Category Archives: Oil

Find Your Community on U.S. Oil Train Blast Zones Map

A new website has published an interactive map of the U.S and Canadian Rail system that is being used to transport millions of gallons of potentially dangerous crude oil.  The lines run through cities and towns and rural areas across the land.  We know from the Lac-Megantic, Quebec disaster of July 2013 that destroyed the town and killed 47 people, that safety is hardly assured.  Oil transportation by rail has increased 4000% in the last six years. Are safety strategies keeping up with this increase?


Police helicopter photo of Lac-Megantic of the derailment.

Police helicopter photo of Lac-Megantic of the derailment.

Do you want to know if these trains are running through your community? The organization that created the website, has published the map and has a petition for you to sign.

 Petition- To: US President Obama and Congress

It seems each month another town is facing a terrifying oil train derailment, poisoned drinking water, or a deadly explosion. Our rail system takes these trains through population centers by schools and homes. Safety standards are weak and our emergency responders are not equipped for accidents.

We are not prepared for this threat:

Oil trains are more than a mile-long with 100+ cars, concentrating the risk of an accident that could ignite the three million gallons of crude on a single train.
Oil train traffic has increased more than 4,000 percent in the last five years.
Rail routes run right through major urban areas and cross water supplies. The US rail system was not designed to transport dangerous crude oil.
Dangerous DOT-111 cars, which make up the majority of US oil tanker trains, have serious flaws that make them highly prone to puncture during a derailment.
We have the solution:

The first step: Ban unsafe oil tanker cars.
We must prepare and equip emergency responders and reroute trains around population centers and away from water supplies.
New rail safety rules must be strong and must give citizens the information they need to protect themselves and the power to say no.
We do not need the extreme oil transported by these trains. The crude oil carried by train is more explosive and more toxic than conventional crude oil; it is also more carbon intensive. At a time when our oil use is decreasing and the threat of climate disruption is growing, the risk from oil trains is unacceptable.

View the Map and Sign the Petition Here

Learn More about Oil Trains Here


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Filed under Actions / Protest, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Energy, Great Lakes, Keystone XL, Oil, Uncategorized

Coal plant spills 5,000 gallons of oil into Ohio River

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

Duke Energy’s Beckjord coal plant, New Richmond, Ohio. Photo credit: Brett Ciccotelli via EcoWatch

EcoWatch’s Anastasia Pantsios gives a compelling overview of this spill, which might seem ‘small,’ and why it matters. The spill happened late Monday, leading the Coast Guard to close a stretch of the river yesterday. The plant, located near Cincinnati, spilled between 5,000 to 8,000 gallons of fuel oil, and is owned by Duke Energy. It’s closing soon, but apparently doesn’t want to go without leaving its good neighbors something to remember it by.

8,000 Gallons of Oil Spill Into Ohio River From Duke Energy Coal Plant
By Anastasia Pantsios, EcoWatch. August 19, 2014.

This one’s not a big one in the scheme of things. But to those impacted—especially in Ohio, where algae bloom recently caused the water supplying nearly a half million people in the Toledo area to be undrinkable for several days—it’s bad news. Monday morning, reports the Columbus Dispatch, the Coast Guard closed down a 15-mile length of the Ohio River after Duke Energy’s W.C. Beckjord Station outside Cincinnati dumped approximately 8,000 gallons of oil into the river, according to a Coast Guard estimate.


Ohio-based Sierra Club organizer Neil Waggoner said of Monday’s spill:

This is yet another example of dirty fossil fuels putting us at risk. We pay with our health. We pay for the dangerous cleanup with our tax dollars. At the same time that Duke Energy was spilling oil in our river, it’s also asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to bail out its old, polluting coal plants by passing extra costs on to its customers. If utilities in Ohio invested these dollars in clean energy, we could breathe easier, have safe water and power our lives without suffering the dangers of refineries and coal plants.

Read more at EcoWatch.


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Filed under Coal, Oil, Pollution

The People are Tired of Corporate Pitches: “There will be no oil going through this land”

Elders and other resisters addressed the Energy East TransCanada Pipeline “Open House” at Kenora, Ontario on August 12 and the people told Energy East to go away. This beautiful article from Reclaim Turtle Island tells the story in words and video.  These brave people will move you.

Elder Nancy Morrison addresses Kenora, Ontario TransCanada/East Energy Open House, august 2014 - Photo Crystal Greene

Elder Nancy Morrison addresses Kenora, Ontario TransCanada/East Energy Open House, august 2014 – Photo Crystal Greene

Anishinaabeg loudly oppose TransCanada’s Energy East project at Kenora open house

By Crystal Greene, Reclaim Turtle Island. August 14, 2014.

Anishinaabeg and fellow Energy East pipeline resisters made a presence inside and outside Lakeside Inn on Tuesday, Aug. 12 for TransCanada’s second Kenora, Ont., open house

This time, the people weren’t interested in hearing TransCanada’s “information session” pitch. The tradeshow set-up had booths, corporate fact-sheets, and enough staff for one-on-one interactions to keep concerned citizens unaware of each other’s objections to the proposed Energy East pipeline.

