Four years after Deepwater Horizon disaster, US agrees to let BP oil rigs back into the GulfMarch 14, 2014
Get ready, Gulf: BP is back.
The U.S. government on Thursday announced that it will lift the ban that prevented BP from seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a lawsuit filed by the British oil company that said it was being unfairly punished for its disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The announcement comes nearly four years after the Deepwater explosion, which killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.
“This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together,” Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, said in a statement. “Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs.”
Following the Deepwater spill, BP wasn’t always banned from seeking federal oil leases in the Gulf. For more than two and a half years after the disaster, the U.S. government continued to purchase fuel under contracts with BP. The last lease sale BP participated in was in June 2012, when they acquired deepwater leases. The U.S. government only announced that it would ban BP and its 21 related entities from seeking government contracts in November of 2012 and January of 2013.
BP filed its lawsuit against the U.S. government in August 2013, claiming the ban was unfair and didn’t take into account the company’s “strong safety record,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit sought to make the ban “null, void, and unenforceable,” and asked the court to prevent the EPA from enforcing it.
The agreement announced by EPA to let BP back into the Gulf will end that lawsuit, and will also establish a so-called “administrative agreement” designed to keep BP in check. Under the agreement, BP will be required to retain an EPA-approved independent auditor to conduct annual reviews and report on BP’s compliance. The agreement, EPA said, will include requirements on ethics, corporate governance, and safety procedures. There will be “zero tolerance” for retaliation against employees or contractors who raise safety concerns, the EPA said.
Just because BP wasn’t allowed to bid for new oil leases in the Gulf for the last few years, however, doesn’t mean that the company wasn’t drilling in the Gulf. BP had existing leases it was allowed to operate — more oil leases in the Gulf than any other driller, in fact. It also holds leases in the Gulf from non-U.S. contractors. In November, for example, the companyadded two new drilling rigs to its offshore Gulf of Mexico operations, under a long-term contract to BP from Seadrill Ltd, an international offshore drilling contractor.

That November announcement brought the company’s total number of Gulf rigs to nine. Now, with the ban on federal drilling leases lifted, the sky’s the limit.
Source

Four years after Deepwater Horizon disaster, US agrees to let BP oil rigs back into the Gulf
March 14, 2014

Get ready, Gulf: BP is back.

The U.S. government on Thursday announced that it will lift the ban that prevented BP from seeking new oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico, ending a lawsuit filed by the British oil company that said it was being unfairly punished for its disastrous 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. The announcement comes nearly four years after the Deepwater explosion, which killed 11 crewmen and resulted in the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history.

“This is a fair agreement that requires BP to improve its practices in order to meet the terms we’ve outlined together,” Craig Hooks, assistant administrator for EPA’s Office of Administration and Resources Management, said in a statement. “Many months of discussions and assessments have led up to this point, and I’m confident we’ve secured strong provisions to protect the integrity of federal procurement programs.”

Following the Deepwater spill, BP wasn’t always banned from seeking federal oil leases in the Gulf. For more than two and a half years after the disaster, the U.S. government continued to purchase fuel under contracts with BP. The last lease sale BP participated in was in June 2012, when they acquired deepwater leases. The U.S. government only announced that it would ban BP and its 21 related entities from seeking government contracts in November of 2012 and January of 2013.

BP filed its lawsuit against the U.S. government in August 2013, claiming the ban was unfair and didn’t take into account the company’s “strong safety record,” the lawsuit reads. The lawsuit sought to make the ban “null, void, and unenforceable,” and asked the court to prevent the EPA from enforcing it.

The agreement announced by EPA to let BP back into the Gulf will end that lawsuit, and will also establish a so-called “administrative agreement” designed to keep BP in check. Under the agreement, BP will be required to retain an EPA-approved independent auditor to conduct annual reviews and report on BP’s compliance. The agreement, EPA said, will include requirements on ethics, corporate governance, and safety procedures. There will be “zero tolerance” for retaliation against employees or contractors who raise safety concerns, the EPA said.

Just because BP wasn’t allowed to bid for new oil leases in the Gulf for the last few years, however, doesn’t mean that the company wasn’t drilling in the Gulf. BP had existing leases it was allowed to operate — more oil leases in the Gulf than any other driller, in fact. It also holds leases in the Gulf from non-U.S. contractors. In November, for example, the companyadded two new drilling rigs to its offshore Gulf of Mexico operations, under a long-term contract to BP from Seadrill Ltd, an international offshore drilling contractor.

That November announcement brought the company’s total number of Gulf rigs to nine. Now, with the ban on federal drilling leases lifted, the sky’s the limit.

Source

Ex-Halliburton official charged with destroying evidence in Gulf Oil spill disaster
September 22, 2013

Anthony Badalamenti, Halliburton Energy Services Inc.’s cementing technology director, was criminally charged with one count of destroying evidence related to the Deepwater Horizon disaster in federal court Thursday.

This is the latest twist in a legal battle involving oil giant BP and Halliburton, the company consulted on the drilling site’s cement wellhead. A federal report found that both companies shared blame for the wellhead failure, but Halliburton denied responsibility. In July 2013, Halliburton agreed to pay the maximum fine of $200,000 for destroying evidence that suggested BP was not responsible.

This whole saga began three years and five months ago, when a deepwater oil well in the Gulf of Mexico failed, causing an uncontrolled blowout on the Deepwater Horizon rig and an explosion that killed 11 people and resulted in the largest oil spill in U.S. history.

