Archive for North Dakota

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.


"A high incidence of blood cancers among men" near Canada's main oil sands site


tar sands maple leaf oil

The other day this happened: Here we go again: No. Dakota kept oil pipeline spill quiet for days; oil firm doesn't know when it started. And who could forget Canada's booming oil sands industry offers "choice between whether we starve to death or are poisoned to death"?

Here is Rachel Maddow's summary of the latest oil pollution events in North Dakota, including updates since my post was written:

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So there you go. Two very recent, very disgusting examples of the destruction and utter disregard for private property, the environment, and the health and welfare of anyone anywhere near Big Oil's rape of Mother Earth.

Oh wait. Here's a third. Via the Los Angeles Times:

A new study has detected air pollutants, including carcinogens, in areas downwind of Canada's main fossil fuel hub in Alberta at levels rivaling those of major metropolises such as Beijing and Mexico City.

The study by researchers from UC Irvine and the University of Michigan also found a high incidence of blood cancers such as leukemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma among men in the area, compared with the rest of Alberta and Canada.

Of course, the Alberta government "sees no evidence" of such a thing. All those carcinogens associated with "a three-county area where oil, chemicals and oil sands crude are processed" are just a silly coincidence.

Or the study was flawed.

Or somebody working for the government/oil company forgot to pay the people doing the study enough to deter them from presenting actual, you know, facts:

VOCs, organic chemical mixtures created by certain industrial processes and consumption of fossil fuels... contribute to climate change and formation of smog. They also contain cancer-causing substances such as benzene and 1,3-butadiene. Tests showed that airborne concentrations of 1,3-butadiene were 322 times greater downwind of the industrial area than upwind. Similarly, downwind concentrations of benzene were 51 times greater.

Tar sands “isn’t oil. This is a pipe-eating, planet-cooking, water-fouling goo. You can’t clean up tar.”

But the study is wrong. Got it. Tell it to those men who are dying of cancer.


Here we go again: No. Dakota kept oil pipeline spill quiet for days; oil firm doesn't know when it started.


that's oil folks smaller

I recently posted Canada's booming oil sands industry offering a "choice between whether we starve to death or are poisoned to death". That was one of our many, many stories about how the oil industry is slowly destroying our environment (scroll) and life on this planet. We can't take much more pollution before the damage becomes irreversible. Oh wait.

Today I opened my Los Angeles Times and, once again, another pipeline leak story reared its slimy head. This time it was in North Dakota, and once again, it was a disgustingly frustrating tale of destruction and irresponsibility:

At least 20,600 barrels of oil leaked onto the [North Dakota farmer Steven] Jensens' land from a pipeline owned by Tesoro Logistics, one of the largest land-based spills in recent history. Neither the pipeline company nor the state informed the public of the spill for 11 days.

To put things into perspective, the Kalamazoo River spill in Michigan, where cleanup has gone on since 2010 (!), also gushed more than 20,000 barrels of oil.

Did I mention that a Shell pipeline broke in Texas, spilling 30,000 gallons of crude? And hey, how about that Arkansas pipeline rupture, folks?

But back to North Dakota:

No one knows how long the pipeline was leaking before Jensen discovered it, nor why sensors on the pipe failed to detect the leak. Neither the state nor the company could say what the pipeline's capacity was. Experts on pipeline spills question the accuracy of Tesoro's leak estimate, disputing its methodology.

Details, schmetails.


By the way, Jensen is worried that the goo could seep into the groundwater. He smelled the oil in his wheat field before he saw it, which makes to wonder how long the pipe had been leaking. Why wasn't he alerted again?

The questions have stirred concerns about North Dakota's handling of a major spill, especially because thousands of miles of pipe are being installed as part of the state's oil boom.

And then there's that little thing called accuracy:

The company initially reported that 750 barrels had spilled, but a week later revised it to 20,600.

Let's see, gimme a second here, gotta do the math; subtracting 750 from 20,600, carrying the one, calculating.. calculating... got it! Hey, that's only a difference of 19,850 barrels. Pffft! Chickenfeed. Why, whoever would be so critical as to fault Tesoro for a measly little 20,000 barrel error?

Steve Wereley, professor of mechanical engineering at Purdue University and an expert on spill flows, who helped establish an accurate flow rate for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil volcano in the Gulf, put it this way:

"If we're talking about tens of thousands of barrels, shouldn't you notice 20,000 barrels missing at the end?"

Answer: yes.

And there's this:

The company has cleaned up about 3,000 barrels of oil. The remediation is expected to continue until late 2014 and to cost about $4 million, the state and Tesoro said.

Again, the Kalamazoo mess is still being mopped up, and it's been three years and counting.

Meanwhile, Jensen is still fretting about what's in his water supply. Silly Steven. What's he so worried about?

what me worry


Give Credit Where Credit Is Due -- Manchin/Heitkamp



I believe there's a good chance we avoid firing a single missile into Syria and we can accomplish much more than the intended cruise missile could. We will be potentially saving millions of lives, not taking them. And this supposedly all came about by an off the cuff remark attributed to the dullest man on the planet, Secretary of State, John Kerry.

But was it really an off-guard moment, a spontaneous thought that just occurred to the SOS? That would sure make for a good TV series plot -- but it's not at all the case. Oh, Kerry was genuinely asked the question that resulted in that "throw away" response, but the reply was hardly his.

