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Mining & Fracking Whirl: 13 Jan 2015


Hold Your Breath!

*Overview from Rome. Pope Francis has added his voice in opposition to mining and fracking–disregard for the earth in general. He appears in a movie, La Guerra Del Fracking de Pino Solanas (The Fracking War), banned in Argentina (where the government calls fracking “non-conventional gas”), but now on youtube.” Pope Francis also spoke to the urgency of focusing on youth, the future.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA. Four reasons why it might be a goner. What’s “the truth behind the myths” about Keystone?

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Nebraska. The NE Supreme Court split 4 – 3 on this key case challenging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, when at least five votes were necessary to actually rule on the matter. As a result, by default, the governor (who’s gung-ho pipeline) can reroute the thing all by himself. More.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Nebraska. Meanwhile, Bold Nebraska is prepared to take legal action if TransCanada doesn’t “restart the pipeline siting process”, and they’re lobbying the legislature for stronger, protective action. TransCanada, of course, is ready to roll.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Political Reaction.The US House celebrated the NE ruling by approving (266 to 153) Keystone pipeline legislation for the 10th time. Reportedly, the yea votes were from politicians who benefitted from $13 million in big oil and gas contributions. The Senate Energy Committee’s Keystone XL pipeline bill passed 13-9. Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) perhaps best summed up the august body’s action: “By golly we need this oil.”

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA political front. Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) of the senate’s Energy and Natural resources Committee blasted the Senate’s Keystone XL pipeline bill. Sanders is concerned about the US Senate rejecting science and efficient renewable energy, while Warren concentrated on the pipeline benefitting the Canadian oil industry and not US families. Videos. Update: “Democrats plan tough votes for GOP on Keystone pipeline bill”.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA economic front. Paul Krugman calls argument for Keystone XL “‘carbonized Keynesianism’”, because it would create some temporary jobs but few permanent ones. Government infrastructure spending—which Republicans hotly oppose—could accomplish the same thing without being “environmentally damaging”.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Canada. Estimated impact of plummeting oil prices on building the Keystone XL pipeline? Perhaps low prices for the next year or so could mean “Canada’s vast fossil fuel resource, called tar sands or oil sands, wouldn’t fetch high enough prices to be mined in the first place.”

*USA. The oil and gas industry has borrowed “almost $200 billion” since 2010. Do they keep pumping, even as oil prices decline, to service their debt? One drilling company, WBH Energy of TX, unable to borrow money, has already filed for bankruptcy. Update: More oil rigs were idled this week than in the past 24 years.

*USA. Yay! Grid batteries for wind and solar plants are beginning to come on-line.

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Mining & Fracking Whirl: 13 Jan 2015


Hold Your Breath!

*Overview from Rome. Pope Francis has added his voice in opposition to mining and fracking–disregard for the earth in general. He appears in a movie, La Guerra Del Fracking de Pino Solanas (The Fracking War), banned in Argentina (where the government calls fracking “non-conventional gas”), but now on youtube.” Pope Francis also spoke to the urgency of focusing on youth, the future.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA.  Four reasons why it might be a goner.  What’s  “the truth behind the myths” about Keystone?

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Nebraska.  The NE Supreme Court split 4 – 3 on this key case challenging approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, when at least five votes were necessary to actually rule on the matter.  As a result, by default,  the governor (who’s gung-ho pipeline) can reroute the thing all by himself.  More.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Nebraska.  Meanwhile, Bold Nebraska is prepared to take legal action if TransCanada doesn’t “restart the pipeline siting process”, and they’re lobbying the legislature for stronger, protective action.  TransCanada, of course, is ready to roll.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Political Reaction.The US House celebrated the NE ruling by approving (266 to 153) Keystone pipeline legislation for the 10th time.  Reportedly, the yea votes were from politicians who benefitted from $13 million in big oil and gas contributions.  The Senate Energy Committee’s Keystone XL pipeline bill passed 13-9.  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) perhaps best summed up the august body’s action:  “By golly we need this oil.”

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA political front.  Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Bernie Sanders (I-VT) of the senate’s Energy and Natural resources Committee blasted the Senate’s Keystone XL pipeline bill.  Sanders is concerned about the US Senate rejecting science and efficient renewable energy, while Warren concentrated on the pipeline benefitting the Canadian oil industry and not US families.  Videos.  Update:  “Democrats plan tough votes for GOP on Keystone pipeline bill”.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, USA economic front.  Paul Krugman calls argument for Keystone XL “‘carbonized Keynesianism’”, because it would create some temporary jobs but few permanent ones.  Government infrastructure spending—which Republicans hotly oppose—could accomplish the same thing without  being “environmentally damaging”.

*Keystone XL Pipeline, Canada.   Estimated impact of plummeting oil prices on building the Keystone XL pipeline?  Perhaps low prices for the next year or so could mean “Canada’s vast fossil fuel resource, called tar sands or oil sands, wouldn’t fetch high enough prices to be mined in the first place.”

