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A Quick Whirl Around the Fracking World: 11 Dec 2014


Oil and heavy metals contamination in the Peruvian Amazon

*Worldwide.  At the UN Conference in Lima, Catholic bishops from “Africa, Asia, Latin America and Europe” say “it’s the poorest people who are impacted the most, despite the fact they’ve contributed the least to causing [climate change].  They’re the ones who respect the planet, the Earth, the soil, the water and the rainforests.”  The bishops called for a 1.5C ceiling in global temperature rise, an end to reliance on fossil fuels and “the need for a new financial and economic order” since the current one has  “failed to put the human being and the common good at the heart of the economy”.  And where were the North American bishops?

*WorldwideOptimism abounds about US Secretary of State John Kerry’s attendance at the Lima meeting.  Expectation is Kerry will focus on climate change as a security issue.

*Worldwide.  Price/barrel of oil continues its decline.  This has led Bank of America to a doom-and-gloom scenario while Citigroup sees a brighter future, albeit in late-2015.  Interesting break-even chart for Permian producers at the link.

*USA.  Is there a  “secretive alliance” between a number of states’ attorneys general and the oil and gas industry?  Industry lawyers write up material for AGs to incorporate into official documents.  Some $16 million in political contributions help ensure access and accommodation.  Government agencies are the target (EPA, Immigration, etc.).  And don’t miss the part about Andrew P. Miller.

*USA.  Speaking of oil trains, BNSF railroad’s Warren Buffett is donating $25,000 to the Ready for Hillary campaign.

*USA.  BP’s been whining for a while about “its multibillion-dollar settlement agreement over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill” blowout, but the US Supreme Court just rejected their latest challenge to the agreement.

*USA.  Those who drill wells and fracture rock to get at earth’s oil and gas might “have to lower prices by as much as 20 percent to help keep their cash-strapped customers working.”  Overall estimate of their profit loss is $3 billion, in 2015 alone.

*CA.  A corn-train derailment in the Feather River Canyon has ignited debate about a moratorium on oil-trains traveling “through our most treacherous passes”.  The Feather River supplies drinking water to millions of people.

*CA.  Union Pacific has acknowledged “transporting full trains of Canadian oil through Northern California on a route that likely cuts through central Sacramento.”  And then there’s this:  “The Canadian imports are the second set of all-oil trains now believed to be coming through the capital on a regular basis.”  “Several more trains may join them in the next year.”  [Emphases added]  So, CA residents—like many others elsewhere—are kept largely in the dark about the dangers rolling down the tracks.  Who’s protecting whom, and for what?

*IA.  Dakota Minnesota and Eastern Railroad (Canadian Pacific subsidiary) has agreed to a $625,000 settlement—without admitting wrongdoing—following inadequate clean-up of “a 2008 oil spill [4,400 gallons of diesel and other petroleum products] that damaged the shoreline and aquatic life in the Mississippi RIver between Iowa and Wisconsin.”

*DC.  ALEC plans to wage war against “government regulation and . . . efforts to fight climate”.  The EPA will have to be destroyed (of course), offshore drilling expanded (of course) and carbon pollution control efforts weakened (of course).  Endangered species? Pfffffft.

*NC.  Fracking safety rules were produced by the state’s Mining and Energy Commission, members of which dutifully submitted disclosure forms to the State Ethics Commission which just didn’t have the time to review all those disclosure forms before the Mining and Energy Commission finished its work.

*ND.  Will Keystone XL ever be builtIs the latest oil price upset a boon for green energy?  Update: $50/barrel in ND’s Bakken as of 3 Dec.  How low will it go?

*NJ.  Taking a page from Canada’s latest pipeline script (see “Canada” below), Gov Chris Christie (R) says the Keystone XL pipeline would “‘strengthen’ North America and should be approved without any environmental stipulations.” So, don your red-white-and-blue and maple leaf and go out there and demand you some pipeline!

*NY.  Don’t want the Constitution Pipeline, from PA to NY, to come through your land?  Well, that’s tough because the pipeline contractor’s ready to go to court to make you accept it, and for “possibly less money.”

*PA.  House Rep. Matthew Cartwright (D)’s  “investigation into the way states regulate the disposal of the often toxic waste generated during the fracking of oil and gas” is being extended  to include Ohio and West Virginia, which not only dispose of their own fracking waste but also take in waste from other states (such as PA).

*PA.  Frac sand workers “who breathe the fine-grained dust day after day risk developing ‘silicosis’, or eventually, lung cancer, pulmonary tuberculosis and other airway diseases.”  That’s from the US Occupation Safety and Health Administration, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the National Toxicology Program.  PA just might study the air around frac sand facilities in the state to measure impact on air quality.

*TX. Oh, man:  “a joint investigation of the [Texas Commission on Environmental Quality] and the Texas Railroad Commission by the Center for Public Integrity and Inside Climate News concluded that both agencies are protecting the oil and gas industry rather than the public whom they claim to serve.”

*UT.  Tavaputs Plateau in eastern Utah is home to PR Spring, site of a tarsands mine managed by Kellogg Brown and Root on land owned by Calgary-based US Oil Sands Inc., which has “a 100 percent interest in 32,005 acres of Utah tar sands leases.”

*Canada.  TransCanada’s proposed $12 billion Energy East pipeline is, in Premiers patriot speak, a “nation-building exercise”, and is part of a package of pipelines without which Canadians will “feel the pain”.  Altogether, they want to send 1.1 million barrels of Alberta tarsands’ finest product eastward to Quebec and New Brunswick—about 4600 kilometers/2858 miles, along which much can happen.

*Canada.  Apparently somebody forgot to tell the Premiers, or maybe it slipped their minds, but “Canada’s wind, solar, biomass and hydro energy capacity has increased 93%” in 5 years, resulting in more people employed in green energy than in Canadian tarsands jobs.

*Ecuador.  Funds for schools and police stations will be cut, but oil investments and hydroelectric dam building will continue as President Correa confronts a budgetary crisis.  Crude oil constitutes about 1/3 of the country’s annual budget so things are not looking good.

*Peru.  Altogether, there have been five North Peruvian pipeline breaches in the Amazon.   And there’s more to come since the Peruvian government is “aggressively promoting a rapid expansion of oil and gas operations in the Amazon, with devastating consequences for local indigenous peoples and the environment.”

*Peru.  Major pollution in Peru brought by “Corporate Conquistadors”:  Spain’s Repsol (oil and gas extractor), Switzerland’s Glencore-Xstrata (copper mining) and Italy’s Enel-Endesa (hydroelectric dam development).  They’re part of a tight network that wants to undermine emissions control efforts, “criminalise protest”, and profit while decimating “whole communities, rivers and [supposedly] protected forests.”

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