Exxon  sign image
Exxon Valdez

Emergency Management

On March 24, 1989, shortly after midnight, the oil tanker Exxon Valdez struck Bligh Reef in Prince William Sound, Alaska, spilling more than 11 million gallons of crude oil. The spill was the largest in U.S. history and tested the abilities of local, national, and industrial organizations to prepare for, and respond to, a disaster of such magnitude. Many factors complicated the cleanup efforts following the spill. The size of the spill and its remote location, accessible only by helicopter and boat, made government and industry efforts difficult and tested existing plans for dealing with such an event.

The spill posed threats to the delicate food chain that supports Prince William Sound’s commercial fishing industry. Also in danger were ten million migratory shore birds and waterfowl, hundreds of sea otters, dozens of other species, such as harbor porpoises and sea lions, and several varieties of whales.

Since the incident occurred in open navigable waters, the U.S. Coast Guard’s On-Scene Coordinator had authority for all activities related to the cleanup effort. His first action was to immediately close the Port of Valdez to all traffic. A U.S. Coast Guard at USCG investigator, along with a representative from the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, visited the scene of the incident to assess the damage. By noon on Friday, March 25, the Alaska Regional Response Team was brought together by teleconference, and the National Response Team was activated soon thereafter.

Three methods were tried in the effort to clean up the spill:

  • Burning
  • Mechanical Cleanup
  • Chemical Dispersants

In the aftermath of the Exxon Valdez incident, Congress passed the Oil Pollution Act of 1990, which required the Coast Guard to strengthen its regulations on oil tank vessels and oil tank owners and operators. Today, tank hulls provide better protection against spills resulting from a similar accident, and communications between vessel captains and vessel traffic centers have improved to make for safer sailing.



The Exxon Valdez Spill Is All Around Us

  • 10:47 AM

images: 1. Flickr/Jim Brickett


  2. Flickr/Daquella Manera


When the Exxon Valdez ran ashore off Prince William Sound on March 24, 1989, it wasn’t the first tanker to founder at sea. It was, however, the first tanker to deposit its load — 11 million gallons of crude oil, eventually covering 11,000 square miles of ocean — in such an economically and environmentally important ecosystem, and thus squarely in the public eye.

To this day, images of oil-choked birds and oil-fouled shorelines are burned into the memories of a generation. Local and national outrage forced Exxon into paying billions of dollars to clean the mess. Some of this money went to scientists who monitored the region’s recovery. For the first time, researchers had the resources necessary to thoroughly study an oil spill’s effects. These proved even uglier than they first appeared.

Researchers expected the oil to break up in a few years. Instead, it will take more than a century. They found that oil’s compounds, especially polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons — carcinogenic molecules that attach to fat, and refuse to break down in water — are toxic at levels hundreds, even thousands of times lower than was previously believed.

The Valdez pollution set off a cascade of environmental effects that have yet to be fully understood, but have at least been measured. Few of the region’s fish, bird and marine mammal populations have recovered. To the naked eye, Prince William Sound is beautiful and wild — but beneath the surface, it is profoundly damaged. As the Exxon Valdez Oil
Spill Trustee Council recently reported, oil in many areas “is nearly as toxic as it was the first few weeks after the spill.”

The federal economic stimulus package passed in January contains roughly $4 billion for clean water, of which $1.2 billion is earmarked for “green infrastructure” — green roofs, porous concretes, and other technologies that can at least reduce the surges that cause sewage plants to overflow.

It’s a welcome investment, said Baer, but the EPA estimates that $390 billion is needed to upgrade water systems nationwide, and Gann called the stimulus figure “a down payment” on what’s needed. Moreover, said Baer, “Global warming is going to be one more added stress on our infrastructure. Storms will be more intense, and you’re going to see more intense runoffs and overflows.”

The effects of all this oil have yet to be quantified. Unlike Prince William Sound, researchers haven’t spent decades looking for damage caused by chronic oil exposures in
America’s waters. It’s not inconceivable that a state of permanent toxicity has come to seem natural.

If oil “kills all these organisms through long-term exposures in
Prince William Sound,” said Peterson, “think what it’s doing in Boston
Harbor and San Pedro and every other place where this is going on.”

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill

Administrator Bill Reilly at the Exxon Valdez oil spill cleanup site, August 1989

Press Releases and Reports


Twenty Years after the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Disaster: One Devastated Company Image and Reputation


Exxon has not yet recovered a responsible reputation to this day, even if it has slowly introduced green energy and renewable energy resources in the market. The name Exxon, to this day, is still synonymous to the concept of man-made disaster. After all, the damage caused by the oil spill was massive and affected sea and water creatures, as well as ruined the livelihood of thousands of people dependent on fishery resources off the coast of Alaska.

After the billions of dollars spent on restoring the Exxon image, the company has failed to restore its reputation after the oil spill incident. Exxon still has one of the dirtiest company images on earth. The accident is touted to be one of the worst ways to handle a crisis. Exxon has gotten one of the most damaging portrayals in mass media, due entirely to the company’s fault of not communicating properly with the publics right after the incident.

In a time of environmental consciousness, Exxon has remained in the minds of people as a company that is environmentally damaging and irresponsible. The perception of the public is the cause behind the fact that Exxon has never survived the crisis.

To eradicate its irresponsible image, Exxon has to do the opposite: be environmentally responsible. This is a tall order to overturn public perception that has festered through two decades. While it has already put technological measures in place so as not to repeat the disaster, the issue has always been one of public image and reputation.

No matter how Exxon passed a good part of the blame after the spill to other groups such as the Coast Guard and

its distribution subsidiary whom it expected to be responsible for moving the oil, the world saw the disaster as purely Exxon’s fault and problem .

It can be concluded that Exxon’s long delay in responding publicly to the problems, in the many ways and means that it could have had, caused the company’s irreparable reputational damage.

To this day, the Exxon Valdez incident remains one of the most glaring examples of how not to handle a crisis.