*USA.  The oil and gas industry has borrowed  “almost $200 billion” since 2010.  Do they keep pumping, even as oil prices decline, to service their debt?    One drilling company, WBH Energy of TX, unable to borrow money, has already filed for bankruptcy.  Update:  More oil rigs were idled this week than in the past 24 years.

*USA.  Yay!  Grid batteries for wind and solar plants are beginning to come on-line.

*AK.  With “90% of its budget [coming] from crude [oil] taxes and royalties,” the state is beginning to reel as oil prices continue plummeting. Moody’s put AK credit into the negative column and spending on projects is being curtailed (“a bridge and a natural-gas line”).  NM and LA are also feeling the pinch.

*AL.  Radioactive (tritium) leak at the Browns Ferry Tennessee Valley Authority’s Nuclear Power Plant near Athens, after which TVA said “the leak was quickly contained and presented no public risk.” Not the only TVA radioactive leak, nor the only one at Browns Ferry.

*CA.  Come March in Hermosa Beach (pop 19,801), voters will decide whether to ban fracking in the midst of their small town.  The issue is so hot that the Santa Monica City Council “voted unanimously to encourage Hermosa Beach residents to vote against drilling.”

*CA.  Coming soon:  “construction of a large-scale lithium plant” near Salton Sea, extracting lithium “from geothermal brine, a leftover of geothermal energy production.”  The lithium will be used in batteries to be made by Tesla in a factory in NV.

*HI.  University of Hawaii Board of Regents has approved a task force “to evaluate and recommend how the university can divest itself of (sell) its interests in fossil fuel companies, or those with the greatest carbon reserves.”

*IL.  US Department of Energy announced the capture and storage of 1 million metric tons of CO2, which was “injected into a deep saline formation” in Decatur, IL.

*KS.  We’ve wondered about it; they’re actually doing it.  Underground bunkers for survival of the apocalypse—cheapest is $1.5 million, cash on the barrelhead.  There’s even a dog park.

*LA.  Helis Oil & Gas has released its reasons for wanting to drill  an exploratory well in one specific location near Mandeville.  The Army Corps of Engineers “required Helis to respond to public comments and concerns”.

*MT.  Carlyle Group lawyers before a Missoula County District Court judge, arguing Carlyle shouldn’t be part of an “eminent domain case the city filed against it and the [Mountain Water] company” since Carlyle is an “upstream owner” and not a Montana property owner.  Here’s ‘upstream’ for you:  Mountain Water is owned by Park Water which is part of Western Water Holdings, which is a Carlyle thingy.

*NC.  No sand mining operation in the Blue Lake area around Philadelphus, Robeson County.  There is, however, the possibility of a gazebo being put in place.

*ND.  A “brine” used in oil and gas drilling has appeared in a creek in Williams County.  Unspecified amount, but we’re assured the “responsible party” is cleaning up the mess.

*NY.  Contentious hearing seems in the works this week as the Department of Environmental Conservation seeks public comment in Cooperstown on the proposed natural gas Constitution Pipeline.

*SD.  Proposed uranium mine in Custer County is running into opposition, thanks to Dakota Rural Action.  Mining by Azarga Uranium Corp (of Hong Kong, which merged with CO’s Powertech Uranium last year) will involve water injection.  The Ogalala Sioux want information about contamination by other mines in the area entered into the record.

*TX.  Good grief!  Moncrief Oil  is suing Russia’s Gazprom for $1.37 billion in damages over an alleged oil deal allegedly struck in 1997, though it’s alleged no such deal was ever signed.  Moncrief has yet to win in any court over this matter.

*TX.  That 18-wheeler carrying oil that overturned on Highway 185 near Victoria last week resulted in 7500 gallons of oil released into a storm ditch. It’s being cleaned up.

*TX.  More earthquakes in Irving where there is fracking going on (here and here).   Update:  The Irving School District is now having earthquake drills.

*WA.  A coal export terminal at Cherry Point is opposed by the Lummi Nation, which has issued objections to the Army Corps of Engineers which, in turn, is required “to ensure” Lummi “treaty rights are not abrogated or impinged upon”.  Pacific International Terminals want to build the terminal and Warren Buffett’s BNSF Railway is ready to haul that coal.

*WY.  Under “captive transactions” coal companies use certain  subsidiaries to sell their product at below-market prices, reducing royalties to the US government.  Reportedly, “five of the largest coal companies operating in Wyoming and Montana have collectively created 566 subsidiaries”, to the disadvantage of US taxpayers. Sally Jewell’s Interior is reportedly doing something or other about that loophole, but “coal companies will still . . . use their elaborate network of affiliates and subsidiaries to continue to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer-funded subsidies.”

Keystone took up too much space to include planned international items–with this one, very important, exception:

*Nigeria.  FInally, the people of Bodo will get some financial relief for the destruction of their environment, sicknesses and other insults following the huge Shell oil “spills” in 2008 (here and here).  Shell’s first offer of compensation was for $6,000, total.  Seriously.  They’re now supposed to clean up the huge messes they made and to pay the community $83.5 million.

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