Public invited to comment on oil transportation study

The public is invited to provide feedback on a preliminary study assessing risks associated with increased transportation of oil through Washington state. Public meetings are scheduled next week in Spokane and Olympia to accept comments regarding the study and recommendations.

 

The Marine & Rail Oil Transport Study: Preliminary Findings & Recommendations, released Oct. 1, was developed at the direction of Gov. Jay Inslee and the Legislature. The study team is led by the Washington Department of Ecology, in collaboration with the Utilities and Transportation Commission (UTC), the Washington Military Department’s Emergency Management Division (EMD) and several other agencies. The purpose of the study is to assess risks associated with oil transportation and outline recommendations to protect the health and safety of the people and the environment of Washington state.

 

Millions of gallons of oil move across Washington’s lands and waters each day. The state saw approximately 17 million barrels shipped in 2013 with a projection of 55 million barrels in 2014. The amount of Bakken crude oil transported from North Dakota by rail is expected to increase by more than 220 percent, depending on refinery expansion.

 

The public meetings are scheduled for:

                                   

5 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28 5 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 30
Double Tree Hotel Red Lion Inn
322 N. Spokane Falls Ct. 2300 Evergreen Park Drive SW
Spokane Olympia

 

From 5 to 6 p.m., there will be information booths with marine, rail, and spill response experts available to answer questions. The study team will make a presentation at 6 p.m. and public comments will be heard starting at 6:30 p.m.

 

Comments may also be submitted electronically or by mail. Address comments to Ecology Spills Program, PO Box 47600, Olympia, WA  98504-7600.

Quinault Indian Nation urges opposition to oil transport and shipment through Grays Harbor

The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) is adamantly opposed to increased oil train traffic in Grays Harbor County, the construction of new oil terminals, increased oil shipping from the port of Grays Harbor and dredging of the Chehalis River estuary. “We oppose all of these for both economic and environmental reasons,” said Fawn Sharp, QIN President. “We ask the citizens, businesses and agencies from within the county and beyond to stand with us in opposing the intrusion of Big Oil into our region,” she said. “The small number of jobs this dirty industry brings with it are vastly outnumbered by the number of jobs connected with a healthy natural resources and a clean environment,” she said.

Fawn Sharp Quinault Indian Nation President“It is time for people from all walks of life to stand up for their quality of life, their children and their grandchildren. It makes no sense whatsoever to allow Big Oil to invade our region, especially with the volume they are proposing. We all have too much at stake to place ourselves square in the path of this onrushing deluge of pollution, to allow mile-long trains to divide our communities and jeopardize our air, land and waters,” she said.

“Consider the number of jobs that are dependent on health fish and wildlife. The birdlife in Grays Harbor alone attracts thousands of tourists every year. Fishing and clamming attract thousands more. And anyone who listens to Big Oil or their pawns when they tell us how safe the oil trains are, or the ships or even the oil terminals that are being proposed needs to pay closer attention. We have already had large quantities of fish and shellfish stolen from us through development of and damage to Grays Harbor and its tributaries and we are not accepting any more losses. We want restoration, not further damage,” she said.

“Derailments, crashes, spills and explosions are extremely dangerous and they happen with frightening regularity. The fact is that there will be accidents and there will be spills, and they will do extensive damage,” said Sharp.

Sharp said there is another fact of which people must be aware: “If we stand together, speak up and demand to be heard, we can make a difference. Our collective voice empowers us.”

U.S. Development Group is currently seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day. The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana. About 17 million barrels of oil were shipped across Washington State last. That number is expected to triple this year. Grays Harbor is facing three separate crude-by-rail proposals. Westway Terminal Company, Imperium Terminal Services, and U.S. Development Group have each proposed projects that would ship tens of millions of barrels of crude oil through Grays Harbor each year. Daily trains more than a mile long would bring crude oil from North Dakota or tar sands crude oil from Alberta, Canada along the Chehalis River and into the port, where it would be stored in huge shoreline tanks. The crude would then be pumped onto oil tankers and barges, increasing at least four-fold the large vessel traffic in and out of the harbor.

Westway Terminal Company proposes five new storage tanks of 200,000 barrels each. Westway estimates it will receive 1.25 unit trains per day or 458 trains trips (loaded and unloaded) a year. The company estimates it will add 198-238 oil barge transits of Grays Harbor per year. “The chances are even those counts are very conservative,” said Sharp.