Twenty years after the oil spill disaster on March 24, 1989 that released 10.8 million gallons of oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound, Exxon has spent more than $2 billion in massive clean-up campaigns. However, oil still remains and some wildlife habitats will still take a long time to recover.

The Exxon Valdez incident is one of the worst environmental disasters in recent times. It is also a classic case of how a massive crisis was poorly handled. The management did not act quickly nor on time, making the damage bigger than it even was in the perception of the public. Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up

Exxon Valdez oil spill clean-up


Mixing oil and water again


By 1992 or so, the 37,000-ton spill in Prince William Sound had been washed (at Exxon’s expense) off the rocks and beaches, or simply weathered away. Now, 13 years after the Exxon Valdez spill, a casual observer won’t see oil.

A duck is coated in thick black oil.
Oiled duck after the Exxon Valdez spill. Courtesy Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

Oil does remain in sheltered locations – immune to wind and wave – mainly on about 20 acres of rocky shore, according to an extensive 2001 survey. Although that’s a lot less than the 149 kilometers of shoreline that were heavily oiled during the spill, “In terms of critical habitat for wildlife, that is a significant amount, because there is not a large amount of suitable habitat, you have sheer rock, or rocky transition zones,” says Phil Mundy, science director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council, which administers a research and restoration program in the sound, funded by a bank-ful of Exxon settlement money.

Map shows 56-day movement of oil southwest into the Cook Inlet, past Alaska Peninsula.
Valdez oil moved from Prince William Sound to the Gulf of Alaska. Courtesy David Page

Totally toxic?
Oil loses some of its toxic components through exposure to the weather, but the deep pockets left in the sound are still surprisingly toxic. The report from the 2001 survey said:

“Twenty subsurface pits [of 6,775 dug in Prince William Sound] were classified as heavily oiled. Oil saturated all of the interstitial spaces and was extremely repugnant. These ‘worst case’ pits exhibited an oil mixture that resembled oil encountered in 1989 a few weeks after the spill — highly odiferous, lightly weathered, and very fluid.”

A sea otter,  its fur matted with oil, sits on a rocky beach.
Oiled otter may be doomed by hypothermia Courtesy Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council.

Mundy finds this surprising. “If you’d asked in ’89, would we still have oil around in 2002? I’d have said it’s highly unlikely. One thing we have learned, contrary to what you find in the literature, especially in literature sponsored by the oil companies … is that oil that’s not exposed to the atmosphere … can surface time and again, to do damage at local scales.”

In general, says Robert Spies, a marine biologist and former chief scientist for the trustee council, “Oil tends to clean itself up, it’s a curve. You get rapid loss in one to two years, then the rate begins to fall off. Where there was protection from the physical energy of the ocean, it can take a long time to break down.”

Before we exonerate Exxon in the Valdez spill, let’s focus on the oil remaining under the rocks. “You can go to Prince William Sound and dig down in the rocky cobble beaches, and find oil as toxic as the day it was spilled,” says Richard Charter, a marine conservation advocate with the non-profit Environmental Defense. (Full disclosure: the author is a member of Environmental Defense.)

A photograph shows a heavily oiled beach in 1989, adjacent to a photo of the same beach, healthy and apparently oil-free, three years later.
The 1989 picture shows pools of oil on an exposed boulder beach. In 1992, the same beach shows no oil. A combination of natural and human processes removed most of the oil by 1992. Courtesy David Page

Some studies, Charter says, show that tiny concentrations of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (a group of toxic hydrocarbons ) from crude oil cause mutations in pink salmon eggs. “That means that components of oil, the fractions with the most toxicity, have mutagenic properties at levels much lower than we thought, and are much more persistent in the food chain than we ever believed possible.”

In a report cited by a 2002 National Research Council book Oil in the Sea III), researchers from the Alaska Fisheries Science Center tried to sum up the effect of oil on pink salmon, the big commercial fish in Prince William Sound before the spill:

“Laboratory studies designed to emulate post-spill conditions in [Prince William Sound] verified that embryos are sensitive to long-term exposures to weathered oil in the low part per billion (ppb) range of PAH [polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons ]. Mortalities, abnormalities, histopathological damage, and other biological effects increased with embryo exposure to ppb concentrations of PAH. …Sensitivity of salmon embryos to weathered crude oil at ppb concentrations is unprecedented…”

Another indication that spilled oil does not just disappear comes from researchers at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, who found fuel oil 30 years after a spill on Cape Cod. Woods Hole couldn’t bother talking with us, but their press release said samples from 2 to 11 inches deep in the marsh “contained petroleum hydrocarbons in similar concentrations to those observed shortly after the1969 spill. … the team found that compounds consistent with No. 2 fuel oil were still present in the sediments and may remain there indefinitely.”


Montana still investigating Yellowstone River oil spill


updated 7/6/2011 12:08:54 AM ET

Flood surge could spread Yellowstone River oil spill

High water levels possibly caused 20-year-old pipeline to rupture


Yellowstone River Spill

At approximately 11 p.m. Friday, July 1, 2011, a break occurred in a 12-inch pipeline under the Yellowstone River 20 miles upstream from Billings, Montana. The ruptured pipeline is owned by ExxonMobil Pipeline Company. According to the company, an estimated 1,000 barrels of oil entered the river before the pipeline was closed. EPA is leading the response in close coordination with the state of Montana and other federal agencies. EPA’s primary concern is protecting people’s health and the environment and will remain on-site to ensure cleanup and restoration efforts do just that. EPA continues to hold ExxonMobil, the responsible party, accountable for assessment and cleanup.

