On Thursday, the Justice Department announced the biggest environmental settlement in history with Anadarko Petroleum, reaching a $5.15 billion deal to clean up dozens of sites across the United States and compensate more than 7,000 people living with the effects of the contamination.
So how many places were touched by Kerr-McGee’s toxic legacy of uranium mining, wood treatment, rocket-fuel processing and other activities? Take a look at this map…
Click here to view the map of Kerr-McGee environmental sites. Note that Kerr-McGee’s toxic legacy touches almost every state in the country. Also, why are we not surprised that Kerr-McGee is a subsidiary of an oil company?
Fossil fuel spills, messes, accidents and even disasters occur all the time, but it’s highly likely that most aren’t reported by the media. In this feature on Scaling Green, we’re going to keep an informal, running tally of notable oil, natural gas, and coal messes in the United States that were reported in the news media. And just for run, we’ll also throw in any solar spills, aka “sunny days,” that happen to come along. For instance, today (April 3, 2014) is a beautiful, sunny day in Arlington, Virginia, where Scaling Green is headquartered.
OIL March 24, 2014:BP more than doubles estimate of oil spill in Lake Michigan (“BP, the petroleum giant, has more than doubled its estimate of how much crude oil it spilled this week into Lake Michigan, a source of drinking water for some 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs.”) March 22, 2014:Shipping Channel Opens Partially After Huge Oil Spill in Galveston Bay (“Almost 100 ships had been waiting to pass since 4,000 barrels of oil leaked into Galveston Bay on Saturday from a barge that collided with a ship.”) March 21, 2014: Hiland Crude Pipeline Spills Oil Near Alexander, ND (“Cleanup workers have contained about 34,000 gallons of crude that spewed from a broken oil pipeline in northwestern North Dakota, a state health official said Friday.”) December 30, 2013: 400,000 gallons of crude oil spilled in North Dakota train crash (“About 400,000 gallons of crude oil spilled from 18 rail cars after after a Dec. 30 derailment near Casselton, N.D…An ensuing explosion sent a massive mushroom cloud of fire above the prairie and forced the evacuation of 1,400 residents”) March 29, 2013: 2013 Mayflower oil spill (“…an ExxonMobil pipeline carrying Canadian Wabasca heavy crude from the Athabasca oil sands ruptured in Mayflower, Arkansas, about 25 miles northwest of Little Rock… A reported 5,000−7,000 barrels of crude were spilled” from Exxon’s Pegasus pipeline.) March 9, 2013: 2013 Magnolia Refinery Oil Spill (“…the line between a vital pump and an oil storage container broke…a reported 15,000 barrels…of crude oil into the Little Corney Creek [near] the town of Magnolia, Arkansas. The resulting oil slick was approximately 1.5 miles (2.4 km) long on the surface of the water…”) October 29, 2012: Arthur Kill Oil Spill: Hurricane Sandy’s Surge Dumps Diesel Into New Jersey Waterway (“…almost 350,000 gallons of fuel that spilled as a result of superstorm Sandy…a tank ruptured at a storage facility owned by Motiva Enterprises LLC, a joint venture of Shell and Saudi Refining Inc. Diesel spilled into the Arthur Kill, a narrow waterway separating New Jersey and Staten Island…”) July 1, 2011: Yellowstone River Oil Spill (“An ExxonMobil pipeline which runs from Silver Tip, to Billings, Montana ruptured about 10 miles west of Billings…The resulting spill leaked an estimated 1,500 barrels of oil into the Yellowstone River…for 56 minutes before it was shut down.”) July 26, 2010: Kalamazoo River oil spill (“…a 40-foot pipe segment in Line 6B, located approximately 0.6 of a mile downstream of the Marshall, Michigan pump station, ruptured. The rupture in the Enbridge Energy pipeline caused a 877,000 US gallons (3,320 m3) spill of diluted bitumen also called tar sands or heavy crude oil originating from Canada (Alberta and Saskatchewan) into Talmadge Creek in Calhoun County, Michigan, which flows into the Kalamazoo River”)
COAL February 3, 2014: Up To 82,000 Tons Of Toxic Coal Ash Spilled Into North Carolina River From ‘Antiquated’ Storage Pit (“Duke Energy, which owns the Dan River Steam Station, retired since 2012, estimates that 50,000 to 82,000 tons of coal ash and up to 27 million gallons of water were released from the 27-acre storage pond [into the Dan River]…Coal ash is a toxic waste byproduct from burning coal, usually stored with water in large ponds.”) January 9, 2014: 2014 Elk River chemical spill (“crude 4-methylcyclohexanemethanol…was released from a Freedom Industries facility into the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River, in Charleston…West Virginia…up to 300,000 residents within nine counties in the Charleston, West Virginia metropolitan area were without access to potable water.”)
