The superb consultants that wrote the Keystone XL pipeline's environmental impact statement for the State Department have assured us that spills are going to be rare and small. We should stop worrying our pretty little heads and let the prosperity flow. The serious people have spoken.
Not everyone in the industry got the memo. Many of the big names in oil and pipelines have been in the news in recent days. Let's sample a few headlines.
MAYFLOWER, Ark. (AP) — Authorities are evacuating at least 50 homes after a crude oil pipeline ruptured in central Arkansas and spilled oil into a nearby lake.Authorities claim the spill was small, but have no idea how much oil was spilled. Exxon Mobil is looking into the incident. Meanwhile, federal regulators have recommended that the company be fined $1.7 million for lax preparation for emergencies after a 2011 pipeline spill in Montana.
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A series of spills from ruptured pipelines operated by Chevron has Utah's governor calling for more oversight.This is third Chevron pipeline spill in Utah in the past three years. The Republican governor is fed up and knows who is to blame - the federal government.
Gov. Gary Herbert left no doubt about his displeasure Thursday when asked about the latest spill at a monthly televised news conference.
He said the federal agency responsible for interstate pipelines isn't doing its job and that Utah will step up its own efforts to ensure pipeline safety.Chevron and the Pipeline Hazardous Material Public Safety Administration refused to comment on the story.
Last week’s dredging order by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency will push Enbridge’s cleanup costs for the July 2010 spill close to $1 billion, the company said Wednesday.Enbridge is crying over spilt bitumen and the cost of clean-up. Think of the cash flow. Think of the shareholders. Fortunately, the company only had to pay $3.7 million in fines for the spill.
Enbridge Energy Partners LP said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that the EPA order will cost the company $175 million and “financial statement recognition for this incident will cause increased volatility in the Partnership’s results of operations and cash flows.”
Minnesota: "Derailment highlights risks from oil-by-rail boom"
(Reuters) - The derailment of a Canadian Pacific Railroad train transporting crude oil in Minnesota this week underscores the policy risks inherent in delaying the Keystone XL pipeline amid unfettered growth in rail shipments of oil.An oil spill by a train carrying oil from Canada proves that a pipeline carrying the same crap is better for America. The serious people are so damn smart it makes my teeth hurt.
And the real problem is that the Keystone XL pipeline has been closely scrutinized while the risks of rail transport and expanding other pipelines has been ignored.
Rather, a haphazard process that has seen largely unregulated oil movements by train spring up from nothing while a minority of pipeline projects are subjected to a regulatory process of immense complexity and thoroughness.If you cannot drill, transport, or burn oil without making a mess, perhaps you should leave the shit in the ground.
As a result the Keystone XL pipeline has been in regulatory limbo for years while existing pipelines, including major conduits for oil sands crude, have sailed through much lighter-touch reviews of their own expansion plans.
Ontario, Canada: " Ontario municipalities raise oil spill concerns on Enbridge pipeline reversal"
CALGARY — A coalition of Ontario municipalities is raising concerns about plans to reverse the flow of Enbridge Inc.’s Line 9 pipeline to Montreal, reviving the spectre of a 2010 rupture on the company’s Lakehead system near Marshall, Mich. that spilled more than 20,000 barrels of crude oil into local waterways.The Canadian government promises that the tar sands pipelines are safe. It is a shame those Canadian city folk do not believe them.
Calgary-based Enbridge wants to send oil east along a 639-kilometre section of the 1970s-era pipeline from North Westover, Ont., near Hamilton, giving Quebec refineries owned by Suncor Energy Inc. and Ultramar Ltd. access to cheaper crude oil from Alberta and North Dakota’s Bakken formation. Enbridge has also applied to increase capacity on the entire Sarnia-to-Montreal route to 300,000 barrels per day, from 240,000 barrels today.
Major urban centres along the pipeline’s path, including the cities of Hamilton, Mississauga, Toronto and Kingston, have written to the National Energy Board expressing concern about the integrity of Line 9 and Enbridge’s ability to respond to an oil spill following the Michigan rupture. Their interest in the application reflects a lingering anxiety among municipalities about oil pipelines, more than two years after a report by the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board criticized Enbridge’s monitoring procedures and training of control-centre personnel.