BP was the owner and operator of the Macondo well, and contracted with Halliburton to oversee cement pouring while the well was drilled. During this process, Halliburton recommended BP use 21 “centralizers” — metal collars that help stabilize the well casing. BP decided to go with 6 centralizers instead. The well failed in April 2010, and in May 2010 Halliburton did some sophisticated 3D simulations of the final cementing job to test if BP should have used more centralizers.

The testing, conducted in both May and June, found little difference between using 6 or 21 centralizers on the well. In both cases, the Senior Program Manager who conducted the simulations was directed to “get rid of” the results. The program manager “felt uncomfortable” with the instructions but complied.

The person that ordered the evidence to be destroyed, according to Thursday’s court filings, was Anthony Badalamenti.

Badalamenti is no longer cementing technology director, but the former senior employee was charged with instructing two other employees to delete the post-spill review data that showed no difference between using 6 and 21 centralizers. If the tests had shown that 21 would have been better, Halliburton would have had more of a case to claim that BP’s decision was what caused the failure.

Full article

5,250 gallons of oil spill into South Platte River

September 19, 2013

Industry crews have placed absorbent booms in the South Platte River south of Milliken where at least 5,250 gallons of crude oil has spilled from two tank batteries into the flood-swollen river.

The spill from a damaged tank was reported to the Colorado Department of Natural Resources Wednesday afternoon by Anadarko Petroleum, as is required by state law.

State officials have responded to the spill site, which is south of Milliken near where the St. Vrain River flows into the South Platte.

Nearly 1,900 oil and gas wells in flooded areas of Colorado are shut, and 600 industry personnel are inspecting and repairing sites, according to the Colorado Oil and Gas Association. Crews are inspecting operations, conducting aerial and ground surveillance, identifying and determining locations of possible impairments, the association said Tuesday.

Anadarko, the second-largest operator in the operator in the Denver-Julesburg Basin, has shut about 10 percent of its operations — 250 tank batteries and 670 wells.

In a statement, Anadarko said: “To date, we are aware of two tank batteries that were damaged by flood waters, and have associated light-oil releases. The releases occurred in flood waters associated with the South Platte River and the St. Vrain River, and we have reported them to the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the National Response Center, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

"We are actively working under the oversight of these agencies to contain and clean up the releases to the greatest extent possible. We will continue to provide additional information as appropriate."

State inspectors also have fanned along the river to assess environmental damage from toppled oil and gas facilities after the floods.

The flood that began late last week toppled dozens of oil and gas storage tanks and swamped other production facilities at sites in the flood plain. Earlier this week, oil drums, some empty, some full, could be seen floating in the river as far east as Kersey.

"This is the first specific incident where we have a clear indication of the problem," state natural resources spokesman Todd Hartman said.

Full article

Syria intervention plans fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapons concernsAugust 31, 2013
On 21 August, hundreds - perhaps over a thousand - people were killed in a chemical weapon attack in Ghouta, Damascus, prompting the US, UK, Israel and France to raise the spectre of military strikes against Bashir al Assad’s forces.
The latest episode is merely one more horrific event in a conflict that has increasingly taken on genocidal characteristics. The case for action at first glance is indisputable. The UN now confirms a death toll over 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom have been killed by Assad’s troops. An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. International observers have overwhelmingly confirmed Assad’s complicity in the preponderance of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people. The illegitimacy of his regime, and the legitimacy of the uprising, is clear.
Experts are unanimous that the shocking footage of civilians, including children, suffering the effects of some sort of chemical attack, is real - but remain divided on whether it involved military-grade chemical weapons associated with Assad’s arsenal, or were a more amateur concoction potentially linked to the rebels.
Whatever the case, few recall that US agitation against Syria began long before recent atrocities, in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.
In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria,” with a view to pressure him to be “more conciliatory and open to negotiations” with Israel. One faction receiving covert US “political and financial support” through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.
According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:

"I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria."

The 2011 uprisings, it would seem - triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes - came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.” (Thanks to whistleblower & hacktivist Jeremy Hammond & WikiLeaks for the Stratfor leaks)
So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.
Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008US Army-funded RAND report, Unfolding the Future of the Long War(pdf). The report noted that “the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource.” As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has “motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states”:

"The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized… For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources… The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war."

In this context, the report identified several potential trajectories for regional policy focused on protecting access to Gulf oil supplies, among which the following are most salient:

"Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces… the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace… US leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran."

Exploring different scenarios for this trajectory, the report speculated that the US may concentrate “on shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.” Noting that this could actually empower al-Qaeda jihadists, the report concluded that doing so might work in western interests by bogging down jihadi activity with internal sectarian rivalry rather than targeting the US:

"One of the oddities of this long war trajectory is that it may actually reduce the al-Qaeda threat to US interests in the short term. The upsurge in Shia identity and confidence seen here would certainly cause serious concern in the Salafi-jihadist community in the Muslim world, including the senior leadership of al-Qaeda. As a result, it is very likely that al-Qaeda might focus its efforts on targeting Iranian interests throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf while simultaneously cutting back on anti-American and anti-Western operations."

The RAND document contextualised this disturbing strategy with surprisingly prescient recognition of the increasing vulnerability of the US’s key allies and enemies - Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Syria, Iran - to a range of converging crises: rapidly rising populations, a ‘youth bulge’, internal economic inequalities, political frustrations, sectarian tensions, and environmentally-linked water shortages, all of which could destabilise these countries from within or exacerbate inter-state conflicts.
Full article

Syria intervention plans fueled by oil interests, not chemical weapons concerns
August 31, 2013

On 21 August, hundreds - perhaps over a thousand - people were killed in a chemical weapon attack in Ghouta, Damascus, prompting the US, UK, Israel and France to raise the spectre of military strikes against Bashir al Assad’s forces.