Many in attendance had already made up their minds against the Energy East project proposal to convert the 50+ year-old natural gas carrying “Canadian Mainline,” and build new pipeline sections, into what could be North America’s largest tarsands pipeline, with 1.1 million barrels of diluted bitumen per-day from Hardisty, AB to marine terminals at Saint John, NB for international export.

Read and view the full piece here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Indigenous Peoples, Oil, Pollution

Oil clean-up chemicals can be just as harmful as the spill itself

An article in the Halifax Media Co-op outlines how chemicals used to clean up oil spills can be just as deadly to marine life as the oil itself. The idea of using harsh chemicals to clean up a chemical spill leaves us wondering: What are they trying to save if Corexit and other dispersants remove oil, but still cause damage?

Of course, if we stopped relying so much on fossil fuels, stopped drilling in areas with fragile ecosystems, stopped drilling period… we wouldn’t even have this issue to begin with.

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Oil from the Deepwater Horizon explosion poured into the U.S. Gulf of Mexico for nearly three months before the well was finally capped. Photo: Office of the Governor of the State of Louisiana

Making it go away: oilspills, corexit and Nova Scotia’s offshore

by Robert Devet, Halifax Media Co-op, August 11, 2014

K’JIPUKTUK (Halifax) – A chemical known as corexit 9500 will be the main line of defense if an oilspill occurs once Shell starts drilling exploratory wells offshore of Nova Scotia.

This becomes clear from Shell’s Environmental Impact Statement that is winding its way through the federal approval process

Corexit, and other dispersants like it, are used to dissolve oilspills. It contains chemicals that break up the oil into tiny droplets that sink so they can be degraded by bacteria.

Critics say that the chemical kills marine life and makes people sick.

These same critics also argue that dispersants merely hide the effects of spills. Fewer visuals of birds covered in oil, but the trade-off are clouds of miniscule oil droplets floating below the ocean’s surface and settling on the ocean bottom.

Read the full article here.

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Filed under Oceans, Oil, Pollution, Water

Leaks show Australian oil company helped write its own regulations in Peru

Anonymous Peru Facebook AvatarWW4 reports that emails leaked by Anonymous Peru show that Karoon Energy, an Australian oil and gas company, worked with the government on changing regulations to get rid of the need for environmental impact studies before oil exploration. Peru has become a focal point for attention leading up to the COP in Lima: Such a story is not just about Peru, but about corporate globalization and its influence on governments, especially when it comes to energy extraction.

Peru leaks: oil company rewrote environmental law

August 12, 2014. WW4 Report.

Leaked e-mails between the leaders of Peru’s Energy & Mines Ministry (MEM) and Environment Ministry (MINAM) reveal that Austrailia’s Karoon Energy International provided “technical support” in the proposed reform of the Hydrocarbon Regulation that would eliminate requirement for an environmental impact study before oil exploration. In one e-mail. MEM chief Eleodoro Mayorga was directly reproached by MINAM head Manuel Pulgar Vidal for bringing Karoon into the process.

Read more especially about Anonymous’s role in revealing the “support” at WW4 Report.



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Filed under Corporate Globalization, Oil

Keystone XL will cause more pollution than originally estimated


The U.S. state department claimed that the Keystone XL pipeline would increase world carbon emissions by 30 million tons. However, a recent study released by scientists from the Stockholm Environment Institute shows that number could be off – way off. Seth Borenstein writes in an article published by the Portland Press Herald:

The researchers estimate that the proposed pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast, would increase world greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 121 million tons of carbon dioxide a year.

The U.S. estimates didn’t take into account that the added oil from the pipeline would drop prices by about $3 a barrel, spurring consumption that would create more pollution, the researchers said.

Other scientists and organizations seem to be shrugging of this quadrupled number. The American Petroleum Institute (go figure) claimed that the study was pointless, because the pipeline itself would have nothing to do with the increase. Tar sands oil will reduce the price of oil per barrel, they claim, therefore increasing oil usage regardless of how it is transported. In his article, “Study: Keystone carbon pollution more than figured,” Borenstein interviews other scientists and academics all to happy to chime in their opinions:

  • Lower prices may be appealing at first, but there needs to be a balance between consumer happiness and environmental happiness, said Wesleyan University environmental economist Gary Yohe, who applauds the study’s findings.
  • A glass-half-empty perspective came from University of Sussex economist Richard Tol, who believes that 121 million is a “drop in the bucket” when compared to the 36 billion tons of carbon emissions released on 2013.
  • Ken Caldeira, Carnegie Institution of Washington, rode the fence, agreeing that 121 million tons is relatively small, but believes that we should be moving away from activities that boost carbon dioxide no matter the amount.
  • And, finally, independent energy economist Judith Dwarkin in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, blew off the study entirely, claiming that consumption of oil drives the price, not the other way around.