Caution  was required as  flood  waters  rise possibly  endangering  the  20 year old  pipeline.  Exxon claims  to have taken this into  consideration decided  after consideration of t heir safety record  that the  pipeline  would  again  be  opened  in spite of  concerns to  its  continued integrity  as  flood  waters rise in the   Yellowstone  River  in Montana .   Speculation is  that the  rupture in the pipeline  was indeed  caused  by debris  damage below  the  water  line.   One  stops  to  wonder how  these  safety  decisions  were  determined and  by  whom.  As  it is  obvious  Exxon’s safety  record  is  less than  satisfactory, in  light  of  only a  few of  the  oil leaks  and  spills  in which it  has  been  directly  involved over the  last decade  or so.



May 18, 2012

Nearly a year after an Exxon Mobile pipeline leaked 60,000 gallons of oil into the Yellowstone River, Montana environmental officials are looking for remaining contamination on the stream after workers recently spotted sheens on the water downstream from the leak site, according to a report from the Associated Press.


Mont. looks for Exxon oil on river; 1 site clean

The Associated Press May 16, 2012,

The July 1 accident spilled an estimated 1,500 barrels of crude, or 63,000 gallons, into the Yellowstone River near Laurel.

In recent weeks, Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks workers have found sheens or other evidence of oil at several sites downstream of the spill, said agency spokesman Bob Gibson.

Department of Environmental Quality scientist Laura Alvey said that includes a sheen she saw last week on an island east of Laurel. She said there was “no question” the sheen came from oil.

Homeowner Jim Swanson had contacted the DEQ after seeing sheens along the river. His property suffered extensive contamination last year, which Exxon workers attempted to remove as part of an estimated $135 million in cleanup and pipeline repair work.

The company recovered an estimated 1 percent of the oil spilled.


Exxon Montana Yellow River  spillage  image


Exxon Escapes Paying $1B for Polluted Drinking Water

A 2006 gasoline leak lasted for 37 days


Some residents of Jacksonville, Maryland, won’t be getting a $1 billion jury award for punitive damages from Exxon Mobil (NYSE:XOM).

The verdict stemmed from the contamination of drinking water supplied to 160 homeowners due to a gasoline leak, Bloomberg noted. The oil giant argued that the 2011 jury award was excessive. A state appeals court agreed and ordered a new trial in Baltimore County Circuit Court.

Additionally, the appeals court reverse the jury’s finding of fraud against Exxon Mobil. That, too, will be a question in the new trial.

The leak, which lasted 37 days, caused 26,000 gallons of gasoline to seep into groundwater in the rural Maryland community. The jury awarded residents $495 million in compensatory damages in addition to the punitive award



ExxonMobil Drilling Plan Threatens Drinking Water In Delaware River Basin



Wed, 2011-06-01 22:44

ExxonMobil Drilling Plan Threatens Drinking Water In Delaware River Basin

The Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) held a public hearing today to review a proposal from ExxonMobil subsidiary XTO Energy to remove massive amounts of water from the Delaware River Basin for unconventional gas exploration.

The dirty energy giant is hoping to withdraw up to 250,000 gallons per day of surface water from Oquaga Creek near the Farnham Road bridge crossing on Route 41 in Sanford, New York. Roughly 300 residents showed up to comment on the proposal, which has stirred public anger and concern over the potential impacts on the local environment and water supplies.

The Exxon subsidiary’s draft docket stipulates that the surface water will be used for unconventional gas drilling via hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. fracking). XTO says the clean water will be used to mix cement and create a “drilling mud/fluid” cocktail. No waste problem, of course.

Beneath the Exxon PR spin, the true costs of withdrawing a quarter million gallons of water per day are estimated at around $17,700 –  for a tiny patch of land.

Consider the fact that the fracking rush is exacting these very same direct costs on many North Americans.

Recently, ExxonMobil has continued with its misleading media blitz to pacify the public’s real concerns around the dangers of unconventional gas exploration. Exxon’s misdirection appeared this month on TV and in full-page ads [pdf] in The New York Times and Washington Post. The ads falsely presented fracking for unconventional gas as a time-tested way to unlock “cleaner-burning” fuel from shale rock. The problem with Exxon’s efforts to greenwash unconventional gas is that according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) [pdf] as well as a recent Cornell study, unlocking this dirty energy is perhaps just as polluting if not moreso than coal. Unconventional gas, despite what Exxon would have us believe, is just another polluting fossil fuel.


Hydraulic Fracturing FAQs

How does hydraulic fracturing work?

Hydraulic fracturing or fracking is a means of natural gas extraction employed in deep natural gas well drilling. Once a well is drilled, millions of gallons of water, sand and proprietary chemicals are injected, under high pressure, into a well. The pressure fractures the shale and props open fissures that enable natural gas to flow more freely out of the well.

What is horizontal hydraulic fracturing?

Horizontal hydrofracking is a means of tapping shale deposits containing natural gas that were previously inaccessible by conventional drilling. Vertical hydrofracking is used to extend the life of an existing well once its productivity starts to run out, sort of a last resort. Horizontal fracking differs in that it uses a mixture of 596 chemicals, many of them proprietary, and millions of gallons of water per frack. This water then becomes contaminated and must be cleaned and disposed of.

What is the Halliburton Loophole?

In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. It exempts companies from disclosing the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. Essentially, the provision took the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) off the job. It is now commonly referred to as the Halliburton Loophole.

What is the Safe Drinking Water Act?

In 1974, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was passed by Congress to ensure clean drinking water free from both natural and man-made contaminates.

What is the FRAC Act?

The FRAC Act (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness to Chemical Act) is a House bill intended to repeal the Halliburton Loophole and to require the natural gas industry to disclose the chemicals they use.

How deep do natural gas wells go?

The average well is up to 8,000 feet deep. The depth of drinking water aquifers is about 1,000 feet. The problems typically stem from poor cement well casings that leak natural gas as well as fracking fluid into water wells.

How much water is used during the fracking process?

Generally 1-8 million gallons of water may be used to frack a well. A well may be fracked up to 18 times.

What fluids are used in the fracking process?

For each frack, 80-300 tons of chemicals may be used. Presently, the natural gas industry does not have to disclose the chemicals used, but scientists have identified volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylene.