The latest episode is merely one more horrific event in a conflict that has increasingly taken on genocidal characteristics. The case for action at first glance is indisputable. The UN now confirms a death toll over 100,000 people, the vast majority of whom have been killed by Assad’s troops. An estimated 4.5 million people have been displaced from their homes. International observers have overwhelmingly confirmed Assad’s complicity in the preponderance of war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Syrian people. The illegitimacy of his regime, and the legitimacy of the uprising, is clear.

Experts are unanimous that the shocking footage of civilians, including children, suffering the effects of some sort of chemical attack, is real - but remain divided on whether it involved military-grade chemical weapons associated with Assad’s arsenal, or were a more amateur concoction potentially linked to the rebels.

Whatever the case, few recall that US agitation against Syria began long before recent atrocities, in the context of wider operations targeting Iranian influence across the Middle East.

In May 2007, a presidential finding revealed that Bush had authorised CIA operations against Iran. Anti-Syria operations were also in full swing around this time as part of this covert programme, according to Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker. A range of US government and intelligence sources told him that the Bush administration had “cooperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations” intended to weaken the Shi’ite Hezbollah in Lebanon. “The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria,” wrote Hersh, “a byproduct” of which is “the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups” hostile to the United States and “sympathetic to al-Qaeda.” He noted that “the Saudi government, with Washington’s approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria,” with a view to pressure him to be “more conciliatory and open to negotiations” with Israel. One faction receiving covert US “political and financial support” through the Saudis was the exiled Syrian Muslim Brotherhood.

According to former French foreign minister Roland Dumas, Britain had planned covert action in Syria as early as 2009: “I was in England two years before the violence in Syria on other business”, he told French television:

"I met with top British officials, who confessed to me that they were preparing something in Syria. This was in Britain not in America. Britain was preparing gunmen to invade Syria."

The 2011 uprisings, it would seem - triggered by a confluence of domestic energy shortages and climate-induced droughts which led to massive food price hikes - came at an opportune moment that was quickly exploited. Leaked emails from the private intelligence firm Stratfor including notes from a meeting with Pentagon officials confirmed US-UK training of Syrian opposition forces since 2011 aimed at eliciting “collapse” of Assad’s regime “from within.” (Thanks to whistleblower & hacktivist Jeremy Hammond & WikiLeaks for the Stratfor leaks)

So what was this unfolding strategy to undermine Syria and Iran all about? According to retired NATO Secretary General Wesley Clark, a memo from the Office of the US Secretary of Defense just a few weeks after 9/11 revealed plans to “attack and destroy the governments in 7 countries in five years”, starting with Iraq and moving on to “Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Iran.” In a subsequent interview, Clark argues that this strategy is fundamentally about control of the region’s vast oil and gas resources.

Much of the strategy currently at play was candidly described in a 2008US Army-funded RAND reportUnfolding the Future of the Long War(pdf). The report noted that “the economies of the industrialized states will continue to rely heavily on oil, thus making it a strategically important resource.” As most oil will be produced in the Middle East, the US has “motive for maintaining stability in and good relations with Middle Eastern states”:

"The geographic area of proven oil reserves coincides with the power base of much of the Salafi-jihadist network. This creates a linkage between oil supplies and the long war that is not easily broken or simply characterized… For the foreseeable future, world oil production growth and total output will be dominated by Persian Gulf resources… The region will therefore remain a strategic priority, and this priority will interact strongly with that of prosecuting the long war."

In this context, the report identified several potential trajectories for regional policy focused on protecting access to Gulf oil supplies, among which the following are most salient:

"Divide and Rule focuses on exploiting fault lines between the various Salafi-jihadist groups to turn them against each other and dissipate their energy on internal conflicts. This strategy relies heavily on covert action, information operations (IO), unconventional warfare, and support to indigenous security forces… the United States and its local allies could use the nationalist jihadists to launch proxy IO campaigns to discredit the transnational jihadists in the eyes of the local populace… US leaders could also choose to capitalize on the ‘Sustained Shia-Sunni Conflict’ trajectory by taking the side of the conservative Sunni regimes against Shiite empowerment movements in the Muslim world…. possibly supporting authoritative Sunni governments against a continuingly hostile Iran."

Exploring different scenarios for this trajectory, the report speculated that the US may concentrate “on shoring up the traditional Sunni regimes in Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Pakistan as a way of containing Iranian power and influence in the Middle East and Persian Gulf.” Noting that this could actually empower al-Qaeda jihadists, the report concluded that doing so might work in western interests by bogging down jihadi activity with internal sectarian rivalry rather than targeting the US:

"One of the oddities of this long war trajectory is that it may actually reduce the al-Qaeda threat to US interests in the short term. The upsurge in Shia identity and confidence seen here would certainly cause serious concern in the Salafi-jihadist community in the Muslim world, including the senior leadership of al-Qaeda. As a result, it is very likely that al-Qaeda might focus its efforts on targeting Iranian interests throughout the Middle East and Persian Gulf while simultaneously cutting back on anti-American and anti-Western operations."

