Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘pipelines’ Category

Public Citizen’s Rita Beving has worked with ranchers and farmers against unjust eminent domain practices in regards to pipelines such as Keystone XL, the Seaway pipeline, and others.  Many of us also know about the injustice of the TransPecos pipeline of West Texas.

There is a film producer who has now worked for two years down in the Big Bend area shooting footage of the plight of ranchers and landowners in that area and is working on a feature film on this pipeline – but she needs our help as she has funded her work on her own dime  and needs to get this film into post production.

Please support this Austin fundraiser below this weekend for the Sandlot World Series and final Sandlot Service of 2017 at The Long Time!  The Long Time is located at 5707 N. Dunlap Rd. in Austin, TX  78725.  The website is www.thelongtime.com

Saturday, October 14, 3:00PM
Tulsa City Saturns vs. Your Texas Playboys
Music by The Tender Things
w/ Lone Star Beer, Tito’s, 512 Tequila, 9 Banded Whiskey, and Charles and Charles Rosé / Food Truck / After Party
Benefitting the TRANS PECOS PIPELINE DOCUMENTARY – more info at Trans Pecos Documentary / @transpecosdoc

Here is the Facebook Event Page

$5 entry for all humans

AND…
Sunday, October 15, 11:00AM
Cap City Cobras vs. Senators

Read Full Post »

IMG_1653Around 10:10 AM on Sunday July 17th, a pipeline leaked propylene in the community of Baytown, TX, near the ExxonMobil Baytown refinery. Propylene is a dense, colorless gas that is considered non-toxic but flammable. The pipeline leak highlights some of the challenges associated with emergency response along within the Houston region.

At 10:30 AM, according to the Houston Chronicle, three houses were evacuated and all others within the vicinity of the leak were told to shelter in place. The emergency response was mixed. Residents who signed up for city notifications through Baytown Alert were apparently notified by phone and by email around 10:30 AM about the order to shelter-in-place. Yet some confusion remained – who exactly did the shelter-in-place include? What had happened, and what kind of chemical was released – something flammable or something toxic? Should residents downwind be concerned?

The CAER line, which is supported by the East Harris County Manufacturers Association, provides a hotline for Harris County residents to call to obtain more information regarding emergency situations. During the incident on Sunday, several people known to us called CAER to hear the messages it posted regarding the situation. It is unclear how quickly the first message regarding the incident was posted to CAER; a Baytown resident stated that it took about an hour following the incident before CAER posted a message. On Sunday at 1:05 PM, there were no current messages, even though the shelter-in-place had not yet been lifted. At 2:30 PM, CAER’s message stated that a propylene leaked resulted in the shelter-in-place warning. The City of Baytown reported via twitter that the shelter-in-place had been lifted at 2:38 PM. At 3:30 PM, CAER’s message line mentioned the leak without any mention of a shelter-in-place. Around 4:20 PM there were no current messages on the CAER line.

Although the City of Baytown notified residents of the shelter-in-place, the residents we spoke with never received the all clear and were not informed when the shelter-in-place had been lifted either via siren or via email and phone. In fact, it is unclear if sirens were used to communicate the shelter-in-place, which is an important way to inform people who may be visiting the area or who may not have access to other technology. Many questions remain unanswered and the Healthy Ports Community Coalition (HPCC) is actively researching to fully understand the emergency response.

The HPCC is also proposing a system like an amber alert system to make use of our modern technology so that residents can be informed immediately when emergency evacuations or a shelter-in-place is called for, notified when it is all clear to return to normal, and they can be instructed specifically on what steps to take to keep themselves and their families safe and healthy. In this case, Baytown residents were lucky that the chemical leaked was not deemed toxic and that no one suffered any known health impacts from the leak. HPCC is working to keep residents safe and informed for when the next incident happens.

hpcc

 

The Healthy Port Communities Coalition is growing a strong base of well-informed and active local residents who engage public and private stakeholders directly on priority issues including jobs, pollution, health, neighborhood safety, and economic opportunities.

 

Read Full Post »

KXL protest - Texas activistsAccording to a press release by NRDC and Oil Change International, new data released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) proves that, as President Obama has emphasized in recent comments, the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline would serve primarily as an export pipeline, bringing dirty Canadian tar sands crude to the international market.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) says refineries in Port Arthur and Houston, which would be the primary recipients of crude oil delivered by the Keystone XL pipeline, have exported a growing share of their refined products over the last two years. In 2013, the percentage of product exported was 55%; in 2014 it was up to 60%, and by December of last year it was up to over 66%.

