger said during an examination of the area Friday.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
Posted: 03/28/2014 8:27 am EDT Updated: 03/28/2014 8:59 am EDT
In this March 22, 2014 file photo, a barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, PO3 Manda Emery, File)

In this March 22, 2014 file photo, a barge loaded with marine fuel oil sits partially submerged in the Houston Ship Channel. (AP Photo/U.S. Coast Guard, PO3 Manda Emery, File)

 

 

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — The barge operator that spilled nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil into the Houston Ship Channel, closing one of the nation’s busiest seaports for several days, will be fined by Texas regulators regardless of the outcome of state and federal investigations.

Investigators are still trying to pinpoint the cause of last weekend’s accident involving a barge owned by Houston-based Kirby Inland Marine Corp., but Texas law considers the company carrying the oil a responsible party, said Greg Pollock, deputy director for the Texas General Land Office’s oil spill response division.

“What that will be now I can’t say because we don’t have a closed case,” Pollock said.

It won’t be the first fine for the company, which has paid more than $51,000 for at least 77 spills since 2008, most of which were minor incidents.

Saturday’s accident closed the main artery linking the area’s busy ports with the largest petrochemical complex in the country. The channel in Texas City, about 45 miles southeast of Houston, typically handles about 70 ships and 300 to 400 tugboats and barges a day, and sees more than 200 million tons of cargo move through each year.

The channel wasn’t fully reopened until late Thursday. At its height, the closure stranded some 100 vessels.

“As long as the weather holds up, we can get caught up in a couple days,” said Capt. Clint Winegar of the Houston Pilots, an association of sea pilots.

 

Read More Here

 

 

……

Coast Guards Aims to Reopen Houston Ship Channel

Nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled

By Juan A. Lozano and Nomaan Merchant
|  Monday, Mar 24, 2014  |  Updated 8:49 PM CDT

NBC 5

No timetable has been set to reopen a major U.S. shipping channel after nearly 170,000 gallons of tar-like oil spilled into the Texas waterway.

As workers in bright yellow suits picked quarter-sized “tar balls” out of the sand along Galveston Bay on Monday, strong incoming tides kept washing more ashore.

Elsewhere, crews lined up miles of oil booms to keep oil away from the shoreline and bird habitats, two days after a collision in the Houston Ship Channel dumped as many as 170,000 gallons of oil from a barge into the water along the Gulf Coast and shut down one of the nation’s busiest seaports.

With cleanup well underway, the Coast Guard said it hoped to have the channel open to barge traffic as quickly as possible but that more tests were needed to confirm the water and the vessels traveling through the channel were free of oil.

The closure stranded some 80 vessels on both sides of the channel. Traffic through the channel includes ships serving refineries key to American oil production.

 

Officials believe most of the oil that spilled Saturday is drifting out of the Houston Ship Channel into the Gulf of Mexico, which should limit the impact on bird habitats around Galveston Bay as well as beaches and fisheries important to tourists.

“This spill — I think if we keep our fingers crossed — is not going to have the negative impact that it could have had,” said Jerry Patterson, commissioner of the Texas General Land Office, the lead state agency on the response to the spill.

The best-case scenario is for most of the slick to remain in the Gulf for at least several days and congeal into small tar balls that wash up further south on the Texas coast, where they could be picked up and removed, Patterson said. Crews from the General Land Office are monitoring water currents and the movement of the oil, he said.

 

Read More Here

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta
seattlepi.com

British Columbia city challenges oil pipeline: What about fire or leak?

|

 

Burnaby, B.C., is standing up to Big Oil.

The Vancouver suburb wants to know where a proposed oil pipeline is going to go, especially if Burnaby fire crews are expected to handle a leak, rupture or conflagration.

