Archive for North Dakota

Grain crops could rot because of Big Oil "pushing" them off trains


sad cheerios grain crops

North Dakota farmers have a big Big Oil problem. And by big Big Oil problem, I mean oil being transported by rail taking precedence over all those wheat, corn, and soybean passengers. Grain crops could now have a long wait at the train station. Cheerios boxes may become collector's items. Oh, but I kid, but General Mills will not be happy.

Yes, it seems we've got a rail-car traffic jam that's going to take a big bite out of many a agro-pocketbook. And we have the oil industry to thank for, erm, derailing (bygones) grain farmers.

The New York Times:

FARGO, N.D. — The furious pace of energy exploration in North Dakota is creating a crisis for farmers whose grain shipments have been held up by a vast new movement of oil by rail, leading to millions of dollars in agricultural losses and slower production for breakfast cereal giants like General Mills.

The backlog is only going to get worse, farmers said, as they prepared this week for what is expected to be a record crop of wheat and soybeans.

“If we can’t get this stuff out soon, a lot of it is simply going to go on the ground and rot,” said Bill Hejl, who grows soybeans, wheat and sugar beets in the town of Casselton, about 20 miles west of here.

Oil and gas have replaced agriculture as the biggest contributors to North Dakota's gro$$ domestic product. One grower said he's not even sure he can survive if this goes on much longer, because huge companies like General Mills that make bread and cereal are canceling orders.They just can't wait for grain shipments.

For farmers, the delays often mean canceled orders from food giants that cannot wait weeks or months for the grain they need to make cereal, bread and an array of other products. [...] Farmers and agriculture groups say rail operators are clearly favoring the more lucrative transport of oil.

One farmer put it this way: “Oil seems to be pushing us off the trains.”

money talks


Radioactive waste a toxic byproduct of fracking, drilling in N. Dakota


headdesk radioactive waste fracking

Back in May I wrote, Hey Big Oil "pro-lifers": Fossil fuels may be killing babies! Today's Los Angeles Times has an extensive report about how, in North Dakota, fracking may very well be producing radioactive waste. Again, "pro-lifers," the question is: What do you value more, life or profits?

Did I mention that oil drilling and fracking are producing radioactive waste?

So you know how Republicans despise oversight? Because, freedom! Don'tcha wonder if they ever consider their fellow Americans' freedom to keep breathing? Especially those self-proclaimed right-to-lifers. It's hard to fathom that they are actually this okay with exposure to deadly toxins as long as their corporate gods make a buck.

Did I mention that oil drilling and fracking are producing radioactive waste?

Am I repeating myself? I tend to do that when I'm livid. And appalled. And sickened. But I'm not sickened in a way that will potentially kill me. No, that's reserved for the victims of Fracking, Inc. in North Dakota, the second-largest oil-producing state, right after Texas.

Did I mention that North Dakota doesn't have an environmental protection agency?

Did I mention that New Mexico GOP Gov. Susana Martinez weakened her state's rules on hazardous waste last year?

Did I mention that the EPA is not providing adequate oversight? That would be the Environmental PROTECTION Agency.

Did I mention that my head is throbbing from banging it on my desk?

Via the L.A. Times must-read story:

Nearly 1,000 radioactive filters were found last year at the landfill, part of a growing tide of often toxic waste produced by the state's oil and gas rush. Oil field waste includes drill cuttings — rock and earth that come up a well bore — along with drilling fluids and wastewater laced with chemicals used in fracking.

To many local and tribal officials, environmentalists and some industry managers in North Dakota, the dumping of the socks [filters clotted with radioactive dirt] and the proliferation of other waste shows the government falling short in safeguarding the environment against oil field pollution.

The Environmental Protection Agency decided during the Reagan era to classify oil field waste as not hazardous, exempting it from tight controls and leaving it to be managed by widely varied state laws. Nationally, no one tracks how many millions of tons of waste the fossil fuel boom generates, or where it ends up.

There's that "leaving it to the states" beast raising its ugly head again. Republican-run states have done so well with the Affordable Care Act and voting rights. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing, North Dakota situating "slop pits" of poison over "known aquifers" could be a teeny tiny problem.

Some of the people quoted in the article requested anonymity because they were afraid of repercussions-- like, you know, getting fired-- for trying to point out things like waste management failures, fear of carcinogens in groundwater, exemptions for radioactive elements being classified as hazardous waste, and for putting frackin' lives in danger. Things like that.

And then there's-- ta-daa!-- Congress:

The EPA says it cannot reclassify oil field waste as hazardous without legislative action, which, with the current Congress, is unlikely.

bangheadSee: "Not a skit! Our actual Congress! Gaaa!"

Not a skit, our actual Congress, gaa! Maddow


Overnight: Life in a North Dakota Oil- and Gas Boomtown (BBC)


This 'mini-documentary' (it's only 8:45) gives you an excellent overview of what life is like in the North Dakota oilfields in a short time. Be glad you don't live there.

"Men here are 100% worse...they're animals."


Video Mid Day Distraction- Amazing spinning ice circle spotted in Sheyenne River, North Dakota


Pretty neat. More about it here.