Justin Mikulka

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Blog entryOil-by-Rail Rises Once Again as Safety Rules Disappear Justin Mikulka01 day 9 hours ago
Blog entryUS Oil Exports Are Exceeding Almost All Predictions—Thanks to Fracking Justin Mikulka02 days 8 hours ago
Blog entryDerailed Oil Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Tar Sands in Flooded Iowa River Justin Mikulka03 weeks 10 hours ago
Blog entryThe Fracking Industry’s Water Nightmare Justin Mikulka03 weeks 3 days ago
Blog entryThis Fed Policy Enabled the Fracking Industry’s $280 Billion Loss Justin Mikulka01 month 1 week ago
Blog entrySouth Portland's Ban on Tar Sands Oil Survives Court Challenge Justin Mikulka01 month 2 weeks ago
Blog entryThe Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks Justin Mikulka02 months 5 days ago
Blog entryOil Industry Plans to Keep Workers Safe—by Firing Them and Having Robots Do Their Jobs Justin Mikulka02 months 5 days ago
Blog entryPortland, Oregon Wins Court Battle to Ban New Oil Infrastructure Justin Mikulka02 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entry3 Reasons the Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster Could Happen Again Justin Mikulka03 months 1 week ago
Blog entryRail Industry Still Fighting Safety Fixes That Would Have Saved Hundreds of Lives Justin Mikulka03 months 1 week ago
Blog entryHow Wall Street Enabled the Fracking 'Revolution' That's Losing Billions Justin Mikulka03 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryEmails Reveal Pruitt and EPA Coordinating with Climate-Denying Heartland Institute Justin Mikulka03 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryRise of the Machines: Fracking Execs Plan Profits by Using Automation to Shrink Workforce Justin Mikulka03 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryFlip This Well: How Fracking Company CEOs Get Rich While Losing Billions Justin Mikulka03 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryThe Secret of the Great American Fracking Bubble Justin Mikulka04 months 6 days ago
Blog entryOil Pipeline CEO Tells Federal Energy Conference: 'It's a Great Time to Be in the Business' Justin Mikulka04 months 1 week ago
Blog entryGOP Tax Law Bails Out Fracking Companies Buried in Debt Justin Mikulka04 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryColumbia University Hires Trump Official and Fossil Fuel Defender as Climate Policy Expert Justin Mikulka04 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryExporting Gasoline by Rail to Mexico Likely to Recreate Mistakes of Explosive Bakken Oil Trains Justin Mikulka05 months 2 weeks ago
Blog entryThe 'Green' Biomass Industry Pruitt Called 'Carbon Neutral' Uses Typical Fossil Fuel Industry Tricks to Pollute More Justin Mikulka05 months 3 weeks ago
Blog entryTrump and the Rail Industry Had a Great First Year Together Justin Mikulka05 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryCanada's Pipeline Challenges Will Force More Tar Sands Oil to Move by Rail Justin Mikulka05 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryYes, Exxon Is Accusing Local Governments of Misleading Investors on Climate Change Justin Mikulka05 months 4 weeks ago
Blog entryWith Oil by Rail Poised for Comeback, Will Lack of Safety Regulations Mean 'Bomb Trains' Return too? Justin Mikulka06 months 2 days ago

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Oil-by-Rail Rises Once Again as Safety Rules Disappear

Read time: 6 mins
Oil train

While a second oil-by-rail boom is well underway in North America, both the U.S. and Canada are taking steps that ignore or undermine the lessons and regulatory measures to improve safety since the oil train explosions and spills of years past.

US Oil Exports Are Exceeding Almost All Predictions—Thanks to Fracking

Read time: 5 mins
Oil tanker in the Houston ship channel

The U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported in September that crude oil exports are continuing to set records, mostly due to the fracking boom in the Permian Basin, in Texas and New Mexico. June exports hit a record 2.2 million barrels per day, while the monthly average was up almost 80 percent for the first half of this year compared to the same period last year.

And crude oil exports are supposed to double by 2020, according to the San Antonio News-Express. That’s a lot of oil — and almost all of it is fracked.

The Fracking Industry’s Water Nightmare

Read time: 7 mins
Sign reading "hot water"

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has clearly documented the multiple risks — despite repeated dismissals from the oil and gas industry — that hydraulic fracturing (fracking) poses to drinking water supplies. However, the tables may be turning: Water itself now poses a risk to the already failing financial model of the American fracking industry, and that is something the industry won’t be able to ignore.