The RAND document contextualised this disturbing strategy with surprisingly prescient recognition of the increasing vulnerability of the US’s key allies and enemies - Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, Egypt, Syria, Iran - to a range of converging crises: rapidly rising populations, a ‘youth bulge’, internal economic inequalities, political frustrations, sectarian tensions, and environmentally-linked water shortages, all of which could destabilise these countries from within or exacerbate inter-state conflicts.

Full article

A Texas tragedy: Ample oil, no water because of fracking boomAugust 13, 2013
Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.
"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."
Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.
Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.
In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.
The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian basin.
A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.
But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.
No-one in Barnhart paid much attention at the time, and McGuire hooked up to the town’s central water supply. “Everyone just said: ‘too bad’. Well now it’s all going dry,” McGuire said.
Ranchers dumped most of their herds. Cotton farmers lost up to half their crops. The extra draw down, coupled with drought, made it impossible for local ranchers to feed and water their herds, said Buck Owens. In a good year, Owens used to run 500 cattle and up to 8,000 goats on his 7,689 leased hectares (19,000 acres). Now he’s down to a few hundred goats.
The drought undoubtedly took its toll but Owens reserved his anger for the contractors who drilled 104 water wells on his leased land, to supply the oil companies.
Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water bearing formation.
"They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells," Owens said.
Meanwhile, residents in town complained, they were forced to live under water rationing. “I’ve got dead trees in my yard because I haven’t been able to water them,” said Glenda Kuykendall. “The state is mandating our water system to conserve water but why?… Getting one oil well fracked takes more water than the entire town can drink or use in a day.”
Even as the drought bore down, even as the water levels declined, the oil industry continued to demand water and those with water on their land were willing to sell it. The road west of town was lined with signs advertising “fresh water”, where tankers can take on a box-car-sized load of water laced with industrial chemicals.
"If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water," said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two frack tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.
By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.
He rejected the idea there should be any curbs on selling water during the drought. “People use their water for food and fibre. I choose to use my water to sell to the oil field,” he said. “Who’s taking advantage? I don’t see any difference.”
Barnhart remained dry for five days last month before local work crew revived an abandoned railway well and started pumping again. But residents fear it is just a temporary fix and that next time it happens they won’t have their own wells to fall back on. “My well is very very close to going dry,” said Kuykendall.
So what is a town like Barnhart to do? Fracking is a powerful drain on water supplies. In adjacent Crockett county, fracking accounts for up to 25% of water use, according to the groundwater conservation district. But Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, argues fracking is not the only reason Texas is going dry – and nor is the drought. The latest shocks to the water system come after decades of overuse by ranchers, cotton farmers, and fast-growing thirsty cities.
"We have large urban centres sucking water out of west Texas to put on their lands. We have a huge agricultural community, and now we have fracking which is also using water," she said. And then there is climate change.
West Texas has a long history of recurring drought, but under climate change, the south-west has been experiencing record-breaking heatwaves, further drying out the soil and speeding the evaporation of water in lakes and reservoirs. Underground aquifers failed to regenerate. “What happens is that climate change comes on top and in many cases it can be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, but the camel is already overloaded,” said Hayhoe.
Other communities across a bone-dry south-west are resorting to extraordinary measures to keep the water flowing. Robert Lee, also in the oil patch, has been hauling in water by tanker. So has Spicewood Beach, a resort town 40 miles from Austin, which has been trucking in water since early 2012.
San Angelo, a city of 100,000, dug a pipeline to an underground water source more than 60 miles away, and sunk half a dozen new wells.
Las Cruces, just across the border from the Texas panhandle in New Mexico, is drilling down 1,000ft in search of water.
But those fixes are way out of reach for small, rural communities. Outside the RV parks for the oil field workers who are just passing through, Barnhart has a population of about 200.
"We barely make enough money to pay our light bill and we’re supposed to find $300,000 to drill a water well?" said John Nanny, an official with the town’s water supply company.
Last week brought some relief, with rain across the entire state of Texas. Rain gauges in some parts of west Texas registered two inches or more. Some ranchers dared to hope it was the beginning of the end of the drought.
But not Owens, not yet anyway. The underground aquifers needed far more rain to recharge, he said, and it just wasn’t raining as hard as it did when he was growing up.
"We’ve got to get floods. We’ve got to get a hurricane to move up in our country and just saturate everything to replenish the aquifer," he said. "Because when the water is gone. That’s it. We’re gone."
Source

A Texas tragedy: Ample oil, no water because of fracking boom
August 13, 2013

Beverly McGuire saw the warning signs before the town well went dry: sand in the toilet bowl, the sputter of air in the tap, a pump working overtime to no effect. But it still did not prepare her for the night last month when she turned on the tap and discovered the tiny town where she had made her home for 35 years was out of water.

"The day that we ran out of water I turned on my faucet and nothing was there and at that moment I knew the whole of Barnhart was down the tubes," she said, blinking back tears. "I went: ‘dear God help us. That was the first thought that came to mind."

Across the south-west, residents of small communities like Barnhart are confronting the reality that something as basic as running water, as unthinking as turning on a tap, can no longer be taken for granted.

Three years of drought, decades of overuse and now the oil industry’s outsize demands on water for fracking are running down reservoirs and underground aquifers. And climate change is making things worse.

In Texas alone, about 30 communities could run out of water by the end of the year, according to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.

Nearly 15 million people are living under some form of water rationing, barred from freely sprinkling their lawns or refilling their swimming pools. In Barnhart’s case, the well appears to have run dry because the water was being extracted for shale gas fracking.

