Category Archives: Marine transport

Government deregulation without limits – FAA comes under criticism

Repost from The Register-Guard, Eugene, OR
[Quote: “When something bad happens, the government will take action — but over time those regulations and requirements wind up being dropped, reduced or delayed. The 2017 fatal Amtrak derailment near Tacoma, the 2016 oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2008 financial crisis and countless other events could have been prevented.”]

Deregulating? DeFazio’s watching

Posted Mar 27, 2019 at 12:01 AM

The Boeing 737 jet crashes raise troubling questions that go far beyond one company’s safety record and one federal agency’s watchdog role.

The history of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft suggests it is an example of how the government’s regulation-and-oversight pendulum has swung too far. The Federal Aviation Administration has lacked both the money and the inclination to adequately oversee aircraft development, instead relying heavily on companies to do their own testing.

Oregon Rep. Peter DeFazio is demanding answers. The Springfield Democrat chairs the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The committee’s investigative staff is doing research, and DeFazio then plans to hold hearings.

“This is really, really raising questions about the FAA as a watchdog,” he said in a meeting with The Register-Guard editorial board.

A faulty sensor is being investigated as one cause, and Boeing is working on a software fix. The two-sensor system was developed as a safety feature to prevent a plane from stalling. But it appears the failure of just one sensor can send the aircraft into a powerful, possibly irreversible dive unless the pilots override the system within 40 seconds, according to a New York Times report this week.

DeFazio promises a tenacious investigation. Among the questions are why the system was designed this way, whether the aircraft was unsafely rushed to market, and why the FAA and Boeing did not require extensive retraining of pilots.

“This is the first time Boeing has put in a system that took over the plane automatically,” he said. “And they didn’t think they needed to tell people about it — because it’s different from any other Boeing plane ever made?

“Obviously, maybe not the best idea.”

For years, the FAA has lacked sufficient inspectors and has outsourced much of that responsibility to the manufacturers. But the FAA is not unique. We now have a government that relies on the honor, integrity and self-supervision of the industries it regulates.

When something bad happens, the government will take action — but over time those regulations and requirements wind up being dropped, reduced or delayed. The 2017 fatal Amtrak derailment near Tacoma, the 2016 oil train derailment in the Columbia River Gorge, the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, the 2008 financial crisis and countless other events could have been prevented.

“It’s repeated time and time again,” DeFazio said. “There are limits to deregulation, which in many cases have been exceeded.”

Oregon has its own history of unwatchful eyes. The Cover Oregon health insurance fiasco could have been averted through closer, more-knowledgeable oversight and insistence on stronger testing of the technology throughout its development. Better oversight — not to mention much-better planning in the first place — might have saved the state from wasting millions of dollars in the Highway 20 reconstruction between the valley and the coast.

Each time, government and the public vow to learn from these lessons. Then we relax and we forget.

When DeFazio and his congressional colleagues find the answers they are seeking, our government should heed them.

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    Bay Area refineries want to do what?

    Repost from a STAND.earth email
    From: Matt Krogh, Extreme Oil Director, STAND.earth 
    Sent: Monday, April 2, 2018 8:00 AM

    Phillips 66 wants more tar sands tankers in the Bay

    Dear …

    We love San Francisco Bay just like you do, so when Big Oil comes up with yet another project that threatens our air and our water, we know it’s time to act. Next Monday April 9th, Bay Area refinery regulators will be meeting to discuss next steps on permitting expanded tar sands refining in the Bay–and now is your chance to let them know how you feel.

    Phillips 66 and other Bay Area refineries are working hard to find new ways to access cheap, dirty tar sands crudes from Alberta–that’s why they’ve pushed for oil train offloading facilities, and that’s why they’re now trying to bring in a vast increase in tar sands tankers. But California’s regulators can say no to more tar sand projects in the Bay.

    TAKE ACTION NOW

    Increasing tar sands production is bad for Indigenous communities at the source in Alberta; transporting it threatens devastating oil spills in the waters of British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, and California; and refining it means more air, water, and climate pollution right here in San Francisco Bay. The life cycle of tar sands production is destructive to our health and the safety of our communities.

    Please join us and sign the petition to encourage California’s regulators to say no to more tar sands.

