Forget the Keystone XL. Canada is considering building a giant tar sands oil pipeline through the Arctic.
Posts tagged pipeline.
Sinkhole in Chicago neighborhood swallowed three cars this morning. As usual, this one was caused by a water main break. The water eroded the soil and rock under the road, creating a void and ultimate collapse. We’ll hear a lot more of these incidences in the coming years. America’s infrastructure is in rough shape, and water, sewer, and gas lines average close to 50 years old. Replacements costs are extremely high - most cities wait for a break to happen before replacing pipes, which is more expensive and dangerous over time. But, cities around the country are deferring maintenance due to a dwindling tax base. Via NBC.
It will be approved. Nearly half of the line is already built, the land from Canada to Texas is already secured, Sec. State John Kerry signaled his support, and redstate politicians are salivating for a knockout punch to the environmental movement.
RI Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (whom I interviewed back in 2005) predicts the approval will be wrapped in green packaging. He thinks Keystone approval will be surrounded by “a whole formidable array of environmental and anti-carbon measures that can not just offset the harm that they do by approving [Keystone] … but actually turn the whole package into a very strong, anti-carbon pollution suite of strategies.”
“What happens when you trade the foundations of your society for cash?” - Céline Rouze, a brave journalist who wrote Exxon Mobil’s Papua New Guinea LNG Project. This project is the largest energy project in the history of the entire Pacific Rim. Exxon’s promises of economic development has instead brought chaos and violence.
Céline Rouze is very courageous journalist. People like her give me hope…
From the Pulitzer Center’s Meet the Journalist Channel:
Papua New Guinea is a country torn between its traditional culture and the global economic system.
Journalist and radio documentary-maker Céline Rouzet shares what attracted her to this place, why she decided to investigate this topic, and the main challenges she faced reporting there.
Her reporting series, “Exxon Mobil’s Papua New Guinea LNG Project,” explores the social and economic issues related to the biggest development project undertaken in the history of the Pacific region.
The State Department is close to completing a draft of an environmental review that will help determine whether President Obama approves the Keystone XL pipeline, as environmental and energy industry groups sought to bolster their position with new information.Washington Post
starvethecity asked: Hi. I would love it if you would be willing to promote this petition on your website. Its regarding the Keystone XL pipeline, and although the transportation of oil through a pipe doesn't directly impact climate, I believe that building such an immense pipeline will have grave consequences for American air, water, and soil resources. I love your blog too <3 petitions. whitehouse. gov/petition/reject-keystone-xl-export-pipeline-permit/FW74Cffcpermit/FW74Cffc (You'll just have to take out spaces)
Best I can do is post this. But know that the pipeline is being built… See also.
Natural gas pipeline explosion Dec. 11 2012 Sissonville, West Virginia. Fire is out. Pipeline capped. Area evacuated. No casualties. Via
Update: Local WSAZ reports:
Four homes have been destroyed and at least five others have been damaged, according to county leaders.
In a press conference Tuesday afternoon, Governor Earl Ray Tomblin said 2-5 people have been taken to the hospital for smoke inhalation. Emergency crews say that there are no reported fatalities and that everyone has been accounted for, according to Tomblin.
Tomblin says the area has been evacuated within 1000 feet of the explosion site.
“After looking at the damage, I’m grateful for the quick action of our local and state emergency responders who immediately called for a shelter in place,” Gov. Tomblin said.
According to a news release from NiSource, there was an incident in the vicinity of the Columbia Gas Transmission Lanham Compressor Station.
“Our first priority is the safety of the community and our employees,” Mike Banas, Communications Manager stateed. “The site where the incident occurred has been secured and the fire - on a 20-inch transmission line - has been contained.”
A fiber optic line has also been damaged affecting phone lines in several states, according to Commissioner Carper.
Right now, 16-hundred people are without power, but AEP is bringing in a transformer to help restore power. A shelter has been set up at Aldersgate United Methodist Church is Sissonville to provide food and shelter to families who can’t get home.
The flames shot across Interstate 77, severely damaging the road. Tomblin says an 800-foot section of the interstate was damaged during the blast.
I-77 from Charleston split to Pocatalico/Sissonville exit will remain closed through the night, but is expected to reopen Wednesday afternoon.
