A couple of recent developments.
Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, Sierra Club, MN350, and Center for Biological Diversity filed comments (April 17) opposing reauthorization of a permit that could allow Enbridge’s existing Line 3 pipeline to operate in the Chippewa National Forest for up to thirty years. Substandard welding and extensive corrosion on thousands of joints risk an immediate tar sands oil spill from the pipeline. The permit being sought by Enbridge would allow a six pipeline corridor, including Line 3, to continue to operate across Chippewa National Forest land. The existing permit expires at the end of 2017. Because of the threat to the Chippewa National Forest, the conservation groups argue Enbridge’s special use permit application should be denied, or at a minimum, that environmental review of the application is required.
(Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy)
In 1990, a helicopter patrol spotted a patch of oil on the ground about a mile south of Millecoquins Lake near Engadine. The oil was from Enbridge Line 5, which had spilled 630 gallons through a pinhole leak.
That spill is among almost 30 spills along the pipeline — many of them previously unknown or largely forgotten incidents — unearthed in federal records by National Wildlife Federation (NWF) pipeline safety specialist and researcher Beth Wallace.
The organization released the results of Wallace’s research this week, estimating that Line 5, which runs from Superior, Wis., to Sarnia, Ontario by way of Michigan, has spilled at least 1.13 million gallons of oil in 29 incidents since 1968.
Comment below fold.
At this point, they’re talking investigations. Prosecutions will hopefully follow. Then, convictions, mega-fines, and maybe even terms of imprisonment. But all of that will likely take a while.
“ClimateTruth.org applauds the 17 state attorneys general who sent a clear message to ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel companies today: climate fraud will no longer be tolerated. For decades, ExxonMobil and its industry peers have spent billions intentionally misleading investors and general public about the dangers of climate change, resulting in an American public where only 64% accept climate science compared to over 97% of actual climate scientists. This fraud, perpetuated by the fossil fuel industry, has resulted in dangers like rising sea levels, superstorms, and droughts, all threatening the fabric of our global economy, security, and society,” said Emily Southard, Campaign Director of ClimateTruth.org.
As one of the country’s best state AG’s, Lori Swanson’s record includes going after the likes of Globe University, Accretive Health, and the National Arbitration Forum. One could suggest that she doesn’t get enough press for that, but maybe that’s how she wants it.
Of course I too have seen her name repeatedly floated as a potential DFL gubernatorial candidate in 2018. I have no idea where she might personally be on that, right now.
“This will certainly lead to more drilling,” Radha Adhar, a federal policy representative for the Sierra Club, told ThinkProgress. Oil Change International, an anti-fossil-fuel group, estimated that lifting the ban will result in 476,000 more barrels per day by 2020. The American Petroleum Institute (API), which is pushing for a lift to the ban, came up with 500,000. In a political landscape where different interests can come up with very different estimates, it is telling that the two groups converged closely.
According to a report from the Center for American Progress, repealing the ban would result in an additional 515 million metric tons of carbon pollution each year — roughly equal to 108 million more passenger cars or 135 coal-fired power plants. The increase in extraction — primarily expected to come from fracking — will be accompanied by an increase in transportation from the oil fields to the coast, which means more pipelines and more oil trains, which pose additional environmental threats.
And the increased production won’t make the United States any more energy independent. In fact, American oil refineries are expected to take a hit, as much of the oil will be shipped overseas. Overseas refineries are cheaper — and less-regulated — than American ones. Rory Houseman, a spokesman for United Steelworkers, told ThinkProgress that domestic refineries need the export ban to stay competitive while still complying with clear air regulations. “One of the reasons they have been able to afford [clean air regulations] is the oil export ban,” Houseman said in October.
It’s unlikely that this will mean a significant bump in gas prices in the short term. The thing is, world demand for oil won’t perk up much until the world economy improves. And that won’t happen until all of this “austerity” crap ends. And that’s not likely to happen soon, because where conservatives are in charge they are inevitably too g*d-damned pathetically gutless to ever admit that they’re wrong.
But for the environment, and regarding the continued political empowerment of Big Filthy Fossil Fuels, this is beyond awful. Yes, some good things were obtained in return, like restoring the Land and Water Conservation Fund (for three years), and a big win for solar and wind. But you have to question why this was chosen as the “blue” bargaining chip. It’s the GOP that had its back to the wall, as a government shutdown would have killed them for the next election.
Here in the U.S., we have Big Coal on the ropes, and we were headed that way with Big Oil. This is a huge step backward.
Comment below fold.
Good deal, though there presumably will be an appeal. Background here.
An environmental impact statement must be completed for the controversial Sandpiper oil pipeline before Minnesota authorities can approve the project, the Minnesota Appeals Court ruled Monday.
The ruling (.pdf) overturned a June decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission to grant the pipeline a so-called “certificate of need” that would have let Canadian pipeline company Enbridge move forward on the line…
Neither the company nor the PUC said whether it plans to appeal the court’s decision. Both say they plan to evaluate their options for next steps.
Comments below fold.
This has actually been going on for quite some time.
The tobacco industry’s shift from rich, developed nations to low- and middle-income countries has been well documented. “With tobacco use declining in wealthier countries, tobacco companies are spending tens of billions of dollars a year on advertising, marketing, and sponsorship, much of it to increase sales in… developing countries,” the New York Times noted in a 2008 editorial. To boost their sales, outfits like Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco also brought their legal and financial clout to bear to block the implementation of anti-smoking regulations in such places. “They’re using litigation to threaten low- and middle-income countries,” Dr. Douglas Bettcher, head of the Tobacco Free Initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), told the Times.
The fossil fuel companies — producers of oil, coal, and natural gas — are similarly expanding their operations in low- and middle-income countries where ensuring the growth of energy supplies is considered more critical than preventing climate catastrophe. “There is a clear long-run shift in energy growth from the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the club of rich nations] to the non-OECD,” oil giant BP noted in its Energy Outlook report for 2014. “Virtually all (95%) of the projected growth [in energy consumption] is in the non-OECD,” it added, using the polite new term for what used to be called the Third World.