Tag Archives: oil

BLM’s failure pollutes Colorado River water supply with oil

May 30, 2014. Source: Waterkeeper Alliance.

Photo credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

Photo credit: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

A Utah oil spill has entered the water supply of the Colorado River, raising grave questions about impacts to the water supply of Las Vegas. The oil spill began after 100,000 to 125,000 gallons of oil leaked from a 45 year old oil well onto lands near the Green River, the largest tributary to the Colorado River. The spill occurred about 50 miles north of Moab, UT.

A rainstorm two days later flooded the area, overrunning inadequate containment ponds housing the oil, thereby dumping thousands or perhaps tens of thousands of gallons of oil directly into the Green River. No known sampling of downstream water supplies has been performed, raising criticism from residents across the region.

“It’s offensive to hear the BLM say they’re ‘pleased’ after a large quantity of oil entered the water supply for millions of people,” said Zach Frankel, executive director of the Utah Rivers Council. “The BLM failed the public and it’s high time to acknowledge their mistakes instead of greenwashing this pollution. They should be warning the public about exposure to this oil, instead of pretending its not there.” Continue reading

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Missoula woman arrested for blocking megaload oil field equipment

By Kathryn Haake, January 22, 2014. Source: The Missoulian

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The 350-foot-long megaload that rolled through Missoula on Wednesday morning on its way to the Alberta tar sands is now parked at the old mill site property in Bonner, where the load is being reconfigured for Canadian highways. MICHAEL GALLACHER/Missoulian

A 71-year-old Missoula woman was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct for peacefully protesting on Reserve Street as a megaload of oil field equipment passed by early Wednesday.

Carol Marsh was charged with the misdemeanor when she sat down in the middle of Reserve Street near the Kent Avenue intersection and refused to move.

Missoula Police Detective Sgt. Travis Welsh said protesters along Reserve Street were generally peaceful and obeying laws as Omega-Morgan moved the behemoth equipment through town.

But as the megaload neared Kent Street at about 12:40 a.m., Montana Highway Patrol officers accompanying the rig called city police and said a protester was sitting in the street, in front of the trucks.

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U.S. oil output to overtake Saudi Arabia’s by 2020

Note: What happened to “It’s Global Warming, STUPID!” ??

–The GJEP Team

By Lananh Nguyen, Nov 12, 2012. Source: Bloomberg.com

IEA: US to Overtake Saudi Arabia in Oil Production

U.S. oil output is poised to surpass Saudi Arabia’s in the next decade, making the world’s biggest fuel consumer almost self-reliant and putting it on track to become a net exporter, the International Energy Agency said.

U.S. to Overtake Saudi Arabia’s Oil Production by 2020, IEA Says

The U.S. met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first six months of this year, on track to be the highest annual level since 1991, according to Energy Department data. Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

 

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) — International Energy Agency Chief Economist Fatih Birol discusses global oil production, U.S. imports and renewable energy. He speaks with Francine Lacqua and Guy Johnson from London on Bloomberg Television’s “City Central.” (Source: Bloomberg)

Chart: Saudi Arabia Versus U.S. Crude Production

Growing supplies of crude extracted through new technology including hydraulic fracturing of underground rock formations will transform the U.S. into the largest producer for about five years starting about 2020, the Paris-based adviser to 28 nations said today in its annual World Energy Outlook. The U.S. met 83 percent of its energy needs in the first six months of this year, according to the Energy Department in Washington.

“The IEA outlook feeds into the idea of a shift in the center of influence in the world oil market,” said Gareth Lewis-Davies, an analyst at BNP Paribas SA in London. “Given Saudi Arabia is willing to shift production up and down it will retain a large degree of influence, and remain important as a price-influencer.”