This idea of Syria giving up it's chemical weapons was introduced five days before -- by the two real engineers of this plan. These two should be heralded as the architects of this possible solution which is getting embraced in every corner of the world (I say corner because the the vast numbers of Republicans in the Flat Earth Society).

Back on September 5th, five full days before Kerry's remarks, POLITICO reported on a widely circulated, proposed senate bill:

The United States would give Syria 45 days to sign an international chemical weapons ban or face the wrath of American military might, under a draft resolution being circulated by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).

Now I'm not saying Obama nor Kerry aren't ultimately going to make this happen, along with Putin and Assad and the Secretary General of the UN, Ban Ki-moon. I'm hoping they pull it off. But let's give credit where credit is due.

Two visionary U.S. senators, Manchin and Heitkamp are their names. They should, if this all falls into place, be given great praise for preventing more bloodshed and a world-wide blame on our country should something go wrong and we end up with another Iran or Afghanistan. At this writing, things seem to be headed in the peaceful direction. There are plenty of obstacles ahead, but West Virginia and North Dakota may have provided us with the two people who saw a potential war and found a peaceful solution.

In a face-saving statement, which is perhaps born in fact, Obama has said that it was his threat of the use of fire power and retaliation that has brought about the potential for this hopeful resolve. Maybe he's right. There's enough praise to go around. But sometimes the real brains behind the victories are lost in the rush to congratulate the titular leaders. At no point did I hear Kerry or Obama publicly mention a plan like that of these two senators. Perhaps in the strategy rooms it was discussed, but not with the people of the US, or in the Congressional briefings.

It was only Manchin and Heitkamp who put their thoughts and this option out there publicly.

For that we owe them a great debt of gratitude. They not only saved us money, lives and a potential war. They also saved Obama the embarrassment of not getting Congressional approval to take these warlike actions he's proposed -- then forcing him to act alone, or face the humiliation of dropping the plan all together.

Let's keep our fingers crossed. There's a long way to go. But two new heroes have joined the ranks of people we should look at for the future when crisis or the need for leadership comes a calling.

UPDATE: (though real credit goes to the above)


Federal judge blocks North Dakota's "clearly unconstitutional" fetal heartbeat abortion ban, most restrictive in U.S.


pro life after born abortion

This attempt to control the rights and privacy of women was supposed to go into effect as of August, but now it will be on hold until the court considers the merits. Merits? What merits?

The Hill:

A federal judge on Monday temporarily blocked North Dakota's anti-abortion law, which banned the procedure as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Judge Daniel Hovland said the state's anti-abortion law — the most restrictive in the country — is "clearly unconstitutional under an unbroken stream of United States Supreme Court authority.” [...]

“The State has extended an invitation to an expensive court battle over a law restricting abortions that is a blatant violation of the constitutional guarantees afforded to all women," Hovland wrote.

The judge is a GW Bush appointee, by the way.

The Center for Reproductive Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of North Dakota's only abortion clinic.

One by one, Republican-run states have tried to eliminate women's access to health services by writing laws that result in closing down clinics that can't possibly meet demands laid out in those laws. See: Bye-bye women’s rights: “If you live where the Republican party is in control now, right now, this is your life”:

women's health clinics in jeopardy abortion rights maddow

Their ultimate goal is to get an abortion rights case in front of our currently very conservative Supreme Court as they use it as a wedge issue politically. In the meantime, women are already turning to "self-abortion," endangering their own lives in order to receive the care they should be getting legally.

And they're also "finding it easier to leave the United States for Mexico in order to pursue health care options."

So these laws aren't stopping women from undergoing procedures; instead they're causing them to pursue unsafe methods that could cut their own lives short.



VIDEO- Bye-bye women's rights: "If you live where the Republican party is in control now, right now, this is your life."


women's health clinics in jeopardy abortion rights maddow

So much for reaching out to women in the GOP's increasingly unsuccessful attempts to rebrand the party:

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Rachel Maddow:

Where Republicans have taken the reins of state power across the country, they have used it single-mindedly to shut down women's health clinics just since the last election.

And it is not like we didn't have a national fight about this issue in that election. I mean, for their national ticket in 2012, Republicans picked an anti-abortion hard-liner ticket, a vice presidential contender who said he would even force a rape victims to bear a rapist's child against their will. And a presidential contender who, for his part, pledged frequently to end Planned Parenthood. Said he would cut off federal funding for Planned Parenthood, he would end it.

He said he would overturn Roe v. Wade. That's what he hoped for. The Democrats responded to the Republicans' initiatives by  stepping up their support for women's rights....

...In the Republican/Democratic general election races all over the country, saying that Democrats would be the ones to defend women's rights and the abilities to decide their own pregnancies without the government. Democrats warning across the country that a vote for Republicans would be a vote to ban abortion in this country...

Republicans lost the last election nationally really badly. They lost the white house really badly. They lost seats in the Senate. They lost seats in the House. Nationally, in the last election, Republicans lost and Democrats won.

But, national isn't everything. And if Republicans are in control in your state, this is what they have decided to do with state governance now.

Since that election, that is what they have decided state governance is for now. If you live where the Republican party is in control now, right now, this is your life.

Iknow its not a beltway story, doesn't feel like a national story because nobody adds up what happens in the individual states to see how it affects American women, to see how it affects American rights in an aggregate sense, that's not the way we do beltway reporting in this country, but this is a national story that is significant in terms of the way it's going to affect women's health, women's lives, and American families for generations to come.

This is the national story.