washington state

Kinder Morgan, NEB Draw Ire for Oil Spill Response Plans Released in Washington State, But Not B.C.

kinder morgan pipeline, trans mountain spill response plans

Since DeSmog Canada broke the story two weeks ago that Kinder Morgan publicly released its emergency oil spill plans for the Trans Mountain pipeline in Washington State while withholding or severely redacting the exact same plans in B.C., there's been a firestorm of activity on the topic.

The story has now been covered by the Globe and Mail, the CBC and the Canadian Press, the issue was raised in the House of Commons this week and the president of Kinder Morgan and the chair of the National Energy Board (NEB) have been forced to respond.

Kinder Morgan and the NEB angered the B.C. government in January after ruling the company could keep spill response plans for the proposed oilsands pipeline secret due to “security concerns.”

This week Kinder Morgan president Ian Anderson defended the company’s actions, saying the NEB did not demand disclosure of the plans.

We in no way want to have this perceived lack of transparency around our emergency response plans as any indication of us wanting to hide anything or keep anything a secret,” Anderson said.

What Kinder Morgan is Keeping Secret About its Trans Mountain Spill Response Plans

Kinder Morgan, the company currently seeking permission to nearly triple the capacity of the Trans Mountain pipeline to carry Albertan crude to the west coast, has engaged in a protracted fight with the province of British Columbia in an effort to keep its oil spill response plans a secret.

The company alleges its motivation has to do with ‘security concerns’ although a look back at the to and fro with the province of B.C. paints a story of either incompetence or pure, defenseless hubris.

Either way, what Kinder Morgan is refusing to produce for B.C. and other intervenors in the pipeline review process, the company willingly disclosed south of the border for portions of the pipeline that extend to Washington State.

A read through the detailed spill response plans Kinder Morgan has in place for the U.S. shows just how far the company went to prove they can handle a pipeline spill. 

It also highlights how outlandish it is that Kinder Morgan has not released similarly-detailed plans to the province of B.C.

It is also troubling that Kinder Morgan expects the government of B.C. to consent to a massive pipeline expansion — the proposal calls for a twinning of the pipeline which would lead to a fivefold increase in tanker traffic — without adequate assurances the best available emergency plans are in place.

So, what did Kinder Morgan tell Washington State that it refuses to tell B.C.?

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee Hires Coal Lobbyist to Direct Policy Office

This is a guest post by Eric de Place, originally published on Sightline Daily and cross-posted with the Sightline Institute's permission.

In a classic instance of the revolving door between government and industry, Governor Inslee has decided to hire Matt Steuerwalt as the director of his policy office effective May 1. In recent years, Steuerwalt has acted as a lead lobbyist for coal-fired power in Washington, as well as for a now-defunct coal export proposal. The news was first announced by Steuerwalt in a mass email sent last night.

The state is now wrestling with two major policy issues connected to coal: whether to permitlarge-scale coal export terminals and whether to phase out coal-fired electricity imported from other states. Given that Steuerwalt has recently been a paid lobbyist in support of coal in Washington, the move raises question about whether he will use his influence in the Inslee administration to advance an agenda more favorable to the coal industry.

Steuerwalt was formerly Gov. Gregoire’s top advisor on energy and climate issues, but he left the Gregoire administration to go to work for Strategies 360, a well-connected lobbying and PR shop. He then led negotiations against his former employer on behalf of TransAlta, a giant Canadian energy company that was wrangling with the Gregoire administration over plans to ramp down coal-burning at its power plant in Centralia. He also lobbied on behalf of TransAlta in both the House and Senate.

B.C. Protest This Saturday to Stop Warren Buffett's BNSF Coal Trains

Warren Buffett, the third wealthiest man on the planet (net worth: $44 billion), often referred to as the “Oracle of Omaha,” is the target of a May 5 action called for by Stop Coal B.C. Well, not Buffett directly, but a rail company he owns through his massive holding company, Berkshire Hathaway: Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF) Railway.

BNSF Railway is the second largest freight rail company in the United States and the exclusive carrier of thermal coal from coal basins in the northwestern U.S. to docks in British Columbia, where the dirty coal is exported to the global market, primarily to Asia.

The action calls for activists to blockade BNSF's four coal-loaded freight trains from reaching their final destination for the day and in the process, risk arrest. It is part of 350.org's broader “Connect the Dots” event taking place on Saturday, with actions planned throughout the world.

The Stop Coal B.C. call to action reads,

Koch Industries Coached Own Employees On How To Vote In November Election

The Nation magazine has revealed that Koch Industries sent a letter to most of its 50,000 employees before the U.S. midterm elections in November 2010 advising them on whom to vote for. In “Big Brothers: Thought Control at Koch,” Mark Ames and Mike Elk expose the urgent “election packet” [PDF] sent to tens of thousands of Koch employees complete with ample libertarian reading materials instructions and a list of eligible vote-worthy (conservative) candidates. 

As if this isn’t disturbing enough, the letter warns employees them
of the dire consequences to their families, their jobs and their country should they choose to vote otherwise. 

This story raises alarming concerns about corporations’ ability to influece the ways in which their employees vote. According to Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!, Koch is entirely within its legal right to pressure people in this manner because of the Citizens United Supreme Court decision.

Whiff of cynicism lingers over Washington State’s call for road tolls to flight global warming

Two bills expected to clear the state legislature this session would give the green light to tolls on major highways around Puget Sound as a way to reduce traffic and greenhouse-gas emissions. A recent study says Washington State could raise $36 billion over 20 years through variable tolls.

Transportation is the single largest producer of carbon dioxide in Washington, so environmentalists say it makes sense to move toward tolls that take cars off the road.

So far so good.

Washington State Rejects Coal Plant Over Global Warming Concerns

A Washington State panel has rejected plans for a 793-megawatt plant in Kalama, Cowlitz County, that would be fueled by coal or oil-refinery waste.

The coal plant was rejected on the grounds that it did not meet the State's new law that any new power plant must limit the amount of its global warming emissions to that of a highly efficient natural gas plant.

If a plant emits more than that, then it has to capture and sequester the extra emissions permanently.

Sustainablog has more. 

Inconvenient Truth stirs controversy in Seattle suburb

A Washington state school board has imposed restrictions on Ex-vice president Al Gore’s film on global warming after several parents complained about their children viewing it at school. But none of the board members who voted for the restrictions has seen the film.

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