The town — a gas station, a community hall and a taco truck – sits in the midst of the great Texan oil rush, on the eastern edge of the Permian basin.

A few years ago, it seemed like a place on the way out. Now McGuire said she can see nine oil wells from her back porch, and there are dozens of RVs parked outside town, full of oil workers.

But soon after the first frack trucks pulled up two years ago, the well on McGuire’s property ran dry.

No-one in Barnhart paid much attention at the time, and McGuire hooked up to the town’s central water supply. “Everyone just said: ‘too bad’. Well now it’s all going dry,” McGuire said.

Ranchers dumped most of their herds. Cotton farmers lost up to half their crops. The extra draw down, coupled with drought, made it impossible for local ranchers to feed and water their herds, said Buck Owens. In a good year, Owens used to run 500 cattle and up to 8,000 goats on his 7,689 leased hectares (19,000 acres). Now he’s down to a few hundred goats.

The drought undoubtedly took its toll but Owens reserved his anger for the contractors who drilled 104 water wells on his leased land, to supply the oil companies.

Water levels were dropping in his wells because of the vast amounts of water being pumped out of the Edwards-Trinity-Plateau Aquifer, a 34,000 sq mile water bearing formation.

"They are sucking all of the water out of the ground, and there are just hundreds and hundreds of water trucks here every day bringing fresh water out of the wells," Owens said.

Meanwhile, residents in town complained, they were forced to live under water rationing. “I’ve got dead trees in my yard because I haven’t been able to water them,” said Glenda Kuykendall. “The state is mandating our water system to conserve water but why?… Getting one oil well fracked takes more water than the entire town can drink or use in a day.”

Even as the drought bore down, even as the water levels declined, the oil industry continued to demand water and those with water on their land were willing to sell it. The road west of town was lined with signs advertising “fresh water”, where tankers can take on a box-car-sized load of water laced with industrial chemicals.

"If you’re going to develop the oil, you’ve got to have the water," said Larry Baxter, a contractor from the nearby town of Mertzon, who installed two frack tanks on his land earlier this year, hoping to make a business out of his well selling water to oil industry.

By his own estimate, his well could produce enough to fill up 20 or 30 water trucks for the oil industry each day. At $60 (£39.58) a truck, that was $36,000 a month, easily. “I could sell 100 truckloads a day if I was open to it,” Baxter said.

He rejected the idea there should be any curbs on selling water during the drought. “People use their water for food and fibre. I choose to use my water to sell to the oil field,” he said. “Who’s taking advantage? I don’t see any difference.”

Barnhart remained dry for five days last month before local work crew revived an abandoned railway well and started pumping again. But residents fear it is just a temporary fix and that next time it happens they won’t have their own wells to fall back on. “My well is very very close to going dry,” said Kuykendall.

So what is a town like Barnhart to do? Fracking is a powerful drain on water supplies. In adjacent Crockett county, fracking accounts for up to 25% of water use, according to the groundwater conservation district. But Katharine Hayhoe, a climate scientist at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, argues fracking is not the only reason Texas is going dry – and nor is the drought. The latest shocks to the water system come after decades of overuse by ranchers, cotton farmers, and fast-growing thirsty cities.

"We have large urban centres sucking water out of west Texas to put on their lands. We have a huge agricultural community, and now we have fracking which is also using water," she said. And then there is climate change.

West Texas has a long history of recurring drought, but under climate change, the south-west has been experiencing record-breaking heatwaves, further drying out the soil and speeding the evaporation of water in lakes and reservoirs. Underground aquifers failed to regenerate. “What happens is that climate change comes on top and in many cases it can be the final straw that breaks the camel’s back, but the camel is already overloaded,” said Hayhoe.

Other communities across a bone-dry south-west are resorting to extraordinary measures to keep the water flowing. Robert Lee, also in the oil patch, has been hauling in water by tanker. So has Spicewood Beach, a resort town 40 miles from Austin, which has been trucking in water since early 2012.

San Angelo, a city of 100,000, dug a pipeline to an underground water source more than 60 miles away, and sunk half a dozen new wells.

Las Cruces, just across the border from the Texas panhandle in New Mexico, is drilling down 1,000ft in search of water.

But those fixes are way out of reach for small, rural communities. Outside the RV parks for the oil field workers who are just passing through, Barnhart has a population of about 200.

"We barely make enough money to pay our light bill and we’re supposed to find $300,000 to drill a water well?" said John Nanny, an official with the town’s water supply company.

Last week brought some relief, with rain across the entire state of Texas. Rain gauges in some parts of west Texas registered two inches or more. Some ranchers dared to hope it was the beginning of the end of the drought.

But not Owens, not yet anyway. The underground aquifers needed far more rain to recharge, he said, and it just wasn’t raining as hard as it did when he was growing up.

"We’ve got to get floods. We’ve got to get a hurricane to move up in our country and just saturate everything to replenish the aquifer," he said. "Because when the water is gone. That’s it. We’re gone."

Source

More than 200 arrested for demonstrating against Chevron
August 5, 2013

Police arrested more than 200 demonstrators for trespassing at Chevron Corp in the California city of Richmond on Saturday to mark the one-year anniversary of a massive refinery fire and to protest a proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The arrests came as a throng of sunflower-carrying picketers chanted, “Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go,” as people of all ages walked onto Chevron’s property to draw attention to a growing movement against fossil fuel.

Police Captain Mark Gagan said the arrests included three people in wheelchairs and demonstrators as young as 18 years old. 

