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February 08 2012


China Looks To Stephen Harper For Lessons In Dirty Energy Exploitation

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is in China this week to meet with Chinese leaders about how both countries can profit big by exploiting China’s shale gas reserves, as well as by importing Canadian tar sands oil. Harper is scheduled to meet with both Chinese officials, as well as heads of oil and gas companies during his four-day visit to the country.

More on the specifics of who will be attending these meetings, from Reuters Canada:

During his trip Harper will meet President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao as well as two important regional players - Chongqing Communist Party chief Bo Xilai and Wang Yang, the chief of Guangdong province.

The Canadian mission, which will arrive in Beijing on Tuesday, is the largest of its kind since 1998. Guests include top executives from Shell Canada, Enbridge and Canadian Oil Sands as well as uranium producer Cameco Corp and mining firm Teck Resources Ltd.

Other firms include plane and train maker Bombardier Inc, Air Canada, Eldorado Gold Corp, SNC-Lavalin Group Inc, Canfor Corp and West Fraser Timber Co Ltd.

After the United States’ rejection last month of the Keystone XL pipeline, Canadian officials are hoping to reap a profit in the world’s largest emerging market. But any energy trade deals would certainly benefit both sides, as just last week PetroChina, parent of China’s largest oil producer, purchased a 20% stake in a Canadian shale gas project being run by Royal Dutch Shell.

Chinese oil companies are hoping that their cooperation with Shell and the Canadian government will help them use these valuable resources to teach officials more about the process of extracting shale gas, mostly through fracking.

Just last year, with some financing through other Chinese oil companies, Shell invested more than $400 million in Chinese shale gas projects, which included the drilling of at least 15 different shale extraction wells.

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Reposted by02mydafsoup-01 02mydafsoup-01

January 12 2012


On Our Radar: A Fracking Confrontation in Ohio

Residents of Youngstown express disappointment after state officials decline to link 11 earthquakes to fracking for a deep-injection gas well.
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November 10 2011


U.S. Plans to Delay Keystone Decision, Officials Say

Officials and lobbyists say that the Obama administration is also considering an alternate route for the controversial pipeline project.

April 22 2011


In Texas, Questions of Drought and Climate Change

Some are wondering whether the severe drought affecting the oil and gas hub of Midland, Tex., is related to global warming. In Texas, that's a delicate question.

March 31 2011


The Ticking Time Bombs In The Gulf of Mexico

49 weeks have passed since the Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded and sank into the Gulf of Mexico, resulting in millions of barrels of oil leaking into the Gulf, and yet the same fatal flaws that doomed that rig are still present in most offshore oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico.

The reason that BP’s Macondo well managed to leak oil into the Gulf was because the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig malfunctioned, meaning that the preventer could not blow up and seal off the well. But the Deepwater Horizon is not the only rig that contained a malfunctioning blowout preventer. According to new reports, blowout preventers on rigs throughout the Gulf have not been properly inspected or maintained, meaning that another rig explosion could result in more oil in the Gulf. <!--break-->
Steve LeVine writing for Foreign Policy outlines the problem:

“The oil industry has known for many years that the blowout preventers work in only a fraction of accidents, and that they have been prone to failure, especially as drilling has moved into deeper water, requiring thicker, tougher pipe. In 2004, a study commissioned by federal regulators found that only three of 14 newly built rigs had blowout preventers that could squeeze off and cut the pipe at the water pressure likely to be experienced at the equipment’s maximum water depth.”

But the flawed designs in the blowout preventers go even deeper than that. As Rep. Bart Stupak (D-MI) noted in a hearing last year as Chairman of the Oversight and Investigations of the BP blowout case:

“We uncovered an astonishing document that Transocean prepared in 2001, when it bought the blowout preventer from Cameron. I would like to display the executive summary from this document. It says there are 260 separate “failure modes” that “could require pulling of the BOP.””

So how could oil rigs get away with having faulty emergency equipment installed? Weren’t there any federal regulators inspecting these rigs? The answer is both “yes” and “no.” MMS regulators were required to inspect all aspects of oil rigs operating in American waters, but when it came time to do the reports, they decided that it would be best to just let the rigs – the oil companies who own the rigs, that is – fill out the inspection reports themselves in pencil, and then MMS officials would simply trace over their pencil marks in ink. MMS inspectors took the oil companies’ words as truth, and submitted these reports for filing.

No real inspections, and no accountability.

But if you think that the story ends with oil rigs operating in the Gulf of Mexico with faulty equipment, then think again. Believe it or not, there are actually bigger problems in the water than malfunctioning safety equipment. Reports from last summer identified 27,000 abandoned oil wells littered across the Gulf of Mexico. And these wells don’t even have the benefit of a cursory oil company-sponsored inspection – these wells have remained untouched for years, and no one knows if they are properly sealed off and secure.

To make things worse, there are an additional 3,500 “temporarily abandoned” wells in the Gulf. By declaring a well “temporarily abandoned,” companies can avoid all of the requirements that are supposed to ensure the safety of “permanently abandoned” wells, making these 3,500 the biggest time bombs in the Gulf.

