Texas oil firm indicted in massive 2015 oil spill off coast of Santa Barbara, CA

A brown pelican being cleaned of oil by a bird rescue volunteer on May 22, 2015, after thousands of gallons of oil leaked on to San Refugio State Beach and into the Pacific. REUTERS

In California today, a grand jury indicted the Plains All-American Pipeline and one of the oil company's employees on criminal charges over the massive 2015 oil spill in Santa Barbara County.

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Tar sands production in Canada pretty much shut down by Fort McMurray wildfire

Flames rise in area south of Fort McMurray, Alberta May 3, 2016.  [Reuters]

Almost all of Canada's tar sands production has been shut down by a raging wildfire in Alberta's Fort McMurray region.

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Massive email leak reveals the worst bribery scandal in history

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Reporters from Fairfax Media and The Huffington Post obtained a huge trove of email from Unaoil, a business run by a rich Monaco family, that reveal that the family ran a corrupt bribery empire that spanned the world's oil-producing states, and that they world with companies like Rolls-Royce, Halliburton, Leighton Holding, Samsung and Hyundai, to rig contracts through a system of bribes and kickbacks that looted the national treasuries of some of the world's poorest countries. Read the rest

Plummeting oil prices and 13 years of official looting leave Iraq on the brink

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For 13 years, Iraq's post-Saddam elites have run amok, looting the country's riches while creating a pervasive culture of corruption that spreads all the way down -- only the continuous injection of new money from the country's oil-fields kept the whole thing from collapsing. Read the rest

Citing climate change, Obama rejects Keystone XL Oil Pipeline construction plan

Obama, Biden, and Kerry, speaking about the Keystone XL oil pipeline November 6, 2015.  REUTERS

In a decision that environmental activists see as a hard-won victory, President Obama today announced he is rejecting the request from a Canadian company to build the Keystone XL oil pipeline. The news ends a seven-year review process that was a focal point in the debate over the Obama administration's climate policies.

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IMF: Cheap oil will bankrupt the Saudis in five years

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If oil stays below $50 a barrel for five years, the Saudis' cash reserve will be exhausted, and with it will also go the social stability that lavish spending for the Saudi elites brings. Read the rest

What's the best oil to cook with?

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The BBC investigates. tldr: olive oil. But also: saturated fats perhaps are fine. Read the rest

Bathe in crude oil at Azerbaijan spa

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You can visit a spa in Naftalan, Azerbaijan and relax in a bath of crude oil, a "medicinal treatment" that apparently goes back to the 6th century. Careful though, the oil contains naphthalene, a possible human carcinogen. Read the rest

Canada's Tories say the government's new slogan is a state secret

Stephen Harper's government has spent millions of tax dollars advertising the upcoming Canada Day celebration with the slogan "Strong, proud, free," which also happens to be awfully close to their election slogan. Read the rest

Leaked docs detail Big Oil and Big PR's plans for a opinion-manipulation platform

The leaked slides were prepared by Edelman, the largest PR company in the world, at the behest of Transcanada, and they constitute a blueprint for tracking and influencing platform that spies on its participants in order to psychologically profile them and nudge them into becoming advocates for the oil industry. Read the rest

Idle No More game: defend traditional land from oil pipelines

Idle No More is a quick RPG created by a Canadian Metis activist in which you defend traditional territory from encroaching oil pipelines. Read the rest

Crowdfunding legal challenge by a Texas family whose farm was stolen by Keystone XL

Alan sez, "So there's this woman who decided she wasn't going to give Keystone XL passage rights through her land in Texas. Not even for the few tens of thousands of dollars they offered. And then the story gets weird. In Texas, companies (like TransCanada) can use eminent domain. All they have to do is declare themselves a 'common carrier' which is apparently a one-page form you have to fill out. Keystone did that and then took Julia Crawford's land." Read the rest

For the working class and poor, fracking is one of the last bastions of upward mobility

There are many downsides to hydraulic fracturing and the natural gas it's used to harvest, but for the people who work in America's booming oil and gas fields there's a positive that outweighs a lot of the problems other people worry about. At High Country News, Jonathan Thompson writes about the financial benefits fracking holds for families, especially those where the people working don't have a college degree. With fewer and fewer well-paid manufacturing jobs, hydrocarbons are one of the few industries left where your job can improve your kid's chances of reaching a higher income bracket. Read the rest

Canadian govt demands a 10-page questionnaire & CV in order to seek permission to comment on oil pipeline

Under Canada's newly gutted environmental laws, members of the public who want to comment on the upcoming hearings on the new Enbridge oil pipeline must beg for permission by fillling in an obscure, ten-page questionnaire and submitting a CV. It's as though the Harper government has fingerpainted FUCK OFF AND DIE on Parliament in heavy crude.