Environmentalist Bill McKibben, who is leading a call for using only renewable energy, was one of the first to be handcuffed. He had earlier joined Richmond Mayor Gayle McLaughlin in a rally, one in a series across the nation over the environmental consequences of continuing to burn oil and to protest TransCanada Corp’s proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

The protest came a day after the city of Richmond filed suit against Chevron over a pipeline rupture and fire that sent a cloud of smoke over the northern California city and neighboring Bay Area communities last August.

The lawsuit seeks damages for the city and its residents and alleges the company ignored repeated warnings, delayed repairs and could have avoided the fire. It followed a dozen similar incidents at Chevron over two decades, the suit says.

"Our community is at risk every day for another fire and explosion," the mayor told the crowd. She said the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health had issued 11 citations of willful neglect to Chevron’s Richmond refinery.

At least 15,000 people went to hospitals with respiratory complaints in the hours and days after the fire.

The Keystone XL pipeline would carry 830,000 barrels a day of crude from Canada’s oil sands and the Bakken shale in North Dakota and Montana to refineries on the U.S. Gulf Coast. It would be subject to leaks and accidents which could leave innumerable people with dirty, contaminated water likely to result in higher incidences of related cancers and illnesses. 

President Barack Obama’s administration is expected to decide whether to approve the pipeline by early 2014.

Source

Image 1: “Everybody (at the company and in government) is freaking out about this. We don’t understand what happened. Nobody really understands how to stop it from leaking, or if they do they haven’t put the measures into place.” -Anonymous Canadian Scientist

So far 4,500 barrels of tar sands have already been recovered…. but no one knows how to stop it from leaking more!

Since May there have been 4 tar sands spills in Cold Lake, Alberta on Beaver Lake Cree First Nation territory. More here.

Image 2: Residents of Houston’s East End were recently stopped and questioned by Valero security and the Houston Police Dept.

Their crime? Doing basic air quality tests near the Valero tar sands refinery in Manchester!

Image 3: While scouring East Texas for Anomalies on the KXL, evidence supporting Transcanada’s claim of “state-of- the- art materials and techniques used to construct the Keystone XL pipeline” was found. A crack in the foundation of Transcanada’s lies!

This site pictured here is a valve station, and is part of the highly advanced emergency shutoff system that Transcanada intends to use in case of a pipeline leak. It is frightening to think that this is the foundation of a supposedly high tech system to protect against a Tar Sands spill.


To see photos like this on your feed everyday ‘LIKE’ & ‘FAVORITE’ Tar Sands Blockade & The People’s Record on Facebook.

BREAKING NOW: Protester risks life to stop the impending Enbridge oil spills!June 24, 2013
A protester has climbed into an oil pipeline at a southern Michigan construction site, and emergency crews are ‘working to get him out’.
The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the man is 25 yards inside the opening of the line near Marshall in Calhoun County’s Fredonia Township. Air is being pushed in toward him, and officials are monitoring carbon monoxide levels at the scene.

The new pipeline endangers public health, considering the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s pipeline ruptured nearby in 2010, spilling 800,000 gallons of oil into a river.
Source
Sounds like a great start to a #fearless summer.

BREAKING NOW: Protester risks life to stop the impending Enbridge oil spills!
June 24, 2013

A protester has climbed into an oil pipeline at a southern Michigan construction site, and emergency crews are ‘working to get him out’.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports the man is 25 yards inside the opening of the line near Marshall in Calhoun County’s Fredonia Township. Air is being pushed in toward him, and officials are monitoring carbon monoxide levels at the scene.

The new pipeline endangers public health, considering the Calgary, Alberta-based company’s pipeline ruptured nearby in 2010, spilling 800,000 gallons of oil into a river.

Source

Sounds like a great start to a #fearless summer.

Huge ‘dead zone’ predicted in Gulf of Mexico; climate disaster ever increasing
June 21, 2013

The massive Midwestern drought of 2012 reduced rainfall and fertilizer carried into the Gulf of Mexico by runoff, meaning the algae blooms that cause the Gulf of Mexico’s dead zone were unusually small. 2013 will be different. (Source - Time)

Heavy rainfall in the Midwest this spring has led to flood conditions, with states like Minnesota and Illinois experiencing some of the wettest spring seasons on record. And all that flooding means a lot more nitrogen-based fertilizer running off into the Gulf. According to an annual estimate from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) sponsored modelers at the University of Michigan, Louisiana State University and Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium, this year’s dead zone could be as large as 8,561 sq. miles—roughly the size of New Jersey. That would make it the biggest dead zone on record.And even the low end of the estimate would place this year among the top 10 biggest dead zones on record. Barring an unlikely change in the weather, much of the Gulf of Mexico could become an aquatic desert.