In what form does the natural gas come out of the well?

The gas comes up wet in produced water and has to be separated from the wastewater on the surface. Only 30-50% of the water is typically recovered from a well. This wastewater can be highly toxic.

What is done with the wastewater?

Evaporators evaporate off VOCs and condensate tanks steam off VOCs, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The wastewater is then trucked to water treatment facilities.

What is a well’s potential to cause air pollution?

As the VOCs are evaporated and come into contact with diesel exhaust from trucks and generators at the well site, ground level ozone is produced. Ozone plumes can travel up to 250 miles.



Congress Releases Report on Toxic Chemicals Used In Fracking

by Jay Kimball on 17 April 2011

The Democratic Committee staff analyzed the data provided by the companies about their practices, finding that:

  • The 14 leading oil and gas service companies used more than 780 million gallons of hydraulic fracturing products, not including water added at the well site. Overall, the companies used more than 2,500 hydraulic fracturing products containing 750 different chemicals and other components.
  • The components used in the hydraulic fracturing products ranged from generally harmless and common substances, such as salt and citric acid, to extremely toxic substances, such as benzene and lead. Some companies even used instant coffee and walnut hulls in their fracturing fluids.
  • Between 2005 and 2009, the oil and gas service companies used hydraulic fracturing products containing 29 chemicals that are known or possible human carcinogens, regulated under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) for their risks to human health, or listed as hazardous air pollutants under the Clean Air Act.
  • The BTEX compounds – benzene, toluene, xylene, and ethylbenzene – are SDWA contaminants and hazardous air pollutants. Benzene also is a known human carcinogen. The hydraulic fracturing companies injected 11.4 million gallons of products containing at least one BTEX chemical over the five-year period.
  • Methanol, which was used in 342 hydraulic fracturing products, was the most widely used chemical between 2005 and 2009. The substance is a hazardous air pollutant and is on the candidate list for potential regulation under SDWA. Isopropyl alcohol, 2-butoxyethanol, and ethylene glycol were the other most widely used chemicals.
  • Many of the hydraulic fracturing fluids contain chemical components that are listed as “proprietary” or “trade secret.” The companies used 94 million gallons of 279 products that contained at least one chemical or component that the manufacturers deemed proprietary or a trade secret. In many instances, the oil and gas service companies were unable to identify these “proprietary” chemicals, suggesting that the companies are injecting fluids containing chemicals that they themselves cannot identify.


Weird and Frightening Effects of Fracking You May Not Know About

October 20, 2012

Stolen Land

What happens if you’re a land owner who lives on a profitable mineral site, but doesn’t want corporations fracking on your land? Well, apparently, they will maneuver a way to frack your land anyway.

In a new report published last week, Reuters explored oil and gas companies’ nationwide land grab. The report focused on Chesapeake Energy Corporation, which has become the leader in petitioning state agencies when land owners refuse to sign over their land to fracking or oil drilling companies. In Texas, since 2005, Chesapeake had made 1,628 requests to drill on land that owners refuse to lease— nearly twice as many sought by its rival Exxon Mobil — and the state has only rejected five of them.

Chesapeake has made land-leasing one of its top priorities, controlling 15 million acres and spending more than $31 billion to acquire drilling rights. Playing the land grab game allows corporations to attain prospective drilling locations while locking out competition. With such a profitable opportunity, Chesapeake is making sure it’s getting its way by any means necessary. One employee was even caught saying on tape: “If properties don’t want to sign, if we have 90 percent secured of the well that we need, we have the power to put these people in the lease without their permission. …We can do whatever we want.”

When it comes to profit, property rights just don’t seem to matter. And a mix of money in politics, as well as a desire for profit, has weakened regulation.

“I don’t think the state should be able to take a landowner’s rights to generate a profit for a private company,” said David Conrad, an Ohio resident who opposes fracking, but will soon have a Chesapeake well under his home.

However, as Reuters reported:

In its petition, Chesapeake told regulators its proposed drilling unit could produce 4.5 million barrels of oil and 3.5 billion cubic feet of natural gas — if the plots of the 49 land owners who didn’t lease their property to Chesapeake were included.

If not, Chesapeake said, the unit would be 75 percent less productive and would miss out on an additional $71 million in revenue, according to its application. That math carried the day.

Waste-Filled Wine

If you don’t hate fracking already, what if you learned that it can affect wine? Furious? Me too.

Vineyard owners in California are growing increasingly wary of fracking as gas companies begin preliminary operations. Venoco has started exploring Monterey Shale for both oil and gas drilling. Last year, the company filed an application for drilling permits in Monterey County, according to Simon Salinas, a member of the county’s Board of Supervisors, and it already holds hundreds of thousands of acres in the formation, has drilled more than 20 wells and has invested $100 million in oil exploration.

With vineyards and farmlands covering 200,000 acres of Monterey that help make up an $8 billion agricultural business, Salinas told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Anything that can taint our water and food supply could be devastating to our economy.”

Paula Getzelman, a grape-grower in Monterey, said, “If you don’t have a good water supply, your land is worthless.”

Besides fears of contaminated water, Salinas also mentioned that when residents realize the fracking process uses millions of gallons of water that they need for their crops, they will be quite upset.

But even if these threats don’t come to fruition, residents are still concerned that fracking will have a negative effect on their marketability. After all, with cities like Napa and Sonoma not too far away, who’s going to want Monterey’s fracking wine?

Across the country, in Brooklyn, NY, a winery with similar fears about fracking in the Marcellus shale, recently hosted an anti-fracking benefit.

The winery stated on its Web site:

The potential for fracking affects Brooklyn Winery, as we source grapes for our wine from a number of vineyards in New York state and many of our wine bar’s seasonal menu items include ingredients grown on upstate farms.

Dairy Cows At Risk

Got milk? Maybe not for long. According to research from Penn State University, fracking has been found to reduce dairy production.