Keystone supporters have long argued that the tar sands the pipeline would transport would stay in the United States, and the president has taken criticism for his recent comments arguing that the tar sands pipeline would essentially “bypass” the U.S., including from the Washington Post “Fact Checker.”

But as Politico’s Elana Schor notes, “That ‘Fact Checker’ piece, however, largely addressed the export prospects of Keystone’s unprocessed heavy crude. On the question of whether the refined products generated by the pipeline’s oil would be sold overseas, it cited only a report by IHS, a consulting firm frequently hired by the industry.”

The oil industry and their allies can push out all the talking points they want about energy security, but the facts are clear: Keystone XL is an export pipeline, and would bring plenty of risks but no rewards for the American people.

 

Read Full Post »

The business behind hydraulic fracturing for natural gas has become a hot button issue in the more recent years, but natural gas pipeline projects often get less attention.

2013-091-31 Bluegrass Pipeline - map of proposed routeThe Bluegrass Pipeline was to be built in order to transport natural gas liquids (NGLs) from the Utica and Marcellus shale regions down to the Gulf Coast. The Bluegrass Pipeline is a joint project by Williams and Boardwalk Pipeline Partners, LP, two of the nation’s leading energy infrastructure companies. As it is proposed, the completed pipeline will transport at a rate of up to 200,000 barrels of NGLs per day. The company was to start by building and repurposing approximately 600 miles of the 1,200 mile pipeline. It would begin in Pennsylvania and travels through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana.

One of the largest environmental concerns involves the pipeline spurs from Kentucky. The land that the pipeline will be built on has limestone karst geology that carries water through caves. In the past there have been problems with pipelines running underneath the ground such as massive sinkholes and pipe explosions, and by building the Bluegrass Pipeline in the territory they are subjecting the residents that live on that very sensitive part of the land to possible danger and a great destruction of the land.

The construction of the pipeline has been halted due to a lack of customer commitment. Along the Gulf Coast there are many regions from which customers could purchase natural gas, so it would be might be more expensive to transport the NGLs from the north to the south than to just pull from closer sights like the Eagle Ford and Barnett shale regions in Texas.

Texas has played a major role in the natural gas industry for many years. Currently, Texas is the highest ranked natural gas consuming state and 58,600 miles of natural gas pipelines within the state, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

With such deep roots in the fracking industry, it is understandable that many in Texas wants to keep it here – it brings jobs and money into the state. However, our water supplies are taking a large hit from this industry. They become contaminated by the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing procedures such as lead, uranium, mercury, ethylene glycol, radium, methanol, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde and we drink from that contaminated water supply.

Fracking is the process by which dangerous chemicals are mixed with large quantities of water and sand are injected into wells at extremely high pressure which causes a major water contamination problem. In Texas alone there have been more than 2,000 reported cases of groundwater and private well contamination and more than 1,200 reports among other states within the last five years. They range from allegations of short-term diminished water flow to pollution from stray gas and other substances. With the current drought problem plaguing many areas of Texas, the issue of water contamination has become more prominent and our water resources more precious.

Many national and local organizations have openly opposed expanded fracking until safeguards are in place to ensure minimal pollution. Until these measures are taken our water supplies, climate and health will suffer.

Read Full Post »

According to NBC News,  the State Department announced today that it will take more time to review the controversial Keystone pipeline proposal before a decision is made, and that will likely be after the midterm elections in November.  Click here to read the story.

Read Full Post »

Over the course of a little more than a week, here in the United States, over 222,775 gallons of oil have been spilled onto our land and into our water. A week.

Most of the narrative around oil condemns it for the amount of carbon dioxide it puts into the atmosphere, and its profound implications for climate change. Over the course of one week this month, four different oil spills have helped demonstrate why responsible citizens should stand against oil. While all the spills have tremendous consequences, each of the following cases reveals a unique threat that transporting this toxic substance has for our families and our environment.

