Workers cleaning up an oil spill in North Dakota that is officially listed as 10 gallons recovered 240,000 gallons, but the actual number might be larger than the Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska in 1989 which released about 11 million gallons of crude.
The discrepancy in the numbers, first reported by the environmental blog DeSmog, shows how inadequate North Dakota’s policy is for reporting spills. The state doesn’t update initial public reports on spills.
“I have seen many instances where it appears spills are being covered up, and there appears to be a pattern of downplaying spills, which makes the narrative surrounding oil and gas development look rosy and makes the industry look better politically,” said Scott Skokos, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council.
A U.S. House subcommittee has been holding hearings on the impact of oil and gas development on local communities and the environment.
North Dakota farmer Daryl Peterson told the committee more than a dozen brine spills over the past 25 years have ruined parts of his farm.
“Regulators were made aware of all spills, but did not hold the companies accountable,” Peterson told the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources of the House’s Natural Resource Committee.
North Dakota regulators were not required to tell the public about oilfield-related spills until 2013 after a wheat farmer in northwestern North Dakota discovered a massive spill that has been called one of the biggest onshore spills in U.S. history.
The North Dakota spill, which could take another decade to clean up, is in Watford City in the northwest part of North Dakota at the Garden Creek I Gas Processing Plant. Workers noticed a leak in July 2015. Garden Creek processes natural gas and natural gas liquids from Bakken wells.
Reported DeSmog: “Neither the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which monitors coastal spills, nor the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) could provide records to put the spill’s size in context, but according to available reports, if the 11-million-gallon figure is accurate, the Garden Creek spill appears to be among the largest recorded oil and gas industry spills in the history of the United States.”
Regulators said some groundwater was affected at the Garden Creek site, but the spill didn’t reach beyond the facility’s boundaries.
Dave Glatt, the state environmental quality chief, said the spill at the gas plant in 2015 would still need to be reported because it doesn’t involve an oil production facility.
David Cay Johnston: Senators have a choice — convict Trump or crown Him
Letting the President Get Away with Contempt of Congress Will Make the Legislative Branch as Irrelevant as the Roman Senate
The two articles of impeachment, which have drawn criticism as either too much or too little, strike me as cleverly drafted to put Senate Republicans in a most uncomfortable box.
The second article, obstruction of Congress, should be the tougher one for Senate Republicans. It flows from Donald Trump’s stonewalling the impeachment inquiry – no testimony, no documents.
On top of this utter contempt of Congress, Trump claims absolute immunity from investigation by anyone for anything. His lawyers asserted in federal court in October that the NYPD could not investigate even if Trump literally shot someone on Fifth Avenue.
‘Useful Idiots’: Tonight’s impeachment debate will show how the GOP is now the ‘Grand Old Putin’ party
When Congress begins debating changes in the articles of impeachment Wednesday night, we will see on full display how Congressional Republicans, to defend Donald Trump, have given up any pretense of principle, the rule of law and loyalty to the country.
House Republicans have embraced Trump’s win-for-Trump-at-all-costs philosophy.
Think of them as the kind of cowards who would never jump on a hand grenade, but would instinctively push the person next to them onto the explosive. This is a political extension of the economic philosophy that we’ve got ours, tough for you, in Republican tax, spend and regulatory policy,