The vast Alberta oil stands project, along with oil development in North Dakota, is outstripping the capacity of North America's pipelines.  Hence, oil is increasingly being moved by rail.  A disaster in Quebec raises questions for the Northwest. (Getty Images)

The big, Houston-based Kinder Morgan pipeline company wants to double the capacity of its existing Trans-Mountain Pipeline. The pipeline transports crude oil from Alberta beneath the city of Burnaby (population 202,000) to a refinery on the shores of Burrard Inlet.

The pipeline expansion appears greased — Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to turn Canada into an oil-exporting power — but Burnaby is unwilling to lie down before the carbon economy.  Its city attorney, Greg McDade, asked in a letter to Canada’s National Energy Board:

“What would happen in the event of a fire?  What would happen in the event of a leak? There seems to be a suggestion that the city of Burnaby and its fire department can take care of all those things.”

Tough questions from Burnaby deserve attention south of the border.  Expansion of the Trans-Mountain Pipeline has one major purpose — export of oil by tanker through international waters of the San Juan and Gulf Islands out the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  Destination: Asia.

If the Trans-Mountain expansion is approved, oil tanker traffic out of Burnaby would increase from five to an estimated 34 ships each month.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Common Sense Canadian

CNRL pipeline leaks 70,000 litres near Slave Lake

Posted April 2, 2014 by Canadian Press in Energy and Resources

CNRL pipeline leaks 70,000 litres near Slave Lake

SLAVE LAKE, Alta. – A pipeline owned by Canadian Natural Resources Limited has spilled 70,000 litres of oil and processed water northwest of Slave Lake, Alta.

The Alberta Energy Regulator says the breach happened on Monday and was reported by CNRL (TSX:CNQ) the same day.

The regulator says the spill is not an emergency, the oil is not near any people, water or wildlife, and a cleanup is underway.

 

Read More Here

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Earth Watch Report  -  Environmental Pollution

Enlarge Photo

Officials are seen at the scene of a leak from a crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Colerain Township, Ohio. A Colerain Township fire official said the leak has been contained and that there is no immediate danger to the public. Capt. Steve Conn told The Cincinnati Enquirer oil leaked into a creek and collected in a marshy wetland, and it wasn’t clear whether it reached ponds and the Great Miami River. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers) MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES

Environment Pollution USA State of Ohio, [Glen Oak Nature Preserve] Damage level Details

 

…..

RSOE EDIS

Environment Pollution in USA on Tuesday, 18 March, 2014 at 11:48 (11:48 AM) UTC.

Description
A large oil leak was found overnight in a crude oil pipeline that runs through Glen Oak Nature Preserve in Colerain Township, fire officials said this morning. It’s not clear yet how big the leak is, but it is contained, said Capt. Steve Conn, spokesman for Colerain Township Fire Department. Hazmat crews and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are on scene. About a dozen homes are in the area. “We won’t know the scope of it until daybreak when we can get a good visualization,” Conn said. “There is no immediate danger to the public.” The oil leaked into a creek and ran down and collected in a marshy wetland area near East Miami River Road, he said. Authorities are not sure yet if it spilled into ponds or the Great Miami River. Residents in the area reported smelling petroleum for several days, Conn said. The pipeline runs hundreds of miles, he said, but the exact path is not yet clear. He also was not sure if it’s a national or local one. The EPA is working with the pipeline company to clean up the spill. Crews were called to the area late Monday after receiving an 8:19 p.m. report that oil was dumping into the lake area of a nearby gravel pit on East Miami River Road, Hamilton County emergency communication reports state. Colerain fire crews hiked into the woods and located the leak coming from a pipeline about 11 p.m., Conn said.

 

…..

Up to 10,000 gallons of oil spills into conservation area in Ohio

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Photo: Adam Gerard/cc/flickrDeveloping…

A nature preserve in Ohio has added its name to the long list of victims of oil spills.

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency estimates that as much as 10,000 gallons of crude spilled in the Oak Glen Nature Preserve due to a pipeline leak.

Though the leak was reported around 8 PM Monday, area residents say they’d smelled petroleum or days.