2014 Mid Valley Oil Spill in Michigan Nature Preserve - Photo from Huffington Post.jpg

Mid Valley Oil Spill in Michigan Nature Preserve
Photo from Huffington Post

On March 17, just 20 miles north of Cincinnati, an oil leak was discovered when a motorist smelled something funny in the air and called the police. What was discovered was tragic – over 20,000 gallons of oil had leaked into the 374 acre Glen Oak Nature Preserve. It is still unclear when the leak started – without this concerned citizen, it is likely the spill would’ve gone on for days before anyone noticed.

The oil had come from a 5 inch crack in the Mid-Valley pipeline, which runs over 1,000 miles from Michigan to Texas. Despite the fact that the company that maintains the pipeline is unsure of the leak’s cause, less than a week after it was discovered, an impromptu clamp had been designed, approved by the federal government, installed and oil is once more flowing in the pipeline.

2014 North Dakota Oil Spil in a Wheat Farm  Photo from GREENPEACE

North Dakota Oil Spil in a Wheat Farm
Photo from GREENPEACE

A few days later, on March 20, a gasket on a portion of above-ground pipeline in Alexander, North Dakota malfunctioned and spewed 34,000 gallons of crude oil onto the ground. While it appears that no water has been contaminated, North Dakota’s water quality director has warned that if a heavy spring rain comes, the oil could very well leach into nearby waterways.

2014-03-23 A dead oil covered bird is shown on the shore area along Boddeker Rd. on the Eastern end of Galveston near the ship channel.  Photo by Melissa Phillip, AP

A dead oil covered bird is shown on Eastern end of Galveston near the ship channel.
Photo by Melissa Phillip, AP

Two days after the North Dakota leak, an oil carrier collided with a barge, spilling 168,000 gallons of oil into Galveston Bay, Texas. While it was fortunate that not all of the oil in the carrier escaped into the water, the timing of the spill couldn’t be worse as peak bird migration season approaches. When oil is in the water, these water-diving birds often die from ingesting the oil. What’s worse is that the oil spilled is a particularly heavy type of oil, meaning that, unlike gasoline spills, which can largely evaporate off the surface of the water, this oil will sink to the bottom of the Bay and can adversely affect the environment for years to come.

2014 Crews Clean Oil from Lake Michigan After Spill from BP Refinery

Crews Clean Oil from Lake Michigan After Spill from BP Refinery

Finally, On March 25, eight days after the first oil spill in Ohio, a BP refinery in Whiting, Indiana spilled 755 gallons of oil into Lake Michigan. While this spill is relatively minor in comparison to the other spills, Lake Michigan serves as the drinking water source for Chicago and its suburbs – over 7 million people. Ingesting any oil at all is toxic, and the potential effects on humans are huge.

With so many other sensational stories dominating the airtime these days, it’s no wonder that many citizens are not aware that all of these spills happened. But note that in all these cases, until something bad happened, everything was running exactly as designed. The system with which we regulate and handle this toxic substance is broken, and the penalty for accidents is paid in permanent environmental damage, contaminated water, and human health.

It is crucial to remember as debates about oil rage on that oil is not just bad when burned – the processes to extract, transport and refine oil are toxic and dangerous on a global level and to local and regional communities.

Read Full Post »

Photo by Max Anderson

Photo by Max Anderson

Above All Else had their world premiere to a full audience at South by Southwest in Austin on Monday, March 10, 2014. The film takes an intimate look at a group of landowners and activists in East Texas who tried to stop construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, which carries tar sands oil from Canada to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast.

The film focuses on David Daniel, a former circus performer who settled down with his family in the woods of East Texas. David and his family wanted to settle down for a quiet life in the country when something unexpected happens: TransCanada tells him they want to put a pipeline through his property. David begins to build a tree-sit on his property with the help of organizers from the Tar Sands Blockade. The film takes a personal look at how David begins to rally his neighbors and allies to try and stop the Keystone XL pipeline.

Photo by Vanessa Ramos

Photo by Vanessa Ramos

After the film John Fiege, director, his crew and several people featured in the film answered questions about the film from a lively audience.  Julia Trigg Crawford, one of the landowners featured in the film, said, “It is an unbelievable travesty what happened with David. They’ve taken away his First Amendment right.”

John Fiege and his crew made an excellent film that tells the personal stories of individuals who risked financial ruin, their personal safety, and the security of their families. Above All Else will give anyone interested in the Keystone XL and tar sands issue a different perspective of the fight on the ground.

