Category Archive: Environment

Senate Rejects Keystone XL Pipeline

A major victory against Keystone:

The U.S. Senate has narrowly rejected a bill to approve construction of the Keystone XL pipeline, the controversial project that would carry tar sands oil from Alberta, Canada to refineries on the Gulf Coast of the United States.

Coming into the floor debate on Tuesday, there was not certainty as to what the outcome would be — a true rarity for the Senate. At the beginning of the debate on Tuesday afternoon, bill sponsor Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) said the debate was “one of the first debates I’ve been in in 8 years where the outcome is uncertain … [but] I know in my heart we have 60 votes.”

As it turns out, Landrieu did not have the 60 votes to pass her bill. It failed by a final count of 59 to 41.

The vote represented the first time the Keystone XL pipeline had been heard by the Senate, mainly because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had historically refused to bring the issue to the floor. But the Senate Democratic leadership changed tactics and pushed Landrieu’s “Keystone XL Pipeline Approval Act” to the floor this week in large part because of Landrieu’s drive, and also to try and save her Senate seat. Landrieu is behind in the polls for her Dec. 6 runoff election against Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and some believed the pipeline’s passage would help win her some support in the oil and gas-centered state.


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The Pipeline From Hell: There’s No Good Reason to Build Keystone XL

An initiative most thought would be pushed by the Republican majorities in the next Congress will come to the floor in the current lame-duck session. In a rather pathetic political maneuver, the Senate Democrats will try to force the president’s hand before the new Republican majority gets the chance, apparently to help in a single Senate runoff election that will not in any way alter the upper chamber’s political landscape. After all, the Democrats have no chance of keeping their majority even if Landrieu wins.

For his part, Obama has said he will veto the measure. Pundits widely expected that he would insist on the need to wait for the results of further studies and the Supreme Court ruling on land use in Nebraska. Instead, he came out Thursday with an unequivocal rejection of the premise on which the argument for the pipeline is built: “Understand what this project is: It is providing the ability of Canada to pump their oil, send it through our land, down to the Gulf, where it will be sold everywhere else. It doesn’t have an impact on U.S. gas prices. If my Republican friends really want to focus on what’s good for the American people in terms of job creation and lower energy costs, we should be engaging in a conversation about what we are doing to produce more homegrown energy.”

The president is right in his criticisms, but wrong to reserve them only for the Republican Party. Many from his side of the aisle are now just as wrong on this issue as his opponents are.

via The Pipeline From Hell: There’s No Good Reason to Build Keystone XL – The Daily Beast.

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Scientists Find ‘Alarming’ Amount Of Arsenic In Groundwater Near Texas Fracking Sites

After testing 100 water wells atop one of the largest natural gas reserves in the U.S., scientists at the University of Texas have found that nearly 30 percent of them contain levels of arsenic above the limit considered safe by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, according to a study published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology.

via Scientists Find ‘Alarming’ Amount Of Arsenic In Groundwater Near Texas Fracking Sites | ThinkProgress.

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Japan to raise severity rating for Fukushima leaks to level 3

Japan will raise the severity rating of a recent toxic water leak at the destroyed Fukushima nuclear plant to level 3, or “serious incident”, on an international scale for radiological releases, underlining the deepening sense of crisis at the site.

Contaminated water with dangerously high levels of radiation is leaking from a storage tank at Fukushima, the plant’s operator said on Tuesday, the most serious setback to date for the clean up of the worst nuclear accident since Chernobyl.

via Japan to raise severity rating for Fukushima leaks to level 3 – Yahoo! News.

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Exxon's Pegasus Tar Sands Pipeline Ruptures in Central Arkansas

An ExxonMobile underground pipeline ruptured in a Mayflower, Arkansas subdivision on Friday, forcing the evacuation of 40 homes.

Mayflower Police Chief Robert Satkowski said that the evacuations will remain in effect over-night. The chief also stated that it’s too early to say how much oil spilled, but crews have prevented it from getting into Lake Conway. That was a big concern all day; the work ahead will focus on clean-up around the affected areas in town.

via Exxon’s Pegasus Tar Sands Pipeline Ruptures in Central Arkansas | Occupy America.

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State Dept. Keystone Report Authors Have Ties to Tar Sands Industry

As Salon noted earlier this month, following the release of the State Department’s Environmental Impact Statement, which greenlighted the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, it emerged that the report’s authors were outside contractors with oil industry ties. The contractor that produced the bulk of the report was Environmental Resources Management, DeSmog Blog reported, which had ties to tar sands extraction companies. On Tuesday, DeSmog Blog’s Steve Horn added yet another layer of discreditation to the Environmental Impact Statement — namely that ERM has a terrible track record when it comes to greenlighting pipeline projects.

ERM also authored a report that argued that the 2002 BP Caspian pipeline was environmentally and economically sound –  as the firm has also determined with the Keystone XL project. Horn notes that the predictions about the Caspian pipeline were dramatically wrong — the project failed to deliver on jobs and the pipeline has been the site of explosions and oil spills. Via DeSmog Blog:

via State’s Keystone report authors also OK’d explosive Caspian pipeline –

State’s Keystone report authors also OK’d explosive Caspian pipeline -

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Oil Drilling Caused Oklahoma Earthquake in 2011


An unusual and widely felt 5.6-magnitude quake in Oklahoma in 2011 was probably caused when oil drilling waste was pushed deep underground, a team of university and federal scientists concluded.

That would make it the most powerful quake to be blamed on deep injections of wastewater, according to a study published Tuesday by the journal Geology. The waste was from traditional drilling, not from the hydraulic fracturing technique, or fracking.

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