The Mid-Valley Pipeline is owned primarily by Sunoco, and runs from Longview, Texas to Samaria, Michigan.

An investigation by the Colerain Township Fire Department Monday evening found that the spill “posed a significant threat” to the environment and wetlands of the preserve.

Reuters reports:

Some oil reached a wetland a mile (1.6 km) away and on Tuesday, clean-up crews were preparing to vacuum the wetland, located 20 miles north of Cincinnati.

The oil did not appear to have reached the Great Miami River, though tests were still being completed, the EPA said.

“Sunoco Logistics emergency response crews and contractors have contained a crude oil release on the Mid-Valley 20″ pipeline outside of Cincinnati, Ohio. Recovery of the released product has begun,” according to a statement released by Sunoco. “The pipeline was immediately shut down remotely on either side of the release area. Initial estimates are that 240 barrels were released. The cause of the release is under investigation.”

Crews estimate clean-up could take weeks.

_________________

 

…..

Enlarge Photo

Officials are seen at the scene of a leak from a crude oil pipeline on Tuesday, March 18, 2014, in Colerain Township, Ohio. A Colerain Township fire official said the leak has been contained and that there is no immediate danger to the public. Capt. Steve Conn told The Cincinnati Enquirer oil leaked into a creek and collected in a marshy wetland, and it wasn’t clear whether it reached ponds and the Great Miami River. (AP Photo/The Cincinnati Enquirer, Gary Landers) MANDATORY CREDIT; NO SALES

CINCINNATI (AP) – Environmental authorities and cleanup workers raced Tuesday to clean up oil in a southwest Ohio nature preserve where thousands of gallons leaked from an interstate pipeline.

Crews were vacuuming oil from a wetlands area, and other work was underway on barriers to ensure the oil didn’t spread. Authorities said the oil pipeline was shut off. There were no immediate reports of injured animals, and water utility officials said there was no threat to the public water supply.

An Ohio Environmental Protection Agency spokeswoman said more people were arriving at the scene to deal with the cleanup and investigation. An environmental cleanup contractor was called in for the effort with the U.S. EPA, state agencies, and local authorities west of Cincinnati.

“There are a lot of folks who are trying to everything done that needs to be done,” spokeswoman Heather Lauer said. “They’re assessing, and trying to get rid of the oil that is already out.”

Officials said the oil had been contained, but workers were building barriers to make sure potential rainfall didn’t spread the oil, Lauer said. She also said there was work being done to make an access road for heavy equipment.

Officials estimate that 240 barrels leaked, the equivalent of about 10,000 gallons. The oil ran into an intermittent steam nearly a mile long and into an acre-sized marshy area.

The 374-acre preserve is part of the Great Parks of Hamilton County system. Described by the parks department as an area of rugged hills with wildflowers and woods, the preserve also hosts native animals from crayfish to deer. Parks spokeswoman Jennifer Sivak said the preserve was closed Tuesday to the public while the cleanup continued.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

Oil firm agrees to abide by EPA monitoring arrangements for five years, allowing it to bid for drilling contracts in Gulf of Mexico
BP

BP is still awaiting a US court ruling about whether it was grossly negligent over the Deepwater Horizon blowout in 2010. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

BP is closer to restoring its operations and reputation in the US after agreeing a deal with environmental protection authorities that it will enable the oil firm to bid for new drilling rights in the Gulf of Mexico.

The British-based group had started legal proceedings against the US environmental protection agency (EPA) which had banned BP from new contracts on the grounds that it had failed to correct problems properly since the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010.

BP said it had now dropped its law suit after resolving outstanding problems with the EPA but the firm will have to abide by monitoring arrangements with the agency for the next five years.

“After a lengthy negotiation, BP is pleased to have reached this resolution, which we believe to be fair and reasonable,” said John Mingé, head of BP America. “Today’s agreement will allow America’s largest energy investor to compete again for federal contracts and leases.”