  • Emails reveal that Exxon Mobil misled the public about the extent of contamination in Lake Conway from the recent Pegasus pipeline oil spill in Arkansas. (Source - TreeHugger)
  • Migratory seabirds are starving to death, a problem biologists are linking to climate change and overfishing. (Source - Washington Post)
  • Rolling Stone has compiled the ten dumbest things ever said about climate change. (Source - Rolling Stone)
  • The Obama administration is preparing to impose limits on existing power plants as part of his soon-to-be-released plan to combat climate change, the White House’s energy and environment adviser said Wednesday. (Source - New York Times)
  • Billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer is launching a new online campaign to press President Obama to do more on climate change and to reject the Keystone XL pipeline.(Source - SFGate)
  • A new report by the Center for American Progress finds the federal government spends far more on cleaning up after storms than it does on preparing communities for extreme weather. (Source - Los Angeles Times)
  • The unseasonably hot, dry weather in Alaska has helped spurn wildfires in part of the state. (Source - Washington Post)
  • About 350 Walgreens stores will soon be equipped with solar power. (Source - Chicago Tribune)
  • BP is trying to convince lawmakers to keep current rules mandating the use of renewable fuels, instead of abolishing them. (Source - Bloomberg)
  • New Zealand’s worst drought in decades has hurt the country’s economic growth. (Source - Wall Street Journal)
  • Despite a wet spring, drought conditions are returning to Northern Colorado (Source - The Coloradoan)
  • Within five years natural gas could challenge oil as the world’s dominate transportation fuel, according to the International Energy Agency. (Source - Market Watch)
  • Clean Technica updated their rankings of the top wind power countries per capita, drawing from the Global Wind Energy Council’s latest numbers. (Source - Clean Technica)
  • And here’s their latest ranking of all 50 U.S. states by policies friendly to solar power, taken from Solar Power Rocks. (Source - Clean Technica)

Source

We have to resist! It’s time for a #Fearless Summer.

Environmental protests are becoming one of the biggest forms of social unrest in China – latest protests took place on Thursday over plans to build a petrochemical plant in the city of Anning.
May 17, 2013 

The refinery, if it goes ahead, will process more than 10 million tonnes of crude oil a year and 500,000 tons of the industrial chemical paraxylene (PX). China is the world’s largest producer of PX which is used in the process of manufacturing plastic bottles and other products and is carcinogenic. According to some media reports, up to 2,500 people took to the streets today and the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported that arrests had been made.

The newspaper quoted a 24-year-old protester saying “I hope this can be a good beginning for a dialogue between citizens and the government on major decisions”. The protest was one of the top trending topics on Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo and photos were posted of protesters wearing masks and waving banners.

This latest protest in Kunming is the second large protest in a week over environmental concerns about industrial manufacturing. Earlier this week up to a thousand people took to the streets in the Songjiang district of Shanghai against plans for a lithium battery factory amid concerns about water and air pollution. According to media reports, residents of the area marched peacefully chanting and holding signs saying “no factory here”. Yesterday, state media reported that the plant, which was to built by Hefei Guoxuan High-tech Power Energy Co Ltd, would not go ahead due to the public pressure.

"Everybody is texting the news, and there are plans for a celebration," a resident named Zhu was quoted by the China Daily newspaper and said that local people had viewed the plant as a safety hazard. We are delighted with the company’s decision because we love Songjiang and we want a safe and clean environment," she said.

The Chinese public are becoming increasing concerned about the state of their local environment and up to 80% believe that environmental protection should be a higher priority than economic development, according to a new survey. The survey, carried out by the Public Opinion Research Centre in collaboration with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, measured the public’s attitudes towards environmental protection and how they rate the government’s performance.

Such protests appear to be often tolerated by the authorities and, like the Shanghai protests, are sometimes successful in their goals. Last October, a week-long series of protests in Ningbo in eastern China by thousands of residents was sucessful in stopping work on an oil and petrochemical complex. The frequency of protests is rising as China’s increasingly affluent and middle-class society becomes more aware of environmental issues. The number of environmental protests rose by 120% from 2010 to 2011, according to Yang Chaofei, the vice-chairman of the Chinese Society for Environmental Sciences.

Yang a told a lecture organized by the Standing Committee of the National’s People’s Congress on the social impact of environmental problems that the number of environmental ‘mass incidents’ has grown an average of 29% annually from 1996 to 2011. He said that the number of incidents which involve concerns about dangerous chemicals and heavy metal pollution have risen since 2010.

The results of the new survey indicate that the number of such incidents is not likely to decrease any time soon. Nearly half of those surveyed said the government should spend more on environmental protection and over 60% of residents said government information about environmental protection is not transparent. And in a clear sign that the Chinese public is not going to let their voices go unheard, 78% of those surveyed said that they will participate in protests if pollution facilities are planned near their homes.

Source

Their obese emperors from New York
are suave smiling assassins
who buy silk, nylon, cigars
petty tyrants and dictators.

They buy countries, people, seas, police, county councils,
distant regions where the poor hoard their corn
like misers their gold:
Standard Oil awakens them,
clothes them in uniforms, designates
which brother is the enemy.
the Paraguayan fights its war,
and the Bolivian wastes away
in the jungle with its machine gun.

A President assassinated for a drop of petroleum,
a million-acre mortgage,
a swift execution on a morning mortal with light, petrified,
a new prison camp for subversives,
in Patagonia, a betrayal, scattered shots
beneath a petroliferous moon,
a subtle change of ministers
in the capital, a whisper
like an oil tide,
and zap, you’ll see
how Standard Oil’s letters shine above the clouds,
above the seas, in your home,
illuminating their dominions.

An excerpt from one of Pablo Neruda’s early poems called Standard Oil Company
resistkxl

resistkxl:
BREAKING!
Two Lifelong Oklahomans have shut down a KXL construction site near Bennington, Oklahoma! Gwen Ingram has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery and Eric Whelan has ascended a 40 ft tower into the air in an arial blockade that has tied up the remainder of heavy machinery on site.
Follow here for live updates

resistkxl:

BREAKING!

Two Lifelong Oklahomans have shut down a KXL construction site near Bennington, Oklahoma!