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Iraq war contractor ordered to pay $85 million–Soldiers injured by toxic sites in Iraq

Note: from our colleague Christy who forwarded this to us: “I don’t know when I’ve seen a story that so clearly links environmental injustice with oil, militarism, and privatization.”
–The GJEP Team


AP foreign, Friday November 2 2012.  Source: The Guardian

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A jury on Friday ordered an American military contractor to pay $85 million after finding it guilty of negligence for illnesses suffered by a dozen Oregon soldiers who guarded an oilfield water plant during the Iraq war.

After a three-week trial, the jury deliberated for just two days before reaching a decision against the contractor, Kellogg Brown and Root.

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A year on, Nigeria’s oil still poisons Ogoniland

By Tim Cocks, Aug 5, 2012, Source: Reuters

Children play near a borehole where a signboard is erected in Eleme community, outside Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt August 1, 2012. A bright yellow sign above the well in this sleepy Nigerian village says 'caution: not fit for use', and the sulphurous stink off the water that children still pump into buckets sharply reinforces that warning. Prosperity has flowed from Ogoniland, one of Africa's earliest crude oil producing areas, for decades. But it has flowed to the big oil companies and to Nigerian state coffers. Locals have long complained that precious little goes their way. To match Insight NIGERIA-OILPOLLUTION- Picture taken August 1, 2012. REUTERS-Akintunde Akinleye
Canoes are grounded in slick mud on the shore of Bodo creek, outside Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt August 2, 2012. A bright yellow sign above the well in this sleepy Nigerian village says 'caution: not fit for use', and the sulphurous stink off the water that children still pump into buckets sharply reinforces that warning. Prosperity has flowed from Ogoniland, one of Africa's earliest crude oil producing areas, for decades. But it has flowed to the big oil companies and to Nigerian state coffers. Locals have long complained that precious little goes their way. Picture taken August 2, 2012. To match Insight NIGERIA-OILPOLLUTION- REUTERS-Akintunde Akinleye
Oil slick flows at the base of the mangrove at Bodo creek, outside Nigeria's oil hub city of Port Harcourt August 2, 2012.Prosperity has flowed from Ogoniland, one of Africa's earliest crude oil producing areas, for decades. But it has flowed to the big oil companies and to Nigerian state coffers. Locals have long complained that precious little goes their way. Picture taken August 2, 2012. REUTERS-Akintunde Akinleye
Photos: Reuters/Akintunde Akinleye


OGONILAND, Nigeria – A bright yellow sign above the well in this sleepy Nigerian village says ‘caution: not fit for use’, and the sulphurous stink off the water that children still pump into buckets sharply reinforces that warning.

“Can you smell it? Don’t get any in your mouth or you’ll be sick,” said Victoria Jiji, 55, as she walked past the bore hole in her home village of Ekpangbala, one of several in Ogoniland, southeast Nigeria, whose drinking water has turned toxic.

Prosperity has flowed from Ogoniland, one of Africa’s earliest crude oil producing areas, for decades. But it has flowed to the big oil companies and to Nigerian state coffers. Locals have long complained that precious little goes their way.

A landmark U.N. report on August 4 last year slammed multinational oil companies, particularly leading operator Royal Dutch Shell, and the government, for 50 years of oil pollution that has devastated this region of the Niger Delta, a fragile wetlands environment.
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Tar Sands Healing Walk begins today in Alberta

More Than 250 First Nations and Allies From Across North America Gather In Alberta To Raise Awareness

First Nations delegations from British Columbia and Ontario show growing concern and resolve against tar sands infrastructure projects across Canada.

FORT MCMURRAY ALBERTA (August 4, 2012) – Hundreds of First Nations leaders from BC, Alberta, the NWT and Ontario along with First Nation actress Tantoo Cardinal and allies from across North America, gathered in Fort McMurray today, to walk 13-kilometres through the visceral landscape of tar sands operations to bring attention to the destructive impacts of tar sands projects and pipelines on surrounding communities and the environment.