Read More Here

 

…..

March 18, 2014

Huffpost Business

Government Declares BP a ‘Responsible’ Contractor: Workers and Taxpayers Beware

A scant five days before the Department of Interior opens a new round of bids for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, the EPA has blinked, pronouncing BP, the incorrigible corporate scofflaw of the new millennium, once again fit to do business with the government.

To get right to the point, the federal government’s decision that BP has somehow paid its debt and should once again be eligible for federal contracts is a disgrace. Not only does it let BP off the hook, it sends an unmistakable signal to the rest of the energy industry: That no matter how much harm you do, no matter how horrid your safety record, the feds will cut you some slack.

Back in 2012, the agency’s intrepid staff had finally gotten permission to pull the trigger on the company, de-barring it from holding any new U.S. contracts on the grounds that it was not running its business in a “responsible” way. Undoubtedly under pressure by the Cameron government and the U.S. Defense Logistics Agency, BP’s most loyal customer, the EPA settled its debarment suit for a sweet little consent decree that will try to improve the company’s sense of ethics by having “independent” auditors come visit once a year.

To review the grim record: BP, now the third-largest energy company in the world, is the first among the roster of companies that have caused the most memorable industrial fiascos in the post-modern age.

  • Its best-known disaster, the explosion aboard the Deepwater Horizon, a drilling rig moored in the Gulf of Mexico that BP had hired to develop its lease of the Macondo well, killed 11 and deposited 205 million gallons of crude oil along the southern coast of the United States — the worst environmental disaster in American history.
  • In a troubling precursor, another explosion killed 15 and injured 180 at the company’s Texas City refinery in July 2005. This incident happened even after the plant manager there had gone on bended knee to John Manzoni, BP’s second in command worldwide, to plead for money to address severe maintenance problems that jeopardized safety at that plant after a consultant surveying refinery workers reported that many thought they ran a real risk of being killed at work. Those fears were warranted, it turned out.
  • Also in 2005, 200,000 gallons of oil spilled from a BP pipeline on Alaska’s North Slope.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

 

By Janet McConnaughey, Associated Press

Posted:   02/23/2014 09:37:30 PM MST

 

In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James

In this aerial photo, river traffic is halted along the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Vacherie, La., due to a barge leaking oil in St. James Parish, La., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

A 65-mile stretch of the Mississippi River, including the Port of New Orleans, was closed to all water traffic Sunday as crews cleaned up oil that spilled from a barge after it ran into a towboat between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the Coast Guard said.

Officials don’t know how much oil spilled, but only a sheen was reported on the river following the collision, which happened Saturday afternoon near Vacherie, 47 miles west of New Orleans by land, said Coast Guard Petty Officer Bill Colclough.

No one was hurt and all barges were secured, Colclough said. The cause of the collision was under investigation.

By late Sunday afternoon, 16 vessels were waiting to go downriver and 10 vessels were waiting in an upriver queue, Colclough said. He could not estimate when the river would reopen but said it was likely to remain closed overnight.

 

Read More Here

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

EcoWatch

New Evidence Submitted in State Department Hiring of Oil Industry Consultant to Write Keystone XL Environmental Review

Sierra Club | February 12, 2014 10:34 am

 

Today Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth submitted evidence to the State Department’s Office of the Inspector General to support the ongoing inquiry into conflicts of interest and mismanagement in the environmental review of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. The groups request that the Inspector General takes steps to ensure that the tainted Final Environmental Impact Statement, released on Jan. 31, is excluded from the agency’s National Interest Determination.

 

Untitled

Image courtesy of Friends of the Earth/ 350.org infographic

 

“The State Department hired an oil industry consultant to write the environmental review of Keystone XL without taking steps to guard against industry bias,” said Doug Hayes, Sierra Club staff attorney. “So it’s no surprise that the report attempts to minimize the pipeline’s massive carbon pollution and threats to human health and water quality. This flawed report should have no place in the decision making on this pipeline.”

