Fri, 2014-09-12 12:25Mike G
Mike G's picture

California Refinery Gets Green Light for Five Times As Much Bakken Crude By Rail

The Kern County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved Alon USA Energy's plan to expand the rail terminal at its Bakersfield, CA refinery to receive five times as much crude oil by train.

Alon USA, which is based in Texas, hopes to take advantage of North America's booming oil production. The company plans to get oil from the fracked shale fields of Texas and North Dakota, which likely means a big increase in the amount of highly volatile Bakken crude imported into California. Reuters reports that the rail terminal will also be outfitted with the equipment to offload tar sands oil from Canada.

The Associated Press reported the news in stark terms: “Mile-long trains filled with millions of gallons of flammable crude oil may be rolling through Kern County next year.”

The company's plan is to increase the capacity of the refinery's rail terminal from 40 to 208 tank cars per day, which would make it the largest crude-by-rail facility in California (though Valero has similar plans for its Benicia, CA refinery, it would only increase its capacity to 100 cars a day). Alon USA's Bakersfield refinery, which has not been in full operation since 2012, will also be retrofit to process lighter Bakken crude.

Environmentalists are decrying the 5-0 vote to let Alon USA go ahead with the plan, saying the Board of Supervisors rushed its decision-making process and, in doing so, drastically understated the potentially devastating impacts that bringing more Bakken crude-by-rail to Kern County could have on public health and safety.

Fri, 2014-09-12 02:27Brendan Montague
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Hayek, Keynes and the Seeds of Denial: "This is the Thing We Need at the Moment - to Fight Keynes!"

Hayek is the intellectual inspiration for neoliberal think tanks and their war against Socialism, government regulation and, today, climate science. But are these tankers really faithful to his ideas?

As our story unfolds we will see that climate denial is the invention of a network of think tanks first established to promote free market ideology.

The neoliberal intelligentsia running these organisations will have, almost without exception, read and been hugely influenced by a book called The Road to Serfdom by the Austrian economist Friedrich von Hayek.

Thu, 2014-09-11 17:36Farron Cousins
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Pennsylvania Prisoners Poisoned By Coal Ash

Life in a prison is probably not the safest environment for a person.  But for prisoners in Pennsylvania, life just got a lot more dangerous.

According to a new report, inmates at State Correctional Institution Fayette in LaBelle, Pennsylvania have been experiencing a significant increase in cancer rates.  The report, which was put together by the Abolitionist Law Center and the Human Rights Coalition, says that the culprit is a nearby coal ash dump.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette has the details:

11 prisoners died from cancer between January 2010 and December 2013, another six have been diagnosed with cancer and eight more have undiagnosed tumors or lumps.

Also, more than 80 percent of 75 prisoners responding to the investigators experienced respiratory problems, 68 percent said they experienced gastrointestinal problems and half have skin rashes, cysts and abscesses. Twelve percent, nine of the 75, reported being diagnosed with a thyroid disorder at the prison or having their existing thyroid problems get worse. Many of the prisoners have multiple, overlapping symptoms, the report said.

The death rate at the Fayette correctional facility is the third highest in the state.  However, the two prisons with higher mortality rates also house large populations of elderly inmates, making Fayette the highest death rate among preventable causes.

Thu, 2014-09-11 00:00Brendan Montague
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I Bought Richard Tol’s 'Climate Economics' So You Don’t Have To - It’s Dull and Dangerous

The Sussex University economist has aligned himself with climate denial and his tweets are highly entertaining - shame this book is so damn conventional.

Professor Richard Tol has authored a ruthlessly conventional £57 textbook on the economics of climate change. I took the hit and skimmed the book so you don't have to. 

Climate Economics presents a concise yet comprehensive treatment of neoclassical environmental economics with reference to the problem of climate change and climate change mitigation.

Wed, 2014-09-10 11:58Chris Rose
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North America Can Say Goodbye to Half its Birds if Rising GHG Emissions Aren’t Stopped

bird species, climate change, audubon socity

An alarming new study published Tuesday by the National Audubon Society says that almost half the bird species in the continental United States and Canada are already threatened by climate change.

The study — Audubon’s Birds and Climate Change Report — finds that 126 species will lose more than 50 per cent of their current ranges by mid-century with no possibility of relocating if global warming continues at its current pace.

A further 188 species face more than 50 per cent range loss by 2080 but may be able to make up some of this loss if they are able to colonize new areas,” an accompanying media release says. “These 314 species include many not previously considered at risk. The report indicates that numerous extinctions are likely if global temperature increases are not stopped.”

It’s a punch in the gut. The greatest threat our birds face today is global warming,” Audubon Chief Scientist Gary Langham, who led the investigation, said in the media release.

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