Mining & Fracking Whirl: 6 Jan 2015
Methane and other poisonous gases leak into the atmosphere, contributing to the major “Hot Spot” over Four Corners, NM. (Earthworks has several such videos here.)
*Worldwide. Refreshing green energy roundup from Juan Cole: wind turbines in Scotland generated enough energy for 98% of households last year; renewables in Germany supplied 25.8% of total energy “and became the single largest source of electricity”; and Japan is taking off in terms of solar power, with “an enormous floating solar farm” planned for the future.
*Worldwide. Interpol is now taking on “environmental fugitives”, including suspected crime bosses and elephant ivory smugglers. Nine wanted altogether, with two already captured. Just imagine the possibilities.
*Worldwide. Interesting take on “Oil, Power and Psychopaths”, struggles among global power leaders and cliques, culminating in “a complete overthrow of everything that exists today [resulting in] a world none of us would recognize, let alone be able to survive in” unless we’re able to successfully fight and claw our way to a new paradigm.
*USA. Currently, an estimated 2.6 million miles of oil and gas pipelines are in the US (map). Between 2000 – 28 Oct 2014, some 335 reported (so far) pipeline accidents occurred. Enbridge’s 600,000 barrels/day Flanagan South pipeline just opened, Enterprise Product Partner’s 450,000 barrels/day Seaway Twin Pipeline did, too. The Saudis are now attempting to saturate Gulf coast refineries with heavy crude priced even lower than current US, Canadian, Mexican and Venezuelan supplies.
*USA. Year end/year beginning summary: continued growth of wind, solar and biomass.
*USA. Do note: “Capital expenditures in the oil sector . . . are less than 1% of GDP”. And the update is: As of yesterday, Brent was at $52.66/barrel while the US was $49.95, “the lowest level since May 1, 2009; today, Brent is at $51.24 and US at $48.19.
*USA. Why? Could be “a million barrels per day of ultra-light U.S. crude” will be released soon. This may offset—somewhat—losses looming for producers as oil prices continue their descent. Nigeria will be hit hardest by this action.
*USA. US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) says the Democrats will be able to back President Obama if he vetoes the Keystone XL pipeline bill the Republicans have vowed to push through the Senate. He even noted Keystone will produce only 35 permanent jobs in the US, and wondered, why bother, when “you can create tens of thousands more clean jobs using wind and solar?”
*USA. US Steel plans to lay off 756 workers, citing a lull in demand for tubular piping, a result of the oil price decline.
*CA. Two new oil-related laws going into affect: 1) frackers have to report the amount of water used while drilling; 2) railroads have to notify the state of the volume of hazardous materials, including crude oil, and the routes being used to transport the stuff through CA.
*CO. It’s getting very ugly out there. Longmont residents voted against fracking in their community inn 2012. Now, “state officials, energy companies and industry groups are taking Longmont and other municipalities to court, forcing local governments into what critics say are expensive, long-shot efforts to defend the measures.” Citizens are even being accused of ripping off industry.
*DC. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has chimed in, criticizing “local and state bans . . . [that] create confusion for the oil and natural gas industries”. Does she know Interior is supposed to protect US “natural resources and heritage” and honor “our cultures and tribal communities” as well as be concerned with energy supplies?
*DC. Demonstration at the White House, called by Native American leaders, in protest of the Keystone XL pipeline and asking President Obama to veto any bill that comes to his desk n favor of the pipeline. This Thursday, the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is scheduled to markup the Keystone XL pipeline bill.
*KY. “Nearly 700 coal miners in Western Kentucky are feeling hopeful this week. Patriot Coal is negotiating sale of its Highland and Dodge Hill mines, which it permanently closed last week. to Alliance Resource Partners of OK.
*LA. Limited victory, with the state denying Comstock Resources use of Amite River water in fracking, but approving use of “water from nearby ponds”.
*MI. 2,000 gallons of oil have gone into Lake Michigan “from a southwestern Michigan nuclear plant.” Assurances the oil “is not contaminated with radiation”, however.
*NC. Conservationists have filed a lawsuit, arguing that the state’s recently-issued fracking rules were the work of a panel that “was formed in violation of the state Constitution.”
*NM. News of the “major U.S. hot spot for methane emissions” in Four Corners, first noted last October, is finally getting attention. Satellites are observing methane “as it escapes from drilling rigs, compressors and a pipeline snaking across the badlands . . . [forming] a permanent methane cloud, so vast” that scientists simply couldn’t believe it at first look. It’s part of a $2 billion methane leak phenomenon. And methane is a powerful greenhouse gas. Somebody better alert Sally Jewell.
*OH. No earthquakes ever recorded in one part of eastern OH until the frackers moved in.
*PA. Forceful article opposing Sunoco Logistics’ proposed pipeline from eastern Ohio, West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania. Sunoco had two crude oil “spills” last year, 189,000 gallons near Shreveport and 20,000 more gallons in southwestern Ohio. “We are not a throwaway people . . .. We shouldn’t have to risk an industry’s pollutants and toxins if we don’t want to.”
*SD. Yankton Sioux, other tribes, organizations and individuals are scheduled to attend the South Dakota Public Utilities Commission hearing today regarding the Keystone XL pipeline.
*TX. 18-wheeler hauling propane overturned and caught fire on I-20 in Arlington. Fearing an explosion, authorities closed the interstate and evacuated nearby residents.
*TX. Trouble brewing in San Angelo over the possibility of a facility for shipping fracking sand by rail.
*WV. For the second time, a chemical manufacturer has claimed that fracking near its Marshall County operation would have a negative impact on its operation. And for the second time, a judge denied the challenge.
*WV. Two members of the Board of Education won approval of including “climate change as controversy” rather than science in the schools. Concern that “‘West Virginia coal in particular has been taking on unfair negativity” added to the momentum.
*Canada. If oil keeps dropping in price, $12 billion in Canadian oil and gas projects could be deferred in this year alone, including 16+ oil sands projects.
*Ecuador. President Rafael Correa is participating “in the first summit of China and the 33-member community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC). Correa wants to discuss mining with the Chinese.
*Chile. Barrick Gold (Toronto) ran afoul of the Superintendence for the Environment concerning the Pascua Lama gold-silver mine. Fines were imposed. A lower court seemed to revoke the $16 million fine, due to regulatory misfiguring, and ordered Barrick to halt its activity at the mine. Barrick sued but the Supreme Court refused he case, putting everything back in the lap of the Superintendence for the Environment which has some re-figuring to do.
*Libya. Weird: the Libyan Air Force “bombed a Greek-operated oil tanker chartered by Libya’s national oil company, killing two crew members.” Libya’s military said there was something “suspicious” about the ship, including its possibly hauling Islamist militants, which the oil company has denied.
*Russia. As oil prices fall, will Russia cut back on military and social spending (largely pensions), each of which accounts for about 33% of the national budget?
*Solomon Islands. Unbelievable! St. Barbara’s Gold Ridge Mine’s tailings pond levels are rising to a “a looming disaster” level but government authorities “have yet to take any action”.