 

In Aug. 2013, the State Department confirmed that the Office of Inspector General (OIG) had opened an inquiry into the agency’s hiring of the consultant Environmental Resources Management (ERM) to prepare the environmental review of the project. Evidence shows that ERM made false and misleading statements on its application for the contract.

 

“By hiring ERM, the State Department ignored its own guidelines and invited the fox into the hen house,” said Ross Hammond, Friends of the Earth senior campaigner. “ERM has an obvious self interest in making sure Keystone XL is built.”

 

“The process that allowed them to get this contract has been corrupt from day one and the American people deserve better from their government,” Hammond continued. “It’s up to the Secretary Kerry and the Inspector General to restore some integrity and accountability into the review process, not preside over a whitewash.”

 

Read More Here

…..

NEAT leaders: TransCanada dupes landowners about eminent domain

New concerns over the Keystone XL oil pipeline are prompting leaders of the Nebraska Easement Action Team, or NEAT, to send a letter to President Obama, Secretary of State Kerry and the Unicameral.

The letter expresses worry over TransCanada’s behavior and tactics in pursuing the proposed pipeline.

NEAT president Tom Genung, of Hastings, claims landowners are being misinformed about land seizures.

“Some of the land agents for TransCanada led landowners to believe that if they didn’t sign the initial proposal or the initial easement contracts that eminent domain would be implemented and that basically there would be no compensation,” Genung says, “which is not true at all.”

 

Read More Here

 

…..

JournalStar.com

Landowner group warns of perceived plans to bypass federal permit for Keystone XL

February 12, 2014 6:00 pm  • 

A Nebraska landowner advocacy group is warning state legislators and landowners to be aware that TransCanada, the company responsible for the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, is offering easement agreements that mention bypassing the need for a presidential permit.

The Nebraska Easement Action Team Wednesday issued a strongly worded resolution condemning what it characterized as a history of deceptive practices by TransCanada and sought to bring attention to a sentence in a letter TransCanada sent this month to a Nebraska landowner.

The letter said if an easement was signed, paperwork wouldn’t be filed with the county recorder until TranCanada gets a presidential permit for the 1,179-mile pipeline or “modifies the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline project in such a way that a presidential permit is no longer required.”

David Domina, an Omaha-based attorney who works with NEAT, said that single sentence changes the narrative TransCanada has put forth for years about building an international pipeline that requires a federal permit from Canada to refineries in Texas and Oklahoma.

“This (NEAT resolution) is intended as an alert to landowners and, frankly, to the members of the Legislature. There is something up. And we don’t know what it is,” Domina said. “This is not about the TransCanada Keystone XL pipeline project, this is about something new that isn’t being disclosed and we don’t know what it is.”

TransCanada Spokesman Shawn Howard said the company has no plans to avoid the need for a presidential permit.

 

Read More Here

 

……

EcoWatch

Senior Officials Accused of Skewing Science to Benefit Keystone XL Pipeline

PEER | February 6, 2014 11:44 am

Managers within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) overrode their scientific experts to adopt an inaccurate map based upon a flawed model that significantly shrank the range of an endangered species, according to agency investigative reports released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The managers not only retaliated against scientists who voiced objections but rushed into publication of a bogus scientific journal article to cover their tracks.

abb2004

The American burying beetle is an endangered species threatened by the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The American burying beetle (ABB), a critically endangered species, has seen its range dwindle from 35 states to the plains of South Dakota, Arkansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma —areas in the proposed path for the $5.3 billion Keystone XL oil pipeline.

