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Shell Joins Energy Rush, Greenlights New Alberta Tar Sands Project

Oct 31, 2013
(The Globe and Mail )

Royal Dutch Shell PLC has given the green light to a new steam-driven oil sands project, putting the Anglo-Dutch oil major among a handful of companies announcing big northern Alberta energy developments in the last day.

Shell said it is going ahead with the 80,000 barrel a day Carmon Creek project in the Peace River area of Alberta. It did not give a price tag for the project in a news release on Thursday, though a spokesman said it will be in the billions, rather than millions, of dollars.

The energy companies are proceeding with the big-ticket projects despite uncertainty about the approval of major export pipeline proposals such as Keystone XL and Northern Gateway. Congested pipelines have been a big factor driving down the price of Canadian heavy crude compared with international light oil.

Climate-Changing Pollution From Texas Industries Far Surpasses Other States

Oct 31, 2013
(Texas Climate News)

Texas industrial facilities led all other states by a huge margin in their release of heat-trapping carbon dioxide, methane and other greenhouse gases in 2012, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced this week.

The EPA report, based on data provided by about 8,000 facilities across the nation, showed that the ones in Texas said they emitted about 393 million metric tons of greenhouse gases last year – 12.5 percent of the nationwide total of 3.13 billion metric tons.

Climate Central, a non-profit news and science organization, reported that Texas’ total emissions of greenhouse gases (GHG) had far exceeded those in the other top-emitting states:

Texas alone was responsible for 393 million metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions, mostly from power plants, refineries and the chemical industry — more than three times the carbon footprint of California, which emitted only 114.6 million metric tons. Other states in the top five biggest GHG emitters were Indiana, with 154.6 million metric tons of GHG emissions, Pennsylvania with 142.7 million tons, Louisiana with 140.4 million metric tons and Ohio with 133.3 million metric tons.

Koch Pipeline Co. Oil Spill Reported Near Austin, Texas

Oct 30, 2013
(UPI )

Authorities in Texas confirmed about 400 barrels of crude oil spilled near Austin from a pipeline owned by Koch Pipeline Co.

The Texas Railroad Commission said the oil spilled from an 8-inch diameter pipeline in Smithville, about 40 miles southeast of Austin, KVUE-TV, Austin, reported Tuesday.

The broadcaster reported Koch Pipeline Co. said it notified the appropriate federal and state regulators but had no estimated time for repairs. Neither Koch nor the Texas Railroad Commission had a public statement about the incident.

Large North Dakota Oil Spill Spotlights Obama Delay on Pipeline Rules

Oct 30, 2013

Three years after an oil pipeline rupture in Michigan spilled 843,000 gallons of sludge, government regulators still haven’t produced promised rules to compel operators to detect leaks.

An oil spill in North Dakota last month and the continued debate over construction of TransCanada Corp. (TRP)’s Keystone XL Pipeline have led to renewed criticism to the government’s inaction on safety measures.

"It's outrageous," Rick Kessler, Pipeline Safety Trust’s president and a Washington lobbyist, said in an interview. "This is glacial. It's incredibly frustrating, and there never is a straight answer about where the bottleneck is."

Ark. Demands More Tests From Exxon on Effects of Oil Spill, Chemicals on Lake

Oct 30, 2013
(The Arkansas Times)

On October 11, ExxonMobil released its investigative report on the results of soil and sediment tests from Mayflower and Lake Conway. The company submitted the 81-page report to the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ) as part of its cleanup obligations, and the document is supposed to provide a definitive picture of the environmental situation in the wake of the Pegasus oil spill.

ADEQ has been studying the report in the weeks since, and on Monday, it sent a reply to Exxon asking that the oil giant to reevaluate some of its conclusions and continue testing. The agency also forwarded a letter from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission (AGFC) with more critiques of the report. To assist in conducting an independent evaluation of the data, AGFC hired two environmental consulting companies with a history of investigating oil spills.

Perhaps the most important point in either regulator's reply is the Game and Fish Commission's rebuttal of how Exxon's report treats a class of pollutant called polyaromatic hydrocarbons, or PAHs. Game and Fish says that Exxon's figure for PAH contamination may misrepresent the amount of toxins still in the environment.