The university researchers set out to uncover how fracking in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region is affecting dairy farming, the state’s top agricultural sector. The researchers examined dairy cow numbers, milk production and fracking activity among various counties in Pennsylvania between 2007 and 2010. They found that counties with 150 or more Marcellus Shale wells saw a 19 percent decrease in dairy cows, while counties with no wells saw only a 1.2 percent decrease. In a similar fashion, milk production in these counties with 150 or more wells declined by an average of 18.5 percent, while counties with no wells had about a 1 percent decline.

This research seems to challenge the popular narrative that farmers use the money they receive from fracking companies through leasing their land to improve their farms. The researchers note that additional research is needed to figure out the exact cause of the decrease of dairy production. One researcher wondered whether farmers were taking the money they received from their leases and going into a new occupation, or if they are being forced out of farming due to fracking’s environmental effects or a decrease in their farm’s marketability.

Contaminated Food, Stillborn Calves and Poisoned Animals

Imagine fracking fluid seeping out of your next burger — not appetizing? It may be a reality as more and more livestock are raised near fracking sites. Hundreds of animals have already been affected after coming into contact with fracking fluid. Last year, 28 beef cattle in Pennsylvania were exposed to the fluid. Only three of the 11 calves these cattle gave birth to survived. In Louisiana a few years ago, 16 cows dropped dead after drinking fracking fluid.

As New York Governor Cuomo soon decides whether or not to frack in the state’s economically struggling areas, Rita Yelda of Food & Water Watch recently wrote a commentary urging him to consider fracking’s detrimental effects on food.

She wrote:

New York is a national leader in a variety of agricultural products, and about 25 percent of the state’s land area is used for food production. This space may end up being shared with thousands of air polluting drill rigs, and could also be affected by soil contamination from leaks, flares, explosions, fires and experimental waste disposal methods.


Landscape Urbanism


According to Energy Tomorrow, a site sponsored by the American Petroleum Institute, of the 2,000+ wells drilled since 2008, there has been $2.8 million in direct economic benefits spending on wages, payments on capital, and taxes; $1.2 million in indirect (business-to-business) benefits; and $1.5 million in induced (business-to-consumer and consumer-to-business) benefits—per well! The regional economic impact in 2010 alone was $11.2 billion. And two million dollars was paid—per well—in federal, state, and local taxes.

With the current rhetoric around the economy, job creation, and the need to build national and state revenue, these numbers are difficult to ignore as well as what this money has brought to Pennsylvania and New York during, and since, the 2007 recession.

However, after a company asked for drilling rights to his land, Josh Fox began to research the mining process, a project that eventually developed into his controversial documentary Gasland. In one dramatic sequence in the film, drinking water from a kitchen faucet burst into flames due to its high methane content. Several residents testified that natural gas mining practices caused their subsequent health problems, as methane and a mixture of 596 chemicals used in the drilling process contaminated well water supplies. In doing so, the contamination also destroyed the homeowners’ property and resale values, rendering these residents no recourse to sell and move elsewhere.

Lower 48 States Shale Plays. Plays refers to geologic areas targeted by drilling companies. Image from here.


Now   the true costs of withdrawing a quarter million gallons of water per day are estimated at around $17,700 in Maryland  for a tiny patch of land.  Factor in  the supposed gains  from  leasing  their land and  then deduct  the  livestock  lost.  Plus  the  medical  bills incurred later  on  in  life  for  long   term illnesses,  lost  wages,  devastation of  crops  and / or livestock and  what  do these  land  owners  get?  The  privilege  to have  these  oil companies loot  and  pillage  their  land,  livelihood, water and  lives for  gas.  With  ,  of  course the  knowledge  and  assistance  of the  government.  All over  the   Nation.  That isn;t   even  including  the  oils  companies  penchant  for  lying , misleading  and cutting  corners to  increase  profit  at the  expense  of  water , land  ,  animal and human  safety.  Getting the  picture yet ?


ExxonMobil faces lawsuit after Arkansas oil spill

By CNN Staff

A duck from Mayflower is washed at The HAWK Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center.A duck from Mayflower is washed at The HAWK Center, a wildlife rehabilitation center.  /

Oil covers the water and underbrush in Dawson Cove on April 6.
Oil covers the water and underbrush in Dawson Cove on April 6.  /

Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near evacuated homes in Mayflower, Arkansas, on Sunday, March 31. An Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil ruptured on March 29 causing the evacuation of about two dozen homes. Mayflower residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company.
Spilled crude oil is seen in a drainage ditch near evacuated homes in Mayflower, Arkansas, on Sunday, March 31. An Exxon Mobil pipeline carrying Canadian crude oil ruptured on March 29 causing the evacuation of about two dozen homes. Mayflower residents have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company.  /

Thank You Exxon: Mayflower, Arkansas’ New Oil Lake


Image of  Gavel

Exxon Mobil must pay $236M in NH pollution case


Associated Press /  April 9, 2013

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — Exxon Mobil Corp. was found liable Tuesday in a long-running lawsuit over groundwater contamination caused by the gasoline additive MTBE, and the jury ordered the oil giant to pay $236 million to New Hampshire to clean it up.

The jurors reached their verdicts in less than 90 minutes, after sitting through nearly three months of testimony. Lawyers on both sides were stunned by the speed with which they reached the verdict on liability and even more stunned when the jurors took barely 20 minutes more to fill out the damages verdict.

Juror Dawn Booker of Pembroke told The Associated Press that all 12 felt ‘‘very, very confident about our decision.’’

Attorney General Michael Delaney said he anticipates an appeal and doesn’t expect to see the money ‘‘anytime soon.’’ He said the case and the verdict are historic.

The verdict is more than twice the $105 million jurors awarded the New York City Water District in 2009 in its case against Exxon Mobil over MTBE contamination. That case is on appeal.

Jessica Grant, the state’s lead lawyer, said it was the largest verdict ever in an MTBE case, though a financial analyst noted that the award represents about two days’ worth of profit for the company.