Above All Else will have two more showings at SXSW this week. The next showing is today, March 11, at SXSatellite: Alamo Village from 4:30 PM to 6:04 PM. The final showing will be Saturday, March 15, at the Topfer Theatre at ZACH from 2:00 PM to 3:34 PM. Check out the Above All Else website and the film’s SXSW page.

Read Full Post »

KXL Climate ChangeThe deadline is fast approaching for the public’s last chance to register an official comment against the Keystone XL pipeline. The State Department’s public comment period will end on Friday, March 7th. Right now is your last chance to tell Secretary of State John Kerry that the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline is not in our national interest. Secretary Kerry’s opinion will weigh heavily in President Obama’s decision.

This is our final opportunity to officially weigh in on the decision. Submit a comment right now to tell the Obama Administration that the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline is NOT in our national interest.

Now President Obama must choose whether he wants to take us down the road of expanding the use of dirty fossil fuels, like tar sands, or fight for a sustainable future. The Keystone XL is central to increasing production of the Alberta tar sands, which will significantly add to carbon emissions. The massive infrastructure would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades to come. Last June, standing in the sweltering heat before an outdoor audience at Georgetown University, President Obama pledged that he would not approve the pipeline if it would “significantly exacerbate the problem of carbon pollution.” Now, he should reject the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

Keystone XL Youth Protest in Washington D.C. Photo credit: Nicholas Kammafp, Getty Images

March 2nd Keystone XL Youth Protest in Washington D.C
Photo credit: Nicholas Kammafp, Getty Images

From Coast-to-Coast People Are Standing Up Against Tar Sands 

  • Last Sunday, more than 1,200 youths from across the country marched from Georgetown University to the White House to protest the Keystone XL. Nearly 400 youths were arrested for zip-tying themselves to the White House fence and staging a mock oil spill. This protest is the largest youth act of non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House in more than a generation.
  • On Monday, nine people were arrested at the State Department building in San Francisco during a youth led protest of the Keystone XL pipeline.
  • Last month, thousands of people got together and held more than 280 vigils in 49 states across the country to say NO to Keystone XL.

Crash the Keystone XL Party: No KXL in ATX

The momentum to stop this pipeline is building all across the country. On Friday, March 7th, Austin will join Washington D.C. and San Francisco in telling President Obama that we do not want the Keystone XL. Join us at 10:30 a.m. at the South Gates of the Texas Capitol (11th and Congress). Be sure to bring your signs, pots-n-pans, walking shoes and conviction to stop this climate killing pipeline.

This is our last chance to voice concerns to the State Department before the public comment period ends on March 7th. We need to get our message across to Secretary Kerry, because what he says could be one of the biggest determining factors in President Obama’s decision.

Submit your comment: Keystone XL is NOT in our national interest.

Read Full Post »

Enbridge storage tank - photo from Dan Riedlhuber, Reuters

Enbridge storage tank – photo by Dan Riedlhuber, Reuters

A second Canadian pipeline company has its permit tied up in the State Department’s approval process. Enbridge, Canada’s largest pipeline company, is trying to expand its Alberta Clipper line, but is now facing delays.

Enbridge started up its first phase of the line, which has a capacity of 450,000 barrels per day (bpd), in 2009, after obtaining a U.S. federal permit from the State Department. Enbridge is now looking to expand its capacity, but the State Department says it needs to do further environmental analysis before granting Enbridge the go ahead to expand its Alberta to Wisconsin pipeline.

Enbridge is not looking to build another pipeline; rather, they are trying to increase capacity by 120,000 bpd for a total of 570,000 bpd. Beyond that, they would like to expand from 570,000 bpd to 800,000 bpd in the near future, which is almost as much tar sands oil as the proposed Keystone XL would carry.

“Obviously, things take longer in this environment that we’re in. I don’t think we want to draw any conclusions about the political environment. It’s not something that we can control. What we control is the fullness of our application,” CEO Al Monaco told reporters and analysts on a conference call to discuss the company’s fourth-quarter results, which included a net loss. “In this case, this is a fairly routine matter. The pipeline’s already in the ground, so we’re hoping that we move this along as quickly as possible.”

Another Canadian pipeline company, TransCanada, has been seeking U.S. approval of their Keystone XL pipeline since 2008. The Keystone XL would cut across the heartland of America bring up to 830,000 bpd of Canadian tar sands into the U.S. The Keystone XL has become highly politicized with many environmental groups lobbying and taking direct action against the pipeline.