First Nation representatives from the Heiltsuk (BC), Yinka Dene (BC), Coastal First Nations (BC), the Union of BC Indian Chiefs, Six Nations (Ontario) and Aamijiwnaang (Ontario) joined with local First Nations leaders in a traditional mixing of the waters ceremony, bringing water from their respective territories as a symbol of importance of the protection of water and the sacred connection to mother earth.

Local elders led the group in prayers along the route that was once valuable northern Boreal forest and fertile traditional hunting, fishing and gathering grounds, stopping in the four directions to lay down tobacco as an offering for healing of the land.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Pollution, Tar Sands, Water

Tar Sands: Led by Six Nations community members, Enbridge Line 9 hearings disrupted, shut down for half a day

London, Ontario, Canada — Dozens of environmental justice activists led by Indigenous activists from Haudenosaunee successfully “mic checked” a stop to Enbridge Line 9 hearings in London early Wednesday morning. Members of the National Energy Board had travelled to London to hear presentations from major oil conglomerates as well as environmental NGOs. After successfully disrupting meeting, Haudenosaunee representatives explained that they had not been consulted about the pipeline plans, which would negatively impact their lands.

“We are not only fighting for our rights but yours too” said grandmother and long time Indigenous activist Ruby Montour, after members of the Board and lawyers from the Oil companies left the presentation room. “They need to be fair with our people, with you, your ancestors and your children. The environment is going to pay big time if these pipelines rupture and they need to listen to our concerns. They need to speak to us, the real people who need to be spoken to, whose treaties have been broken. They forced us to go to school, they forced us to learn, and we learned so now we know when they are lying or cheating. Well, they can’t anymore. They can’t force things on our lands.”

Canadian pipeline company Enbridge Inc. is proposing the Line 9 Trailbreaker Pipeline to transport tar sands oil through some of the most important natural and cultural landscapes in eastern Canada.  Under the plan, Enbridge would pump corrosive tar sands oil – the dirtiest oil on the planet – through a pipeline that was built in 1975. Enbridge has taken the first step to implement this plan by recently filing a permit application with Canada’s National Energy Board.

“This project cannot go forward without the free, prior and informed consent of the Haudenosaunee who would be directly impacted by a pipeline rupture,” said Metis activist Sakihitowin Awasis who led the mic check that was repeated by over two dozen activists in the room. The Mic Check continued: “The people believe the NEB hearings are illegitimate, inaccessible and undemocratic”

“Pipelines have been stalled or stopped going westward through British Columbia, southwards through Texas (the Keystone XL) and are now being pushed eastward through Ontario. It will be met with similar resistance,” said organizer Toban Black outside the five star Hilton Hotel after the meeting was recessed.

Awasis was arrested by London police, held for over an hour and released with a trespass ticket.

The National Energy Board public hearing was shut down for half the day, after which only the press and the official intervenors were allowed to re-enter. After submissions from intervenors inside the room, the Board ruled that members of the public could re-enter if the intervenors vouched that the people coming in would not be disruptive.

Activists stayed outside and organized a People’s Hearing where statements were read by those gathered and others who had submitted their statements online http://peopleshearing2012.wordpress.com/line9/ .

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Petro Plutocracy: Oil Tycoons Force Firing of EPA Fracking Enforcer

Cross-Posted from EcoWatch

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.

Last week, the world got a preview of America’s new post Citizens United petro plutocracy with the oil lords flexing their political muscles like oil soaked body builders pumped up on a steroid drip of campaign dollars. It was all about fracking. The petro tycoons first orchestrated the firing of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) top frac patch enforcer, then adeptly forced the same cowed agency to stall its release of a damaging scientific study on fracking and finally strong armed the Interior Department to open America’s public lands to gas companies without prior disclosure of their frac chemicals.

