Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BNSF: stop endangering our communities! #BNSFBLAST

Are you in the BNSF BLAST - ZONE?

14,000 Mariner fans were when a loaded oil train rolled by the stadium last week.


Find out if you are in the blast-zone:

The stadium is in the BLAST zone!

And demand that BNSF stop endangering our communities, lands, and waters with their BNSF BLAST  #BNSFBLAST #stopoiltrains

h/t Carlo Voli

Tuesday night (4/21/15) WEC & WCV treated about 40 volunteers to a Seattle Mariners game.  One of our folks got photos of an oil train passing by the stadium in the middle of the game.

The stadium is in the BLAST zone!

Read the article in The Stranger:  and see the detailed pic below:

See also: 

The unsubtle groan worthy irony of BNSF’s Mariners homerun sponsorship

Energy, Transportation depts to study volatility of crude by rail

Looking to delay regulations?? let's do a 'study'!

Energy, Transportation departments to study volatility of oil moved by rail

By Curtis Tate   McClatchy DC   April 28, 2015 

The federal government will conduct a two-year study of how crude oil volatility affects the commodity’s behavior in train derailments, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz told a Senate panel Tuesday.

The Energy Department will coordinate the study with the Department of Transportation, Moniz told the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

After a series of fiery train derailments, the Transportation Department concluded early last year that light, sweet crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region is more volatile than other kinds.

But derailments involving ethanol and other types of crude oil have cast doubt on whether Bakken is likely to react more severely than other flammable liquids transported by rail.

The petroleum industry has been citing its own studies and a recent report from the Energy Department’s Sandia National Laboratory to support its position that there’s no difference. But it’s clear that more crude oil is moving by rail, and an increase in serious accidents has come with that increased volume.

Moniz said the Sandia report was “the most comprehensive literature survey in terms of properties of different oils” but showed the need for more research to determine their relevance in train derailments.

The joint Energy-Transportation study would look at other kinds of crude moving by rail, such as light crude from west Texas and heavy crude from western Canada.

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., a member of the Senate Energy panel who requested the departments work together on a study, noted that there had been four derailments of oil trains in the U.S. and Canada since the beginning of the year.

“A number of high-profile incidents have underscored major safety concerns,” she said.

On April 1, North Dakota began setting vapor pressure limits for crude oil loaded in tank cars at no more than 13.7 pounds per square inch.

But the crude oil tested in many serious derailments had a lower vapor pressure than the new standard.....   more here

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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

California May Have Just Broken the Methane Puzzle Wide Open

Oil and gas geothermal fields in California, 2001

While Most Wait for the Federal Government, California May Have Just Broken the Methane Puzzle Wide Open

Methane from oil and gas operations is a serious climate risk, but also a ripe opportunity to make a huge dent in overall greenhouse emissions. This past week, one state took a big, and long-awaited, step to address the challenge.

While we wait for the Environmental Protection Agency to release draft federal methane rules this summer, the California Air Resources Board has just released a draft of the most comprehensive and forward thinking regulations to cut methane pollution from oil and gas yet.

While the April 22 proposal still needs work – such as in the area of how often equipment needs to be inspected and what to do with a portion of the tanks that hold oil and gas wastewater – it’s a big and fundamental step in the right direction. It has the potential to deliver what the rest of the country needs – comprehensive equipment standards on new and existing sources for both oil and gas operations, and enhanced leak detection and repair requirements across the methane value chain.

But the benefits will be felt closest to home first.

California is the third largest oil-producing state. According to a statewide survey a few years ago, there are over 50,000 active oil wells, 1,300 gas extraction wells, and 370 gas storage wells with over  7.7 million pieces of equipment peppered across the California landscape – many of which may be leaking methane right now. Through the seven new strategies being proposed, CARB modeling predicts over 500,000 tons of greenhouse gas pollution reductions and major decreases in hazardous air pollution, mostly in the state’s most overburdened air basins.
Proposed Category for ControlReductions  (tons CO2e)
Uncontrolled Oil and Water Separators and Tanks252,000
Reciprocating Compressors143,000
Centrifugal Compressors10,700
Pneumatic Devices and Pumps124,000
Recirculation Tanks for Well Stimulation24,400
Liquids Unloading350
Components under New LDAR Program1,200
As we've written elsewhere, the consulting firm ICF found that major methane reductions from oil and gas operations can be achieved for less than one penny per 1,000 cubic feet of produced natural gas. Reducing methane emissions not only has a climate benefit, it benefits industry and consumers by eliminating waste of a natural resource and by keeping a valuable commodity in the pipeline.
Of course, the release of a draft regulation is just the start of a regulatory process that will likely take six months to a year to complete, and likely won’t take effect until 2017. But, seeing as how the U.S. oil and gas industry is responsible for 14 percent of U.S. VOC emissions (a principal smog-forming gas) and 57,000 metric tons of hazardous air pollutants, if California’s action stimulates action elsewhere, it can deliver outsized results much, much sooner and on a larger scale.

