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Environment: Scientific misconduct and cover-ups on Keystone XL pipeline wildlife studies

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Official documents suggest that top federal officials have once again subverted science to downplay impacts from a major development project.

No relief yet for U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service whistleblowers

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s pretty clear that top-level decisions on the Keystone XL pipeline are going to be made based primarily on political considerations, but a watchdog group is charging that federal agencies are taking extraordinary steps to cover their tracks after issuing flawed and politically tainted reports.

According to the U.S. Department of Interior’s inspector general, the tainted process damages the department’s credibility and integrity.

A series of documents released this week by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, managers with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service used misleading maps to downplay impacts to endangered species. Continue reading

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Oil money looms large in Keystone XL Pipeline vote

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House Republicans once again are trying to force approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline.

Supporters of pipeline bill took six times as much money from oil industry as opponents

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — If the U.S. House of Representatives has its way, Canadian tar sands oil will soon be flowing across the country in a new pipeline, authorized under a law that flaunts many  important environmental laws.

Wednesday’s vote on H.R. 3, the Northern Route Approval Act, marks the seventh time the House has tried to force approval of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. While today’s vote saw fewer representatives voting in favor of the resolution than past votes, it still showed the oil money rules congress.

Watchdog groups did the math:

  • Members of Congress supporting the pipeline took in a combined $56 million from fossil fuel interests, $36 million from oil industry interests alone;

  • Members supporting the pipeline took an average of $233,774 from all fossil fuel interests, $150,604 from oil industry interests alone;

  • Members opposing the pipeline took an average of $24,886 from all fossil fuel interests, and $24,886 from oil industry alone; and

  • Supporters took 6 times more from the oil industry than opponents. Continue reading

Environment: Pipelines under scrutiny

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An oil pipeline in Alaska. Photo courtesy USGS.

Thirst for oil leads to inevitable disasters

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — With more than 2.6 million miles of pipeline criss-crossing the country, it seems almost inevitable that there will be breaks and spills. The only question is how serious the spill will be.

Right now, residents of Mayflower, Ark, will probably tell you that last year’s passage of the Pipeline Safety Act didn’t prevent their town from becoming the latest ground zero in a seemingly never-ending series of oil spill disasters.

The Pipeline Safety Act doubled the maximum civil penalties for pipeline safety violations from $100,000 to $200,000 and authorized an increase for the federal pipeline inspector workforce. Continue reading

Big money influences Keystone pipeline Senate vote

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The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry tar sands oil from Canada across the heartland of the U.S.

Colorado’s senators split, with Bennet voting yes, while Udall casts a no vote

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — It’s probably not surprising that the U.S. Senate passed an amendment (62-37) in support of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. There’s money — Big Money — at stake, and new research from Oil Change International details who got what.

The 10 senators who cosponsored the Hoeven Amendment have on average received $807, 517 from the fossil fuel industry. That works out to 254 percent more  than the average senator not sponsoring the amendment, and a total haul of more than $8 million dollars, based on data from DirtyEnergyMoney.org. Continue reading

Latest Keystone pipeline study draws howls of outrage

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A proposed tar sands oil pipeline has become the focal point of a philosophical battle over energy and the environment.

Fossil fuel project has become a flashpoint for larger environmental and policy battles

By Bob Berwyn

FRISCO — It seems to border on sheer lunacy in this day and age to even consider an 850-mile pipeline to transport gooey tar sands oil across half a continent just because it can be done profitably. The environmental realities of increasing greenhouse gases alone would suggest that investing in this type of fossil fuel infrastructure would be a huge step in the wrong direction.

Yet for the second time, the U.S. State Department last week concluded that the pipeline would not have a substantial impact on the rate of development in the oil sands, or on the amount of heavy crude oil refined in the Gulf Coast area. Continue reading

Environment: Keystone XL pipeline on the table again

The Keystone XL Pipeline proposal is back.

TransCanada seeking permit for revised pipeline route; Feds to launch supplemental environmental study

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Federal and state agencies will once again start a review of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline proposal, designed to transport crude oil from the Western Canadian Sedimentary Basin and the Williston Basin to existing pipeline facilities near Steele City, Nebraska for onward transport to markets in the Texas Gulf Coast area.

The latest version of the plan shows the pipeline following a revised route from the Canadian border in Phillips County, Montana to Steele City, Nebraska.

The new route avoids the Sand Hills region of Nebraska. Additionally, TransCanada has split the pipeline plan into two separate pieces and says it will build the second segment, from Cushing, Oklahoma to the Gulf Coast of Texas, as an independent project. Continue reading

House committee passes Keystone XL pipeline bill

The Keystone XL pipeline would transport tar sands oil from Canada to refineries in the U.S.

Measure could force approval of controversial energy project

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — House Republicans ratcheted up their showdown with President Obama over the Keystone XL pipeline this week, passing a measure that would force the issuance of a permit within 30 days.

Obama previously rejected the pipeline after conservation advocates rallied the public, showing widespread grassroots opposition to the project. The legislation is expected to be incorporated into larger energy and transportation legislation and could see a vote on the House floor next week. An amendment that would have required the oil to remain in the United States, proposed by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), failed. Continue reading

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