Archive for natural gas

Watchdog: Oversight of state pipeline safety "riddled with weaknesses."



What would we do without a watchdog to protect us and reveal what we already know: We need more (and as you'll see, way more effective) oversight of Big Corporate Ventures; and that Big Corporate Ventures involving fossil fuels (coughKEYSTONEXLcough) are putting our lives in serious danger.

Two words: Oy vey.

Via HuffPo:

(AP) — The federal agency responsible for making sure states effectively oversee the safety of natural gas and other pipelines is failing to do its job, a government watchdog said in a report released Friday.

The federal effort is so riddled with weaknesses that it's not possible to ensure states are enforcing pipeline safety, the report by the Transportation Department's Office of Inspector General said. The federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, or PHMSA, isn't ensuring key state inspectors are properly trained, inspections are being conducted frequently enough and inspections target the most risky pipelines, it said.

Uh oh.

uh oh

The post goes on to say that more than 20 percent of our pipelines are more than 50 years old or made of inadequate materials. And don't get me started on those incompetent inspectors. One had less than a year's experience.

Without proper oversight, deadly explosions and leaks occur, so clearly, the qualifications and competence of those who are charged with keeping us safe have to improve drastically.

But wait. One of the top three items on the official Republican bucket list is "less oversight." Oh, those wacky zany "pro-lifers" and their totes adorbs shortsightedness. The inspectors and the companies who are the focus of any given watchdog are as responsible as anyone for maintaining safe, healthy, reliable conditions for everyone affected by their operations. But so are our elected officials.

There's more here.

Time to revisit my post of a few days ago, "Our addiction to the ways of the past are destroying us. For humanity, intervention is needed."


Overnight: Gasland



To my great surprise, I found Gasland (with embed code) on YouTube.

Since the producers of Sicko decided to remove it from the web, I figured that the producers of Gasland would as well. Nevertheless, as you can see, it's embedded below. If, for some reason, the embed does not work, it's also on Netflix streaming, here.

So what is Gasland?

It's a film by Josh Fox, whom you can read more about here.

From the Wiki synopsis of the film here.

Nominated for an Academy Award for Best Documentary in 2011, the film focuses on communities in the United States impacted by natural gas drilling and, specifically, a method of horizontal drilling into shale formations known as slickwater fracking.

Please watch the film either through this embed or on Netflix.


Exxon-Mobil CEO Suing His Own Company To Stop Fracking -- At Least In His Neighborhood



Whatever happened to "what's good for the goose is good for the gander?" For that answer you really shouldn't be asking ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson. His company is invading the US with natural gas fracking operations -- the more the merrier. So how is it that he's just became the highest-profile anti-fracking activist in the world? He's now party to a lawsuit to stop fracking -- at least in his own neighborhood.

The CEO who made $46 million in salary last year is concerned that the fracking operation that's taking place in his multi-million dollar housing neighborhood - he has 86 acres so it's a large neighborhood - will lower the value of his home. And why would fracking bother Tyrannosaurus Rex? Well, the noise, the pollution and the traffic to name a few.

According to Credo Action:

Even though he is the CEO of one of the largest fracking companies in the world, Tillerson is suing to block a fracking development near his Texas horse ranch because it would create a "noise nuisance and traffic hazards."

Didn't he care when this was happening in other people's backyards?  Evidently not.  So this is only a case of me, me, me.  He only cares when it affects him.

So it might be with some great surprise that T-Rex Tillerson has joined a massive anti-fracking lawsuit -- essentially suing his own company. To tell you what's at stake here, enjoy this clip from Chris Hayes and anti-fracking documentary filmmaker Josh Fox:

The outcome of this and many similar lawsuits might not stop fracking from taking place -- but when you've got a deep-pocketed CEO like Tillerson and his bevy of high priced lawyers biting the same hand that feeds him, you realize there may be some good to come out of this -- in a trickle down sense. Maybe for once, trickle down policy will actually work for the good of the masses, not just the rich.

Here's hoping Exxon-Mobil takes it in the gas hole. And no lubricant will be necessary -- they've already dipped their probes in oil. I don't mean to be crude -- yes, a pun.


"Natural gas fire continues to burn after well blowout." But, hey, no worries: "So far" no "immediate danger."


gas explosion blowout gulf maddow show

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Yesterday I posted Here we go again: Natural gas spews “uncontrolled” into Gulf after blowout. I am grateful to Rachel Maddow for being the only news source I happened to see that covered that catastrophe. Please watch the video above for the entire story.

The Los Angeles Times had more coverage, and theirs is titled "Natural gas fire continues to burn after well blowout." After these disasters, the (ir)responsible parties (along with government agencies) rush in to reassure everyone how everything is under control, no worries, there's very little, if any, damage, and yippee! nobody was killed! Like this:

"There is no immediate danger to humans or wildlife" related to the incident, said staff at the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement, part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. Along with the Coast Guard, it is the lead agency responding.

Let's examine how accurate claims like those are in this case:

Blackmon said it was not clear how long it would take to drill a relief well but it would likely take days. [...]

The U.S. Coast Guard restricted vessel traffic within 500 meters of the rig, recommending vessels stay five miles away, said Lt. j.g. Tanner Stiehl. They were also enforcing Federal Aviation Administration temporary restrictions on air travel up to 2,000 feet above the area, he said.

But there's no immediate danger, see. Key word: "Immediate." Because, they say, so far nobody has seen signs of environmental damage. Key words: "So far."

And because there's no immediate danger, vessels and air travelers... keep your distance!

The workers "experienced a loss of control" of the well at 8:45 a.m. Central Time on Tuesday, according to the BSEE. Soon after, inspectors reported a cloud of natural gas above the rig and a light sheen on the water spanning one-half mile by 50 feet.

Blackmon said the environmental impact of the leak had been minimal at this point because what was leaking was "dry natural gas" that evaporated instead of contaminating the air and water.

Well then, so long as it's "dry" gas. Is that anything like, "Hey, at least it's not humid. Dry heat is so much easier to take!"

There are environmental groups that are concerned about potential contamination from condensate, or liquid released with the gas, because condensate contains the carcinogen benzene and other toxic chemicals. Feel reassured now?

Wilma Subra, a chemist from New Iberia, Louisiana and advisor to the non-profit Louisiana Environmental Action Network, was concerned with "how quickly things can go bad in the Gulf." Ya think?

Dave Valentine, a UC Santa Barbara professor of microbial geochemistry who studied the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf, said, "It's not oil. It's not floating to the surface and causing toxicity issues. But there may be this other level of impact and we just haven't been able to study it effectively."

Marine life and "the seafloor community" could be hurt. Again.

The worry stems from the many unknowns. But rest assured, it's all under control.