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Coal Export Project to Get Sweeping Enviro Review, Including Climate Change Impacts

Feb 13, 2014

State and local regulators said Wednesday they'll consider a sweeping environmental review of the effects of a proposed terminal along the Columbia River in Washington that would export millions of tons of coal to Asia.

The review of the $650 million Millennium Bulk Terminals project will consider effects that extend well beyond the site, including the global-warming effects of burning the exported coal in Asia and rail impacts as coal is shipped by train from the Rockies throughout the state, including passage through Spokane.

The announcement represents a victory for project opponents, who had pushed for a more comprehensive study.

Major Coal Slurry Spill Blackens River Tributary in West Virginia

Feb 12, 2014

Inspectors are looking into the cause of a coal slurry spill in West Virginia's eastern Kanawha County after it blackened six miles of a creek, officials with the state Department of Environmental Protection said Tuesday.

More than 100,000 gallons of the coal slurry is believed to have flowed into Fields Creek, a tributary of the Kanawha River, officials said. Inspectors are testing the water to determine exactly how much leaked into the creek, the officials said.

The spill at Patriot Coal was caused when a valve inside a slurry line malfunctioned, the state environmental protection officials said.

TransCanada Threatens to Change Keystone XL Route to Avoid Permit Delays

Feb 11, 2014
(E&E Daily, sub. req'd.)

The company behind Keystone XL ultimately could tweak its pipeline proposal in order to sidestep the requirement for a presidential border-crossing permit, according to communications with landowners residing along its proposed route.

TransCanada Corp. did not disclose how it might further shake up the $5.4 billion pipeline, which remains in limbo as the State Department begins the next phase in a years-long review, in the proposed easement agreement obtained by Greenwire from a Nebraskan landowner requesting anonymity. But the company's desire to leave its options open is apparent in its letter.

Record Tar Sands Seepage in Alberta Continues Unabated

Feb 10, 2014
(The Tyee)

Researchers of an independent report on one of the largest ongoing oil releases in Alberta history say the provincial regulator and industry must do more to inform the public about the scale and impact of massive bitumen seepage in the oil sands.

For nearly a year now, more than 12,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with water have seeped through several long cracks (some as long as 100 meters) in the forest floor near four wells owned by Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. (CNRL) in the Cold Lake region.

To date, the Calgary-based company has spent nearly $40 million in cleanup operations that have involved the removal of 70,000 tonnes of earth. It also pumped 404,378 cubic meters of water out of a small lake to clean up two large bitumen fissures.

Green Groups Step Up Opposition to TransCanada's Other Big Pipeline Project

Feb 7, 2014

Environmental groups are stepping up efforts to convince Canadian authorities to reject a major new pipeline to the east coast, with one think tank saying on Thursday that filling the new line would generate up to 45 percent more carbon emissions than the controversial Keystone XL.

The estimate by the Pembina Institute, which has opposed oil sands development, is the latest salvo in the battle by some groups to block plans to build new pipelines from Canada's oil patch. Greenpeace, the Council of Canadians and other groups have previously spoken out against Energy East.

Duke Energy, EPA Work to Halt Coal Ash Spill in N. Carolina

Feb 5, 2014
(Charlotte Observer )

EDEN Dump trucks and backhoes filed into Duke Energy's Dan River power plant Tuesday as officials worked to plug a leaking storage pond that dumped enough coal ash into the river to fill 20 Olympic swimming pools.

Pond water continued to leak from a 48-inch stormwater pipe that broke Sunday, washing at least 50,000 tons of ash carried by 24 million gallons of water into the Dan. Coal ash contains metals that can be toxic at high concentrations.

Engineers and contractors searched for a permanent way to fix the break before turning their attention to a cleanup.

TransCanada Pipeline Rupture Report Kept Secret for 3 Years

Feb 4, 2014
(CBC News)

A CBC News investigation has unearthed a critical report that the federal regulator effectively buried for several years about a rupture on a trouble-prone TransCanada natural gas pipeline.

On July 20, 2009, the Peace River Mainline in northern Alberta exploded, sending 50-metre-tall flames into the air and razing a two-hectare wooded area.

Few people ever learned of the rupture — one of the largest in the past decade — other than the Dene Tha’ First Nation, whose traditional territory it happened on.

EPA Scrutiny Could Be Linchpin in Keystone XL Review Process

Feb 4, 2014

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's critical assessment of the proposed northern leg of the Keystone pipeline could have outsized influence on the final decision of whether to approve the project, experts familiar with the process said.

Friday's State Department report contained the EPA's evaluation that crude produced from Canada's oil sands, which the pipeline would carry, are 17 percent more greenhouse gas intensive than average oil used in the United States. The EPA also said oil sands imports would be 2-10 percent more greenhouse-gas intensive than imported oil from Mexico or Venezuela that would probably replace it.

Tar Sands Air Pollution May Be 2-3 Times Higher Than Industry Reported

Feb 4, 2014
(The Canadian Press)

A new study suggests the environmental health risks of oilsands operations in Alberta's Athabasca region have probably been underestimated.

Researchers say emissions of potentially hazardous air pollution that were used in environmental reviews done before approving some projects did not include evaporation from tailings ponds or other sources, such as dust from mining sites.

The study, by the University of Toronto’s environmental chemistry research group, looked at reported levels of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAH) — chemicals which can be released into the air, water and soil when bitumen-rich oilsands are mined and processed.

Billionaire Climate Activist Steyer Urges Review of 'Defective' Keystone Report

Feb 3, 2014

Billionaire Tom Steyer, a Democratic Party donor and Keystone XL foe, called on U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry to begin a review of the "defective" environmental analysis on the pipeline released last week.

The final environmental impact statement on Keystone "has suffered from a process that raises serious questions about the integrity of the document, Steyer, who hosted President Barack Obama at his San Francisco home in April, wrote to Kerry yesterday in a letter.

The letter: