More than 75 environment officers who watched over oil industry activities left the provincial environment department this fall, to take higher paying jobs with the new industry-funded Alberta Energy Regulator. Another 75-plus are expected to leave in the spring.
In mid-November, the department also began handing over to the regulator thousands of files on oil industry activity pertaining to the Public Lands Act, according to documents obtained by the Journal.
This shift in staffing and the moving of years of files out of a government department to the new arm's length regulator are key steps in the government's plan, announced last spring, to create a more streamlined approval process for oil companies that wanted “one window” to get permits for new projects.
Russia's state-held energy giant Gazprom said Friday it had launched production at an Arctic oil rig raided in September by 28 Greenpeace activists and two journalists whom the authorities later detained for two months.
The landmark announcement marked the formal start of Russia's long-planned effort to turn the vast oil and natural gas riches believed to be buried in the frozen waters into profits for its ambitious government-run firms.
But it also outraged campaigners who see the Arctic as one of the world's last pristine reserves whose damage by oil spills and other disasters would be enormously difficult to contain.
Gazprom made its announcement in a statement that stressed the company also had rights to 29 other fields it planned to exploit in Russia's section of the Arctic seabed.
The Pennsylvania Supreme Court today declared unconstitutional major provisions of the state's Marcellus Shale drilling law, Act 13, including one that allowed gas companies to drill anywhere, overriding local zoning laws.
The court's decision, on a 4-2 vote, also sent back to Commonwealth Court challenges by townships and individuals to the Act 13 provisions that would have prevented doctors from telling patients about health impacts related to shale gas development.
Nebraska now stands alone when it comes to landowners who have yet to sign easements for the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline.
TransCanada Inc., the company that wants to build the 1,700-mile crude oil pipeline, announced recently that it has reached agreement with 100 percent of landowners in five of the six states on the project route. The remaining holdouts are in Nebraska.
The company says it has agreed to easement terms with 73 percent of the private landowners in Nebraska. That equates to about 365 of the route's roughly 500 landowners in the state.
Canada's National Energy Board will release its decision on whether to approve Enbridge Inc's $6.5 billion Northern Gateway crude oil pipeline on Thursday, the regulator said on Tuesday.
The proposed 1,177 km (730 mile) pipeline, intended to carry oil sands crude from near Edmonton, Alberta, to Kitimat on the British Columbia coast, has run into fierce environmental opposition and seen costs mount.
Fracking may increase health risks from hormone-disrupting chemicals released into the environment, say researchers.
Scientists sounded the warning after studying water pollution at sites in the US where the controversial natural gas drilling technique is used.
The team looked at 12 suspected or known "endocrine disrupting chemicals" (EDCs) used in fracking operations and measured their ability to mimic or block the effects of reproductive hormones.
Water samples from drilling sites with a record of spillages had levels of the chemicals high enough to interfere with the body's responses to male hormones, as well as oestrogen.
Little endocrine disrupter activity was found in water samples from sites where little drilling was taking place.
The City Council took its first concrete step Monday toward prohibiting Canadian oil sands from being shipped through the city's port.
By a 6-1 vote, the council approved a moratorium, effective until May 5, that bars the city from approving any project or development that includes loading oil sands onto ships in the city.
The moratorium buys time for city officials to develop a permanent ordinance that would prevent Portland Pipe Line Corp. from reversing the flow in its underground pipe that now pumps crude oil from South Portland to Montreal
In a last action against the Keystone XL before the year ends, more than 200 U.S. and Canadian celebrities, authors, diplomats, business leaders and philanthropists sent President Obama a letter Monday urging him to reject the Alberta-to-Texas tar sands pipeline and help stop "making the climate crisis worse."
The signatories include actors Marissa Tomei and Blythe Danner, cleantech entrepreneur Vinod Khosla, Obama fundraiser and Esprit founder Susie Tompkins Buell—as well as Canadian author Margaret Atwood and Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations.
Many contributed generously to Obama's presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012. "The people involved with this letter are just terrified that it really will be 'game over' for the climate," said Betsy Taylor, president of Breakthrough Strategies & Solutions LLC, the consulting firm that coordinated the effort.
Approving the Keystone "will materially increase investment in tar sands," Khosla told InsideClimate News. "The president should reject the pipeline permit and send a vital signal to capital markets [that] the United States is turning from fossil fuels to a clean energy future."
Obama is expected to make a decision some time next year on TransCanada's proposal to send more than 800,000 barrels of tar sands oil a day to the Texas Gulf Coast.
The president has said his decision on whether to grant the Keystone pipeline a permit will hinge on the amount of global warming pollution the project contributes to the atmosphere. "Our national interest will be served only if this project doesn't significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon dioxide pollution," Obama said in a speech launching his climate action agenda in June.
The letter is an attempt to hold Obama to his word, Taylor said. "We feel it's a question of character now. Was he speaking the truth when he said if this increases carbon emissions he won't do it, or was he not?"
The possible effects of a bitumen spill on Pacific waters were not considered in the oil response preparedness report released last week by the Harper government, the background data study reveals.
The consulting firm that did the study for Transport Canada, Genivar Inc, had no reliable data on the effect of a bitumen tanker disaster—because, so far, there has been no major ocean disaster involving diluted bitumen.
Instead, Genivar, based its findings on potential hazards and response on existing data on crude oil spills.
The Genivar study, however, does warn, that if the Enbridge Northern Gateway project does go ahead, the spill risk from diluted bitumen carrying tankers in Douglas Channel and along the north Pacific coast will jump from “low” or “medium” to “very high.” If the twinning of the Kinder Morgan pipeline goes ahead, then the risk in Vancouver also jumps to “very high.”
Continental Resources, one of the companies that has committed to ship crude on TransCanada Corp's proposed Keystone XL pipeline, now says the controversial pipeline is no longer needed.
Continental has signed on to ship some 35,000 barrels of its own oil from the Bakken field of North Dakota on the 1,179-mile, $5.4-billion Keystone XL line. But construction of the pipeline has been delayed for years as TransCanada has sought regulatory approvals, and Continental has since turned to railroads to get its crude to oil refineries.
Harold Hamm, chief executive of the independent oil producer, told Reuters that his company and the U.S. oil industry in general are no longer counting on Keystone XL.