Mining & Fracking Whirl: 20 Jan 2015
The Real Price of Keystone – Chief Allan Adam, Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation
*Worldwide. Scientists say we’ve passed four of nine “planetary boundaries” thanks to our own activities. We’re “‘eating away at our own life support systems’ at a rate unseen in the past 10,000 years”. We’re now headed toward the unknown, beyond a “safe operating space.” This will be discussed in Davos this week, ahead of which we learn that next year the 1% will own more than half the world’s wealth.
*Worldwide. Another cheery note from scientists: we’re “on the verge of causing unprecedented damage to the oceans and the animals living in them.” As in major extinction event, and here’s more evidence of that, and more. The cheery part? We still have time “to avert catastrophe”.
*Worldwide. Photos from five continents showing “that climate change is real”.
*Worldwide. As they gather at Davos, Professor Jørgen Randers tells it like it is under capitalism: “It is cost-effective to postpone global climate action. It is profitable to let the world go to hell.” Will they listen?
*Worldwide. Iron and coal companies are glutting their markets as the largest seek to “squeeze out” the smallest. US and OPEC oil producers are doing the same. Indeed, “traders around the world [are moving] huge quantities of crude into storage”, while they wait for prices to improve.
*USA. The White House announced new rules for reducing methane emissions at “existing oil and gas installations, in addition to future sources of carbon pollution”, by 45% by 2025, primarily by plugging leaks. If you missed it, here’s a repeat of the astounding NASA Four Corners photo of the single largest source of methane emissions on the planet.
*USA. Quelle surprise! Report “that finds offshore wind would produce twice the number of jobs and twice the amount of energy as offshore drilling in the Atlantic Ocean”, contrary to what the oil and gas industry has been saying. There’s also work being done on developing small-scale combined solar and wind devices, all on our rooftops.
*USA. Interesting charts from terrajoule. In 2014, energy expenditures accounted for 8% of the GDP. US energy exports (petroleum, liquid nitrogen gas, coal) measured in quadrillion btus increased steadily from 4.43 in 2004 to 12.37 in 2014. Prices anticipated in 2020/million btu is $25.86 to $6.00 for North American natural gas, to $0.85 for PRB coal.
*USA. Solar energy installation companies are hiring 10 times faster than other sectors. By November of last year, “the US solar industry employed 173,807 people, up 21.8 percent from a year before”.
*USA. So intent is he on getting that Keystone XL pipeline bill passed in the Senate that ol’ Mitch McConnell is contemplating the ultimate—making Senators stay in session until early in the morning. Bummer.
*USA. Democrats just slapped some amendments to the Republican Keystone XL pipeline bill including “ensuring the 1,700 -mile pipeline uses only U.S. materials and supplies oil strictly for U.S. consumption.” Watch Republicans squirm under those “only USA” constraints.
*USA. Greg Grey Cloud, Crow Creek Sioux, who sang from the Senate gallery in honor of the 41 Senators who voted against the Keystone XL Pipeline, had his day in court. He was ordered to refrain from being seen near the Capitol Grounds for six months.
*USA. The State Department has given other federal agencies—the EPA, Interior, Commerce and Homeland Security—a deadline of February 2nd for submitting their views on the Keystone XL pipeline.
*CO. Longmont voters banned fracking in 2012, the Colorado Oil and Gas Association sued, and a judge ruled Longmont couldn’t ban fracking because of the “state’s interest in developing natural resources”. Now the city has appealed the ruling, arguing “The city does not forbid what the state authorizes, because no state statute or regulation explicitly authorizes fracking”. Stay tuned.
*LA. Federal court judge Carl Barbier has ruled: BP’s fine for polluting the Gulf due to the Macondo well blow-out cannot exceed $13.8 billion and 3.2 million barrels of oil were released due to the blowout, somewhat larger than BP’s estimate but smaller than the feds’.
*MT. A Badger Pipeline Co’s pipeline near Glendive let loose “about 50,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River” but winter may have saved the day since part of the river was iced over.
*NE. Seven York and Holt Counties landowners have filed new Keystone XL pipeline lawsuits raising “the same constitutional claims raised in the original ones”. This could go on for two years.
*NM. Diné youth are so concerned about corporate exploitation of underground resources, including oil and uranium, that they have embarked on a prayer walk of 200 miles. This first walk honors “The Long Walk of the Diné People to Ft. Sumner, New Mexico”. Other walks will follow this year. Their Facebook page.
*TX. The “world’s biggest oilfield-services company”, Schlumberger Ltd announced axing around 9,000 jobs, or about 7.1% of its workforce, in response to plummeting oil prices.
*WV. In a shift toward reality, the State Board of Education on a 6-2 vote will adopt “original standards, which emphasize the scientific consensus on human activity as a cause of climate change” in its schools’ curriculum.
*WV. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (R) in his state-of-the-state “touted the continued growth of natural gas production from the Marcellus Shale region”, despite the documented inadequacy of state natural gas drilling wastewater regulations. Tomblin said not one word about safety of drinking water, but he did pledge “to continue fighting [limits on] greenhouse gas emissions from coal-powered plants.”
*Canada. NAFTA just keeps on giving.
*Canada. 7,400 gallons of diesel fuel leaked from a municipal wastewater treatment center in Longueuil, got into the sewers and into the river which supplies Longueuil’s drinking water. 230,000 residents were told not to drink the water, then told they could but, following complaints, were again told not to.
*Canada. Suncor Energy of Calgary is axing 1,000 jobs (from 14,000, 6300 of which are in oilsands) and “cut its 2015 capital spending budget by $1 billion.”
*Canada. Innu First Nations of Uashat Mak Mani-Utenam and Matimekush-Lac John won $760 million from Rio Tinto-owned Iron Ore Co. of Canada for rights violations going back almost 60 years.
*Mexico. 10,000 people in oil service companies laid off.
*Guatemala. The government is accused of doing “little to consult with [indigenous Mayan] communities affected by mining operations”, as required by law.
*Colombia. The underground Ocensa pipeline, carrying 650,000 barrels of crude/day between the huge Cusiana-Cupiagua oilfield to the Caribbean coast, built only about 15 years ago, has eroded campesinos’ farmland and led to severe loss of income. Campesinos sued BP in the UK seven years ago. The court case is nearing conclusion.
*Argentina. The Mapuche of Patagonia are combatting fracking.
*UK. Well, they gave it a go, and have learned, sadly, that “It is ‘impossible’ for today’s big oil companies to adapt to climate change.”
*Somalia. Chinese mining company ARC was kicked out by the government due to “illegal extraction of minerals”.
*Turkey. Accidents continued to plague the mining industry in 2014 with 361 lives lost.
*India. Prime Minister Narendra Modi to invest $100 billion in solar power and to put solar plants “atop canals: efficient and cheap land use, and reduce water evaporation from the channels underneath.” UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is quite impressed.
*Australia. Slower economic growth in China means “one of the biggest mining booms in Australian history is over, leaving behind a trail of jobless workers and struggling local businesses”. Iron ore prices are down by “nearly 50 percent” from a year ago.