Gwen Ingram has locked herself to a piece of heavy machinery and Eric Whelan has ascended a 40 ft tower into the air in an arial blockade that has tied up the remainder of heavy machinery on site.

Follow here for live updates

Oklahoma Grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, has U-locked her neck to a piece of KXL heavy machinery, effectively halting construction near Allen, OK.
Nancy is taking action today in solidarity with residents of neighboring Mayflower, Arkansas who have been forced from their homes and are suffering the health impacts from tar sands toxins.
Read more about Nancy’s action here.

Oklahoma Grandmother Nancy Zorn, 79, has U-locked her neck to a piece of KXL heavy machinery, effectively halting construction near Allen, OK.

Nancy is taking action today in solidarity with residents of neighboring Mayflower, Arkansas who have been forced from their homes and are suffering the health impacts from tar sands toxins.

Read more about Nancy’s action here.

Tar Sands Blockade published new videos today (4/7) showing oil from the Arkansas pipeline rupture diverted from a residential neighborhood into a wetland area to keep it out sight and, most importantly, out of the media & public view.
April 7, 2013

While it’s not clear if the oil was intentionally moved into the wetland, the company says it is cleaning pavement with power washing devices, which could cause some of the oil to be pushed off neighborhood streets and into other areas.

Activists also interviewed a local resident who claimed the oil has continued “flowing” into Lake Conway since the spill happened.

“I don’t have allergies,” the man said. “But now my sinuses are bothering me. My throat’s bothering me. My eyes water constantly. But Exxon acts like nothing’s wrong. They don’t have to live here, we do. And we’re not moving just because of them.”

The activists noted that they were turned away from the area several times before by police and Exxon spill cleanup workers, but they returned on Saturday just before sundown and managed to sneak in to capture footage of the oiled wetlands. In two separate videos, nearby residents say they’ve been made sick by the spill, which has tremendously affected their air quality.

This footage has largely remained out of the media due to the lockdown that’s descended upon Mayflower nearly a week since the spill. Reporters touring the damage with Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel were allegedly turned away by Exxon workers. One journalist, Inside Climate News’s Susan White, was even threatened with arrest when she asked a question of Exxon’s “public affairs” desk inside the spill cleanup command center. The company has also secured a no-fly zone over the spill area.

Video of Lake Conway’s wetlands shows thousands of what Exxon called “absorbent pads” — which appear to be nothing more than paper towels — littering the blackened landscape as thick, soupy crude bubbles across the water’s surface. The company insists that air quality in the affected region is being measured by the Environmental Protection Agency, and that tests show “levels that are either non-detect or that are below any necessary action levels.” Exxon also says that the area’s drinking water remains unaffected.

A phone number given by Exxon to reach the company’s “downstream media relations” team did not appear to be correct, and a spokesperson was not available for comment.

Don’t let Exxon sweep this thing under the rug! Share this now, far & wide, with everybody you know! We cannot allow these corporate-committed environmental tragedies to continue to claim people, land & our future as victims in the wealth-owning, corporate elite’s illogical profit-making endeavors.

Source

Thousands of gallons of pollution recovered from oil & gas spill in Colorado
March 23, 2013

Cleanup continues at the site of an underground spill of thousands of gallons of pollution related to the oil and gas industry in the heart of Colorado’s fracking country.

The underground leak is located near the town of Parachute and has threatened to contaminate Parachute Creek, which flows into the Colorado River. State officials continue to report that buffers have kept the creek safe, so far.

Colorado regulators reported that nearly 6,000 gallons of “hydrocarbons” had been recovered from the site. At least 102,564 gallons of contaminated water have been recovered, as well.

The spill site is near a natural gas plant operated by Williams Energy, and another company, WPX Energy, operates underground oil and gas pipelines in the area. Both companies are working to contain the spill but neither company has taken responsibility, publicly revealed the source of the pollution or identified the type of hydrocarbons contaminating the area.

Spokespeople for Williams did not respond to several inquiries from Truthout.

Todd Hartman, a spokesman for the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, said that work had begun on Wednesday to excavate a large pipe in the spill area, where workers are “proceeding with care and deliberation.”

Earlier this week, the Colorado Oil and Gas Conservation Commission issued notices of “alleged violation” to Williams and WPX. The commission ordered both companies to continue working to contain the spill and submit a cleanup plan to regulators.

Williams Energy workers first identified the spill on March 8, but the company did not alert the nearby town of Parachute until five days later, which frustrated local officials who visited the site this week. It’s unclear how long the underground plume of pollution was growing before Williams discovered the contamination in an area adjacent to its gas plant.

A local cattleman told The Denver Post that such spills are common in the area and often remain secret, and state records show that the oil and gas industry is responsible for hundreds of spills each year, the newspaper reports

Advancements in drilling technology, such as hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” have facilitated an oil and gas rush in Colorado and several other states. The environmental group Earthjustice reports that at least eight fracking-related accidents, mostly involving contaminated wells, have occurred across the state.

In a statement, the Colorado Wildlife Federation said the spill might have been detected earlier with better monitoring.

"This is one more strong argument for keeping oil and gas wells and related infrastructure a safe distance from waterways,” said Suzanne O’Neill, the organization’s executive director. "Regulators pledged to form a stakeholders’ group to develop standards for riparian setbacks a while ago. We’re still waiting."

In 2008, Colorado regulators failed to include protections and buffer zones for waterways as they overhauled regulations for the oil and gas industry, the group noted.

Source