Although Enbridge has managed to escape the same level of scrutiny as their competitor TransCanada, they have still faced opposition from activists in Canada and Michigan.

Enbridge is also the company behind the largest on-shore oil spill in U.S. history. Enbridge spilled more than one million gallons of diluted bitumen (dilbit, or tar sands oil) into Talmadge Creek in Marshall, MI, which then flowed 30 miles downstream into the Kalamazoo River in the late summer of 2010. Enbridge has spent nearly a billion dollars trying to clean up the spill over the last three years, but latest reports confirm that there is still oil in the Kalamazoo River.

Enbridge also owns several other tar sands pipelines aroung the country, including the Seaway pipeline system in Texas. Enbridge is currently expanding the Seaway pipeline system by the process of twinning. The new twin Seaway line will be a 30-inch diameter pipeline, and havea capacity of 450,000 bpd. Company officials are expecting a service date in 2014.

Read Full Post »

On Wednesday, February 19, 2014, Nebraska’s recently passed law allowing TransCanada Keystone XL Pipeline Co. to proceed with construction across Nebraska was declared unconstitutional and void.

The ruling came from Lancaster County District Court Judge Stephanie Stacy. The Court ruled for three Nebraska landowners who challenged the law. The ruling includes a permanent injunction preventing Gov. Dave Heineman, and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality from taking any further action to authorize or advance the pipeline under the unconstitutional law.

Judge Stacy concluded the law unconstitutionally conferred upon the Governor of Nebraska the authority to approve a crude oil pipeline route, and to authorize the crude oil pipeline company to exercise the power of eminent domain against Nebraska landowners.

Siding with three landowner plaintiffs, the District Court concluded that under Nebraska’s State Constitution, exclusive regulatory control over pipeline companies like TransCanada Keystone XL must be exercised by the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and cannot be given to the Governor.

Judge Stacy also concluded that TransCanada was not empowered to take land from Nebraska property owners.

The court’s action effectively rescinds Gov. Heineman’s notification to Pres. Barack Obama that Nebraska legal procedures had been satisfied.

Dave Domina, the lawyer who handled the case for the landowners summarized the Ruling: “Under the Court’s ruling, TransCanada has no approved route in Nebraska. TransCanada is not authorized to condemn the property against Nebraska landowners. The pipeline project is at standstill in this State.”

A copy of the Court’s Opinion is found HERE: http://www.dominalaw.com/documents/LB-1161-Court-Order-Feb-19-2014.pdf

Read Full Post »

KXL Climate ChangeWith the release of the State Department’s Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) on the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, there has been a lot of buzz about the project. The report concluded that Keystone XL could create carbon pollution equivalent to nearly six million cars, or eight coal-fired power plants. Last Week the State Department began accepting comments from the public, and with only a few weeks (until Mar 07, 2014 11:59 PM ET) left the need for citizens to weigh in has never been more urgent. Now is the time to tell Secretary of State John Kerry that this dirty pipeline is not in our national interest.

This is our final opportunity to officially weigh in on the decision. Submit a comment right now to tell the Obama Administration that the “game over for the climate” Keystone XL pipeline is NOT in our national interest.

Here are some facts to consider including in your comment to Secretary Kerry and the State Department:

  • The evidence is clear that Keystone XL could increase production levels of tar sands oil in Alberta, and therefore significantly add to carbon emissions. The massive investment would lock us into dependence on this dirty fuel for decades, exacerbating carbon pollution just when we need to go in the other direction.
  • Beyond the effects on our climate, this dangerous pipeline would also put the water supply of millions of Americans at risk, including the precious Ogallala Aquifer, Platte and Niobrara rivers, and hundreds of individual families’ wells. After a year in which many communities were harmed by spills from existing pipelines, we cannot allow any more of the dirtiest, most toxic oil on earth to spill into our lands and waterways.
  • The jobs numbers touted by industry are exaggerated. Oil industry lobbyist and pro-pipeline politicians claim that the Keystone XL would create 20,000 to half a million jobs, but these jobs numbers are grossly exaggerated. Construction of the Keystone XL pipeline will only create about 3,900 jobs over a two year period, and after that the project would only provide jobs for 35 permanent employees and 15 temporary contractors.
  • The Keystone XL is an export pipeline. According to presentations to investors, Gulf Coast refiners plan to refine the cheap Canadian crude supplied by the pipeline into diesel and other products for export to Europe and Latin America. Proceeds from these exports are earned tax-free. Much of the fuel refined from the pipeline’s heavy crude oil will never reach U.S. drivers’ tanks. Therefore, not reducing gas prices for Americans.

