July 22, 2013

Credit: Toronto Star

Photos provided by a government scientist show the site of an oil spill in Cold Lake, Alta. The company that runs the operation says it is effectively managing the cleanup.

'Unstoppable' underground tar sands leak on Canadian military weapons facility: This is a great piece of investigative journalism from Emma Pullman and Martin Lukacs for The Toronto Star. A government scientist leaked documents to help the word get out, and the spill has been going on for well over 6 weeks.

"Oil spills at a major oil sands operation in Alberta have been ongoing for at least six weeks and have cast doubts on the safety of underground extraction methods, according to documents obtained by the Star and a government scientist who has been on site.

Canadian Natural Resources Ltd. has been unable to stop an underground oil blowout that has killed numerous animals and contaminated a lake, forest, and muskeg at its operations in Cold Lake, Alta.

The documents indicate that, since cleanup started in May, some 26,000 barrels of bitumen mixed with surface water have been removed, including more than 4,500 barrels of bitumen.

The scientist said Canadian Natural Resources is not disclosing the scope of spills in four separate sites, which have been off bounds to media and the public because the operations are on the Cold Lake Air Weapons Range, where there is active weapons testing by the Canadian military."

The scientist also said that "Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.”

Also, the Cold Lake operations are located on the traditional territory of the Beaver Lake Cree First Nation, and they are pursuing a constitutional challenge arguing that "cumulative impacts of oil sands industrial development are infringing their treaty rights to hunt, fish and trap." The First Nation also has graves located along the lake affected by the spill, and they are not being permitted to access the area.

Much more and more photos at the link.

Oil Spill at Ohio Drilling Site: But, not to worry, because it's really, really tiny and "someone" has everything under control. [*cough*]

Welcome To Fort McMoney: Remember To Breathe: Send comic Andy Cobb to Alberta's Tar Sands-the most environmentally destructive mine on earth. Industry PR describes a vacation paradise, he visits as a tourist.

Remember To Breathe is a sponsored project of the International Documentary Association.

Keystone Risks Worry Investors: Aww...Canadian Big Oil corporations are concerned that they aren't raking in quite as many U.S. investor bucks as they hoped.

Bloomberg News:

"The timeline for U.S. approval of Keystone XL will make the planned start of operations in the second half of 2015 “difficult,” TransCanada Chief Executive Officer Russ Girling said yesterday in an interview at Bloomberg headquarters in New York. “I hope a decision can be made this year.”

The company has spent about $2.3 billion on Keystone XL as it awaits U.S. approval, Girling said. “I think what we need is probably something that looks like 24 months or so, approximately, plus or minus a few months, from the time we get the permit,” to complete the line, he said.

Investor wariness, which caused some Canadian energy shares to fall, can be blamed on a shortage of pipelines to the continent’s coasts and the resulting price gap between Canada’s heavy crude and global grades, Toronto-Dominion Bank analysts led by Menno Hulshof said in a July 15 note. Hulshof declined to comment when reached by telephone."

"Gasland" Trailer: The Award-winning documentary from Josh Fox.

Fracking Doesn’t Contaminate Water? A landmark federal study on the effects of fracking, in which rock is broken up by pressurized liquids, revealed Friday that chemicals used in the drilling process did not move upward toward sources of drinking water. After a year of observation of a site in Pennsylvania, researchers found that the chemical-laced fluids used to release natural gas trapped underground stayed deep beneath the surface, far below the shallow areas that would affect drinking-water aquifers. The results are preliminary, and the study continues, but it is a boost to the natural-gas industry, which has faced intense resistance from environmental groups over fracking.

One startling finding mentioned in the report, "Seismic monitoring determined one hydraulic fracture traveled 1,800 feet out from the well bore; most traveled just a few hundred feet. That's significant, because some environmental groups have questioned whether the fractures could go all the way to the surface."

These far too early results being reported will certainly boost President Obama's pro-fracking stance.

I'd like to invite the scientists at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in Pittsburgh, along with everyone at the U.S. Department of Energy, and the President to watch the video clip above from the award-winning documentary "Gasland," and offer up a response. Anything, any response at all.

Credit: Daily Kos

Passenger viewing Ethan Estess' Last Dive at the Farallones: 100,000 marine mammals killed per year. Made from copious amounts of plastics and rope found during his student artist residency at the SF Transfer Station, the sculpture calls attention to the perilous state of our oceans.

Much more at "They're making art out of recycled crap!"

Credit: Grist

The Bureau of Land Management recently announced plans to lease 148 million more tons of coal: In response, Department of Interior staff were greeted during their lunch break recently by youth climate activists distributing memos from a made-up government agency, the “Department of Climate Action,” to highlight that the federal coal leasing program is undermining President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.

Read the full report here.

So, how is BP coming along with those settlement payments to affected residents and business owners along the Gulf Coast?

Think Progress has the latest:

"BP is balking at the amount of money it owes businesses affected by the Gulf oil spill. The oil giant is doing everything it can to bring it down.

The oil company is claiming that it has had to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to businesses that exaggerated or invented losses from the 2010 disaster. Theodore Olson, BP’s lawyer, told an appeals court last week that BP — which, despite the spill, is still one of the most profitable companies in the world — was suffering “irreparable injustices” from these these fictitious losses.

To cut down on this alleged fraud, BP is eliciting the public’s help. The company recently set up a a hotline for reporting fraudulent claims relating the the Gulf oil spill, a tool it calls “a reliable resource for people who want to do the right thing and report fraud or corruption.” According to BP, callers can receive a reward if the claim they report leads to an indictment, recovery of money or denial of a claim. BP also placed full-page ads in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Washington Post last month that accused lawyers and politicians of encouraging businesses to submit dishonest claims."

Even more unconscionable, Exxon still hasn't paid the $92 million that it owes the state of Alaska and the Department of Justice for wildlife recovery...and its been 25 years that they've been fighting the claims!

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