Mining & Fracking Whirl: 10 Feb 2015
National Climate Assessment: Oceans
*Worldwide. They’ve got things so bollixed up that, even though it appears global warming has slowed a bit, that’s on Earth’s surface. Deep down in the oceans, the warming trend continues, most markedly in the southern Pacific and Indian Oceans.
*Worldwide. Royal Dutch Shell is using a “controversial [$1.7bn] crane ship, Pieter Schelte, named after a convicted Nazi war criminal. Shell says it wants the name changed but the ship’s owner, Allseas Group “has so far refused”.
*USA. Negotiations on-going between the United Steelworkers Union and Royal Dutch Shell. Nine plants struck, representing about 10% of US refining capacity. Tesoro plant in Martinez, CA was reportedly “shutting down” (maintenance issues). Update: Tesoro in Carson, CA and Marathon in Texas City, TX reported leaks to regulators on Thursday. Update: BP’s Whiting, IN facility and refinery in Toleda, OH being struck. Apparently, almost 4000 Shell and 1440 BP workers are on strike.
*USA. New poll: “Hispanics are far more likely than whites to view global warming as a problem that affects them personally . . . [and] are far more likely to support policies . . . aimed at curbing it.”
*USA. Seems the FBI’s asking questions of some OR, WA, and ID activists “who have participated in anti-Keystone XL and anti-tar sands protests”. Article also includes info on environmentalists killed around the world, 2002-2013.
*USA. New study says electricity produced from biomass, “combined with carbon capture and sequestration in the western United States . . . could actually store more carbon than” emitted.
*USA. “Pump and pray”, or re-fracking old wells is being considered, things are so bad.
*AK. Why not ship Alberta tar-sands crude oil through AK since ‘the Keystone XL pipeline route through the Lower 48 remains bogged down in politics”?
*AK. With oil revenue plummeting, AK may be facing a 5 – 8% reduction in state staff. Meanwhile, the Assembly has decided “to waive property taxes for Anchorage School District charter schools”. Go figure.
*CA. Uh-oh! Gov. Jerry Brown (D) said there’s “no evidence fracking has harmed California”, and a Dept of Conservation official spoke euphemistically of “well stimulation” instead of plain old ’fracking’. Thousands marched in Oakland on Saturday, protesting fracking.
*CA. Uh-oh! Due to “confusion”, state regulators ok’d fracking in areas where they shouldn’t have, such as federally-protected aquifers. Those regulators just sent the US EPA a plan to bring “the state back into compliance with federal safe-drinking water requirements.”
*CA. Benecia will redo “some sections of an environmental impact analysis” concerning two 50-car crude oil trains a day coming into the city. Their earlier analysis was criticized, including by the state’s Attorney General, Kamala Harris.
*CO. “Republicans peeved at cities and counties that have put limits on oil and gas rilling have proposed punishing them by withholding tax revenue they get from drilling”. Undeterred, environmentalists, community members and breweries will be pressing Denver’s mayor and City Council to refuse to “lease out [280,000 acres] of federal land for fracking in the South Platte River watershed”. That watershed furnishes drinking water to about 40% of Denver residents.
*Gulf of Mexico. Plans afoot “to enlarge the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary from 56 square miles to 280. Yes!
*IA. “Eleven railway cars carrying ethanol fuel derailed on Wednesday in a remote location north of Dubuque, Iowa, and three of them caught on fire, Canadian Pacific . . . said.”
*LA. Bogalusans surprised that Goodridge Petroleum of Houston, TX will begin fracking in Mount Herman. Meanwhile, Helis Oil & Gas was ok’d to begin fracking St. Tammany Parish. As one resident said, “These companies are not good stewards of the land. . . . fracking . . . will take the mortar right out of the house and collapse it.”
*MD. Health professionals and environmentalists are seeking “a temporary stop to fracking plans.” Some of the western part of the state sits atop the Marcellus Shale.