Jurors found that Exxon Mobil was negligent in adding MTBE to its gasoline and that it was a defective product. They also found Exxon Mobil liable for failing to warn distributors and consumers about its contaminating characteristics.

The jury determined that the hazards of using MTBE gasoline were not obvious to state officials, who opted into the reformulated gasoline program in 1991 to help reduce smog in the state’s four southernmost counties.

Jurors also rejected Exxon Mobil’s defense that more than 300 junkyard and gas station owners not named in the lawsuit were responsible for much of the contamination. They also absolved the state of responsibility for the contamination.

‘‘Exxon will probably make close to a $40 billion profit this year, Gheit said. ‘‘That’s (the award) two days’ work.’’

He said it’s no surprise that Exxon Mobil would take the 10-year-old lawsuit to trial, saying the company ‘‘will make you sweat for every dollar you think you’re going to get.’’ Company leaders view it as a matter of principle, he said.

Exxon Mobil begins defense in gas additive case

— Mar. 4 4:00 PM EST

New Hampshire filed its product liability lawsuit a decade ago against 26 oil companies and distributers, claiming that MTBE — methyl tertiary butyl ether — is a defective product because of its propensity to travel farther and faster and contaminate larger quantities of water than gasoline without additives. The state is seeking more than $700 million to test and monitor 250,000 private wells and clean up an estimated 5,600 contaminated sites, and so far has collected more than $120 million in settlement money.

Lawyers for Exxon Mobil, the only defendant that has not settled with the state, argue that MTBE did exactly what it was supposed to do — replace lead in gasoline and cut smog in compliance with the 1990 Clean Air Act. They opened their case by attempting to cast doubt on state witnesses who claimed to be surprised by memos Mickelson wrote describing environmental concerns about MTBE. Former Department of Environmental Services Commissioner Robert Varney testified earlier that he was shocked Exxon Mobil did not share Mickelson’s findings with the state, but Mickelson said the information was widely available at the time.


Bloomberg News

MTBE Still a Water Risk, Witness Says at ExxonMobil Trial

By Don Jeffrey and Sarah Earle on January 16, 2013

Fogg testified the additive can zigzag through fractured bedrock in unpredictable patterns and remain in groundwater longer than other compounds. Fogg said the additive poses unique risks to drinking water when leaked from underground storage tanks, based on its chemical properties and the state’s geology.

“The contaminant will tend to move along fractures that are open and connected,” he told jurors. “Those fractures can be quite complex.”

Creates Hazard

As a result, MTBE creates a hazard that is difficult to detect and equally difficult to clean up, Fogg said, showing jurors slides that demonstrated the way MTBE can bleed into water supplies. The state sought to counter claims by the oil companies that MTBE has largely disappeared from the water supply, as well as claims that the additive is safer than some of the chemicals it displaces when mixed with gasoline.

Chemicals such as benzene “don’t move very fast or very far, Fogg said. ‘‘They tend to stabilize because of biodegradation.’’

The state claimed in opening arguments that the oil companies knew that if they added MTBE to gasoline it would increase the risk and costs associated with contamination.

‘‘Exxon decided to disregard the recommendation of its own employees and put MTBE in gasoline,’’ Jessica Grant, a lawyer for the state, told jurors Jan. 14. ‘‘In 1984, Exxon anticipated that if it added MTBE to its gasoline, the number of contamination incidents would triple. These incidents would take longer to clean up and cost five times as much.’’


Exxon Mobil exec: MTBE an ‘outstanding’ additive

Dugan says Exxon Mobil delayed using MTBE as a gasoline additive to study its health and environmental impacts. He said some company executives criticized his study committee for taking so long and reducing Exxon Mobil’s competitive edge in the marketplace.

Dugan said the study committee in June 1985 recommended using MTBE, or methyl tertiary butyl ether, saying the environmental risks were manageable. He testified that the committee’s final report included concerns raised by former Exxon Mobil engineer Barbara Mickelson, including that MTBE would move farther and faster if leaked into water supplies and be more costly and difficult to remediate.

“We wanted management to be fully aware of all the concerns raised,” Dugan said.

Dugan said they rejected using methanol as being too hazardous, with as little as a teaspoonful capable of causing blindness. Ethanol was ruled out, he said, because it could cause vapor lock in car engines and some auto manufacturers were warning consumers that they would not honor warranties if the car owner used gasoline with ethanol.

The state claims MTBE is a defective product and that Exxon Mobil failed to warn state officials about potential adverse effects.

Over the state’s objections, Dugan testified Tuesday that Mickelson shared her concerns with EPA officials.

Attorney Jessica Grant, representing the state, told Superior Court Judge Peter Fauver that Exxon Mobil’s lawyers “are trying to mislead this jury into thinking they were candid with the EPA when they weren’t.” Fauver allowed defense attorney David Lender to ask whether Mickelson shared her findings with the EPA but would not permit Dugan to elaborate.




Caution  was required as  flood  waters  rise possibly  endangering  the  20 year old  pipeline.  Exxon claims  to have taken this into  consideration decided  after consideration of t heir safety record  that the  pipeline  would  again  be  opened  in spite of  concerns to  its  continued integrity  as  flood  waters rise in the   Yellowstone  River  in Montana .   Speculation is  that the  rupture in the pipeline  was indeed  caused  by debris  damage below  the  water  line.   One  stops  to  wonder how  these  safety  decisions  were  determined and  by  whom.  As  it is  obvious  Exxon’s safety  record  is  less than  satisfactory, in  light  of  only a  few of  the  oil leaks  and  spills  in which it  has  been  directly  involved over the  last decade  or so.

Brown oil on blue water, with a production platform in the center, and a ship nearby.
The Ixtoc I exploratory well blew out in June, 1979, in the Bay of Campeche, Mexico. The well spilled an estimated 140 million gallons of oil, the second-largest spill in history.NOAA

More people + more industry = more oil floating on water
At any rate, more oil will be moving across the ocean in the future, as a rising standard of living and growing population feed an overwhelming thirst for fossil fuels.