These chemicals are found in petroleum and are especially dangerous for two reasons: They're toxic in low doses, and they don't easily degrade — that is, they stick around in the environment. As with many complex organic compounds, PAHs come in a great assortment of varieties, each one detectible as a distinct species with its own intimidating name ("Acenaphthene," "Acenaphthylene," "Anthracene," "Benzo(a)Anthracene," etc).

Exxon's report examines the toxicity effects of 38 separate PAHs, 16 of which are designated as "priority PAHs." But, says the letter from AGFC to Exxon, that is only about half of the total PAHs present in the source oil. That is, Exxon may have failed to analyze some compounds that should be factored into the overall toxicity picture.

ADEQ's requests to ExxonMobil for more testing:


AGFC's letter to ADEQ, weighing in on Exxon's results:


Oil And Gas Pipeline Incidents In Canada Doubled In a Decade, Report Says

Oct 29, 2013
(Huffington Post Canada)

The number of safety-related incidents involving federally regulated Canadian pipelines has doubled in little more than a decade, with the number of reported spills tripling during that time, according to an investigative report at the CBC.

According to data obtained by the network from the National Energy Board, the number of annual incidents rose to two per 1,000 kilometres of pipeline by 2011, up from one per 1,000 kilometres of pipeline in 2000.

There were 142 pipeline incidents in 2011, up from 45 in 2000.

The data covers only those pipelines that are federally regulated, meaning those that cross provincial boundaries.

The news comes as debate heats up over which method of transporting oil and gas — rail or pipelines — is best for the environment, and the least risky.

West Coast States and Canadian Province to Put Price on Carbon Pollution

Oct 29, 2013

The governors of Pacific coastal U.S. states and a Canadian province official are joining forces in a new effort to fight climate change.

In an agreement announced Monday, the governors of California, Oregon, Washington and the environment minister of British Columbia, Mary Polak, will place a price on greenhouse gas pollution and mandate the use of cleaner-burning fuels. Polak and the governors gathered in San Francisco in the hope of stimulating a clean-energy economy in the region, which has a combined gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion.

Polak and the governors gathered in San Francisco in the hope of stimulating a clean-energy economy in the region, which has a combined gross domestic product of $2.8 trillion.

Millions of Americans Live Within One Mile of Oil or Gas Wells

Oct 28, 2013
(Wall Street Journal)

Over the summer, something sprang up in the view from Dorsey Johnson's back deck north of Denver, where she watches sunsets over Colorado's front range.

It was a noisy, towering rig, drilling a new oil well.

"There was clanking. There were trucks going by," she says. All she wanted was for the rig to go away.

Across the U.S., new oil and gas wells have turned millions of people into the petroleum industry's neighbors. For many, the oil and gas companies are welcome newcomers bearing checks. Others consider the new arrivals loud, smelly and disruptive. The drilling boom is firing up resentment in some communities when one person's financial windfall means their neighbors abut a working well.

The Wall Street Journal analyzed well location and census data for more than 700 counties in 11 major energy-producing states. At least 15.3 million Americans lived within a mile of a well that has been drilled since 2000. That is more people than live in Michigan or New York City.

Canada: In-Situ Oil Sands Projects Won't Get Federal Environmental Reviews

Oct 28, 2013
(The Canadian Press)

The federal government has confirmed that the fastest-growing sector of the oil sands won't come under federal environmental assessment, one day after acknowledging it won’t come close to meeting greenhouse gas reduction targets.

A final list of the types of projects that will require a federal environmental assessment was released Friday. The list contains no mention of in-situ oilsands mines, which are expected to be the industry's most common type of development in the future.

"This is the largest single source of (greenhouse gas) growth in the country and yet the federal government is not going to be playing a role there,” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace.

Hundreds of N. Dakota Oil Spills Went Unreported to Public

Oct 26, 2013

North Dakota, the nation's No. 2 oil producer behind Texas, recorded nearly 300 oil pipeline spills in less than two years, state documents show. None was reported to the public, officials said.

According to records obtained by The Associated Press, the pipeline spills — many of them small — are among some 750 "oil field incidents" that have occurred since January 2012 without public notification.

"That's news to us," said Don Morrison, director of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental-minded landowner group with more than 700 members in North Dakota.