In the wake of devastating flooding in Louisiana, groups urge Obama Admin to end fossil fuel auctions

[Editor: See three articles below on Climate advocates’ call to end fossil fuel auctions…  – RS]

Amid Flooding, Groups Call for End to ‘Unconscionable’ Fossil Fuel Auctions

“Allowing next week’s fossil fuel auction to move forward is rubbing salt in the wounds of a region already in a state of emergency”

By Nadia Prupis, 8/19/16 Common Dreams

A coalition of climate and advocacy groups on Friday called on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction as Louisiana reels from the unprecedented floods that have ravaged the state—and which rescue groups have described as the worst U.S. disaster since Superstorm Sandy.

The organizations, including 350.org, CREDO, and Greenpeace… [continued]


Climate activists want fossil-fuel lease auction canceled in flood-stricken Louisiana

By Sue Sturgis, 8/19/16,  Facing South

The historic flooding that has left at least 13 people dead and damaged some 40,000 homes in southwestern and central Louisiana this week was caused by record heavy rain, with as much as 31 inches falling in some places over the course of several days.

While scientists are cautious about saying climate change is the cause of any single weather event, they point out that five other states…  [continued]


In the Wake of Devastating Flooding in Louisiana, Groups Urge Obama Administration to Cancel Upcoming Gulf Drilling Lease Sale

For Immediate Release, 8/19/16, 350.org

350.org, CREDO, Sierra Club, Natural Resources Defense Council, Center for Biological Diversity, MoveOn.org Civic Action, Oil Change International, Endangered Species Coalition, Bold Alliance, Friends of the Earth, Rainforest Action Network, Greenpeace, Earthworks, and the No New Leases Coalition tell President Obama: The Gulf Coast is not for sale

BATON ROUGE, La. – In the wake of unprecedented flooding in central and southwestern Louisiana, leading national environmental organizations are calling on the Obama administration to cancel an upcoming fossil fuel auction in the Gulf.

The devastating flooding is among the most severe weather disasters since Hurricane Sandy. Across the region, tens of thousands of people have been evacuated, thousands of homes damaged, and at least eleven people killed.

Next Wednesday, on August 24th, the Obama administration is planning to sell off an area the size of Virginia…  [continued]

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    Oil train safety an issue in Washington gubernatorial debate

    Repost from Oregon Public Broadcasting
    [Editor: Would someone please get California candidates to talk about the pollution and derailment dangers of oil trains??  – RS]

    Inslee, Bryant Agree To Disagree Over Oil Trains In Washington

    By Emily Schwing Northwest News Network | Aug. 18, 2016 2:58 p.m. | Updated: Aug. 19, 2016 8:57 a.m.
    Chris Hooper, right, of White Salmon watches the fire caused by a derailed oil train in Mosier, Oregon, near Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016.
    Chris Hooper, right, of White Salmon watches the fire caused by a derailed oil train in Mosier, Oregon, near Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge on Friday, June 3, 2016. John Sepulvado/OPB

    Washington gubernatorial candidates touched on the topic of oil trains during their first debate of the season in Spokane Wednesday.

    Republican challenger Bill Bryant said oil trains are something he and incumbent Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee agree on.

    “If they are going to be bringing in highly flammable material and bringing in oil, they better be bringing it in on cars that meet safety standards and on rails that are safe enough to transport that commodity,” Bryant said.

    If elected, Bryant said he’d put a moratorium on any new state regulations. That’s why Inslee said he disagrees with his opponent.

    “The very first thing I heard my opponent say today is ‘all regulations are bad.’ This is the only way we are going to get more safety on railroads,” Inslee said. “These sound bites can come back to prevent us from making progress.”

    Inslee called for reduced train speeds, improved track inspections and support for electronic braking systems.

    Spokane’s city council has spent the last month wrestling with whether local government can regulate the shipment of volatile crude oil within city limits. Debate over that question has grown since an oil train derailed in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge in June.

    The candidates also debated over an economic development project west of Spokane that includes a casino. Inslee signed off on the project in June. He said the Spokane County project is part of his larger effort to bolster rural economies.

    “It’s gonna be decades of work, there’s gonna be tons of economic development associated with this,” Inslee said.

    The Spokane Indian Tribe expects to break ground next month on the casino, as well as shops, restaurants, a cultural center — and it’s happening a mile from Fairchild Air Force Base.

    Inslee said he had meetings with high-ranking officials before he signed off.

    “I was not going to build a casino and lose Fairchild. I was not going to do that,” Inslee said. “The guy in the Pentagon told me that and I’m taking that to the bank.”

    Fairchild is the largest employer in Spokane County. Inslee’s Republican Challenger Bill Bryant expressed concerns about base expansion in the future.

    “One thing I learned from the apple industry is you better make sure what you’re planting today, is what you want to harvest in four or seven years,” he said.

    If elected, Bryant suggested he might develop a 10-year plan to work with the military.

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      Phillips 66 seeks six-month delay in San Luis Obispo rail spur hearing

      Repost from the New Times, San Luis Obispo, CA

      Phillips 66 seeks six-month delay in rail spur hearing

      By Chris McGuinness, August 18, 2016

      The oil company proposing one of SLO County’s most controversial projects is asking the SLO County Planning Commission to wait six months before taking up the issue again.