    Right now, people like you all around the Bay are working to reduce our dependence on oil and build the clean energy economy. More, dirtier crude just isn’t what the Bay needs. 

    Big Oil first proposed bringing tar sands by oil trains–and together we beat them back in Pittsburg, San Luis Obispo, and Benicia. With your support, we can continue the momentum and beat Big Oil once again, this time by keeping more tar sands tankers out of San Francisco Bay.

    Help pile on the pressure and tell California regulators to reject Phillips 66’s tar sands expansion proposal, and to stand with us against any new tar sands projects that threaten our water and air.

    In solidarity,

    Matt Krogh
    Extreme Oil Director


    Stand challenges corporations, industries, and governments to prioritize the well-being of people, our environment, and our climate by creating long-term, effective solutions. None of this work is possible without your support.
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      Phillips 66 Seeks to Increase Number of Oil Tankers on San Francisco Bay

      Repost from Earth Island Journal

      Proposal could pose risk to local communities and wildlife

      A version of this story originally appeared on the Baykeeper website.

      The oil company Phillips 66 wants to increase the number of tanker ships carrying crude oil across San Francisco Bay to its refinery in Rodeo — from 59 to 135 tankers per year. They have also proposed increasing the average amount of oil unloaded at Rodeo from 51,000 barrels to 130,000 barrels a day.

      oil tanker in san francisco bay
      Photo by Jill/Blue Moonbeam StudioAn oil tanker crosses under the Golden Gate Bridge. Phillips 66 has submitted a proposal to increase the number of oil takers that can carry oil to its bay-side refinery by more than two-fold.

      More than doubling the number of oil tankers would increase the risk of oil spills in the Bay. Oil spilled in the water can kill birds and other wildlife, make the Bay unsafe for recreation, and contaminate local beaches.

      Plus, the company’s proposal raises other concerns. The increased tanker traffic would likely carry dirty, heavy tar sands oil from Canada. This type of oil is difficult, if not impossible, to remove after a spill.

      In 2010, when tar sands oil spilled into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River, response crews were unable to completely remove the oil from the riverbed, even after five years of expensive cleanup efforts. If tar sands oil spilled in San Francisco Bay, it could harm wildlife in the water nearby and smother bottom-dwelling creatures that are critical to the Bay’s food chain.

      The Phillips 66 refinery already has a poor track record of oil spills. In September 2016, oil was spilled there during the unloading of a tanker ship, causing large oil slicks in the northern San Francisco Bay. Over 100 residents near the refinery sought treatment at hospital emergency rooms for exposure to fumes that were later linked to the oil spill.

      And then again, in September of this year, a small spill at the Phillips 66 refinery wharf left a 20 foot by 20 foot oil sheen on the Bay’s water. The impacts of small spills like this can accumulate and harm the overall health and resilience of the Bay and its wildlife.

      Phillips’ needs a modified permit from the Bay Area Air Quality District to proceed with the expansion, and the district is beginning work on an environmental impact report for the proposal. Following that process, the board of directors will vote on whether to proceed.

      In communities near the refinery, public opposition to Phillips’ expansion proposal is building. Baykeeper, a nonprofit advocating for the health of the Bay ecosystem, is working alongside community and environmental organizations to oppose any increase of oil tankers on San Francisco Bay. So far, over 24,000 Bay Area residents have responded to action alerts and told responsible agencies to reject the proposal.

      A similar coalition effort succeeded in stopping two previous proposals for expansion of Bay Area oil refining. Along with partner organizations and many concerned community members, Baykeeper stopped Valero Energy Corporation’s attempt to expand its rail yard and bring more oil by train to its Benicia refinery. That proposal would have led to a risk of oil spills and possible accidents along the Bay shoreline and in communities near railroad tracks. Our coalition also stopped a planned crude oil storage facility that was proposed by the energy infrastructure corporation WesPac for Pittsburg.

      Whether we live close to or far from a refinery, every Bay Area resident has a stake in the number of tankers carrying crude oil across the Bay. Our communities and many local businesses rely on a healthy Bay. And for wildlife that depends on the Bay, it’s a matter of life and death. By saying no to the risk of more oil spills on San Francisco Bay, we can make sure this place we call home is protected for future generations.

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