Whether millions or billions of carbon emissions, the Keystone XL pipeline will also damage a multitude of other environments. We need to see more studies that illustrate the whole impact of the pipeline and look at them as all interconnected, instead of relevant or irrelevant.

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Filed under Climate Change, Keystone XL, Oil

Dam Line 9 protesters blockade Enbridge pipeline work site in Southern Ontario, halting activities

Tuesday night Dam Line 9 shot posted on their Tumblr.

Tuesday night Dam Line 9 shot posted on their Tumblr.

“Dam Line 9″ protesters gathered Tuesday morning at a work site along Enbridge’s pipeline in Southern Ontario near the Thames River, stopping work on a valve on Line 9. The valve is intended as a fix, which the protesters see as entirely inadequate–a band-aid on the much larger problems of the pipeline itself and Enbridge’s plans for it. As the Alternative Journal reports:

Enbridge recently received approval from the National Energy Board to reverse the flow of the pipeline and pump tar sands bitumen through it, from Sarnia, ON to Montreal. It will also carry fracked Bakken shale oil.

Moreover, the valve is not even being set up to protect to Thames River. On Tuesday morning, they released the following statement explaining their reasons for blockading the work site of the valve:

[This] construction will not add any protection against a leak of toxic diluted bitumen into this important water source as it is located on the far side of the river. Line 9 is the same age and design as the Enbridge pipeline which caused the largest in-land oil spill in American history. Enbridge has identified more than 12,000 flaws in Line 9’s structure, and the line has already leaked at least 35 times in less than 40 years.

“This construction project is a band-aid attempt and Line 9 is too old and damaged to operate safely.  The new valves aren’t designed to protect rivers, they’re designed to maximise the amount of bitumen that can flow through the line,” says Sarah Scanlon, activist.

“We’ve tried pursuing avenues with the National Energy Board and within local and regional governments. The concerns expressed by individual people and municipalities were ignored.  The official processes have merely rubber-stamped dangerous tar sands projects and failed to protect us, so we are here out of necessity,” says Rachel Avery, a blockader. “This project is also being illegally forced through without meaningful consultation of Indigenous communities. For example, the Chippewas of the Thames have appealed the NEB approval, but Enbridge has continued to work on the line regardless,” Avery continued.

More than half a million people rely on drinking water provided by the Thames Watershed.  Rare species such as the eastern spiny softshell turtle, queen snake, black redhorse and Virginia Opossum rely on its specific ecosystems. Food growers have relied on its fertile valley for over 11 000 years.  This construction site is less than a kilometre from the river, and is in the middle of active farm land.


Line 9 is one of many proposed pipeline projects in so-called Canada slated to carry tar sands and fracked Bakken shale oil to the coast for export.  Tar sands bitumen is the dirtiest oil in the world.  Its extraction and refinement require mass deforestation, irreversible water contamination, climate-changing carbon emissions, and toxic industrial waste. The tar sands are killing people and environments every day on a local and global scale.

They stayed all day and through the night, regularly updating their Tumblr to explain their position, show the blockade camp, and counter Enbridge’s PR. They plan to stay indefinitely. Their Tumblr includes specific information on how to join if you can!

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Oil, Tar Sands

Seattle Activists blocking oil trains include City Council member

Photo by Alex Garland-BLOCKING THE TRACKS To protest oil trains through Seattle. Jess Spear (center, sitting) was later arrested.

Photo by Alex Garland-BLOCKING THE TRACKS To protest oil trains through Seattle. Jess Spear (center, sitting) was later arrested.


Rising Tide Portland blogger Mike M posted that five protestors including  Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, and a candidate for the State House of Representatives Jess Spear, occupied railroad tracks in order to call attention to the proliferation of oil trains also known as “bomb trains” running through the streets of Seattle and throughout the Northwest. The protest took place at tracks along the Seattle waterfront near the Olympic Sculpture Park. Four were arrested, but not Sawant.

The protest was launched in part as a reaction to a July 24 derailment of a 100 car train carrying Bakken Oil.

Spear is quoted in the Rising Tide blog as saying:

“These oil trains running right through the downtown area pose a huge risk to life and to the environment. Luckily, last week’s derailment did not spill any oil; but we cannot rely on luck. We cannot stand idly by while these bombs on wheels roll through Seattle”.

Ms Sawant was quoted in another Seattle publication, The Stranger,  as saying that she is

“in solidarity with the three activists who have the courage of their convictions. It’s an enormous sacrifice to be arrested to raise awareness… I’m also here as someone who is on the city council and who takes the task of governance seriously. This is a matter of emergency that needs to be addressed”.

In a prepared statement read before the protest Ms. Sawant told those assembled:

One year ago, a similar train derailed and destroyed half the downtown area in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, and led to 42 deaths. The fact that these train tracks run right by the stadiums, and through Belltown, where tens of thousands of people regularly gather, mean that there is potential for major catastrophe.

Climate Connections question of the day: Are these oil trains running through your communities? Your comments are welcomed!


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Filed under Actions / Protest, Oil