Wed, 2015-02-25 04:58Sharon Kelly
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As Oil Prices Collapse, North Dakota Considers Weakening Standards on Radioactive Drilling Waste

As the collapse of oil prices threatens North Dakota's shale drilling rush, state regulators are considering a move they say could save the oil industry millions of dollars: weakening the state's laws on disposing of radioactive waste.

The move has been the subject of an intensive lobbying effort by drillers, who produce up to 75 tons per day of waste currently considered too hazardous to dispose of in the state.

For every truckload of that waste, drillers could save at least $10,000 in hauling costs, they argue. State regulators calculate that by raising the radioactive waste threshold ten-fold, the industry would shave off roughly $120 million in costs per year.

But many who live in the area say they fear the long-term consequences of loosened disposal rules combined with the state's poor track record on preventing illegal dumping.

“We don't want to have when this oil and coal is gone, to be nothing left here, a wasteland, and I'm afraid that's what might happen,” farmer Gene Wirtz of Underwood, ND told KNX News, a local TV station. “Any amount of radiation beyond what you're already getting is not a good thing.”

Environmental groups have also objected that the rule change would put private companies' profits before public health.

“The only reason we're doing this today is to cut the oil industry's costs,” Darrell Dorgan, spokesman for the North Dakota Energy Industry Waste Coalition, which opposes the move, told Reuters.

Tue, 2015-02-24 17:29Carol Linnitt
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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.

Tue, 2015-02-24 15:37Julie Dermansky
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Obama's Veto of Keystone XL Bittersweet for Texans Forced to Allow the Pipeline on Their Land

As expected, President Obama today vetoed the Republican bill attempting to allow TransCanada to finish constructing the Keystone XL tar sands export pipeline. While the veto received praise from environmentalists, along with encouragement to reject the pipeline entirely, the veto provides little consolation to those in Texas who already have the southern route of the pipeline moving Canadian tar sands under their land. 

“Don't get me wrong. I’m thrilled that President Obama owned up to his promise to veto the Keystone XL pipeline bill today. But in the same breath I'm spittin' mad,” Julia Trigg Crawford, Texas landowner who fought TransCanada from taking her land by eminent domain but lost, told DeSmogBlog.

“Nearly three years ago, with the exact same data in front of him he decided to 'cut through the red tape and fast track' the southern leg of this project. Where was his 'climate test' then?” “Before the ink is dry on this veto, President Obama owes all of us in Texas and Oklahoma an explanation. Better yet, an apology.”


Julia Trigg Crawford next to the easement on her land in Sumner, Texas that TransCanada condemned to build the southern route of the Keystone XL pipeline. ©2013 Julie Dermansky

In the constant clamor from high profile environmental groups for President Obama to reject the Keystone XL pipeline, there is little mention that the president fast-tracked the southern portion of the pipeline. Nor do most people know that TransCanada is already transporting tar sands from Canada to the Gulf Coast.

Tue, 2015-02-24 04:02Guest
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Pachauri Steps Down as Head of UN Climate Panel

This article has been cross-posted from Carbon Brief

Dr Rajendra Pachauri has stepped down from his role as chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), effective today.

After nearly 13 years in the job, Pachauri was due to step down later this year. However, his departure has been brought forward pending allegations of sexual harassment at the New Delhi-based research centre TERI, where he is director general.

Pachauri has strongly denied the allegations, saying his personal email account had been hacked to send inappropriate messages to a colleague.

Tue, 2015-02-24 00:00Kyla Mandel
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Is Owen Paterson Funded by Monsanto?

Owen Paterson, the sacked environment secretary, claims his new right-wing think tank UK2020 is not funded by the GM industry.

The UK2020 founder “urged a revolt” against the “Green Blob” of NGOs and environmentalists while promoting genetically modified organisms (GMOs) today at the annual South African agricultural biotechnology media conference, which was hosted by the GMO-funded lobby group ISAAA.  

ISAAA receives donations from both Monsanto and Bayer CropScience. But when asked yesterday by DeSmog UK if UK2020 has received any funding from the GM industry, press representative Beatrice Timpson of Media Intelligence Partners said “I can’t answer that”.

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