Alberta, Canada: "Suncor says leak had ‘negligible impact’ on Athabasca River"
Earlier this week, Suncor and Alberta’s Department of Environment and Sustainable Resource Development disclosed that the company had discovered a rupture on Monday from a pipe carrying industrial waste water used in oil sands extraction and upgrading. The leak at the company’s base plant spilled into a pond adjacent to the Athabasca River, and then into the river itself.Fortunately, the pipe did not carry bitumen. That would have been a real mess.
Suncor spokeswoman Sneh Seetal said she was unable provide further details about the makeup of the industrial waste water.93,000 gallons would have been a mess but nothing compared to the million gallons spilled by Enbridge in Michigan a few years ago.
“It did not contain bitumen but I don’t have a further breakdown,” Ms. Seetal said.
Toronto, Canada: "Protesters grab headlines, but American view of Keystone leans positive"
Far from the heated debates of Washington, the middle-of-the-road view of Canada’s marquee oil project leans toward the positive. In local editorial pages across the United States, TransCanada Corp.’s Keystone XL pipeline is receiving broad – though not enthusiastic – support, with a few exceptions.The Canadian media is closely following opinion polls and editorial opinion in America over the Keystone XL pipeline. Good thing politicians and pundits have been steadily repeating the lies that the pipeline will have major economic benefits down here in America while telling people to ignore the environmental impacts.
The Canadian oil sands industry considers the pipeline a critical conduit for moving its product to U.S. refineries, and a way to fetch better prices. In the United States, the proposal has sparked a clash between those who say burning Alberta’s carbon-laden oil will accelerate global warming and those who contend the pipeline will spur economic growth and create jobs. Unexpected events could also influence the debate, such as the news on Tuesday that waste water had leaked from a ruptured pipe at Suncor Energy Inc.’s oil sands plant.
Ottawa, Canada: "Canadian and U.S. natives vow to block oil pipelines"
(Reuters) - An alliance of Canadian and U.S. aboriginal groups vowed on Wednesday to block three multibillion-dollar oil pipelines that are planned to transport oil from the Alberta tar sands, saying they are prepared to take physical action to stop them.The Canadian government says oil matters more than territorial rights and climate change.
The Canadian government, faced with falling revenues due to pipeline bottlenecks and a glut that has cut the price for Alberta oil, say the projects are a national priority and will help diversify exports away from the U.S. market.
LIMA, Peru (AP) — Peru's government declared an environmental state of emergency on Monday in a remote Amazon jungle region it says has been affected by years of contamination at the country's most productive oil fields, which are currently operated by Argentina-based Pluspetrol.There have nearly a hundred documented spills over the past 7 years in the region from an "aging pipeline."
The Peruvian TV news magazine Panorama showed Reps. Marisol Perez Tello and Veronika Mendoza visiting crude-permeated rivers in the area as well as the deteriorating oil pipeline that pumps crude to the Pacific coast.Occidental Petroleum built the pipelines and is now being sued for spilling oil and drilling fluids all over the Achuar region for nearly 30 years. The company has been fracking for oil in California since 2011.
Here is what we learned about oil pipelines this past week:
1. Pipelines spill. All the big names in oil do it.
2. Most pipelines are repeat spill offenders.
3. Republicans hate federal regulations of the oil industry but blame the federal government when the oil industry makes a mess.
4. Canadian pipeline companies cry when forced to clean up their spills.
5. Canadian politicians want us to approve the Keystone XL pipeline but worry when existing pipelines might start carrying tar sands bitumen near large cities in Canada.
6. Canadian media outlets want the American people to believe the lies about the economic benefits of Keystone XL pipeline and ignore the environmental risks.
7. Canadians breathe a sigh of relief when a pipeline spill in Alberta dumps industrial wastewater rather than tar sands oil into the Athabasca River.
8. Pundits use oil spilled by train to prove that we should be moving it by pipeline.
9. Indigenous people in Canada are told corporate profits matter more than land rights and climate change.
10. Politicians and oil companies ignore pipeline leaks when only poor and indigenous people are affected by the mess.
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