*NE. A 1930s bond issue to take electricity out of corporate hands and put it into public hands passed overwhelmingly. NE electricity rates are low and every citizen has the opportunity to participate in decision-making—including for the alternatives, primarily wind.
*NV. A “big drawback” to nuclear power are the “70,000 tons of radioactive spent fuel”, with 2,000 more tons coming in every year. Since there’s no permanent place to store this super-deadly stuff, the WaPo suggests a spot in NV named . . . Yucca Mountain!
*NY. Some “460,000 tons and 23,000 barrels of [PA fracking] waste . . . have been taken in by a handful of New York landfills since 2010”. Some of it includes “naturally occurring radioactive materials”.
*OH. Gov. John Kasich (R) wants a tax hike on oil and natural gas drillers, calling prevailing rates “a total and complete rip-off to the people of this state.” General Assembly Republicans do not agree.
*OK. Earthquake swarm in Alfalfa County. “The temblor occurred just days after SandRidge Energy injection well in the same area was shut down because of a 4.1 magnitude earthquake about 7 miles” away.
*PA. Special investigation by Action News of Philadelphia into the “bomb trains” coming through the city hauling Bakken crude oil. Dramatic coverage; video.
*PA. Ongoing Penn Township public hearings on the impact of Marcellus Shale fracking on communities vs revenues. Commissioners seem to be paying close attention.
*TX. Ooopsy. Seems the fault lines maps for Irving and vicinity were a bit off. New maps reveal fracking occurring nearer faults than originally thought.
*WI. Gov. Scott Walker (R) is axing 66 Dept of Natural Resources positions and stopping land set-asides for conservation.
*WV. Public debate underway about Gastar Exploration’s plans for natural gas fracking “under the Ohio River” and GreenHunter Resources’ plans to “barge frack wastewater on the Ohio River” and store it in tanks near waterways. Wheeling Water Warriors and the US Coast Guard are involved in these disputes as are, of course, the $40 million dollars to be made by the state.
*WV. Eagle Natrium chemical company has sued Triad Hunter in Marshall County “citing extensive damage to its wells because of Triad’s nearby fracking operation.
*Canada. Was a recent 4.4 mag in Alberta fracking-related?
*Iceland. Have “hundreds of tons of water and carbon dioxide gas [injected] 1500 feet down into layers of porous basaltic rock” two years ago turned into calcite, a solid? Early findings by the University of Iceland look promising.
*Brazil. Major scandal, resignations of the “chief executive and [five] other senior management” of Petrobras. “[A]t least $800m in bribes and other illegal funds” involved. Dozens of politicians involved. Meanwhile, “severe drought is accelerating Brazil’s expected descent into recession.” They’ve so disrupted the Amazon Rainforest that the Flying Rivers are disrupted.
*France. The US has Yucca Mountain. France has Bure—and Charlie Hebdo.
*Congo. 62 contractual documents relating to 17 mining projects “were not made fully available to the public even though the ministry of mines is required by law to publish them.” Congo is famous for copper and cobalt mining, for “transparency lapses” in reporting on those activities and for “endemic corruption and mismanagement.”
*Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia’s power generation firm Acwa Power” seems to be enthusiastic about solar power.
*Israel. Illegal sand mining is “a major source of income for organized crime figures, especially . . . in Israel’s south.” It also erodes coastal areas, thus threatening local wildlife. Five arrests so far this year; 20 last year.
*Algeria. Locals have been very vocal in opposition, but shale gas fracking in southern Algeria by state-owned Sonatrach will continue.
*Turkey. New pipeline planned, under the Black Sea no less, to transport gas from Russia to Turkey, then overland 110 miles to Greece and EU countries.
*India. Slow-down in US fracking has led to a 40% cut in guar gum production in India. Guar gum is used in fracking.
*China. The chairman of Hanlong Group (mining, telecommunications and chemicals corp), his brother and three others were executed for “mafia-style crime and murder” and for terrorizing local Sichuan populations.