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Court Strikes Down Nebraska Law That Allowed Keystone XL Pipeline

Feb 19, 2014
(Omaha World-Herald)

A judge has declared unconstitutional a Nebraska law used to reroute the Keystone XL pipeline.

Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled Wednesday that the 2012 law improperly gave the governor authority to approve the pipeline route, said David Domina, an Omaha attorney who represented plaintiffs in the case.

He said the ruling doesn't necessarily reset the clock on federal approval of the pipeline. President Barack Obama only has to decide whether to grant a permit to allow the pipeline to cross the U.S. border, Domina said. 

The judge said regulatory control over pipeline companies rests with the Nebraska Public Service Commission. She granted a permanent injunction to prevent Gov. Dave Heineman and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking further action to advance the pipeline.

TransCanada Natural Gas Pipeline Ruptures in Alberta

Feb 19, 2014
(Calgary Herald)

The Calgary-based company reported Tuesday that a leg of its Nova Gas Transmission Ltd. pipeline system lost pressure at about 5 a.m. Tuesday morning and was shut down.

"We have been informed that the local distribution company has already made arrangements to have a temporary supply of compressed natural gas delivered into the area to maintain service for their customers," reported TransCanada spokesman Shawn Howard Tuesday afternoon in an e-mail update.

He said TransCanada has secured the site and turned it over to the Transportation Safety Board and National Energy Board to conduct an on-site investigation. The cause of this line break is not known.

Obama to Tighten Fuel Efficiency Standards for Big Trucks Through Executive Order

Feb 18, 2014
(The Washington Post)

President Obama will announce Tuesday that the federal government will further tighten fuel efficiency for medium- and heavy-duty trucks, according to a White House official, as part of the president's ongoing effort to use his executive authority to address climate change.

Obama's directive to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, which he will announce at the Safeway distribution center in Upper Marlboro, Md., marks the second time he has mandated a cut in fuel consumption and carbon emissions from larger trucks. This category, which encompasses all vehicles weighing more than 8,500 pounds, ranges from large pick-up trucks and school buses to massive 18-wheel tractor-trailers.

Methane Leaks Negate Climate Change Benefits of NatGas, Scientific Study Says

Feb 14, 2014
(New York Times)

The sign is ubiquitous on city buses around the country: "This bus runs on clean burning natural gas."

But a surprising new report, to be published Friday in the journal Science, concludes that switching buses and trucks from traditional diesel fuel to natural gas could actually harm the planet's climate.

Although burning natural gas as a transportation fuel produces 30 percent less planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions than burning diesel, the drilling and production of natural gas can lead to leaks of methane, a greenhouse gas 30 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Train Carrying Canadian Crude Derails & Leaks in Pennsylvania

Feb 13, 2014
(Reuters)

A 120-car Norfolk Southern Corp train carrying heavy Canadian crude oil derailed and spilled in western Pennsylvania on Thursday, adding to a string of recent accidents that have prompted calls for stronger safety standards.

There were no reports of injury or fire after 21 tank cars came off the track at a bend by the Kiskiminetas River in the town of Vandergrift, according to town and company officials.

Nineteen of the derailed cars were carrying oil and two held liquefied petroleum gas, Norfolk Southern said. Three of the crude tank cars spilled after the incident, though the leaks have since been plugged. The company did not say how much oil spilled.

The train was heading from Conway to Morrisville, Pennsylvania. Some of the crude on board was destined for an asphalt plant in Paulsboro, New Jersey, owned by NuStar, a NuStar spokeswoman said.

Chevron Natural-Gas Well Fire Still Burning; 1 Feared Dead

Feb 13, 2014
(AP)

State environmental officials and expert firefighters brought in by Chevron have been continuing to monitor a burning Marcellus Shale natural gas well in southwestern Pennsylvania.

The well about 50 miles south of Pittsburgh in Dunkard Township erupted into flames shortly before 7 a.m. Tuesday, injuring one worker and leaving one still unaccounted for early Wednesday.

State Department of Environmental Protection officials say the fire may burn for days, delaying efforts to determine its cause.

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

Feb 13, 2014
(AP)

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
(CNN)

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.