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Herrera Beutler Pushes More Oil Train Spill Planning

Apr 22, 2016

Washington Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler has introduced a bill that would help firefighters around the country get grant money for oil train derailment and accident planning.

The bill doesn’t actually call for more dollars. Instead, it would create a higher priority for funding plans in communities where oil trains regularly travel.

The Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, one of Washington's top 10 sources of greenhouse gases.
Flickr Photo/Scott Butner (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/e4EJ5B

The Tesoro oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington, is getting hit with more fines.

This time, the Environmental Protection Agency wants the refinery to pay about $720,000 for safety violations.

Vancouver Port Hears From Public On Oil Terminal Lease

Apr 12, 2016

Commissioners at the Port of Vancouver are weighing whether or not to breathe new life into what could be the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The project’s backers, oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, have asked the port to extend the terms of their lease by two years.

Trans-Alaska Pipeline, northern Brooks Range, Alaska. Rocks in the background produce oil on the North Slope.
Flickr Photo/U.S. Geological Survey (Public Domain)/https://flic.kr/p/ogvPnb

Bill Radke speaks with New York Times reporter Kirk Johnson about how the crash in oil revenues for Alaska is threatening rural schools in the state. 

The companies backing the Jordan Cove energy project in southern Oregon have appealed a federal decision denying permits needed to move forward.

The Canadian energy firm Veresen and the Williams pipeline company propose to build a natural gas liquefaction facility and export terminal in Coos Bay. Construction of a 230-mile pipeline that will connect the terminal with natural gas supplies in the inland West is being proposed as well.

The companies filed a “request for a rehearing” with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Friday.

Port of Vancouver commissioners are looking for input at a hearing Tuesday about how to move forward with the nation’s largest oil-by-rail terminal.

The Port wants to hear from the public about how to proceed with a proposed lease amendment from the backers of the Vancouver Energy Project.

The hearing will be held at Clark College. It’s expected to last about 12 hours.

The Port of Vancouver recommended that port commissioners vote against a lease extension with the companies backing a proposed oil terminal. The recommendation comes ahead of two port commission meetings next week.

On Tuesday, backers of the Vancouver Energy Project asked the port to extend a portion of its lease until Aug. 1, 2018.

Port officials said the recommendation is only about the amendment proposed by the company and does not affect the current lease.

Backers of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver have asked for an amendment to their lease with the port. Port commissioners plan to discuss the request in a series of public meetings next week.

Officials with the Vancouver Energy Project said Tuesday they need more time to complete Washington’s permitting process.

The oil industry said it's backing down from an effort to overturn Oregon's clean fuels law at the ballot. Instead, the Oregon Fuels Association will try to get lawmakers to modify the law when they renew debate on a highway funding plan in 2017.

On a cold night in January 2012, Dustin Bergsing climbed on top of a crude oil storage tank in North Dakota's Bakken oil field. His job was to open the hatch on top and drop a rope inside to measure the level of oil. But just after midnight, a co-worker found him dead, slumped next to the open hatch.

Some parts of Oklahoma and Texas now have about the same risk of an earthquake as parts of California, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

The big difference is, the quakes in Oklahoma and Texas are "induced" — they're caused by oil and gas operations that pump wastewater down into underground wells.

Nearly three years ago, the Port of Vancouver signed a lease with companies that want to build the largest oil-by-rail terminal in the country. But the project has not gone as planned and may now be running out of time.

The Port of Vancouver has until Aug. 1 to decide if it wants to opt out of a lease with companies planning to build the terminal.

The opposition to the proposal has been intense, with the brunt of it felt by leaders at the port.

“The interesting thing in this whole phenomena has been the passion of the opponents," said port Commissioner Brian Wolfe.

A few miles outside Glacier National Park in northwest Montana is land known as the Badger-Two Medicine, the ancestral home of the Blackfeet tribe.

But it's also the site of 18 oil and gas development leases, and an energy company is heading to federal court March 10 to fight for the right to drill there after decades of delay.

Blackfeet tribal historian John Murray doesn't want the drilling to begin.

Oil prices have been rebounding this week from historic lows – but those lows have had a big impact on oil supplies in the U.S. There is such a glut of crude oil in the U.S. right now, that traders are running out of storage options, and they’re turning to empty railcars. Here & Now’s Robin Young talks with Jason Bellini of The Wall Street Journal about the implications.

The state inspector thought his visit to Odessa, Washington, would be routine: a knock on the door, a chat with the operators, a look around the corrugated metal warehouse where they ran a biodiesel plant.

But when Jerry French arrived at the TransMessis Columbia Plateau facility in eastern Washington this past March, the door was locked. It seemed abandoned, but he could see chemical drums inside through the windows.

It just didn’t look right, he thought.

After getting the door unlocked, French discovered the mess.