Based on complaints from FWS scientists, specially convened Scientific Integrity Review Panels found two “high-level” officials guilty of scientific misconduct. The panels found that Dixie Porter, supervisor of the FWS Oklahoma Ecological services field office in Tulsa, OK, and Luke Bell, FWS Branch Chief for Threatened and Endangered Species and Contaminants:

  • Adopted flawed models that dramatically shrunk the known range of the ABB
  • Compounded their misconduct by improperly rushing an article into publication that both “knowingly impeded” the original panel investigation and also would “further degrade the endangered status of the ABB.…” Despite this finding, FWS has yet retract the paper.
  • Retaliated against line scientists who objected, including imposition of “several staff suspensions.”

This is the first time an Interior agency has upheld a scientific misconduct complaint under its relatively new Scientific Integrity policies. Yet FWS refused to release the reports to PEER under the Freedom of Information Act. PEER obtained them by filing an appeal with Interior’s Office of Solicitor, the administrative step before a lawsuit, and the solicitor ordered release of redacted versions of the reports.

 

Read More Here

 

…..

A photo of a whooping crane.

The Canada-to-Texas flight route of the critically endangered whooping crane passes along Keystone XL’s route for hundreds of miles. Conservationists worry about the impact of pipeline power lines.

PHOTOGRAPH BY PAT SULLIVAN, AP

Mel White

for National Geographic

Published February 14, 2014

Climate change has been the focus of much of the opposition to TransCanada‘s Keystone XL pipeline. But many conservationists are also concerned about more immediate environmental consequences.

They’re worried about the pipeline construction’s impact on wildlife and ecosystems, and of possible spills of the heavy crude oil that will flow through the pipeline at the rate of 830,000 barrels a day. (See related: “Interactive: Mapping the Flow of Tar Sands Oil.“)

Some people, seeing a map of the pipeline’s proposed 875-mile route through the Great Plains, may picture the region in the terms of 19th-century explorers who called it the “great American desert”: a barren land lacking in natural-history interest. In fact, though the vast herds of grazing animals that Lewis and Clark saw are greatly diminished, rich ecosystems endure. And while the pipeline route crosses some agricultural land, much of it would traverse natural habitats in Montana, South Dakota, and Nebraska where harmful effects on native animals and plants could—some say would, inevitably—occur. (See related, “Oil Flows on Keystone XL’s Southern Leg, But Link to Canada Awaits Obama Administration.“)

A photo of the Yellowstone River in Montana

PHOTOGRAPH BY ANNIE GRIFFITHS, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC
Rich ecosystems surround the Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers (the latter is pictured here). Keystone XL would cross both rivers in Montana.

Missouri and Yellowstone Rivers

The Keystone XL route crosses the Missouri and Yellowstone rivers, two of more than 50 crossings of perennial streams. Both rivers are home to the federally endangered pallid sturgeon, a bizarre-looking fish up to six feet long adapted to life in large rivers with silty bottoms. A serious oil spill has the potential to damage or even destroy habitat for this species. Such a spill could also harm habitat for least terns and piping plovers, two birds that nest along rivers and that have suffered serious declines in recent decades.

And pipelines do fail, conservationists note. The failure in 2010 of an Enbridge pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil triggered the costliest onshore oil spill in U.S. history, contaminating 40 miles of Michigan’s Kalamazoo River and surrounding wetlands. Last year, another pipeline carrying Canadian oil, Exxon-Mobil’s Pegasus line, ruptured in a the small Arkansas town of Mayflower, affecting wetlands connected to the largest man-made game and fish commission reservoir in the United States. (See related, “Oil Spill Spotlights Keystone XL Issue: Is Canadian Crude Worse?”) Officials are still reckoning the lingering environmental damage after massive and expensive cleanup efforts.

In its recent Final Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement, the State Department admits that oil spills will occur and are a danger, but asserts that current technology and rigorous inspections make the odds of a serious spill remote. (See related, “3 Factors Shape Obama’s Decision on Keystone XL Pipeline.”)

Davis Sheremata, a spokesperson for TransCanada, said Keystone will incorporate construction and maintenance techniques more advanced than those of earlier pipelines. Safety measures “are the culmination of six years of consultation between TransCanada, the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and many other federal and state environmental agencies,” he said. “The required environmental protection and pipeline safety measures set a new, and very high, standard unequaled by any other pipeline project.”