This is our last chance to voice concerns to the State Department before the public comment period ends on March 7. We need to get our message across to Secretary Kerry, because what he says could be one of the biggest determining factors in President Obama’s decision.

Submit your comment: Keystone XL is NOT in our national interest.

In addition to submitting your comment electronically, comments may also be mailed directly to:

U.S. Department of State
Bureau of Energy Resources, Room 4843
Attn: Keystone XL Public Comments
2201 C Street, NW
Washington, DC 20520

#NoKXL

Read Full Post »

Stop Keystone XL ObamaNow is the time to stand up and tell President Obama that the Keystone XL pipeline fails his climate test and he must reject it. People from across the country have mobilized to plan more than 230 vigils in 47 states to protest Keystone XL.  Join us tonight, Feb. 3rd, in Austin.

With the release of the State Department’s final environmental impact statement last Friday, this is a vital moment to speak out against the Keystone XL pipeline. A 30-day public comment period begins on February 5, 2014 and will close on March 7, 2014. Let’s do all we can to make our voices heard.

What: Tell President Obama to reject Keystone XL
Where: Pickle Federal Building, 300 East 8th Street, Austin, TX (click here for MAP)
When: Tonight – Monday, February 3rd, 6 PM
RSVP

If we do not stop it, Keystone XL pipeline will cut through the breadbasket of America and transport 830,000 barrels of tar sands diluted bitumen (tar sands) everyday for 50 years or more. In addition to the climate impact it will have, the pipeline will ruin some of the last habitat for endangered species like the whooping crane and swift fox. It will cross the Ogallala Aquifer, which provides water to farms in eight states, accounting for a quarter of the nation’s cropland, as well as drinking water for millions of people. For the people living along the route of the pipeline it is all risk and no reward.

This is our moment to say “No Keystone XL.” Please join us tonight. Be sure to bring candles, signs and noise-makers.

The No KXL protest vigils are organized by CREDO, Rainforest Action Network, and the Sierra Club, and supported by 350.org, The Other 98%, Center for Biological Diversity, Oil Change International, Bold Nebraska, Energy Action Coalition, Natural Resources Defense Council, The Hip Hop Caucus, Overpass Light Brigade, Environmental Action, League of Conservation Voters, Waterkeeper Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Forest Ethics, Forecast the Facts, Public Citizen, Environmental Texas and others.

#NoKXL

Read Full Post »

During Tuesday’s State of the Union address, President Obama pledged to have it both ways on climate change and energy – taking action on climate change while touting an “all of the above” energy strategy.

Obama SOTU - credit Larry Downing,AP

President Barack Obama delivers the State of Union address before a joint session of Congress in the House chamber Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.
Larry Downing/AP

On the one hand, President Obama renewed his commitment to reducing carbon emissions and battling climate change. But on the other hand, he pushed for the expansion of domestic fossil fuel extraction and pledged his support for natural gas as part of his “all of the above” energy plan. He said, “The ‘all the above’ energy strategy I announced a few years ago is working, and today America is closer to energy independence than we have been in decades.”

The president threw his weight behind natural gas, saying, “If extracted safely, it’s the bridge fuel that can power our economy with less of the carbon pollution that causes climate change.” He promised to “cut red tape” to spur the construction of natural gas fired factories and fueling stations for cars and trucks.

Even though natural gas emits half as much carbon dioxide as coal when combusted, the primary component, methane, is also released into the atmosphere during production. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas and traps significantly more heat in the short term than carbon dioxide. New reports are concluding that fugitive methane emissions from extraction, processing and transportation could be much worse than previously thought. An article from OilPrice.com says, “If the latest figures are accurate, it could mean that the greenhouse gas advantage that natural gas has over coal could be a mirage.”

The president also gave a shout-out to solar energy, saying, “It’s not just oil and natural gas production that’s booming; we’re becoming a global leader in solar, too.” “The shift to a cleaner energy economy won’t happen overnight, and it will require tough choices along the way,” said Obama. “But the debate is settled. Climate change is a fact. And when our children’s children look us in the eye and ask if we did all we could to leave them a safer, more stable world, with new sources of energy, I want us to be able to say yes, we did.”