Washington state ends public comment Friday on a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council has taken public comment on the Vancouver Energy Project since November when it released its draft environmental impact statement.

The project is a joint venture backed by oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries.

The agency is taking comments on its website until 11:59 p.m. Friday.

As Iran prepares to pump even more oil into an already glutted market, that oversupply isn't just making gas cheaper for your car — it's also causing jet fuel prices to go down sharply. And that's now pushing airfares down, too.

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle

Five climate change activists who blocked an oil train in Everett were convicted Friday of trespassing – but the jury gave environmentalists something to celebrate anyway.

This day is starting out really nasty if you happen to be an oil driller — or a baby boomer who would like to retire with a nest egg.

Through the night and into the morning, the price of oil has been falling. You can now buy a barrel for less than $30. (Remember, it was nearly $115 as recently as June 2014.) The market for oil has been thrown into disarray because of worries about possible declining Chinese demand and surging Iranian supplies.

That means U.S. oil producers will continue to see their profits plunge and industry layoffs worsen.

U.S. oil dropped below $30 a barrel during trading Tuesday. That’s the lowest price since December 2003.

The dip in price happened on the same day Washington state held a public hearing about a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

Oil was more than $100 per barrel when the Vancouver Energy Project was first announced back in the summer of 2013.

Still, backers of the oil terminal said the joint venture, between oil company Tesoro Corp. and logistics firm Savage Industries, is insulated from current market conditions.

Hundreds of people are expected to turn out Tuesday for the second public hearing on a proposed oil terminal in southwest Washington.

For the second time this month, the public will once again get to voice their thoughts about the Tesoro-Savage backed oil terminal called the Vancouver Energy Project.

The hearing is being lead by the Washington State Energy Site Evaluation Council.

Activist Michael Lapointe at the BNSF Railway blockade in September 2014.
Rising Tide Seattle

Five environmental activists who chained themselves to train tracks in Everett to protest oil and coal trains begin trial in Snohomish County District Court on Monday.

The activists face criminal charges alleging they trespassed on BNSF Railway property and blocked an oil train for eight hours on Sept. 2, 2014.

There were high-fives this week from Detroit to Washington, D.C., as carmakers celebrated record auto sales.

Americans bought 17.5 million cars and trucks in 2015. That's a huge turnaround from 2009, and the Obama administration cheered the rebound as vindication of the president's decision to rescue General Motors and Chrysler from bankruptcy.

"Because of the policy decisions that were made by this administration to place a bet on those workers, America has won, and our economy has been better for it," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters Wednesday.

Like cheap gasoline?

Then you're in luck. Experts say gas prices very likely will keep falling. That's because a report released Wednesday showed a sharp increase in gasoline inventories.

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said that last week, companies added another 10.6 million barrels of gasoline, creating the biggest surge in supply since 1993. That added to fears that supplies will far outstrip demand for a long time.

Gas prices are under $2 a gallon across much of the country. That's because crude oil has plummeted to the lowest price in nearly a decade.

The average U.S. household has saved an estimated $700 this year because of lower gas prices. And drivers can expect more savings in 2016.

Recently, Sharlene Brown was filling up her minivan at a Philadelphia gas station. When prices are down, Brown says, she drives more.

"It changes where I go, who I pick up because a lot of times I pick up and do errands for the church," she says.

A budget deal that’s heading for final action Friday includes a provision that could create international demand for American oil — and help make the case for building rail-to-ship export terminals on the West Coast.

Congress is getting closer to lifting a 40-year-old ban on oil exports, a move that could be a boon for U.S. oil producers hoping to expand into the global market.

President Obama and environmentalists oppose ending the ban, but Congressional leaders made it part of a $1.14 trillion spending bill, unveiled Tuesday, greatly increasing its chance of passage.

Q&A: Vancouver Oil-By-Rail Environmental Review

Nov 24, 2015

Washington state released a detailed report Tuesday assessing the environmental impact of a proposed rail-to-marine oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

If built, the project would be the largest of its kind in the country.

It could move 360,000 barrels of crude oil daily by train from North Dakota to Vancouver. From there, the oil would be transferred onto ships and sent to West Coast refineries.

Here’s a closer look:

Washington state has released a detailed environmental assessment of a proposed oil terminal at the Port of Vancouver.

The draft report was released Tuesday by the state’s Energy Site Evaluation Council. It considers the oil-by-rail project’s possible impacts to things like environmental health, noise, and emergency preparedness in the event of an oil spill or explosion.

ISIS brings in millions and the US is all but helpless to stop it.

Nov 24, 2015
Goran Tomasevic/Reuters

In the wake of the attacks in Paris, more and more people are saying that when it comes to ISIS, it's time to follow the money.

But where does ISIS — often described as the richest terrorist organization — get their cash from?

According to Cam Simpson, a reporter for Bloomburg Business, the answer to that question is oil.

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