regulations

Maryland Passes Ban Bill, Will Become Third State to Block Fracking

Rally to ban fracking in front of a Maryland government building

In a historic vote Monday night, Maryland's Senate passed a ban on hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — expected to be signed into law by the state's Republican governor — making the state the third in the U.S. to reject the controversial technique. The 35–10 Senate vote came shortly after the state's House of Delegates approved the ban in a 97–40 vote.

Crucially, the state's governor, Republican Larry Hogan, recently announced that he was no longer convinced that fracking could be done safely if properly regulated and that a ban was necessary. Hogan said he will support the ban, making his state the first state with shale gas reserves to enact a fracking ban through legislation.

Federal Report: Environmental Safeguards Provide Billions In Economic Benefits

piles of money

Very quietly over the holidays, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released a long-overdue draft report on the economic impacts of environmental regulations and safeguards for the fiscal year 2015, which covers October 2014 to September 2015.

In the report, 2016 Draft Report to Congress on the Benefits and Costs of Federal Regulations and Agency Compliance with the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act, the OMB looked at the cost of environmental regulations and compared to them to the economic benefits, both those seen during the 12 month period and the estimated long-term benefits. Their results showed very clearly that these safeguards are providing an exponentially greater economic benefit than they are costing.

Oil-By-Rail Regulators Consider Crude Oil Volatility Limits That Would Require Oil Stabilization

In July 2015, a train carrying Bakken crude oil derailed in Culbertson, Montana resulting in an oil spill of 35,000 gallons — more than the contents of a full rail tank car.

But unlike all of the other Bakken train accidents where large amounts of oil were spilled something odd happened. There was no explosion or fire. 

So what was different about the accident in Culbertson, Montana?

Donald Trump’s Anti-Environment Agenda Could Tank US Economy

United States President-elect Donald Trump has already made it clear that his administration will be far more friendly to fossil fuel companies than it will be to the environment, both with his appointment of noted climate change denier Myron Ebell to head up the EPA transition team, and with his stated desire to pull the United States out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

While Ebell’s appointment spells environmental disaster, it is Trump’s desire to withdraw from the Paris Agreement that could cripple the United States both environmentally and economically. And it is that second point – the economic impacts – that might actually have a chance of resonating with the American public.

Canada-U.S. Plan to Nearly Halve Methane Emissions Could Be Huge Deal for the Climate

Obama and Trudeau at White House

At the Canada-U.S. bilateral talks last week President Barack Obama and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced an ambitious plan to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector by 40 to 45 per cent below 2012 levels by 2025.

40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...
40-45 percent below 2012 levels by 2025 from the oil and gas sector - See more at: http://www.pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2016/03/10/us-canada-joint-statement-climat...

The announcement came as welcome news to many environmental groups concerned about the high global warming potential of methane. The gas is 25 to 34 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a century.
 
Methane is a component of natural gas and the recent fracking boom in both Canada and the U.S. has dramatically increased methane emissions from gas production and transportation as well as fugitive emissions leaked from processing stations and pipelines.
 
Scott Vaughan, executive director of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and former Canadian environment commissioner, said the cross-border plan to limit emissions is “really impressive.”
 
“The announcement, if implemented, will lead to reducing [absolute] emissions from Canada’s oil and gas sector by about 20 per cent,” Vaughan told DeSmog Canada.

As Warming Accelerates, Talk Of Climate Change Dissipates

There is not a single person running for U.S. President as a Republican who believes that we should take action to fight climate change. Not one. To make matters worse, the top three contenders for the Republican nomination — Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio — refuse to even acknowledge that climate change is real. The remaining two GOP candidates — John Kasich and Dr. Ben Carson — don’t believe climate scientists about the scope and severity of the problem.
 
One of these men will have a 50% chance of becoming the President of the United States this coming November. And depending on which polls you look at, the three frontrunners have a very real shot at actually winning the election.
 
Cruz and Rubio are the only two candidates who currently serve in office, both in the Senate, and while they are currently both trailing Trump in delegate count, the number of primaries left to be held indicate that either could take the lead and secure the nomination. And since they both hold office, we can check their records to see where they stand on environmental issues.
 
And things aren’t looking good.

Oil and Gas Industry Publicly Supports Climate Action While Secretly Subverting Process, New Analysis Shows

A new report recently released by InfluenceMap shows a number of oil and gas companies publicly throwing their support behind climate initiatives are simultaneously obstructing those same efforts through lobbying activities.

The report, Big Oil and the Obstruction of Climate Regulations, comes on the heels of the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, a list of climate measures released by the CEOs of 10 major oil and gas companies including BP, Shell, Statoil and Total.

According to InfluenceMap the initiative is an attempt by leading energy companies to “improve their image in the face of longstanding criticism of their business practices ahead of UN COP 21 climate talks in Paris.”

The big European companies behind the OGCI…will come under ever greater scrutiny, as the distance between the companies’ professed positions and the realities of the lobbying actions of their trade bodies grows ever starker,” InfluenceMap stated in a press release.

Are US Regulators Trying to Cover Up Influence Of Lobbyists On New Oil-By-Rail Regulations?

It’s no secret that the oil and rail industries lobbied the Obama Administration heavily during the creation of new oil-by-rail regulations released this past May, with lobbyists reportedly not even taking a break the day after a major oil train accident.

But just how much influence did lobbyists actually have in the drafting of the regulations?

Environmentalists who criticize the new rules as far too weak to stop business-as-usual — which has already resulted in five oil train explosions so far this year — are endeavoring to find out by submitting Freedom of Information Act requests for correspondence between lobbyists and five federal agencies within the US Department of Transportation that worked on the oil train safety rules.

So far, they say, they’ve been stonewalled by the Obama Administration.

Environmental Group Launches Lawsuit Against Federal Government Over Pipeline Safety Planning

One of the country's largest environmental groups has accused the federal government of failing to follow pipeline safety planning laws, alleging that for more than two decades the Department of Transportation (DOT) has illegally allowed companies to operate oil pipelines that cross waterways without adequate preparation for spills and other disasters.

The National Wildlife Federation, which filed a notice of its intent to sue on Tuesday, accused the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA), part of the DOT, of failing to properly enforce the Oil Pollution Act, enacted by Congress in the wake of the Exxon Valdez spill.

“Due to the agency’s decades-long oversight failures, every U.S. oil pipeline that intersects a navigable water is operating illegally,” the NWF wrote in a statement announcing the filing.

After Passenger Train Derailment in Philadelphia Kills At Least 7, Attention Turns to Oil-by-Rail Hazards

This morning, investigators continue to search for missing Amtrak passengers, possibly thrown from a major train derailment and wreck in northeast Philadelphia Tuesday night. Already the casualty toll is one of the worst in recent memory, with at least seven people dead and over 200 injured after Amtrak's Northeast Regional Train No. 188, carrying 258 passengers, derailed.

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