South Portland's Ban on Tar Sands Oil Survives Court Challenge

Read time: 7 mins
Location of proposed pollution control towers in South Portland Maine's harbor

The City of South Portland, Maine, won a major legal victory at the end of August when a federal judge ruled that the city’s effective ban on tar sands oil did not violate the Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution. The decision, like a similar one in Portland, Oregon, has potentially widespread implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel infrastructure projects within their borders.

The Fracking Industry Is Cannibalizing Its Own Production, Increasing Spill Risks

Read time: 6 mins

In the climactic final scene in There Will Be Blood — arguably the greatest movie about the oil industry — the main character played by Daniel Day Lewis explains how he sucked the oil from a neighbor’s land by using horizontal drilling. To help his neighbor understand what has happened, he explains it by saying he took a very long straw and “Drank your milkshake!”

Well, guess what is happening with the fracking revolution built on the concept of horizontal drilling? Not only are oil producers drinking each other’s milkshakes, they are drinking their own, and in the process losing even more money and raising the odds of dangerous environmental risks.

And unlike in the movie where the main character knew what he was doing, the modern fracking industry really has no clue what to do about the problems caused by the combination of horizontal drilling and greed. 

Portland, Oregon Wins Court Battle to Ban New Oil Infrastructure

Read time: 5 mins
Portland, Oregon

In a big win for the City of Portland, Oregon, the Oregon Court of Appeals issued a ruling that the city had not violated the U.S. Constitution's Commerce Clause by voting to ban any new fossil fuel terminals within its borders.

This is a major victory for the climate and our communities,” said Maura Fahey, staff attorney at Crag Law Center, which represented environmental groups intervening in the case, in a statement. “Industry couldn’t even get its foot in the door of the courtroom to try to overturn the City’s landmark law. This sends a powerful message to local communities that now is the time to take action to protect our future.”

This ruling could have important implications for other communities fighting fossil fuel projects because the court ruled that the city's ban did not violate the Commerce Clause, which is the main argument the oil industry has used against bans like the ones in Portland, Oregon and other cities.

Oil Industry Plans to Keep Workers Safe—by Firing Them and Having Robots Do Their Jobs

Read time: 8 mins
Deepwater Horizon oil rig on fire in Gulf of Mexico

The oil and gas industry is finally acknowledging how dangerous employment can be for its workers after years of touting the sector as a beacon of worker safety. This sudden honesty about the dangers of working in the oil patch coincides with the industry’s new solution to greatly improve the safety of those workers — which is to fire them and replace them with robots.

3 Reasons the Deadly Lac-Mégantic Oil Train Disaster Could Happen Again

Read time: 10 mins
Oil trains burning in Lac-Megantic, Quebec

In the five years since the oil train disaster in Lac-Mégantic, Quebec, claimed 47 lives, the world has learned much about the risks that hauling oil by rail poses. One of the clearest lessons is how little has been done to address those risks, which means that deadly event could easily happen again.

Rise of the Machines: Fracking Execs Plan Profits by Using Automation to Shrink Workforce

Read time: 6 mins
Fracking rig workers

At a recent industry conference, Terry Spencer, head of natural gas infrastructure company ONEOK, made clear the direction the fracking industry was headed: “One of these days one of these big ol’ fracs will be operated with nobody there.”

Translation: Computers and robots are going to replace all human jobs at the oil and gas fracking sites of the future.

Derailed Oil Train Spills 230,000 Gallons of Tar Sands in Flooded Iowa River

Read time: 7 mins
Iowa oil train spill and derailment

On June 22, a train carrying Canadian crude oil derailed in northwestern Iowa, releasing an estimated 230,000 gallons of oil into a flooded river. As a result of the derailment, over 30 rail tank cars ended up in the water, with 14 cars confirmed to have leaked oil.

To put the size of this spill in perspective, an Enbridge pipeline that leaked in Michigan in July 2010 released roughly 1,000,000 gallons of tar sands oil into the Kalamazoo River. Cleanup for this spill, one of the largest inland oil spills on record, took years and more than $1 billion. 

Like the Kalamazoo River spill, the train that derailed in Iowa was carrying tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada.

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