Imperium Terminal Services proposes nine new storage tanks of 80,000 barrels each. With a capacity to receive 78,000 barrels per day, Imperium may ship almost 28.5 million barrels of crude oil per year. Imperium estimates that the terminal would add 730 train trips annually, equaling two, 105-car trains (one loaded with oil on the way in, one empty on the way out) per day. The company estimates 400 ship/barge transits through Grays Harbor per year.

U.S. Development Group submitted its application in this crude-by-rail race early this month. It proposes eight storage tanks each capable of holding over 123,000 barrels of crude oil. The company anticipates receiving one loaded 120 tank car train every two days, and adding 90-120 Panamax-sized vessel transits through Grays Harbor per year.

“We are targeted by Big Oil,” said Sharp. “We will not allow them to turn our region into the greasy mess they have created in other regions. We care about our land and our water. We realize how important our natural resources are to our future and we’re not going to sit by and let them destroy what we have,” said Sharp.

Deborah Hersman, outgoing chair of the National Transportation Safety Board said on April 21 that U.S. communities are not prepared to respond to worst-case accidents involving trains carrying crude oil and ethanol. In her farewell address in Washington DC, she said regulators are behind the curve in addressing the transport of hazardous liquids by rail and that Federal regulations have not been revised to address the 440 percent increase in rail transport of crude oil and other flammables we have experienced since 2005. Hersman, who is leaving her post at NTSB April 25 to serve as president of the National Safety Council, said the petroleum industry and first responders don’t have provisions in place to address a worst-case scenario event involving a train carrying crude oil or ethanol.

Hershman added in her comments that the DOT-111 rail tank cars used to carry crude oil are not safe to carry hazardous liquids. She also said that NTSB is overwhelmed by the number of oil train accidents. At present, she said the NTSB is involved in more than 20 rail accident investigations but only has about 10 rail investigators.

“It makes absolutely no sense for us to allow our communities to be exposed to the same dangers that killed 47 people in Quebec this past summer. That tragedy was not an isolated incident. It could happen here, and there is absolutely no doubt that this increased oil traffic will cost us all in terms of both environmental and long term economic damage,” said Sharp.

“For the sake of our public safety, our long term economy, our streams, wetlands, fishing areas, shellfish beds, and migratory bird habitats, we will stand up to them. The Quinault Nation encourages everyone who cares about the future of our region to participate in the public hearings regarding the Westway and Imperium proposals being conducted at 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday, April 24 at Hoquiam High School and Tuesday, April 29 at Centralia High School. We further encourage letters and calls to the Department of Ecology, to local government and to the Governor. Now is the time for to speak out in support of the future of Grays Harbor and the Pacific Northwest!”

“We strongly encourage people to show up and make comments and submit written testimony at these hearings,” said Sharp. “A good turnout is a must,” she said. Following the hearing, written comments can be sent to Maia Bellon, Director of the Department of Ecology, at 300 Desmond Drive, Lacey, WA 98503-1274.

To join QIN in this effort, please email ProtectOurFuture@Quinault.org. “Together, we can protect the land and the water for our children, and rebuild a sustainable economy,” said Sharp.

Permits filed for third Oil-by-rail terminal at Port of Grays Harbor

SEATTLE – U.S. Development Group is seeking permits to build an oil terminal on the Washington coast that could handle about 45,000 barrels of crude oil a day.

The $80 million proposal at the Port of Grays Harbor is one of several in Washington that together would bring millions of barrels of oil by train from the Bakken region of North Dakota and Montana.

About 17 million barrels of oil were shipped across Washington state last year, mostly to refineries in Anacortes and Cherry Point near Bellingham. That number is expected to triple this year, according to U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who chaired a congressional hearing Wednesday on oil shipments by train.

“We need to have the right policies in place to prevent accidents and respond to emergencies when they do happen,” Murray said at the hearing.

Charla Skaggs, a spokeswoman for U.S. Development, said the company has a proven safety record and is committed to safety on the project at Grays Harbor.

Texas-based U.S. Development has developed more than a dozen bulk liquid facilities in the U.S., and “they have an exemplary safety record,” Skaggs said. “They’ve operated very safe facilities for years, and that’s their commitment at Grays Harbor.”

The Grays Harbor Rail Terminal project would bring about one unit train to the facility every two days. A unit train typically has 120 rail cars, and each car can hold about 28,000 gallons.

The company filed permit applications Monday with the city of Hoquiam, Skaggs said. The state Department of Ecology and the city are expected to begin an environmental review process.

“It’s a terrible idea,” said Kristen Boyles, an attorney with Earthjustice representing the Quinault Indian Nation, which is worried about the impacts of oil shipment and storage.