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On Monday, the oil industry showcased its political muscle by forcing the resignation of EPA’s popular environmental enforcement chief for the Gulf region, Dr. Al Armendariz. Dr. Al was beloved by environmentalists, civic leaders, and poor and minority communities across five states for his willingness to strictly enforce environmental rules regardless of the lawbreakers’ political clout. But Armendariz’s courage won him powerful enemies as well. He was steadfastly undeterred by relentless pressure from polluters and their allies including political intrigue, hamstringing budget cuts, and even death threats directed at him and his family. But this week, the world’s most powerful cartel—an international syndicate feared even by the Obama Administration—finally brought Dr. Armendariz down. Armendariz’s mistake was promising to enforce the law against Big Oil in the shale gas fields.

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Several weeks ago, a two-year-old videotape surfaced showing Dr. Armendariz addressing a group of frightened and skeptical businessmen, civil leaders and property owners in Dish, Texas, a gas patch town familiar with government’s anemic enforcement record against the oil barons.  Dish’s citizenry were terrified that reckless, dangerous and illegal practices by shale-gas fracking companies might jeopardize their community’s property values, water supplies, jobs, local businesses and human health. Dish’s Mayor, Calvin Tillman, who attended the meeting, had already moved his home away from the frac fields due to the daily nosebleeds afflicting his children ever since fracking operations commenced. Armenderiz assured Dish’s shaken citizens that the EPA would enforce the law strictly in order to quickly bring industry outlaws into line.  This was too much for Congress’ “law and order” Republicans who apparently believe that oil companies, and shale fracking in particular, should be above the law. Lead by U.S. Senator, James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Big Petroleum’s sock-puppet-in-chief, Congressional Republicans forced Armenderiz’s dismissal. (As a private citizen, Dr. Al is no longer entitled to FBI protection and has had to appeal to the Dallas police for protection against continuing assassination threats.) Instead of the deterrence, for which Dr. Al had hoped, the episode sent an altogether different public message—government enforcers can lose their jobs by suggesting that the oil companies ought to obey America’s laws.

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The republicans complained that Armenderiz, by way of reassuring Dish’s frightened and skeptical townsfolk, referenced, as a metaphor, the ancient Roman practices of roadside crucifixion and burning villages to deter violators. Attorneys are familiar with such historical touchstones that are routinely invoked by law professors and “tough on crime” prosecutors to illustrate the concept of deterrence. If Armedariz had been speaking about any other crime than pollution from fracking, and any type of criminal other than oil frackers, the same republican lawmakers would have applauded his muscular commitment to merciless rigor.

From its inception, hydrofracking has been an outlaw enterprise. The industry was born in a provision drafted in secret by oilman Dick Cheney’s clandestine energy task force specifically exempting it from the Safe Drinking Water Act, a shale fracking method devised and patented by Cheney’s former company Halliburton. The Vice President’s henchman then rammed the exemption though a supplicant post 9/11 Congress. Rough and tumble competition among fracking companies have turned the frac fields from North Dakota to Pennsylvania into modern Dodge Cities. Regulatory capture has given the industry’s worst actors de facto immunity from their criminal behavior. In states like Pennsylvania and West Virginia, the fracking industry has become an outlaw enterprise, flourishing through habitual law breaking including illegal dumping of horrendous toxins into public sewage treatment plants utterly unequipped to treat those poisons, using substandard casing protocols that regularly contaminate people’s groundwater with carcinogenic benzene and explosive methane, and illegally filling streams to build roads, pipelines and drill pads. These species of habitual lawbreakers require the protection of crooked politicians and captive agencies to insulate criminal companies from the consequences of their illegal behavior. Oil companies are experts at using campaign contributions to purchase this class of government cooperation.

In another demonstration of its impressive power, two days after Dr. Al’s resignation, the frac industry won another political battle—forcing cowed Interior Department officials to allow gas companies to frac on our federal public lands without first disclosing the constituents of the lethal fracking fluid they intend to inject into our purple mountains’ majesty and amber waves of grain.

