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.

Filmmaker Jon Bowermaster Fights for the Environment From the Hudson to Antarctica

Jon Bowermaster spent ten years kayaking oceans and waterways all around the globe in an effort to document and understand the relationship between humans and the oceans for a National Geographic project. Understandably, he has a lot of stories to tell and shared many when DeSmog recently sat down to talk with him about his various upcoming projects.

We were on a remote island off of Croatia one time and turned a corner in the kayaks and pulled up on what would have been this beautiful beach and it was just knee deep in trash,” Bowermaster recounted. “And a woman was standing on the shore and was throwing it back in the water. And we asked her why she was doing that and she said, ‘Well that’s where it belongs.’”

Lifting Ban On U.S. Crude Oil Export Would Enable Massive Fracking Expansion

In a recent Washington Post editorial supporting oil industry efforts to lift the existing ban on exporting crude oil produced in America, the editors stated:

The most serious objection to lifting the ban comes from environmentalists who worry that it would lower fossil fuel prices and lead to more oil consumption.”

And then they make the case that this is actually a positive as there may be some negotiations that result in support for “energy research funding, efficiency programs or, in an ideal world, a charge on carbon dioxide emissions to the package could balance its possible effects on the environment.”

In an ideal world, the climate wouldn’t be changing either. But we don’t live in an ideal world, do we? And the oil industry usually gets what it wants and environmental concerns go by the wayside regardless of who is in the White House. See arctic drilling permits for recent proof.

Most Recent Oil Train Accidents and Spills Involved ‘Safer’ CPC-1232 Tank Cars

oil train credit Justin Mikulka

Roosevelt County chief deputy sheriff Corey Reum was one of the first responders to the recent Bakken oil train derailment in Montana, a few miles from the North Dakota border.

“We're lucky it didn't ignite,” Reum told ABC News.

That is just one of the things first responders have learned since the deadly accident two years ago in Lac-Megantic. As a Globe and Mail article marking that two year anniversary recently noted, when the train was on fire and rail cars were exploding in Lac-Megantic, no one could figure out why.

Senate Working to Strip Braking Safety Requirements From Oil Train Regulations

As documented on DeSmog, the new oil-by-rail regulations contain major concessions to the oil and rail industries as the result of relentless lobbying during the rulemaking process. One logical safety measure that the rail industry failed to block from the new rules was a requirement for modern braking systems know as electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes.

However, the rail industry has a Plan B to avoid modernizing their braking systems and so far it is working quite well.

DOE: Department of Evasiveness? More Government Delay Tactics as Bomb Trains Roll On

oil train

The oil industry and the government regulators in charge of regulating the industry don’t understand the basic science of oil. This is the core of the argument used to justify why they continue to run dangerous trains filled with Bakken oil through communities across North America. Do you believe them?

Despite the audacity of this position, it is being used to delay any new regulations and to support the idea that the mystery of why Bakken crude oil explodes must be studied for years before it would be possible to make any regulatory decisions.

What is happening is that the tactic of creating doubt about basic science is being used to allow the continued transportation of dangerous Bakken crude oil by rail.

It’s an approach the industry learned quite well during several decades of climate change denial efforts.

New and Improved Bomb Trains? Oil Industry Plans to Ship Even More Dangerous Light Oils

As oil train protests continue across North America to mark the two-year anniversary of the Lac-Megantic disaster, trouble is brewing in Texas. At the recent Crude Markets and Storage Summit energy conference in Texas, Pat McGannon, vice president of Rangeland Energy, made the following statement.

Rail provides a solution for high-gravity condensates.” 

High gravity condensates are the result of the industry’s fracking for oil. Much of the product that comes out of the ground in the Eagle Ford shale formation in Texas is condensate which is also referred to as ultra light oil. So why does rail provide the solution for moving this ultra light oil?

Blocking the Bomb Trains: Nationwide Protests On Lac-Megantic Anniversary

It’s corporate greed versus the common good, whether it’s rail safety or climate change.”

Those were the words of Lowen Berman, a Portland activist involved in a blockade of oil train tracks to mark the second anniversary of the Lac-Megantic oil train disaster.

Berman and 60 other activists protested in Portland today as part of a national Oil Train Week of Protests led by 350.org and ForestEthics.

The Yes Men Are Revolting, How About You?

In the third movie from the prankster activists, The Yes Men, made up of Mike Bonanno and Andy Bichlbaum, they set their sights on what they see as the biggest issue facing the world today — climate change.

However, unlike their first two films, they also turn the cameras on themselves and one of the main story lines in the film is how the two address what it means to dedicate your life to activism.

This self-examination leads to the inevitable question, “Does what we do really make a difference?”

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.

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