She said oil would be stored in a fragile shoreline area, and billions of barrels of oil would travel through the Grays Harbor estuary, a thriving area for tribal and commercial fishing.

The Grays Harbor Rail Terminal is the third crude-by-rail facility proposed at the Port of Grays Harbor.

The environmental review process for two other projects, by Westway Terminal Co. and Imperium Renewables, began this month.

US DOT issues emergency order requiring stricter standards to transport crude oil by rail

WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) today issued an Emergency Order requiring all shippers to test product from the Bakken region to ensure the proper classification of crude oil before it is transported by rail, while also prohibiting the transportation of crude oil in the lowest-strength packing group.

“Today we are raising the bar for shipping crude oil on behalf of the families and communities along rail lines nationwide —if you intend to move crude oil by rail, then you must test and classify the material appropriately,” said DOT Secretary Anthony Foxx. “And when you do ship it, you must follow the requirements for the two strongest safety packing groups.  From emergency orders to voluntary agreements, we are using every tool at our disposal to ensure the safe transportation of crude.”

Emergency orders are issued to protect the public and environment from the likelihood of substantial harm created by an imminent hazard. Today’s Emergency Order, the fourth from DOT in less than a year, was issued in response to recent derailments involving trains carrying crude oil from the Bakken region and out of concerns over proper classification that are currently under investigation as part of Operation Classification, also known as the “Bakken Blitz.”

Effective immediately, those who offer crude oil for transportation by rail must ensure that the product is properly tested and classified in accordance with federal safety regulations. The Emergency Order also requires that all Class III crude oil shipments be designated as Packing Group I or II, thereby requiring the use of a more robust tank car. Packing Group III, a lower risk designation, will not be accepted, until further notice.

Shippers are required to use nine hazard classes as a guide to properly classify their hazardous materials. Proper classification will ensure that the material is placed in the proper package and that the risk is accurately communicated to emergency responders. Shipping crude oil – or any hazardous material – without proper testing and classification could result in material being shipped in containers that are not designed to safely store it, or could lead first responders to follow the wrong protocol when responding to a spill.

In addition to Operation Classification, which includes crude oil spot inspections and investigations, PHMSA will be in Minot, North Dakota this week conducting a classification workshop. Field personnel will present training at the 60th Annual State Fire School sponsored by the North Dakota Firefighters Association to provide information about hazmat response, including how to use the Emergency Response Guidebook.

Rail safety is a national priority, and DOT continues to work aggressively across multiple fronts to enforce its requirements and reduce risks regarding the safe transport of all materials. PHMSA and the Federal Railroad Administration have issued several safety advisories related to the safe transport of crude oil by rail, including the recent January 2 Safety Alert and is currently engaged in the ongoing rulemaking to improve the design of the DOT 111 tank car. In August 2013, PHMSA and FRA launched Operation Classification in the Bakken Shale region to verify that crude oil was being properly classified and announced the first proposed fines associated with that ongoing investigation last month. Additional activities include unannounced spot inspections, data collection and sampling at strategic locations that service crude oil.
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Click here to view (pdf) Emergency Restriction – Prohibition Order (Docket DOT-OST-20014-0025

Click here to view (word file) Emergency Restriction – Prohibition Order (Docket DOT-OST-20014-0025

Wash. pulls permits for 2 oil train terminals

HOQUIAM (AP) – Officials are rejecting permits for two major oil-train terminals in Southwest Washington after deciding the projects should face more environmental scrutiny.

The state Shorelines Hearings Board issued a letter Wednesday saying it plans to invalidate the permits for Westway Terminal Co. and Imperium Terminal Services, which want to build oil shipping terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor that could store up to 1.5 million barrels of crude from North Dakota and Alberta. The city of Hoquiam issued the permits last spring, after determining in conjunction with the state Ecology Department that the proposals posed minimal threat to the environment.

Groups including the Quinalt Indian Nation and the Sierra Club appealed. They argued that city and state officials failed to consider the cumulative environmental impacts of having the two terminals running along with a third terminal planned nearby. The board agreed.

The board also says the effects of increased train and vessel traffic need to be considered, as does the damage that could be posed by an oil spill.

Memory chip makers will pay $173 million for price-fixing

The Washington Attorney General’s Antitrust Division served on the executive committee that litigated the case. The settlement resolves a 2006 lawsuit that attorneys general filed in U.S. District Court in San Francisco. The suit alleges that consumers and state agencies who bought electronics containing DRAM paid higher prices from 1998 to 2002 as a result of price-fixing by six companies: Elpida, Hynix, Infineon, Micron, Mosel Vitelic and NEC.