WVDOT reports 325 feet of each side of I-77 was damaged.
According to WVDOT, crews will mill down to the concrete and repave the road. President Carper reports emergency crews have been brought in to help fix the road.
Dramatic video of today’s natural gas pipeline explosion in West Virginia by local news, WOWK. No injuries reported but four homes were destroyed and over
77(?) 5 were damaged.
Now, mainstream media is (disingenuously and lazily, imo) drumming up speculation that the President might back out of approving the pipeline.
This is false. He’s already approved nearly half the line, and has clearly stated his intentions on signing the deal. Indeed, half the pipeline is nearly completely built and Obama toured construction and gave a support speech earlier this year:
“Today, we’re making this new pipeline from Cushing to the gulf a priority,” he said, while the northern portion requires additional review.
“But the fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada,” Mr. Obama added. “And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.” Obama, March 2012. Via NYTimes.
Today, the media is intentionally ignoring his clear statements and unwavering intent. Why? Why is the media creating a false theater? Why would Obama (or any president) back-out of a $7 billion project halfway?
A recent article by USNews sums up the faux issue:
Obama is facing increasing pressure to determine the fate of the $7 billion Keystone XL project, with environmental activists and oil producers each holding out hope that the president, freed from the political constraints of re-election, will side with them on this and countless other related issues down the road.
Environmentalists have had very little success in stopping the line from being built. My best guess of what will happen:
- Obama approves the line quickly. He will restate his past comments, and remind us that the line is necessary. To my mind, this is most likely to happen. He’s simply waiting for an environmental assessment and species conservation reports. Once they’re complete, he’ll sign off on the second half of the line. Environmentalists will balk, and try to sue.
- Delay due to lawsuit. I doubt there is a strong enough case to be made against this pipeline. Despite the length, the project has a relatively small physical footprint. Environmentalists will most likely sue under either the Endangered Species Act or the Migratory Bird Treaty. It’s possible they’ll try to get an injunction against the DOI, but this is real big stretch. There are already thousands of miles of pipelines cross-crossing the US, Mexico, and Canada. So, they’d have to show this line is exceptionally special. Worse, for environmentalists wanting to sue, TransCanada has been working with the USFWS and DOI on bird and other endangered species conservation plans. In fact, a near final draft conservation plan was released in August, 2012 here (PDF).
- Obama may delay, but only to cow-tow to certain states, not environmentalist’s objections. To my mind, this is the least likely of the three scenarios. He’ll accept objections not from environmental groups, but from states like Nebraska worried about the impacts on the Ogallala Aquifer; or Texas, which is (superficially) concerned with giving private property away to a foreign company. However, these states have already filed their objections with the administration, and Obama jumped, delaying the line for up to a year. I do not see that happening again.
The pipeline is going to be built. Don’t let the press fool you.
The fact is that my administration has approved dozens of new oil and gas pipelines over the last three years, including one from Canada. And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people.Obama, in a June ‘12 speech after approving the southern leg of the Keystone XL Pipeline.
Today (Nov 27) the President signed the New York City Natural Gas Enhancement Act into law, which will finally make the construction and operation of a new natural gas pipeline in New York City a reality. Given the destruction of Hurricane Sandy, this law could not come at a more critical time for New York City. This pipeline will help us build a stable, clean-energy future for New Yorkers and will ensure the reliability of the City’s future energy needs. I would like to thank President Obama for signing this bill into law and all of the New York City delegation members who supported it, especially the sponsors – Congressman Grimm, Congressman Meeks and Senator Schumer – for their leadership in securing this victory for New York City.
-Mayor Bloomberg’s Statement on President Obama’s Signature on the New York City Natural Gas Enhancement Act (via nycgov)
I posted a map of the pipeline, here.
Energy independence is a tough pill to swallow for America’s environmentalists (and many of my lovely readers). But, it is more closely regulated here than practically any other country on the planet. It’s not perfect (and I’m well aware of the consequences, thank you), but drilling and fracking in North America is comparatively cleaner and safer. Drilling at home does provide jobs (not as many as politicians claim), contributes to the economy, is an Obama campaign promise, and (generally) helps prevent oil money from going to nefarious groups in the middle east, Russia, and Africa.