Whooping Crane

One of the greatest conservation concerns about the immediate effect of the pipeline centers on the critically endangered whooping crane. Most of these tall white birds nest in Canada and migrate through the central United States to and from their wintering grounds on the Texas Gulf Coast. The cranes’ flight route passes directly along the pipeline route for hundreds of miles.

It’s not the pipeline itself that’s of greatest potential danger to the cranes, though. Pumps needed to keep the thick Canadian oil flowing through the pipeline require power lines to supply them with electricity, and conservationists wonder what will happen when more than 300 miles of new power lines appear in formerly wide-open spaces in the birds’ flight path.

“The whooping crane is a species that we’ve really homed in on,” said  Jim Murphy, senior counsel for the National Wildlife Federation. “Power lines account for about 40 percent of juvenile whooping crane mortality, which is a big deal when you’re talking about a bird that has a population of about four hundred in the wild. Those concerns have never really been taken seriously.”

TransCanada’s Sheremata said his company and pipeline contractors “have committed to incorporate a number of conservation measures to prevent potential direct or indirect impacting to the whooping crane.” Measures include installing and maintaining avian markers (conspicuous objects designed to make lines more visible to flying birds) at pump stations “to reduce impacts to whooping cranes from power lines.”

Male Greater Sage Grouse

PHOTOGRAPH BY TOM WALKER, VISUALS UNLIMITED/CORBIS
A male greater sage-grouse does a mating display. The proposed route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse “leks,” sites where males dance to attract mates.

Greater Sage-Grouse

Although the greater sage-grouse isn’t officially an endangered species, many bird experts believe it should be. They claim it has been kept off the list for fear of political backlash in conservative western states, where farming and ranching might face restrictions.

There’s no question that the grouse has suffered from loss of habitat: 20 of 27 known population groups have declined since 1995. The pipeline route passes within a few miles of dozens of grouse leks (sites where males “dance” to attract mates); ornithologists fear that noise from construction, roads, and pumping stations could affect breeding success of these notoriously shy and easily disturbed birds.

In addition, power-line towers serve as hunting perches for eagles and hawks, which prey on grouse. In treeless areas where grouse live, towers will bring new threats and greater potential mortality by providing raptor lookouts where formerly there were none.

A photo of a Swift Fox.

PHOTORGAPH BY JIM BRANDENBURG, MINDEN PICTURES/CORBIS
A swift fox stands alert in the South Dakota prairie.

Swift Fox

The swift fox, a small canine of grassland regions, is another controversial species that the Arizona-based Center for Biological Diversity believes belongs on the endangered-species list. The CBD finds it “dumbfounding” that Keystone XL environmental-impact statements fail to address the pipeline’s effects on the fox.

“It’s like they took a map and drew a pipeline along the remaining locations of known bands of the swift fox,” said Amy Atwood, senior attorney for the CBD. “That’s where the fox lives, because those are the areas that are not being used for agriculture and are on public land. That’s where pipeline companies like to site things these days to minimize landowner conflict or having to deal with eminent domain. And that’s where the wildlife is. They’ve been pushed out of other areas.”

Read More Here

 

…..

Ogallala Aquifer

 

From Wikipedia:

 

The Ogallala Aquifer is a shallow water table aquifer located beneath the Great Plains in the United States. One of the world’s largest aquifers, it underlies an area of approximately 174,000 mi² (450,000 km²) in portions of eight states: (South DakotaNebraskaWyoming,ColoradoKansasOklahomaNew Mexico, and Texas). It was named in 1898 by N.H. Darton from its type locality near the town ofOgallala, Nebraska. The aquifer is part of the High Plains Aquifer System, and rests on the Ogallala Formation, which is the principal geologic unit underlying 80% of the High Plains.