With soaring gas prices hitting every American in the wallet pretty hard, the renewed calls for “drill baby, drill” are becoming louder and louder. The shock from the BP blowout has worn off for most of the public, but rest assured, those of us like myself living on the Gulf Coast are reminded of the dangers every day – with every tar ball that rolls ashore, with every new oil sheen spotted in the water – we remember.

March 15 2011


February 28 2011


Tim DeChristopher Trial Commences in Salt Lake City

Today in Salt Lake City, climate activist Tim DeChristopher (aka Bidder 70) finally gets his day in court after waiting almost 2 years since his original indictment for disrupting an illegal auction of oil and gas leases that would have opened pristine public lands in Utah to drilling. The district attorney has delayed the trial as many as 6 times as the government hoped DeChristopher would succumb to a plea bargain, but DeChristopher’s legal team has stood firm in demanding a public trial by a jury of his peers so that the public might hear the truth about the original BLM auction, which was a last-minute parting gift to the oil and gas industry from outgoing President George W. Bush.

Back in December 2008, DeChristopher showed up at a controversial oil and gas auction in Utah that was offering leases to companies to drill on environmentally-sensitive public lands, including Nine Mile Canyon and Dinosaur National Monument. An economics student at the time, DeChristopher was troubled by the Bush Administration’s efforts to skirt around required environmental assessments, essentially making the auction illegal in the first place. <!--break-->

Although he originally planned to protest the auction, when DeChristopher walked into the room, he was surprised to find a greeter offering him a paddle to bid. Seizing the opportunity, he went on to buy 116 parcels of land totaling over 148,598 acres. With no intention of actually paying the more than $1.7 million price tag, the auction was shut down and DeChristopher was taken into custody by federal agents. The auction was later canceled when the Obama Administration took office and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar withdrew the leases.
But it isn’t the Bush administration that stands trial today for the real crime.  Instead, Tim DeChristopher is going to trial facing two felony counts that could land him 10 years in prison and $750,000 in fines.  

DeChristopher has been working with climate justice action group Peaceful Uprising in an effort to stand up to the government’s bullying:

“The federal government admitted that the auction [DeChristopher] disrupted was illegal,” states Dillon Hase, a board member of Peaceful Uprising. “As soon as Obama took office, Salazar dismissed nearly all the leases, and now they’re putting Tim on trial to scare off other people who are fed up enough with government inaction on the climate crisis to try civil disobedience.”

Indeed, the case has already been knocked down before reaching the courtroom. DeChristopher was going to use the “Necessity Defense” to claim that his actions were the lesser of two evils. However, the judge has put the kibosh on this strategy, which would have allowed DeChristopher to relay his motivations and facts about the auction’s illegality. Denying the ability to state his rationale makes it slightly harder for the jury to decide whether his actions were justified or not. Yet Judge Dee Benson decided his courtroom was not to be a battlefield for “a lengthy hearing on global warming and environmental concerns.” Not too surprising considering the raging bunch of Republicans residing in Utah that put their anti-climate stance into an official bill in 2010.

Working together, DeChristopher and Peaceful Uprising hope to ultimately put an end to the type of federal intimidation tactics he experienced, and to let a jury decide who are the real criminals. Americans have long used civil disobedience to rise up and push for justice and social change. Yet here again the government’s response has been to sue and threaten stiff jail time and fines, hoping that the populace might be scared back to complacency.

One brave young man stood up and said enough is enough.  Had it not been for Tim DeChristopher’s actions as ‘Bidder 70,’ there would likely be drilling rigs tearing up these nationally treasured lands and threatening the climate with more fossil fuel pollution.

Hundreds of supporters have held vigils for DeChristopher and are gathered around the courthouse right now, hoping that the jury recognizes DeChristopher’s heroic act as anything but a crime.  The trial is expected to last through Wednesday. Stay tuned for more trial coverage and reports from the rallies.


U.S. Issues Deepwater Drilling Permit

Approval of the new permit, for Nobel Energy, comes as oil prices are rising in response to unrest in the Middle East and North Africa and many in Congress and in industry are complaining of burdensome rules.

January 26 2011


Oil Dispersants Lingered in Deep Ocean, Scientists Say

Levels found in the gulf in September -- some five months after the oil spill -- were extremely low, however, and past studies suggest that such concentrations do not pose a significant threat to sea life.

January 19 2011


December 02 2010


How Much Untapped Oil Is There? The Answer Varies

The oil industry has protested a decision to reverse plans to allow drilling in the eastern gulf and along the Atlantic Seaboard, but it is uncertain how large the reserves actually are.

November 25 2010


The Sea Otter's Fate in California

A legal settlement advances an effort to declare an experiment in limiting the southern sea otter's movements a failure. The goal now is to let the otters decide for themselves where they should live.

November 22 2010


November 10 2010


November 04 2010


November 02 2010


October 21 2010


For Chevron, 2 Giant Gulf Drilling Ventures

The oil company is going forward with a $7.5 billion project to develop two giant deepwater fields in the gulf that could yield the equivalent of what the world consumes in oil every five days.

October 18 2010


Parody Trips Up Chevron Ad Campaign

A spoof news release carries the headline "Radical Chevron Ad Campaign Highlights Victims."

October 13 2010


Oil Drilling and the Senate Clinch Hold

Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana won't back down on blocking an Obama appointee, even though the drilling moratorium has been lifted.
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