This project shines a bright light onto an issue that nearly all Americans don’t normally experience. It also serves to force environmentalists to make better arguments.
Photographing the Invisible
Marcellus Shale Documentary Project is a collaborative effort by photographers to document the effects of fracking throughout Pennsylvania. Its director considers it a modern-day equivalent to the 1935-1944 Farm Security Administration mission that sent photographers across the United States to document the challenges of rural poverty.
A profile by the New York Times though gets to a singular difficulty: “The problem facing [the] photographers… is that what they wish to describe cannot be seen — an invisible gas buried deep underground.”
Solution? Focus on people, places and processes. Via the Times:
The group’s photographs depict a heavy industrial process scattered across a rural landscape: amid miles of lush green forest or farmland, suddenly there is a shaved patch. Atop the clearing is a battery of drilling equipment: a tall derrick, bright klieg lights and lined troughs full of chemical wastewater. In some photographs, a long, steel pipeline snakes through the frame. In others, the flare from a drill rig lights the night sky. There are pictures of people, too: farmers who leased their land for drilling, homeowners with enough methane in their groundwater to light a tap on fire; and here and there, an industry employee.
Shell Alaska said Monday it has abandoned its efforts to drill into hydrocarbon deposits in the offshore Arctic after the latest in a series of glitches on the company’s troubled oil containment barge resulted in damage to the high-tech dome designed to contain oil in the event of an underwater spill.
Company officials said they will continue to drill “top holes” off the Alaskan coast through the end of this season’s drilling window, but will not attempt to reach any oil deposits this year — a serious but not fatal setback for the company, which has spent six years attempting to explore its outer continental shelf leases off the coast of Alaska.
“This critical program … could be an important national resource for the next several decades, and we are committed to doing it safely and responsibly,” Shell spokeswoman Kelly op de Weegh said in a statement to the Los Angeles Times. “We’re not going to rush things for the sake of a few days this season.”
The latest setback involves the oil containment barge, the Arctic Challenger, which has been delayed in Bellingham, Wash., undergoing a trouble-plagued retrofit overseen by Superior Marine Technical Services, a Shell contractor.
The vessel has been unable for weeks to win U.S. Coast Guard certification, following problems with some onboard safety systems, along with trouble fixing good stowage for the ship’s anchor chocks and the boom designed to flare gas in the event of a spill. Coast Guard officials documented four minor illegal fluid discharges from the vessel while it was moored in Bellingham.
Federal authorities have not allowed Shell to plumb into hydrocarbon deposits until the barge is on site in the Arctic, but the multimillion-dollar upgrade has been delayed with one problem after another while attempting to win certification from the Coast Guard.
Bitumen—the stuff extracted from tar sands—is nothing like its conventional crude counterpart. It’s thick and sticky, and has to be diluted to flow through pipelines. The chemical mixture used to dilute it is a trade secret, but often includes the human carcinogen benzene.
It’s nasty stuff. And now it has a NYT op-ed from my former boss at InsideClimate News, which heavily reported this particular aspect of the tar sands question before anyone was paying attention. From the op-ed:
[…]But this oil is no ordinary crude oil, and it carries with it risks that we’re only beginning to understand. Its core ingredient — bitumen — is not pumped from wells but is strip-mined or boiled loose underground.
[….]The nation’s pipeline network was designed to handle conventional crude oil and is governed by laws and regulations that were written long before the unique risks and hazards associated with dilbit began to emerge. In fact, dilbit is exempt from an excise tax that pays for oil spill cleanups, because the 1980 law that created the tax did not consider bitumen from the “tar sands” to be crude oil.
This is all very relevant to Enbridge—here’s some background on that.
An oil spill from a broken Enbridge Energy pipeline in Wisconsin has been contained, the company says, but it could not have come at a worse time for the Canadian company, which is trying to get approval for new pipelines in Canada and the United States. The 1,200 barrel spill happened on Friday near Grand Marsh in central Wisconsin, population 127. Enbridge Control Center operators shut down and isolated the line and deployed emergency crews to the site. Environment News Service (http://s.tt/1k2Gh)