WASHINGTON (AP) — An emergency order requiring trains hauling crude oil and other flammable liquids to slow down as they pass through urban areas and a series of other steps to improve the safety were announced Friday by the Department of Transportation.
The Obama administration has been under intense pressure from members of Congress as well as state and local officials to ensure the safety of oil trains that traverse the country after leaving the Bakken region of North Dakota. To get to refineries on the East and West coasts and the Gulf of Mexico, oil shipments travel through more than 400 counties, including major metropolitan areas such as Philadelphia, Seattle, Chicago, Newark and dozens of other cities.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency used a fictional oil train derailment in the New York area to help local firefighters and others prepare for disaster when they staged an exercise last month, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Nearly five years after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, the Interior Department on Monday proposed a long-awaited rule to improve well control at offshore oil and gas drilling sites by improving standards for blowout preventers, the equipment that failed during the 2010 Gulf of Mexico spill.
The proposal would enforce use of the latest industry standard for blowout preventers, including double-shear rams used to more effectively cut and seal pipes during blowouts; boost third-party oversight of the equipment; and require real-time monitoring of offshore drilling operations.
The proposed rule would also aim to improve well control through tougher cementing guidelines for wells and the use of centralization technology to maintain well structure.
“These well-control regulations seek to better protect human lives and the environment from offshore oil spills by comprehensively addressing the full range of systems, equipment and processes involved in well-control operations," Interior Secretary Sally Jewell told reporters on a call.
Even as crude oil train derailments stay in the headlines, lawmakers eager to push bills to boost crude-by-rail safety ought to step back and let federal agencies do their job, a former administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration says.
“I think the federal agencies that are responsible for hazardous material safety have about all the authority and tools they need to have,” Brigham McCown told EnergyGuardian in an interview.
“They would be more effective, frankly, if Congress would leave them alone and allow them to be the regulators. They’re the experts, not the Hill," he added.
BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Fuel-hauling tank cars need retrofits to prevent more explosive train wrecks — and the public can't wait another decade for the improvements as has been suggested by industry, U.S. safety officials said.
The National Transportation Safety Board issued a series of recommendations Monday after a spate of fiery accidents revealed shortcomings in voluntary industry standards for cars hauling oil, ethanol and other flammable liquids.
The National Transportation Safety Board is asking the rail industry to move more quickly - on an "aggressive schedule" - to come up with safer oil tankers and find other ways to make oil-by-rail less dangerous, Reuters reports.
MEXICO CITY (AP) — Mexico's state-run oil company continues to search for three missing workers from a platform fireball that killed four others, while beginning to restore production at the damaged Gulf of Mexico facility, officials said Sunday.
Petroleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, will start processing 170,000 barrels of crude by Monday and expects to restore 80 percent of the pre-fire production in the coming week, said Gustavo Hernandez, general director of exploration and production.
Dismissing a story in Canadian media that a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline is imminent, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the State Department is still reviewing the proposed project, The Hill reports.
Environmentalists plan to protest the Obama administration approval of drilling in Arctic waters when the president visits Alaska, while the state’s governor and others plan to push for more oil and gas production, National Journal reports.
Despite New Orleans’ recovery from Hurricane Katrina – hailed by President Obama in a visit Thursday – the federal government is still falling short when it comes to improving flood defenses, according to an analysis from the Georgetown Climate Center, E&E reports.
Oil was rising again Friday after prices a day earlier racked up the biggest single day increase since March, 2009. U.S. benchmark crude for October delivery was up $1.56 to $44.12 a barrel on the Nymex, while in London Brent jumped $1.18 to $48.74, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Seeo – a California-based developer of electric car batteries that holds a licence for patents from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – has been acquired by international car parts company Robert Bosch, Reuters reports.
An analysis prepared for the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy -– which was funded by the American Petroleum Institute and America’s Natural Gas Alliance -– found that New England could end up paying $5.4 billion more for energy if the region fails to upgrade its infrastructure, the New Haven Register reports.
Hercules Offshore didn’t appeal a move by Nasdaq to have its stock deslisted from the exchange in the wake of its Chapter 11 filing, so the company stock – trading for 7 cents a share Thursday afternoon – is now handled in the over-the-counter market, FuelFix reports.
In the heart of Colorado’s drilling boom, Weld County saw the highest rate of job growth in the country even though the state adopted air pollution rules seen as a precursor to those under consideration at the Environmental Protection Agency, E&E reports.