 

About 27 percent of the irrigated land in the United States overlies the aquifer, which yields about 30 percent of the ground water used for irrigation in the United States. Since 1950, agricultural irrigation has reduced the saturated volume of the aquifer by an estimated 9%. Depletion is accelerating, with 2% lost between 2001 and 2009[ alone. Certain aquifer zones are now empty; these areas will take over 100,000 years to replenish naturally through rainfall.

 

The aquifer system supplies drinking water to 82 percent of the 2.3 million people (1990 census) who live within the boundaries of the High Plains study area.

 

…..

Enhanced by Zemanta

- Sarah Lazare, staff writer

(Image: Honor the Earth)Native American communities are promising fierce resistance to stop TransCanada from building, and President Barack Obama from permitting, the northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline.

“No Keystone XL pipeline will cross Lakota lands,” declares a joint statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred. “We stand with the Lakota Nation, we stand on the side of protecting sacred water, we stand for Indigenous land-based lifeways which will NOT be corrupted by a hazardous, toxic pipeline.”

Members of seven Lakota nation tribes, as well as indigenous communities in Idaho, Oklahoma, Montana, Nebraska and Oregon, are preparing to take action to stop Keystone XL.

“It will band all Lakota to live together and you can’t cross a living area if it’s occupied,” said Greg Grey Cloud, of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe, in an interview with Aboriginal Peoples Television Network. “If it does get approved we aim to stop it.”

The indigenous-led ‘Moccasins on the Ground’ program has been laying the groundwork for this resistance for over two years by giving nonviolent direct action trainings to front-line communities.

“We go up to wherever we’ve been invited, usually along pipeline routes,” said Kent Lebsock, director of the Owe Aku International Justice Project, in an interview with Common Dreams. “We have three-day trainings on nonviolent direct action. This includes blockade tactics, and discipline is a big part of the training as well. We did nine of them last summer and fall, all the way from Montana to South Dakota, as well as teach-ins in Colorado and a training camp in Oklahoma.”

“We are working with nations from Canada and British Columbia, as well as with the people where tar sands are located,” Lebsock added.

“As an example of this nonviolent direct action,” explains Lebsock, in March 2012 people at the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota held a blockade to stop trucks from transporting parts of the Keystone XL pipeline through the reservation.

In August 2013, members of the Nez Perce tribe blockaded megaloads traveling Idaho’s Highway 12 to the Alberta tar sands fields.

Descendants of the Ponca Tribe and non-native allies held a Trail of Tears Spiritual Camp in Nebraska in November to prevent the construction of the pipeline.

More spiritual camps along the proposed route of the pipeline are promised, although their date and location are not yet being publicly shared.

The promises of joint action follow the U.S. State Department’s public release on Friday of the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS). This report has been widely criticized as tainted by the close ties between Transcanada and the Environmental Resource Management contractor hired to do the report.

While the oil industry is largely spinning the report as a green-light for the pipeline, green groups emphasize that it contains stern warnings over the massive carbon pollution that would result if the pipeline is built, including the admission that tar sands oil produces approximately 17 percent more carbon than traditional crude.

The release of the FEIS kicked off a 90-day inter-agency review and 30-day public comment period. The pipeline’s opponents say now is a critical time to prevent Obama from approving the pipeline, which is proposed to stretch 1,179 miles from Alberta, Canada, across the border to Montana, and down to Cushing, Oklahoma where it would link with other pipelines, as part of a plan to drastically increase Canada’s tar sands production.

The southern half of the Keystone XL pipeline — which begins in Cushing, passes through communities in Oklahoma and East Texas, and arrives at coastal refineries and shipping ports — began operations last month after facing fierce opposition and protest from people in its path.

“Let’s honor the trail blazers from the Keystone XL south fight,” said Idle No More campaigner Clayton Thomas-Muller. “Time for some action, and yes, some of us may get arrested!”

_____________________

Enhanced by Zemanta
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,498 other followers