      After months of lengthy hearings, Phillips 66 requested that a planned commission meeting on its proposed rail spur extension project scheduled for Sept. 22 be pushed back until March 2017.

      The move comes as the company waits for a decision by federal regulators on another controversial proposal also involving oil-carrying trains in the Northern California city of Benicia.

      Hearings for Phillips 66’s project, which would allow the company to bring in crude oil by train to its Santa Maria Refinery on the Nipomo Mesa, began in February. In a July 10 letter to county planning staff, the company said it wanted to wait until the Federal Surface Transportation Board ruled on a petition involving an oil train-related project in Benicia. The company in charge of that project, Valero, is seeking declaratory relief from the three-person federal board after the oil company’s proposal to transport 50 trains per-day carrying crude oil through the city was denied by the Benicia Planning Commission and appealed to its City Council.

      At the heart of the Benicia case is the issue of pre-emption, or the extent of a local government’s authority over interstate rail transportation, which is the purview of federal government.

      The same issue is at play in SLO. The hearings on the Phillips 66 project featured discussions over the county’s ability to set limits or conditions on the project.

      “In the interest of efficiency of the commission as well as the planning staff, we believe it would be prudent to further continue the hearing on Phillips 66’s Rail Spur Extension Project until March 2017, so that all parties can benefit from the direction expected from the Surface Transportation Board,” the letter from Phillips read.

      Andres Soto is a member of Benicians for a Safe and Healthy Community, an organization of residents who oppose Valero’s proposed project. Soto told New Times he was concerned that the impact of a decision that favored Valero would have far-reaching consequences.

      “It would gut local land-use authority across the country,” he said.

      Whether Phillips 66 gets the delay will be up to the SLO County Planning Commission. The commission will take up the request at the Sept. 22 meeting.

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        North Dakota pipeline construction halted until court date

        Repost from Minnesota Public Radio

        North Dakota pipeline construction halted until court date

        Business Associated Press · Bismarck, N.D. · Aug 18, 2016
        Native Americans protest Dakota Access pipeline
        Native Americans protest Dakota Access pipeline. James MacPherson | AP Photo File

        Developers of a four-state oil pipeline have agreed to halt construction of the project in southern North Dakota until a federal court hearing next week in Washington, D.C.

        The temporary construction shutdown comes amid growing protests and increased tension over the Dakota Access Pipeline that is intended to cross the Missouri River near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border.

        Some things to know about the pipeline and the protest:

        What is the Dakota Access Pipeline?

        Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners’ Dakota Access Pipeline is a $3.8 billion, 1,172-mile project that would carry nearly a half-million barrels of crude oil daily from North Dakota’s oil fields through South Dakota and Iowa to an existing pipeline in Patoka, Illinois, where shippers can access Midwest and Gulf Coast markets.

        Why the protest?

        The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe is suing federal regulators for approving the oil pipeline that would be the largest-capacity one carrying crude out of western North Dakota’s oil patch.

        The tribes’ lawsuit filed last month in federal court in Washington challenges the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to grant permits at more than 200 water crossings in four states for the pipeline.

        The tribe argues the pipeline that would be placed less than a mile upstream of the reservation could impact drinking water for the more than 8,000 tribal members and the millions who rely on it further downstream.

        The lawsuit, filed on behalf of the tribe by environmental group Earthjustice, said the project violates several federal laws, including the National Historic Preservation Act.

        The tribe worries the project will disturb ancient sacred sites outside of the 2.3-million acre reservation. The hearing on the tribe’s request for a temporary injunction is slated for Wednesday.

        Who are the protesters?

        Mostly members of the Standing Rock Sioux tribe, but they’ve been joined by other American Indians and non-Native Americans from across the country. “Divergent” actress Shailene Woodley was part of the protests last week.

        Arrests

        American Indians have for months been staging a nonviolent protest at a “spirit camp” at the confluence of the Cannonball and Missouri rivers in the path of the pipeline.

        More than a dozen young people from the reservation also ran from North Dakota to Washington to deliver 140,000 petition signatures to the Corps to protest the pipeline.

        The protest took a turn last week when law enforcement was called to keep the peace between protesters and armed security guards hired by the company.

        Twenty-eight people have been arrested since then and charged with interfering with the pipeline construction, including Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman David Archambault II.

        Developers on Monday sued in federal court to stop protesters, alleging the safety of workers and law enforcement is at risk.

        Is the pipeline safe?

        The company said the pipeline would include safeguards such as leak detection equipment, and workers monitoring the pipeline remotely in Texas could close block valves on it within three minutes if a breach is detected.

        Why the need

        Energy Transfer Partners announced the Dakota Access pipeline in 2014, a few days after North Dakota Gov. Jack Dalrymple urged industry and government officials to build more pipelines to keep pace with the state’s oil production, which is second only to Texas’.

        Supporters said the pipeline would create more markets for the state’s oil and gas, and reduce truck and oil train traffic, the latter of which has been a growing concern after a spate of fiery derailments of trains carrying North Dakota crude, including one near Dalrymple’s hometown of Casselton in 2013, and an explosion in Quebec that same year that killed 47 people.

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