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PG&E Charged With Obstruction of Justice, 27 Related Counts Over San Bruno Blast

Jul 30, 2014
(AP)

A federal grand jury charged Pacific Gas & Electric on Tuesday with lying to federal investigators in connection with a fatal pipeline explosion that killed eight people and leveled a suburban Northern California neighborhood in 2010.

The U.S. attorney in San Francisco announced the obstruction of justice charge and 27 related counts, which are in a new indictment charging the utility with felonies. It replaces a previous indictment that contained 12 counts related to PG&E's safety practices, but not obstruction.

ExxonMobil Restarts Pegasus Pipeline Closed After Mayflower Oil Spill; Operating in Texas

Jul 30, 2014
(AP)

ExxonMobil has restarted its Pegasus pipeline more than a year after a crude oil spill in Mayflower forced it to close.

The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that southern portions of the pipeline in Texas were restarted on July 9. The section includes a 205-mile segment between Corsicana and Beaumont and a 6-mile segment between Beaumont and Nederland.

The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration approved the restart plan on March 31. Federal guidelines state that the section must operate at partial capacity.

GAO Tells EPA to Do More on Fracking Wastewater

Jul 28, 2014
(The Hill)

Congress' watchdog agency faulted the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for its oversight of hydraulic fracturing wastewater injected into the ground, saying the agency doesn't adequately work to mitigate emerging risks to drinking water.

The EPA cannot regulate the fracking process, because a 2005 law exempted from federal oversight the practice of injecting fluids into wells at a high pressure to break shale and retrieve oil and gas.

But the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said in a report made public Monday that the EPA should improve its oversight of other fluid injection practices including disposing of fracking wastewater in the ground and injecting fluids in wells to enhance oil or gas recovery.

U.S. Sending Its Dirty Coal, and Greenhouse Gases, Abroad

Jul 27, 2014
(AP)

Coal from Appalachia rumbles into this port city, 150 railroad cars at a time, bound for the belly of the massive cargo ship Prime Lily. The ship soon sets sail for South America, its 80,000 tons of coal destined for power plants and factories, an export of American energy - and pollution.

In the U.S., this coal and the carbon dioxide it will eventually release into the atmosphere are some of the unwanted leftovers of an America going greener. With the country moving to cleaner natural gas, the Obama administration wants to reduce power plant pollution to make good on its promise to the world to cut emissions.

Yet the estimated 228,800 tons of carbon dioxide contained in the coal aboard the Prime Lily equals the annual emissions of a small American power plant. It's leaving this nation's shores but not the planet.

Oil Train Tanker Cars Derail in Seattle Rail Yard

Jul 24, 2014
(AP)

Nothing spilled when three tanker cars in an oil train from North Dakota derailed at a rail yard early Thursday, but it alarmed environmentalists.

"This is a warning of how dangerous this could be," said Kerry McHugh, communications director for the Washington Environmental Council.

She noted the train derailed near Puget Sound, under Seattle's Magnolia Bridge, the main connection to one of the city's neighborhoods.

"The potential for environmental damage, economic damage and the disruption of people's lives is huge," she said.

New Safety Rules Proposed to Curb Oil Train Explosions And Spills

Jul 23, 2014
(AP)

Thousands of older rail tank cars that carry crude oil would be phased out within two years under regulations proposed Wednesday in response to a series of fiery train crashes over the past year, including a runaway oil train that exploded in the Quebec town of Lac-Megantic, killing 47 people.

Accident investigators have complained for decades that the cars are too easily punctured or ruptured, spilling their contents, when derailed.

The phase-in period for replacing or retrofitting the DOT-111 tank cars is shorter than the Canadian government's three-year phased plan. However, regulators left open the question of what kind of tank car will replace the old ones, saying they will choose later from among several proposals.

Obama Administration to Announce Stricter Oil Train Safety Standards

Jul 23, 2014
(Wall Street Journal)

The Obama administration will unveil Wednesday new rules proposing stricter safety standards on trains carrying flammable fuels, including oil and ethanol, according to a Capitol Hill source familiar with the pending regulation.

The rules, to be announced by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, will include standards for tank cars, speed limits for trains carrying flammable fuels, brake standards and required testing for oil and other volatile liquids.

Railroads, oil companies and railcar owners have been expecting new federal rules meant to improve the safety of oil shipments in the wake of several fiery train accidents. The proposed regulation could impact several industries.

Wisconsin Oil Train Derailment Injures 2 People, Leads to Home Evacuations

Jul 22, 2014
(AP)

A Canadian National Railway Co. train struck another freight train as it rolled through a small village in southeastern Wisconsin, causing cars to derail, injuring two people and spilling thousands of gallons of fuel that prompted the evacuation of dozens of homes.

The southbound Canadian National train struck several Wisconsin & Southern Railroad cars around 8:30 p.m. Sunday at a rail crossing in Slinger, according to Patrick Waldron, a Canadian National spokesman.

Three engines and 10 railcars derailed, Slinger Fire Chief Rick Hanke said. Slinger is about 35 miles northwest of Milwaukee.

Maine City Approves Law Barring Tar Sands Oil

Jul 22, 2014
(Portland Press Herald)

The City Council gave final approval Monday night to controversial zoning changes that are expected to block the potential export of Canadian tar sands oil from the city's waterfront.

The South Portland Community Center gym erupted with cheers and applause when the council voted 6-1 in favor of a ban that may soon be challenged in court and at the ballot box if opponents move forward with threats of a lawsuit and a citizen-initiated referendum.

Councilor Tom Blake warned opponents against fighting the "will of the people," which could cost the city untold legal fees and "alienate yourselves even further."

World Breaks Monthly Heat Record 2 Times in a Row

Jul 21, 2014
(AP)

The globe is on a hot streak, setting a heat record in June. That's after the world broke a record in May.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced Monday that last month's average global temperature was 61.2 degrees, which is 1.3 degrees higher than the 20th century average. It beat 2010's old record by one-twentieth of a degree.

While one-twentieth of a degree doesn't sound like much, in temperature records it's like winning a horse race by several lengths, said NOAA climate monitoring chief Derek Arndt.

"We are living in the steroid era of the climate system," Arndt said.