The suit grew out of a coordinated, multistate investigation that began in 2004, as well as a federal investigation that exposed a scheme where DRAM manufacturers profited at the expense of consumers by trimming production in order to artificially raise prices.

Several companies and executives pleaded guilty to criminal price-fixing actions brought by the U.S. Department of Justice.

The defendants in the states’ case have tentatively agreed to pay $173 million to the 33 states and to private plaintiffs, refrain from illegal price-fixing and conduct employee training.

The settlement will provide restitution on behalf of consumers, including some government purchasers. A portion of the funds will reimburse litigation expenses and costs. The federal court must approve the settlement and distribution plan.

Washington state’s share of the settlement will be determined according to an allocation process established by the court.

A separate class-action suit resulted in the companies paying nearly $326 million to computer manufacturers that purchased DRAM directly. The European Commission also reached settlements with some of the companies resulting in $410 million in fines.

In 2007, Samsung settled its case with Washington and other states for $90 million. The states also brought actions against other manufacturers; those cases are still pending.

The following states participated in the settlement: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

State-federal settlement bars LifeLock from claiming it can prevent identity theft

The FTC and states began investigating LifeLock amid allegations that the company made a range of deceptive claims that violated consumer protection laws, including leading consumers to believe its $10-per-month service was a “proven solution” that would protect against all forms of identity theft. They also claimed the company misrepresented the nature of specific services it provided to protect or alert consumers when their personal information had been compromised.

LifeLock’s previous advertisements “guaranteed” to protect consumers’ personal information and prevent criminals from opening accounts in their names. 

Some ads included CEO Todd Davis’ Social Security number, which Davis said showed “how confident I am in LifeLock’s proactive identity theft protection.”  In 2007, it was reported Davis became the victim of fraud when someone used his published Social Security number to obtain a $500 loan.

“While LifeLock promised consumers complete protection against all types of identity theft, in truth, the protection it actually provided left enough holes that you could drive a truck through it,” FTC Chairman Jon Leibowitz said during a press conference today.

Past marketing materials warned consumers about their heightened risk of identity theft, when LifeLock did not have information to warrant such a warning.

LifeLock’s advertisements also implied that individuals with fraud alerts on their consumer reports will always receive a phone call prior to the opening of new accounts, when in fact a phone call is not required by federal law.

Under the agreement, LifeLock is prohibited from misrepresenting that its services:

·       Protect against all types of identity theft;

·       Constantly monitor activity on each of its customers’ consumer reports;

·       Always prompt a call from a potential creditor before a new credit account is opened in the customer’s name; and

·       Eliminate the risk of identity theft.

       

LifeLock is also prohibited from overstating the risk of identity theft to consumers, including whether a particular consumer has become or is likely to become a victim.

LifeLock also agreed to pay $1 million to cover the costs of the states’ investigation. Washington’s share is $15,000.

 

Attorneys general said there is nothing consumers can do or purchase that will guarantee they won’t become identity theft victims. But helpful tools are available:

·       All consumers can obtain a free annual credit report from each of the three major credit-reporting agencies, regardless of whether they have been identity theft victims. Consumers can use the reports to review their own credit histories and identify errors and inaccuracies, such as unauthorized accounts. Call 1-877-322-8228 or request a report online at https://www.annualcreditreport.com.

·       Consumers themselves are best-positioned to monitor their own bank accounts and credit card statements for unauthorized withdrawals or charges.

·       Consumers who suspect they are already identity theft victims, or may soon become victims, can place a fraud alert on their credit history by contacting one of the three major credit reporting agencies.

·       Another option is to request a security freeze, which means that a consumer’s credit file cannot be shared with potential creditors. A security freeze can help prevent identity theft since most businesses will not open credit accounts without checking a consumer’s credit history first.

 

Information about obtaining a credit report, fraud alert or security freeze is available on the Washington Attorney General’s Web site under Safeguarding Consumers.

 

States participating in today’s agreement include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

CONSUMER REFUNDS

 

LifeLock agreed to pay $11 million in restitution to eligible consumers who signed up for services between April 1, 2005, and March 30, 2009. The FTC and states will jointly send letters to eligible consumers, notifying them of the agreement and how they can opt-in to the settlement. Information about the redress program is available by calling 202-326-3757 or online at www.ftc.gov/lifelock.

