Justin Mikulka

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Justin Mikulka is a freelance writer, audio and video producer living in Albany, NY.

Justin has a degree in Civil and Environmental Engineering from Cornell University.

New York State Ban On Fracking Made Official

After years of exhaustive research and examination of the science and facts, prohibiting high-volume hydraulic fracturing is the only reasonable alternative.”

Those were the words many activists in New York never expected to hear from Joe Martens, head of the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, but they were included in a statement released today as New York made the state’s ban on fracking official.

Lifting the Crude Oil Export Ban: Daniel Yergin and the Anatomy of an Industry Public Relations Push

Daniel Yergin

This is a historic turning point,” said Daniel Yergin. “The defining force now in world oil today is the growth of U.S. production.”

That quote is from an article from November 2014 in the New York Times, which described Daniel Yergin as an “energy historian.” As the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Prize, which BusinessWeek called “the best history of oil ever written,” it is a technically accurate but largely incomplete description of Yergin.

While Yergin has written about the history of oil and power, he is now also a major player in the game and is using this power to help shape history rather than just report on it. And, of course, to personally profit from these efforts.

Cost of Doing Business? Oil Companies Agree To Pay For Some of Lac-Megantic Damages, But Not to Solve the Real Problems

Although insisting the industry is not to blame, several of the oil companies involved in the fatal Lac-Megantic oil train accident in 2013 have agreed to contribute to a fund to compensate the families of the 47 victims in that accident.

The Wall Street Journal reported recently that oil companies Shell, ConocoPhillips, Marathon and Irving have all agreed to contribute to the fund to avoid future litigation, along with General Electric and the Canadian government. While the actual amounts contributed by most companies involved are not available, the total fund is reportedly at $345 million. That sounds like a lot of money but still is less than the $400 million retirement package for Exxon’s last CEO, for example.

Canadian Pacific Railway Ltd. hasn't agreed to the settlement, according to the Bangor Daily News, which reports that the judge in the case has delayed his decision on the settlement. Canadian Pacific has asked the court to shield it from future litigation and challenged the Quebec provincial court’s jurisdiction.

“There Could Be Trouble” As US Fracking Revolution Prepares to Go Global

A new report showing the U.S. overtaking Russia as the leading producer of oil and gas in the world should put to rest any doubt that the fracking revolution that has occurred in the U.S. is for real, or as BP’s chief economist put it, “profound.”

And now with the recent Environmental Protection Agency report on the impacts of fracking on drinking water being touted by the American Petroleum Institute as proof that fracking is safe, the industry’s insatiable greed got another boost. More recently,  the Harvard Business School has also joined in the discussion calling for the end of the ban on exporting U.S. crude oil and warning about the implications of missing the “opportunity” offered by fracking.

BNSF President Greeted by Bomb Train Protestors in Chicago

Today at the annual North American Rail Shippers Association, Carl Ice, president of rail company Burlington Northern Sante Fe (BNSF) had his keynote address interrupted by members of Rising Tide Chicago. The activists carried banners reading, “BNSF: Profits over Safety” and “BNSF: Bomb Trains Kill.”

New York State Reverses Decision, Requires Full Environmental Review of Tar Sands-by-Rail Facility

In what came as a welcome surprise to activists in Albany, New York, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reversed an earlier decision and now will require a full environmental review for a proposed tar sands oil heating facility at the Port of Albany.

U.S. Military Concerned As Oil "Bomb Trains" Roll Dangerously Close to Nuclear Bomb Silos

The latest oil train derailment and explosion in Heimdal, North Dakota is another frightening reminder of the danger this industry poses to communities across the country. Thankfully evacuating Heimdal wasn’t that big an operation because there are only 27 residents in the town.

Which is a significantly smaller number than the 150 nuclear missiles buried in the ground under North Dakota. A recent report by Rachel Maddow reveals that the U.S. military is concerned about the proximity of the oil train tracks to those missile silos. Images like this one are why they are concerned. 

At Super Bowl of Energy, Industry Fixates On Expanded Fracking and Lifting Oil Export Ban

We have done more as an industry to advance the cause of raising living standards across the world than any other industry I can think of…” 

If the first industry you think of when you read that statement is “the oil industry” then you were probably in attendance at CERAweek in Houston in late April, an annual gathering known as the Super Bowl of Energy.

New Oil-By-Rail Regulations Are Big Win for Oil and Rail Industries, Won’t Stop “Bomb Trains”

The long-awaited oil-by-rail regulations released today are basically a guidebook for the oil and rail industries to continue doing business as usual when it comes to moving explosive Bakken crude oil by rail.

DeSmog recently reported on how the Obama administration has worked behind the scenes to help achieve the oil industry’s top goal when it came to these new regulations — allowing the oil producers to continue to put the highly volatile Bakken crude oil into rail tank cars without removing the natural gas liquids that make it such an explosive mixture.

As we’ve reported, there is a relatively simple fix to end, or significantly reduce, the “bomb train” disasters, via a process known as stabilization.

Why Was The White House Involved in North Dakota Oil-by-Rail Regulations?

A seemingly innocuous email about two people getting coffee in August of 2014 helps shed light on the behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to shape the oil-by-rail regulations that have given the oil industry a pass on the explosive nature of Bakken crude oil.

The emails, acquired by DeSmogBlog via a Freedom of Information Act request, led us to discover a troubling trail of influence from the Beltway to the Bakken. It's a sordid tale wherein public safety is needlessly compromised by the threat of “bomb trains” while the government ignores a simple fix to safeguard communities in favor of enabling runaway profits for the oil and rail industries.

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