Although the president has made tremendous strides to address climate change, his administration is still encouraging the extraction of coal, oil and natural gas from our public lands and water. (Click here to see a report from the EIA: Sales of fossil fuels from Federal and Indian Lands) Fossil fuel industries are also looking to expand coal and liquid natural gas (LNG) export terminals. All of this on top of recent proposals to end a 40 year ban on crude exports extracted in America.

Sometime this year the proposed Keystone XL pipeline will come across the president’s desk. If approved, the Keystone XL pipeline will provide tar sands producers in Canada a supply line to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast and an export strategy. Although the president made no mention of the pipeline in his speech, he will have to make a decision on the project later this year. He has said his decision will be based on whether or not the Keystone XL pipeline “significantly exacerbates” carbon pollution and is in the national interest. On Friday, the State Department released its environmental assessment that says the Keystone XL pipeline would cause minimal climate impact because the tar sands would get to market some other way without the Keystone XL pipeline – a strikingly fatalist position.

Both sides of the president showed up on Tuesday to address the nation. His “all of the above” energy side showed up to cheerlead the fossil fuel industry, while at the same time tossing a bone to environmentalists, pulling from his Georgetown Speech he made last summer. President Obama’s climate legacy still has yet to be shaped, and if wants be viewed by future generations as the president that made a firm commitment to fighting climate change, then he needs to quit talking out of both sides of his mouth.
(more…)

Read Full Post »

TX Keystone Tar Sands - Carbon BombKeystone XL’s southern half is scheduled to start operating for commercial purposes tomorrow, Wednesday, January 22nd. As much as 700,000 barrels per day of bitumen extracted from tar sands in Alberta, Canada, could be pumped through Oklahoma and Texas, igniting the fuse to the greatest carbon bomb on the planet.

The southern leg, rebranded the “Gulf Coast Project” by TransCanada, stretches 485 miles from Cushing, Okla., to Texas Gulf Coast refineries in Port Arthur and Houston. Last month, on Saturday December 7, 2013, TransCanada began injecting crude oil into the Gulf Coast Project. Spokesman Shawn Howard said they planned to “inject about 3 million barrels of oil into the system” in the weeks leading up to the start of commercial operation. In an interview with Reuters, TransCanada’s CEO Russ Girling said that they are now connected from Canada to Texas through the existing Keystone pipeline.

“We are now actually connected all the way to the Gulf Coast,” Girling said. “So we actually have …a contiguous system that has the ability, once Gulf Coast is up and running, to deliver 600,000 barrels per day to the coast.”

TransCanada’s Gulf Coast Project may very well be up and running by tomorrow, but questions about the safety of the pipeline remain, as do concerns for those living along the path of the pipeline and in refining communities.

Full of Flaws

Since Public Citizen came out with its report last November (TransCanada’s Keystone XL Southern Segment: Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline), PMHSA, the federal agency that oversees pipelines, has not re-inspected Keystone XL South. Public Citizen’s report details hundreds of anomalies at over 125 sites along the Texas route, which includes: dents, sags, faulty welds, coating damage, insufficient support of pipe in trench and improperly handled soil. (See also CBS report)
(more…)

Read Full Post »

The Keystone XL pipeline in Texas is slated to start up next week, pumping toxic tar sands to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast, unless Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott steps up to protect our land and water.

Now is the time to email Texas Attorney General Abbott and ask him to use his broad powers to demand the federal government conduct safety inspections of the Keystone XL before it starts.

Junk pipe with signLast November Public Citizen came out with a report detailing hundreds of anomalies at over 125 sites where pipeline was dug up along the route in Texas. CBS News reported on Public Citizen’s report and on warning letters (click here and here to see two from last September) issued by PHMSA, the federal agency that oversees pipelines, to get TransCanada to fix their faulty pipes.

We already know the dangers that communities face from toxic tar sands, whether it’s the land owners whose property is at risk from a spill or the fence line communities that live adjacent to the referies and have to breathe the toxic emissions .

Director of Public Citizen Texas Tom “Smitty” Smith says, “Attorney General Abbott claims to believe in private property rights. If he really does, he should take action now to protect landowners in East Texas from tar sands contamination.”

Click here now to help pressure Attorney General Abbott to protect Texas landowners and water supplies before it is too late.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »