Category Archive: Environment

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U.S. government to pay New Mexico $73 million over radiation leak

The U.S. Energy Department will pay New Mexico $73 million in road and other infrastructure projects for violations by an underground nuclear waste dump and nuclear research lab that led to a radiation leak last year, officials said on Thursday. The deal struck between the department and New Mexico forgoes fines and instead applies funds to upgrades to federal nuclear facilities and surrounding communities in the state, according to settlement documents. Projects include construction of a $5 million emergency operations center in Carlsbad, near where the nuclear waste dump leaked radiation in February 2014. The leak at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, or WIPP, exposed 22 workers to radiation in amounts not expected to threaten their health, and indefinitely suspended key operations at the site, the Energy Department’s only permanent underground disposal facility for certain types of radiological waste from U.S. nuclear labs.

Source: U.S. government to pay New Mexico $73 million over radiation leak – Yahoo News

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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 – Salon.com.

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

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Oil Drilling Caused Oklahoma Earthquake in 2011

Source:

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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White House Preparing to Endorse Keystone XL Pipeline

We are being set up. The administration is worming it’s way into giving it’s blessing to the pipeline. Obama doesn’t have the *?%& to did it himself so he’s using the State Department to make the announcement. And they are using some bogus report as cover:

The State Department has just released its 2,000-page draft environmental review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta, Canada, down to Steele City, Nebraska and on to the Gulf of Mexico.

The big takeaway: The State Department concluded that either blocking or approving the Keystone XL pipeline would have a small impact on overall greenhouse-gas emissions and future tar-sands expansions. That’s because, in its view, most of Alberta’s oil will find a way to get to the market anyway — if not by pipeline, then by rail.

And some opponents of the pipeline see the writing on the wall:

On Friday afternoon, the State Department released a draft of its much-anticipated new analysis of the environmental impact of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline. Although the report makes no firm statement one way or the other about whether the controversial pipeline from Canada to Texas should be approved, some of its conclusions have enviros worried that a greenlight is inevitable.

Time to take to the streets again

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In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record

The first eight months of 2012 have been the warmest of any year on record in the contiguous United States, and this has been the third-hottest summer since record-keeping began in 1895, the U.S. National Climate Data Center said on Monday.

Each of the last 15 months has seen above-average temperatures, something that has never happened before in the 117 years of the U.S. record, said Jake Crouch, a climate scientist at the data center.

via In U.S., 2012 so far is hottest year on record – Yahoo! News.

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NASA scientist warns of mass extinction from global warming

Source:

James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, warned Wednesday that human-made

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climate change could lead to the deaths of millions of species.

“If we continue with business as usual this century, we will drive to extinction 20 to 50 percent of the species on the planet,” he told Current TV host Eliot Spitzer. “We are pushing the system an order of magnitude faster than any natural changes of climate in the past.”

In a recently published study, Hansen and his team concluded that the drastic increase in record high temperatures in recent years could be directly traced to human-made climate change, particularly the increase in greenhouse gases.

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Drought Reaches Record 56% of Continental U.S.

The climate change doubters are having a hard time right around now:

The United States is parched, with more than half of the lower 48 states experiencing moderate to extreme drought, according to a report released today (July 5).

Just under 56 percent of the contiguous United States is in drought conditions, the most extensive area in the 12-year history of the U.S. Drought Monitor. The previous drought records occurred on Aug. 26, 2003, when 54.79 percent of the lower 48 were in drought and on Sept 10, 2002, when drought extended across 54.63 percent of this area.

When including the entire nation, the monitor found 46.84 percent of the land area meets criteria for various stages of drought, up from 42.8 percent last week. Previous records: 45.87 percent in drought on Aug. 26, 2003, and 45.64 percent on Sept. 10, 2002.

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Obama Grants a Keystone Pipeline Permit

We knew that was coming. This President could not be trusted to do the right thing:

The Obama administration, moving swiftly on the president’s promise to expedite the southernmost portion of the disputed Keystone XL pipeline, has granted construction permits for part of the route passing through Texas, officials said on Tuesday.

The Army Corps of Engineers on Monday told TransCanada, which wants to build a 1,700-mile pipeline to carry heavy crude from Alberta to the Gulf Coast, that it could begin construction on the portion of the proposed pipeline that would end at the gulf port of Nederland, Tex. The Corps of Engineers is still reviewing permits for a section of the pipeline beginning at a major oil depot in Cushing, Okla., and linking up with the final leg ending at the gulf.

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