Bump in corn grown for ethanol has polluted water and wiped out 5 million acres of conserved land, AP finds
Five million acres of land — more than in Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite national parks combined — have been pulled from conservation on Obama’s watch, according to Agriculture Department figures.
What’s more, from 2005 to 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 1 billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since then.
Some of that fertilizer has seeped into drinking water, contaminating rivers and boosting the growth of enormous algae fields in the Gulf of Mexico; the algae eventually decompose, sucking oxygen from the water and leaving behind a huge dead zone, currently covering 5,800 square miles of sea floor where marine life can’t survive.
That dead zone is just one example of a peculiar ethanol side effect: As one government program encourages farmers to plant more corn, other programs pay millions to clean up the mess.
A train hauling crude oil caught fire in Canada sparking debate about reliability.
Rail safety has become a central issue in Canada since the July disaster in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, when a runaway train carrying crude oil exploded in the center of the lakeside town, killing 47 people.
But in contrast to Lac-Megantic, where the explosions razed dozens of buildings in the center of town, pictures from near Gainford showed Saturday’s fire was burning alongside a road in open country, with fields and forests on either side.
Still, Gainford residents were asked to leave their homes because of the risk of another explosion, and Canada’s Transportation Safety Board (TSB) said the evacuation would continue for as long as needed – up to 72 hours. The main east-west highway traversing central Alberta was also closed.
A former Halliburton manager pleaded guilty Tuesday to destroying evidence in the aftermath of the deadly rig explosion that spawned BP’s massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
Anthony Badalamenti, 62, faces a maximum sentence of 1 year in prison and a $100,000 fine after his guilty plea in U.S. District Court to one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence. His sentencing by U.S. District Judge Jay Zainey is set for Jan. 21.
Badalamenti was the cementing technology director for Halliburton Energy Services Inc., BP’s cement contractor on the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig. Prosecutors said he instructed two Halliburton employees to delete data during a post-spill review of the cement job on BP’s blown-out Macondo well.
Last month, a federal judge accepted a separate plea agreement calling for Halliburton to pay a $200,000 fine for a misdemeanor stemming from Badalamenti’s conduct. Halliburton also agreed to be on probation for three years and to make a $55 million contribution to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, but that payment was not a condition of the deal.
The April 20, 2010, rig explosion killed 11 workers and led to America’s worst offshore oil spill.
OVER the past century Louisiana has lost nearly 2,000 square miles of coastal wetlands, an area the size of Delaware.
The board that oversees the levees protecting New Orleans filed an audacious lawsuit in July demanding that nearly 100 oil and gas firms should either repair the wetlands, or pay damages that could be used for levee upkeep. The defendants are a roll-call of industry giants, including BP (formerly British Petroleum), ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Shell and Chevron.
The suit has been inspired by the successful assault on Big Tobacco in the late 1990s by state attorneys-general, who won a multi-billion-dollar settlement by arguing that cigarette-makers had increased their states’ medical costs. The legal arguments in the levee case are, if anything, even simpler: the oil companies drilled and dug under permits that required them to restore the land to its original condition. Their failure to do so has made Louisiana’s coast more fragile, and that has increased costs for the levee board, which must build taller, stronger structures to protect New Orleans from storms. The fact that regulators haven’t squeaked till now is of no moment, the plaintiffs say.
Depending on your point of view, the suit is either a brilliant scheme to protect the environment or a bonanza for greedy lawyers that will stifle a vital industry and hurt Louisiana’s business-friendly reputation. The Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, immediately denounced it, and seems keen to block it. An association of state levee boards also voted to oppose it. State legislators are discussing ways either to put the kibosh on the suit, or to limit the potential award.
The plaintiffs’ lawyers could get very rich. If the suit succeeds, they stand to pocket 32.5% of the first $100m and smaller slices of anything beyond that. But if they lose, they will get nothing, and would normally be liable for their own expenses. The levee board has tried to protect its lawyers with a “poison pill”: if the board withdraws the suit of its own accord—which could happen if Mr Jindal replaces a majority of members, as he may—it will first have to pay the lawyers their expenses.
The Jindal administration says the real villain of the piece is the federal Army Corps of Engineers, which built most of the levees in south Louisiana.
ExxonMobil’s oil spill emergency response plan is redacted by the federal government. Not a joke.
Burst Pipeline’s Spill Plan Is None of Your Business, Suggests Regulator
Federal regulators have released ExxonMobil’s 2013 emergency response plan for the pipeline that ruptured in an Arkansas residential neighborhood on March 29, but the document is so heavily redacted that it offers little information about Exxon’s preparations for such an accident.
President Rafael Correa said Thursday that he has abandoned a unique and ambitious plan to persuade rich countries to pay Ecuador not to drill for oil in a pristine Amazon rainforest preserve.
Environmentalist had hailed the initiative when Correa first proposed it in 2007, saying he was setting a precedent in the fight against global warming by lowering the high cost to poor countries of preserving the environment.
Correa reverses his position, gets ready to drill the Amazon.
He said the global recession was in part responsible but chiefly blamed “the great hypocrisy” of nations who emit most of the world’s greenhouse gases.
“It was not charity that we sought from the international community, but co-responsibility in the face of climate change.”
Correa had sought $3.6 billion in contributions to maintain a moratorium on drilling in the remote Yasuni National Park, which was declared a biosphere reserve by the United Nations in 1989 and is home to two Indian tribes living in voluntary isolation.
But he said Thursday evening that Ecuador had raised just $13 million in actual donations in pledges and that he had an obligation to his people, particularly the poor, to move ahead with drilling. The U.N. and private donors had put up the cash.
Correa said he was proposing to the National Assembly, which his supporters control, oil exploration in Yasuni amounting to less than 1 percent of its 3,800 square miles
His no-drilling plan had envisioned rich countries paying Ecuador half the $7.2 billion in revenues expected to be generated over 10 years from the 846 million barrels of heavy crude estimated to be in Yasuni.
Not drilling in the reserve would keep 410 million metric tons of carbon dioxide from entering the atmosphere, officials had said during their global lobbying campaign that included organizing tours of the reserve for journalists.
But while Correa’s proposal generated interest, there were few takers, in part because he insisted that Ecuador alone would decide how the donations would be spent. European countries expressed the most interest but still balked.
Ecuador is an OPEC member that depends on oil for a third of its national budget. The three oil fields in Yasuni represent 20 percent of its oil reserves. Via
brought home just how dangerous some parts of the world can be for the expat oil and gas worker. An inevitable consequence for the oil and gas industry as it moves into “frontier” areas in its search for reservoirs rich in hydrocarbon resources is the increased security risk of operating in some of the world’s most dangerous countries and regions.
But while the In Amenas incident, which caused the deaths of 39 foreign hostages and an Algerian security guard, might have brought to the fore the threat to the oil and gas sector from Islamism in North Africa, other parts of the African continent, and indeed, the world, have far more prevalent incidences of hostage taking and kidnappings.
Of course the kidnapping of energy workers can happen anywhere oil and gas work is carried out, as the case of British oil worker Malcolm Primrose’s kidnapping in June showed.