Menu Bar

Home           Calendar           Topics          Just Charlestown          About Us

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

At least it's not 21

An EnergyWire analysis released May 12 concluded that the U.S. gas and oil industry was liable for at least 7,662 spills of various nature and devastation in 2013 alone, averaging roughly 20 spills per day.

It gets better. Those numbers do not even include data from one of the nation’s highest natural-gas producing states — Louisiana.

Numbers from 2013 are up 18 percent from 2012, when 6,546 spills were counted, tallying all together around 26 million gallons of anything from gas, oil, fracking fluids, to who knows? 26 million gallons is equivalent to just under 620,000 barrels of contamination across the nation, for those wondering how that converts. 620,000 barrels in a single year, year to year, for who knows how long before folks wise up.

What is perhaps most alarming about this information is that, according to the American Petroleum Institute, wells have actually diminished by one percent since the prior year while accidents have gone up.

According to API, the U.S. drilled less gas but more oil in 2013 — the industry’s focus shifted from one to the other, which is one reason for the shift in percentages from the prior year. Montana is a good example of that. The gold and silver state’s spills rose 48 percent following suit, it would seem, with the 42 percent rise in rigs. In North Dakota on the other hand, where the Bakken Shale boom is currently being heavily exploited, spills have spiked 42 percent but rig counts only rose by 8 percent. Such numbers are largely attributed to “irresponsible development.”

Don Morrison of the Dakota Resource Council told EnergyWireWhen you’re rushing, things go wrong.

Don’t go thinking Louisiana is trying to hide anything, though. Put your tinfoil hats away! It’s just that they don’t have a list of spills — the Coast Guard’s National Response Centerdoes in their database. Unfortunately, that center and its database are shutdown. 

What can Louisiana do? Its hands are tied. Do you expect it to monitor and keep track of its own affairs, after all? No, everyone knows outsourcing to menially-paid labor that doesn’t pay attention or give a damn is the way to go. It’s their fault Louisiana has yet to fulfill EnergyWire’s March 21 Freedom of Information Act request for the missing data, right?

Getting their hands on the missing data from Louisiana will help EnergyWire illustrate a much clearer picture for the industry, government, and the public about the hazards and detriments of the oil and gas industry — something that very much needs to be confronted and discussed openly, honestly, and frankly if this planet is to survive. 

Only Texas topped Louisiana in 2013 in operating refinery capacity. It also contains a vast industrial network that includes several refineries and petrochemical plants, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. In 2011, Louisiana was top of it game, producing nearly 10 percent of America’s total natural gas.

EnergyWire states that each state compiles its data differently. Compiling the data from each state into a comprehensive unit for examination is difficult work. Often even the data from states openly complying and participating in EnergyWire’s data gathering is incomplete. 

Don’t forget that the Associate Presswrote last October, for example, that somewhere between 300 and 750 oil spills went unreported in North Dakota in 2012 alone. That’s a single year, in a single state, and only what’s known to have been unreported at this time. North Dakota’s regulators, however, like many states, are not required to tell the public about the spills. State law does not stipulate any such thing. How do you like that?

Or perhaps Oklahoma will opt for another alternative altogether.

Author: Dylan Hock is a writer, professor, videographer and social activist. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University in 2003 and has been an Occupier since Oct. of 2011. He is published in a number of little magazines and has an essay on the muzzling of Ezra Pound due out July, 2014 in the anthology "Star Power: The Impact of Branded Celebrity." He is also a contributing writer for Take 10, Liberal America and Green Action News. Follow him at Google+!