“The new rules are undemocratic. They attempt to restrict the public’s participation in these hearings and prevent a real dialogue about the environmental impacts of the Line 9 pipeline project,” said Adam Scott of Environmental Defence. “Canadians should not have to apply for permission to have their voices heard on projects that carry serious risks to their communities.”

Under the new rules, any Ontario resident who lives along the 639-km pipeline route who wants to send in a letter about their concerns must first apply to the NEB for permission to send in a letter. As of today, the public will have just two weeks to fill out a 10-page form which asks for a resume and references.

“Since when does someone’s resume determine if they have the right to be concerned about what’s happening in their home community?” said Keith Stewart of Greenpeace Canada. “Anyone who lives and works in southern Ontario could be affected by a spill and everyone is affected by climate change. The right to send a letter of comment and have it considered by public agencies is part of the basic rights and freedoms Canadians enjoy.”

Line 9 runs directly through the most populated part of the country, through backyards, under farms and next to schools.

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ExxonMobil, FAA, Arkansas cops establish flight restriction zone, threaten reporters who try to document Mayflower, AR spill

Expect to see a lot fewer images of toxic sludge creeping through small communities, thanks to the hard work of ExxonMobil. The company could have used its prodigious resources to make its oil pipelines more secure, preventing town-destroying leaks like the one that hit Mayflower, Arkansas. But they figured out that it would be cheaper to just corrupt the local law to chase reporters out and get the FAA to establish a Temporary Flight Restriction zone over the spill. Problem solved!

Michael Hibblen, who reports for the radio station KUAR, went to the spill site on Wednesday with state Attorney General Dustin McDaniel. McDaniel was in the area to inspect the site and hold a news conference, and Hibblen and a small group of reporters were following him to report on the visit. Upon arrival, representatives from the county sheriff's office, which is running security at the site, directed the reporters to a boundary point 10 feet away that they should not pass. The reporters agreed to comply. But the tone shifted abruptly, Hibblen told Mother Jones on Friday:

It was less than 90 seconds before suddenly the sheriff's deputies started yelling that all the media people had to leave, that ExxonMobil had decided they don't want you here, you have to leave. They even referred to it as "Exxon Media"…Some reporters were like, "Who made this decision? Who can we talk to?" The sheriff's deputies started saying, "You have to leave. You have 10 seconds to leave or you will be arrested."

Hibblen says he didn't really have time to deal with getting arrested, since he needed to file his report on the visit for both the local affiliate and national NPR.

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More evidence linking fracking wastewater disposal to earthquakes

Here at BoingBoing, we've talked before about the fact that earthquakes can be triggered by things humans do — everything from building particularly large reservoir to, most likely, injecting wastewater from fracking operations into underground wells. After a 5.7 earthquake hit Oklahoma in 2011, researchers there began gathering evidence that is making the link between rumbling earth and oil-and-gas discovery a lot stronger. At Mother Jones, Michael Behar has a story about this research and and how it is (and isn't) affecting the industry. Read the rest

Canadian "pipeline" game enrages humourless oilpatch blowhards

Adam Young sez,

A developer made a game that's a spin on the old "waterworks"/"pipe mania" type game with an oil pipeline theme... complete with pixel-art anti-pipeline protesters. Like most indie developers, they were eligible and applied for funding from a variety of sources. They are donating a portion of the proceeds to the David Suzuki Foundation.

Apparently this made some blowhards angry, who think that "tax dollars funded the game" and shouldn't fund a game about blowing up pipelines, and that the developer donating to a non-profit charity somehow constitutes an ethics violation, having received so-called "tax-dollar funding". Tax breaks and grants and things are available to all sorts of content and media producers in Canada. Game development and film production and the like are industries that are very active here. It's also not illegal to donate proceeds to non-profit charities.

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