DOCUMENTS

LifeLock Settlement – Washington State Version

LifeLock Complaint – Washington State Version

 

LifeLock Settlement – Federal Trade Commission

LifeLock Complaint – Federal Trade Commission

Federal Trade Commission News Release

 

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Washington State Ranked 7th Among “Energy Efficient”

Several states have made strong moves up in the ranks from 2008 to 2009, including: Maine (up from 19 to 10); Colorado (up from 24 to 16); Delaware (up from 32 to 20); District of Columbia (up from 30 to a tie for 20); South Dakota (up from 47 to 36); and Tennessee (up from 46 to 38). "The most improved states are stepping up their efforts in several ways, such as adopting new building energy codes and setting aggressive new energy savings targets," said Eldridge. "By highlighting these most improved states, we hope to encourage others to step up their efforts to implement energy efficiency as their first-priority resource."

The 2009 report is ACEEE’s third edition of its annual state-by-state ranking on the adoption and implementation of energy efficiency policies, which aims to recognize leadership among the states and identify best practices. The scorecard examines six state energy efficiency policy areas: (1) utility-sector and public benefits programs and policies; (2) transportation polices; (3) building energy codes; (4) combined heat and power; (5) state government initiatives; and (6) appliance efficiency standards. States can earn up to 50 possible points in these six policy areas combined.

ACEEE Executive Director Steven Nadel said: "The states continue to be leaders in advancing energy efficiency policies and programs. In fact, this growing and deepening commitment to energy efficiency is so strong that the current recession has not put a dent in the vast majority of state programs. And that is for good reason: Energy efficiency is the only resource that can actually reduce energy consumption while growing the economy – making efficiency the ‘first fuel’ states can use to balance their energy portfolios."

Maine Governor John E. Baldacci said: "I am pleased that Maine is being recognized for our commitment to energy efficiency.   We began by making State government a model in order to show businesses and residents that reducing energy consumption improves our way of life by reducing harmful effects on our environment and our health, while making a significant impact to our bottom line.  We made this commitment in 2003 when the price of oil was $20 a barrel.  Since then, we’ve made new investments in weatherization, encouraged alternative modes of transportation, and encouraged voluntary alternative work schedules for State employees, and we became the first state to purchase 100 percent of our electricity from zero carbon renewable resources."

Delaware Governor Jack Markell said: "Investments in greater energy efficiency put people to work now and pay dividends for the future. Every dollar wasted from inefficient energy usage is a dollar that is not put to work getting our economy moving in the right direction. Delaware’s jump in this report reflects our commitment to energy efficiency. We are creating market demand for energy efficiency through new legislation that requires we reduce consumption through efficiency by 15% by 2015. We’ve adopted new building codes, made it easier to adopt solar and wind power in residential and commercial settings and created net-metering rates to encourage efficiency and allow people to sell excess power back to the grid."

In 2009, energy efficiency has risen to a new level of recognition in the U.S. and is a resource that is increasingly being called upon at the state level. In the race for clean energy resources, states are adopting aggressive energy efficiency policies, increasing investments in efficiency programs, and improving efficiency in their own facilities and fleets. While some states have been making commitments toward energy efficiency for decades, others are just getting started in a big way, while still others have yet to tap this energy resource.

According to ACEEE, the states comprising the group that "most needs to improve" are (with ties): Arkansas (41); Missouri (41); Louisiana (41); Georgia (44); Alaska (45); West Virginia (45); Nebraska (47); Alabama (48); Mississippi (49); North Dakota (49); and Wyoming (51, including DC).

For detailed information about energy efficiency initiatives at the state level, visit ACEEE’s State Energy Efficiency Policy Database on the Web (http://www.aceee.org/energy/state/index.htm). Complementing the Scorecard, the site serves as another resource for information on state energy efficiency policies. The online database is searchable by state or by policy, and documents state activities in the energy efficiency policy areas covered in the scorecard.

The 2009 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard is available for free download or a hard copy can be purchased for $40 plus $5 postage and handling from ACEEE Publications, 529 14th St, N.W., Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20045, phone: 202-507-4000, fax: 202-429-2248, e-mail: aceee_publications@aceee.org.

ABOUT ACEEE

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (http://www.aceee.org) is an independent and nonprofit organization dedicated to advancing energy efficiency as a means of promoting economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental protection. ACEEE was founded in 1980 by leading researchers in the energy field. Since then the organization has grown to a staff of more than 30. Projects are carried out by ACEEE staff and collaborators from government, the private sector, research institutions, and other nonprofit organizations. For information about ACEEE and its programs, publications, and conferences, visit http://www.aceee.org.