If the goal was to reduce global warming pollution, then the BC carbon tax totally works. Since its passage, gasoline use in British Columbia has plummeted, declining seven times as much as might be expected from an equivalent rise in the market price of gas, according to a recent study by two researchers at the University of Ottawa. That’s apparently because the tax hasn’t just had an economic effect: It has also helped change the culture of energy use in BC…
It also saved many of them a lot of money. Sure, the tax may cost you if you drive your car a great deal, or if you have high home gas heating costs. But it also gives you the opportunity to save a lot of money if you change your habits, for instance by driving less or buying a more fuel-efficient vehicle. That’s because the tax is designed to be “revenue neutral”—the money it raises goes right back to citizens in the form of tax breaks. Overall, the tax has brought in some $5 billion in revenue so far, and more than $3 billion has then been returned in the form of business tax cuts, along with over $1 billion in personal tax breaks, and nearly $1 billion in low-income tax credits (to protect those for whom rising fuel costs could mean the greatest economic hardship). According to the BC Ministry of Finance, for individuals who earn up to $122,000, income tax rates in the province are now Canada’s lowest.
So what’s the downside? Well, there really isn’t one…
Did you catch that last line? That’s right, there really isn’t any downside to a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Unless, of course, you insist on continuing to guzzle fossil fuels for whatever strange reason, even though it makes no rational sense to do so. In contrast, if you choose to act rationally and make energy efficiency upgrades and/or switch to clean energy, you stand to benefit a great deal from a revenue-neutral carbon tax. Since, of course, non-carbon-based energy would cost a lot less, relatively speaking, compared to carbon-based energy. And that’s exactly the way it should be, given the negative “externalities” – pollution, harm to people’s health, etc. – that fossil fuels entail.
Courtesy of NRDC: “Country music legend Willie Nelson is joining the fight in Congress to protect Appalachian communities from the impacts of the devastating mining practice of mountaintop removal. In a new music video that depicts mountaintop removal operations in Appalachia and their ruinous consequences, the American icon sings “America the Beautiful” to highlight opposition to giving coal companies free rein to blast the tops off mountains and dump dangerous pollution into surrounding streams and creeks.”
“The polar bear is us,” says Patricia Romero Lankao of the federally financed National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colo., referring to the first species to be listed as threatened by global warming due to melting sea ice.
She will be among the more than 60 scientists in Japan to finish writing a massive and authoritative report on the impacts of global warming. With representatives from about 100 governments at this week’s meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, they’ll wrap up a summary that tells world leaders how bad the problem is.
The key message from leaked drafts and interviews with the authors and other scientists: The big risks and overall effects of global warming are far more immediate and local than scientists once thought. It’s not just about melting ice, threatened animals and plants. It’s about the human problems of hunger, disease, drought, flooding, refugees and war, becoming worse.
On this same topic, I’d also refer you to a Reuters article yesterday, which reported that “There has been no reverse in the trend of global warming and there is still consistent evidence for man-made climate change.” Finally, DeSmogBlog reports on an oil spill in Galveston that “continued to unfold on Monday, the 25th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska.” In stark contrast, as the joke goes, when there’s a “solar spill,” it’s what most of us call a “sunny day.” That sounds like a far better option than what fossil fuels have to offer us – pollution, sickness, suffering.
UPDATE: Also see this article, which explains that “[r]ising demand for energy, from biofuels to shale gas, is a threat to freshwater supplies that are already under strain from climate change.”