Moving Forward
In terms of next steps, California should continue its reputation as an environmental champion and see this regulation through – sticking to a rigorous, forward thinking regulation that leads the way in the oil and gas sector. With immediate action on methane emissions, the state can help address a critical missing piece in the climate change mitigation strategy across the U.S. and in the Golden State.

This post originally appeared on our California Dream 2.0 blog.

Big Oil to Flood West Coast with Tar Sands

Anthony Swift  NRDC   4/28/15

The West Coast could soon become a destination for huge volumes of tar sands crude oil - one of the world's dirtiest fuels - setting back efforts to combat climate change and exposing communities to significant new health and environmental risks. NRDC and a coalition of twenty-nine partners organization released a report - West Coast Tar Sands Invasion - that examines the spike in oil infrastructure, climate pollution, and public health risks that will result from oil industry proposals to expand tar sands refining and export capacity on the West Coast.

As the report details, in coming decades the amount of tar sands crude moving into and through the North American West Coast could increase by more than 1.7 million barrels per day (bpd) in coming decades if industry proposals for pipelines, tankers and rail facilities move forward. According to analysis by Borealis Centre Environment and Trade Research, nearly half of that tar sands - or 800,000 bpd - could be destined for refineries capable of processing heavy crude in California and Washington. This proposed tar sands invasion is a part of a massive expansion plan by the oil industry to triple production in Alberta, which will require the industry to access the United States' Gulf Coast, West Coast, and East Coast refinery markets (an invasion that Keystone XL continues to be a critical part). The tar sands invasion has major ramifications for the entire West Coast. It requires a strong response from decision makers who must recognize the critical links between proposed tar sands infrastructure and strong climate policies, reduced oil consumption and expanding clean transportation solutions.

The report finds that tar sands industry proposals would result in the following:
  • A greater than tenfold increase the amount of tar sands moving into and through the North American west coast by more than 1.7 million bpd
  • Increase the region's carbon pollution by up to 26 million metric tons - the equivalent of adding 5.5 million cars to the road
  • Create 1,500 miles of new pipelines in British Columbia
  • Increase Canadian crude by rail from approximately 10,000 bpd to up to 400,000 bpd
  • Increase tanker and barge traffic twenty-five fold, from 80 to over 2,000 vessels along the Pacific west coast, on the Salish Sea, and down the Columbia River
  • Increase tar sands at West Coast refineries by eight-fold, from 100,000 bpd to 800,000 bpd by 2040
  • Create a dozen new rail terminals that would significantly increase the region's crude-by-rail traffic
  • Place hundreds of communities, critical waterways and other environmentally-sensitive areas at risk of a tar sands oil spill
  • Put fenceline communities and millions of West Coast residents at greater risk than ever to increased toxic air pollution, derailments, explosions and other accidents that harm public health along with air and water quality
If it proceeds, this invasion will put public safety at risk and harm water resources, air quality, and the climate. A tar sands spill from train, pipeline, or tanker could devastate local economies, pristine wilderness, harm human health, and lead to an especially costly and challenging cleanup..... more here

Rail lines that cater to ag escape oil train tax

Don Jenkins    Capital Press    4/27/15

Oil train bill won't increase taxes on railroad companies that haul farm products.

OLYMPIA — In the nick of time, regional railroads, many of which primarily haul agricultural products, escaped a tax increase.

Shortly before adjourning Friday, the Washington House and Senate agreed on a bill to address an influx of rail cars hauling potentially explosive crude oil from Bakken fields to West Coast refineries.
BNSF Railway and Union Pacific Railroad will pay higher taxes to beef up rail inspections, but short-line railroads that don’t carry crude will be exempted.

“It was a really significant victory for short-line railroads,” said lobbyist Patrick Boss, who represented a coalition of regional rail companies. “That bill was about oil trains. I think the Legislature did the right thing.”

Short-line railroads were included in House Bill 1449 until it was amended just before the Senate approved it 46-0. The House agreed with that and other changes and passed the measure 95-1 a short time later. The bill is ready to be signed by Gov. Jay Inslee, who praised it in a press release.

Passing the bill was the Legislature’s last major action before ending the 2015 regular session. Lawmakers will convene in a special session Wednesday to negotiate 2015-17 operating, capital and transportation budgets.....   more here

In compromise, Washington state oil safety legislation focuses on crude-by-rail

By Samantha Wohlfeil    The Bellingham Herald   April 27, 2015

Derailed oil train’s crew told investigators they had seconds to escape

By Curtis Tate  McClatchy  April 27, 2015  The Tribune

The engineer and conductor on a BNSF oil train that derailed in North Dakota in December 2013 had seconds to escape their locomotive before it was engulfed by fire, according to interview transcripts made available Monday by federal accident investigators.

The interviews, conducted in January 2014 by the National Transportation Safety Board, show the occupational risks railroad workers face, especially with trains carrying hazardous materials. The train’s engineer is suing BNSF, and says the wreck left him with post-traumatic stress disorder.

They also show that emergency responders did not initially understand the severity of the situation they faced when two trains derailed near Casselton, N.D., on Dec. 30, 2013. One of them was carrying grain, and the other, crude oil from North Dakota’s Bakken region.....  more here

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