To Charter, these factors are central to the oil-spill equation. “We have been ignoring for quite a few decades the fact that oil consumption, which we take for granted in industrial societies, has an environmental cost that is paid by living resources. Things die in nature so we can get this oil. … Somewhere, some part of the environment is being poisoned for every gallon of gasoline that arrives in a filling station.”

And it’s not just tankers that spill oil, Charter adds. The largest peacetime oil spill in history, the Ixtoc I well, spewed 140 million gallons in the Gulf of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico.

That was a shallow well. As offshore drills work in the Arctic ice, and in deeper water in the Gulf of Mexico and elsewhere, “You can create accidents you can’t fix,” says Charter.

Welcome to the <em>Exxon Valdez</em> Oil Spill Trustee Council

Home Oil Spill Facts Habitat Protection Restoration Projects Recovery Since 89


As of 1997, Fucus had not yet fully recovered in the upper intertidal zone on shores oriented towards direct sunlight, but in many locations, recovery of intertidal communities had been substantial. In other habitat types, such as estuaries and cobble beaches, many species did not show signs of recovery when they were last surveyed in 1991. Studies on the effects of clean-up activities on oiled and washed beaches showed some invertebrates, like molluscs and annelid worms were still much less abundant than on comparable unoiled beaches through 1997. It is undetermined how much recovery has occurred in these locations since 1997, because further work has not been conducted.

Lingering oil is still present in some intertidal areas within the spill zone. Recent studies indicate that at beaches with pockets of buried lingering oil, high amphipod mortality is associated with elevated hydrocarbon concentrations. Moreover, the recovery objective states that the intertidal zone must provide uncontaminated food to top predators, including human subsistence users. As recently as 2009, some bird species which rely exclusively on the intertidal zone (harlequin ducks) were still being exposed to hydrocarbons. Although the route of oil exposure has not been established, it is possible they are consuming contaminated prey during feeding. In addition, the slow recovery of some soft-sediment intertidal invertebrates, the presence of lingering, bio-available oil, the continuing oil exposure of obligate intertidal foragers that are known to eat bivalves, and the lack of recent data characterizing the intertidal community indicate that this resource has not fully recovered from the effects of the oil spill.

Taking  into account  what  we  know  today  and all we  have  seen is it a  wonder that  people  are  up  in arms  and   extremely  concerned  with the  prospect  of the  XL Pipeline.  These  companies  have  displayed  nothing  but  contempt  for the  environment  and  the  welfare  of  the people affected  by their  spills.

Maybe this oil spill will stick

By John D. Sutter, CNN
April 4, 2013 — Updated 1158 GMT (1958 HKT)

The Mayflower, Arkansas, spill is nothing compared to the Gulf disaster, of course. Fourteen ducks, two turtles and one muskrat were oiled as a result of the Friday spill, according to ExxonMobil. Two ducks died. About two-dozen homes were evacuated. The full toll of the Gulf Coast Oil Disaster (the news media started calling it that because “spill” wasn’t big enough to be accurate) is still being tabulated, but the numbers are of another magnitude: 210 million gallons of oil, as well as 464 oiled sea turtles and 8,567 affected birds, many of them dead, according to an April 2012 report compiled by two federal agencies and five states.

Both incidents, however, are pieces in a bigger puzzle.

They highlight, once again, that America is addicted to fossil fuels and needs to invest more seriously and urgently in alternatives like wind, solar and nuclear.

These events never seem to really stick in our collective memory.

But they should

If they did, they would inform our decision-making.

The way things work now, oil spills are seen by some politicians as expected — as externalities of our condition, like lung cancer to a smoker.

U.S. Rep. Tim Griffin, an Arkansas Republican, reportedly told a local radio station on Wednesday that we have oil pipeline accidents “just like we have car accidents” and that he supports further development of the system that caused the spill in his state.

How silly, right?

Rivers of oil in Arkansas town

Imagine this much oil in your driveway

We shouldn’t expect oil spills to be part of modern reality.

There are much better ways forward.

Environmental groups are right to use the Arkansas spill as a cautionary tale — as one of many reasons that the Obama administration should reject a proposed pipeline, called the Keystone XL, which would carry this risky type of crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast of the United States for processing.

The groups contend this thicker “oil sands” material is more corrosive to pipelines and therefore more dangerous to transport across the United States.

The National Resource Defense Council, in a recent blog post, says oil sands crude also is transported at higher temperatures, putting additional stress on pipelines; and it’s thicker and harder to clean up than conventional crude.


It  is  truly  sad  that  the  collective  memory  for  disasters  that destroy   live s  and  eco  system  is  barely a tear at  most  two.  Politicians have an  even  shorter  memory  span as  they  will  turn  around  and justify  the risks  of a mess   such as  this by   comparing it  to  an  auto accident.  Since  when  does  an  auto  accident  take  decades  to  clean  up .  Since  when  does  an  auto  accident devastate entire  eco  systems.  Families  , yes , individual lives  yes.  However  ,  it is   disingenuous  at  best and a  downright lie  to  claim that  transporting  this  filthy  tar  sand can  be  compared  to  something  as  common place  as   driving  a  car.

For  all their big  talk about  pollution and  climate  change,  I  am  hard  pressed to  believe  that  any of the  rhetoric  being  spewed has  much of  anything to  do  with pollution  or  the  impact   o the  planet.  Rather  it  has  more to  do  with the ability  to  impose  more  taxes,  provide  more   special interest opportunities  to   lobbyists of the  Energy  Companies and  of  course fill their  own  money  hungry never  ending  need  for  more.  More  power,  more  money  , more  clout ,  more  connections  to make  that  money  once  time is  up  on the  Hill. 

What  is  it  about Americans  today ? 

Why  are we  asleep  at the  helm? 

Why  do  we  care  so  little  until  it  affects  us  in  our  own  back  yard? 