Later that week, A.P. reporters documented how the frac industry was using its clout to escape, not just the laws of government, but of science. On Thursday, AP’s investigators forced the U.S. EPA to admit that it had withheld—for nearly a month—a devastating study showing groundwater contamination linked to fracking from oil and gas wells in Pavillion, Wyoming. At the command of Wyoming’s republican Governor Matt Mead—an indentured servant to the fracking industry—the EPA delayed issuing the report. Mead then ordered state officials to “take a hard line” on the industry’s behalf. A team of tobacco scientists and biostitutes at Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality next dutifully used the delay to gin up critical questions meant to debunk EPA’s science to help soften the blow from the federal study that sent shock waves through the oil and gas industry.

Law-abiding gas patch residents like the citizens of Dish, Texas understand something that Congressional Republicans apparently don’t—environmental crime is real crime with real victims. Pollution doesn’t just attack water and wildlife and put fishermen out of work. It harms human health, private property and often takes human life. Oil pollution damages the brains of little children and kills both young people and adults. Emissions from burning oil and coal kills tens of thousands Americans annually from cancer and respiratory illnesses, and impose hundreds of billions of dollars yearly in health care damage. Oil and coal’s other costs include global warming, acid rain, mercury contamination and ocean acidification. The carbon cronies have demonstrated an uncanny talent for writing loopholes and exemptions into health, safety and environmental laws to escape the consequences of damaging private property, public health, the shared commons and the welfare of the American people. When their lobbying and drafting tricks fail to give oil titans full protection, compliant enforcement and regulatory officials dull the sting of noncompliance. It’s no wonder that frightened gas field communities seek assurance that government regulators will enforce the anemic laws that still exist to protect them. In the southern Gulf states, Armendariz was respected by coastal communities as one of the few public officials who had not been corrupted by Big Oil. In that sense, Armendariz is an American hero in the mould of Eliott Ness, Pat Garret, Wyatt Earp and Thomas Dewey.

Unfortunately, most of our political leaders lack Dr. Al’s courage and integrity. Instead of protecting America’s citizenry from oil industry atrocities, Senator Inhofe and the republicans see their job as protecting oil company brigands from the law and its enforcers. Inhofe’s reasoning is not obscure, the oil and gas industry pumps hundreds of millions of dollars annually into elections and lobbying to purchase friends like Senator Inhofe. Big Oil is now the richest industry in history. Last year, Exxon contributed $54 million to the political process. The gravities of this lucre are irresistible to politicians of a certain stripe. Exxon’s record quarterly profits of $145 million per day will allow that company to dramatically increase its political investments. More importantly, the Supreme Court’sCitizens United case removes all the past restrictions that once deterred Big Oil from employing these enormous profits to completely dominate America’s political system. As a result of that court ruling, the oil barons will pick the winners and losers in America’s upcoming elections at every level—in secret if they desire.

The industry is already poised to flood America’s political landscapes with hundreds of millions of dollars in newly legalized bribery. In addition to their generous contribution to the Tea Party, CATO Institute and other oil industry front groups, and oil tycoons Charles and David Koch, on Feb. 3 pledged an extra $60 million of their private money for direct campaign donations to ensure that their oil friendly candidate wins the presidential election in November.

Chevron, Exxon, the American Petroleum Institute and other oil moguls will match the Koch brothers’ largesse many times over. The oil barons must find great comfort in historic data assembled by the Center for Responsive Politics demonstrating that, in 94% of American elections, the candidate with the most money wins.

It was the underlying idealism of our successful experiment with self-government that made America an exemplary nation and the template for the world’s democracies. If American democracy is to survive, we clearly need to restore integrity and representative democracy to our electoral process and get control of an industry that is using its enormous financial power to enrich itself, destroy the planet and undermine everything we value. Last week’s events are merely a foreshadowing of the devolution that is inexorably propelling us toward a corrupt venal and petro kleptocracy.

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