Do  we not  understand  that  the idea  of  “Drill baby ,  drill”  has  consequences? 

What  is  it  about  weaning   ourselves off of  fossil  fuel that  escapes  us ? 

Exactly  what   is  it  going to  take  to make  us  wake  the  hell  up  and  understand  that  we  are poisoning  our world,  our children and  ourselves!!

I  understand  why it is   in the  best  interest  of the  politicians  to  look the  other  way.  They  have lost  of  money to  make if  they  help  these  criminals  get  away  with  their  plans. 

But  what’s in it  for  you ?  

What  do you  get  out of  looking  the  other  way? 

How  much  money  do  you  stand  t make? 

But  more  importantly …..if  you  do  nothing  and   continue  towing the line  and  following the  lead  of  the  enablers.  What  do you  stand t o  lose?  One wonders   how  many  have  reflected on that   thought  ,  honestly and  thoroughly.

The  most  frustrating  aspect  of  all of t his  is  that you are   assisting the  enablers  by  unlocking  the doors  to  your  homes  so t hat they  can  lead the  thieves in to  steal from  you . 

Does  that  make  any  kind  of  sense  to  any of  you who have  taken the  we  need  oil  at  all costs approach? 

Are  you  starting to  get   just  how you  and yours  will be  paying  for this   oil addiction  we  suffer from? 

Aside  fro those  who  actually   stand  to make  money  off  of the  oil sales   what  do you  get  from it ? 


Not   having to  deal with  new  technology  or  having to  pay  for it ?

I have  no  idea  what  is  going  through  those  heads.  I  cannot   even  fathom  the rationalization  that  might  be  taking  place.  But in  case  you  missed it  let  me  break it   down  for  you ……

The   Oil  companies   could  care  less  about  you  , your  children  ,  your  land  or  your  water.  All they  care  about   is  the   loads of  money  they  stand  to  make  by  selling you  the  oil  they  polluted  you  land  and  water  and  poisoned  your  children to  obtain

The  politicians   claim they  care   but in actuality   the only  thing  they  care  about  is  keeping  their  benefactors in the oil  companies  happy  so they  can   continue  making   all that  money and  ensuring their future  posts in the   oil  companies   when they  retire  from  public  service.  All thanks  to t heir  having  helped  poison  your land  your  water  and  your  children.

And  please  spare  me the  speech about the politicians  being  on the  take  personal  speculation on  my  part.  Because the only thing  i  need  do is  remind  you  that  it  was  Bush/Cheney  who gave Halliburton  and every  other  oil  company on the  face  of  this  earth  the  green light to  be  able  to   peddle their  poisons  with  impunity.  Just  like it  was  Obama   who gave Big  Pharma  the green  light  to  peddle  their  poisons  with  impunity. 

When a  company  that  holds  their  money  more  dear  than their  responsibility  to the  communities  where  they function  and thereby the  people  who live in those  communities.  One  cannot   with a  clear  conscience  believe  nor  expect that  said  company  will  do the  right  thing.  They can  be  and  will be  expected  to do  what  is  best  for their  bottom  line ,  but  not  much  else.  Truly  the way  I see it  this  country  is  headed for  a  precipice that   opens  up  over a dark and  deep  abyss and  most  f  us  will   fall in never to  be  seen from or  heard  from  again. 

My  question is  will the  rest of  us allow  ourselves   to be  sucked in  after  them? 

Or are  we  going  to  stand   up  for  what is  right  ,  what  is  just  and  fight   back?


To Add insult to  injury  we have  this  little  jewel……


ExxonMobil gets safety award while cleaning up spill

Crews work to clean up from an oil pipeline spill in a Mayflower, Ark., neighborhood Wednesday, April 3, 2013. An ExxonMobil pipeline ruptured last week and spewed thousands of barrels of crude oil. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)

The ExxonMobil Corp. has been honored with a “Green Cross of Safety” medal, bestowed as the oil giant was cleaning up thousands of barrels of heavy Canadian oil spilled by a pipeline rupture onto the streets and backyards of a small town in Arkansas.

ExxonMobil was hit with a $5 million lawsuit Monday by residents of Mayflower, Ark., who said in their filing:  “This Arkansas class action lawsuit involves the worst crude oil and tar sands spill in Arkansas history.”  The suit estimates that up to 20,000 barrels spilled:  ExxonMobil has estimated the spill at 3,500 to 5,000 barrels.

Rex Tillerson, Chairman/CEO of ExxonMobil, accepts “Green Cross of Safety” medal while crews from the oil company clean up a pipeline spill in Arkansas.

The mess in Arkansas didn’t stop ExxonMobil Chairman/CEO Rex W. Tillertson from accepting accolades from the National Safety Council.  “It is an honor to receive this medal on behalf of the men and women of ExxonMobil,” said a proud Tillertson.  “We hold this award in high esteem because it recognizes the deep commitment of our company and our people to a culture of safety.”

ExxonMobil is a sensitive oil giant.  It waged a 15-year battle against a $5 billion punitive damages award from the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, eventually reducing the award to $500 million.  Lawyers from the Los Angeles firm of O’Melveny & Myers argued at a federal appellate court hearing in Seattle that Exxon had suffered enough and paid out enough already.

The National Safety Council, on whose board sits an ExxonMobil vice president, commended the oil giant for its “leadership and comprehensive commitment to safety excellence.  In bestowing the Green Cross of Safety, it said:

“ExxonMobil distinguished itself over a period of years for outstanding achievements in workplace safety, community service, environmental stewardship and responsible citizenship.”

The recent Arkansas rupture, a 2-3″ gash in the 65-year-old Pegasus Pipeline, hit a town of 2,200 about 20 miles north of Little Rock.  It forced evacuation of homes.  ExxonMobil put a lid — literally — on news coverage.  A no-fly zone was established over the spill.  Journalists were barred from the school where ExxonMobil and state officials were meeting with local residents.