WBEZ | oil http://www.wbez.org/tags/oil Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en With fracking bill on Quinn's desk, environmental groups hold out hope for revisions http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fracking-bill-quinns-desk-environmental-groups-hold-out-hope-revisions <p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/fracking-wrigley.jpg" title="Outside Wrigley Field, members of The Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking protest a regulatory bill that recently passed the state legislature. (WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" /></div><p>Amid a warbling Lowery organ rendition of &ldquo;Build Me Up Buttercup&rdquo; blasting from pre-game Wrigley Field, environmental groups gathered outside Wrigley View Rooftop to make their voices heard on pending <a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/fracking" target="_blank">fracking</a> regulations.</p><p>The targets of their signs and chants were state governors in town for the Democratic Governors Association, meeting this week in Chicago. In addition to Gov. Pat Quinn, whose signature is expected soon on <a href="http://www.wbez.org/news/bill-passage-illinois-fast-track-fracking-107488" target="_blank">a regulatory bill passed recently by the state legislature</a>, protestors watched for Maryland Gov. Martin O&rsquo;Malley and California Gov. Jerry Brown &mdash; two leaders similarly <a href="http://fuelfix.com/blog/2013/06/08/fracking-foes-push-california-governor-for-ban/" target="_blank">mulling over</a> whether to permit the controversial process for natural gas and oil extraction in their states.</p><p>While Quinn greeted news of the bill&rsquo;s passage by promising his signature, protestors pointed out the governor could veto certain provisions in the massive regulatory bill, sending it back to the General Assembly, even if he does not block its passage into law. Some environmental groups are still holding out hope for an outright ban on fracking in Illinois. <a href="http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-03/madigan-mell-push-two-year-ban-fracking-106109" target="_blank">Politicians previously floated bills calling for a two-year moratorium on fracking in both the house and senate</a>.</p><p>The groups, who are organized under The Illinois Coalition for a Moratorium on Fracking, cite relatively lax standards regarding setbacks, or how far from certain areas drillers are allowed to dig wells. Setbacks from rivers and lakes are only 300 feet in the regulatory bill, while environmental groups <a href="https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&amp;rct=j&amp;q=&amp;esrc=s&amp;source=web&amp;cd=2&amp;ved=0CDYQFjAB&amp;url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.dontfractureillinois.net%2Fwp-content%2Fuploads%2F2013%2F05%2FLobby-Day-Prof-bill-Rau-breaks-the-regulatory-bill-down-May21st.odt&amp;ei=RcO4UZ6sMcO9yQG2loGgCw&amp;usg=AFQjCNECR6_Hh092OBfhq16slDgUjXRBiA&amp;sig2=UqA_0xRoAbe6MgQIaanCsA&amp;bvm=bv.47810305,d.aWc" target="_blank">have called for a buffer zone 11 times wider</a>. They also challenge statements that fracking will bring significant revenue and jobs to Illinois, pointing out that <a href="http://articles.chicagotribune.com/2013-04-19/news/ct-biz-0331-fracking-state--20130331_1_severance-tax-tax-rate-tax-holiday" target="_blank">tax rates are low compared to other states and a relatively small portion of taxes collected go to drilling counties</a>.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cubs-sign.jpg" style="height: 203px; width: 305px; float: left;" title="(WBEZ/Chris Bentley)" />&ldquo;There are serious holes in this bill,&rdquo; said Lora Chamberlain, a member of the moratorium coalition.</p><p>In the bill&rsquo;s year-long march towards becoming law, major environmental groups including the Sierra Club and Natural Resources Defense Council were given unusual access to a process typically maligned for ignoring such advocacy and consumer groups. Supporters of the bill say scrupulous collaboration with green groups resulted in the nation&rsquo;s toughest regulatory bill. Many of those groups support a moratorium publicly, but offered their guidance during the drafting of the bill rather than be shut out.</p><p>With Quinn on record&nbsp;&ldquo;look[ing] forward to signing the legislation,&rdquo; the groups looking for revisions or an outright ban have an uphill fight. Still, Chamberlain said, it&rsquo;s worth trying.</p><p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re doing everything we can,&rdquo; she said.</p><p>As the assembled governors watched the Cincinnati Reds wallop the Cubs Tuesday, activists with <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/risingtide_chi/9022932362/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank">Rising Tide Chicago unfurled a banner in Wrigley</a> that read &ldquo;Don&rsquo;t Frack [Illinois].&rdquo;</p><div class="image-insert-image "><a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/risingtide_chi/9022932362/sizes/z/in/photostream/" target="_blank"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/rising%20tide%20chicago.jpg" style="height: 450px; width: 610px;" title="(Rising Tide Chicago)" /></a></div><div class="image-insert-image ">&nbsp;</div><div class="image-insert-image "><em>Chris Bentley writes about the environment. Follow him on Twitter at <a href="http://twitter.com/Cementley" target="_blank">@Cementley</a>.</em></div></p> Wed, 12 Jun 2013 14:43:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/chris-bentley/2013-06/fracking-bill-quinns-desk-environmental-groups-hold-out-hope-revisions Why does Chicago still have such high gas prices? http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-chicago-still-have-such-high-gas-prices-107356 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Chicago gas explainer.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>It&rsquo;s Memorial Day weekend, which means more people are hitting the road...and slapping their foreheads when they see the price at the pump. Especially in Chicago.</p><p>According to a <a href="http://www.lundbergsurvey.com/csp_c.aspx" target="_blank">recent Lundberg Survey</a> the price of a gallon of gasoline in the United States rose sharply in the last two weeks because of outages at Midwest and West Coast refineries</p><p>But gas prices in Chicago are often higher than the rest of the country. Higher than New York, Los Angeles &mdash; even Hawaii.</p><p>But why? Chicago isn&rsquo;t far from oil-rich Canada and there&rsquo;s a huge refinery right next door.</p><p>Even longtime Chicagoans don&rsquo;t seem to know why gas is so expensive in the city.</p><p>&quot;I don&rsquo;t know? I think people in high office do what they want and we just have to go with the flow,&rdquo; said Kuri Roundtree, who pulled into a BP gas station at Roosevelt and Wabash in the South Loop earlier this week. &ldquo;I think it&rsquo;s ridiculous. It costs me $70 dollars to fill up my SUV. I&rsquo;m sure I&rsquo;m not the only person complaining about this gas. All of my family members hate going to the gas station.&quot;</p><p>Finding the answer to Chicago&rsquo;s expensive gas mystery is actually not that obvious.</p><p>&ldquo;Chicago is unique for a few different reasons. Even prices outside our region could be going down while our prices are going up,&rdquo; said Patrick DeHaan, senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com.</p><p>DeHaan says many factors that help set gas prices for the entire country are simply out of our control. For starters, the sky high price of crude oil on the global market.&nbsp; Thanks to demand in Asia, turmoil in the Middle East and good ol&rsquo; Mother Nature &mdash; like the flooding we experienced earlier this month.</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s nothing really to fix,&rdquo; DeHaan said. &ldquo;That&rsquo;s just the way the free market works with gasoline. Prices go up and down.&rdquo;</p><p>Still, if you live in Chicago, it&rsquo;s usually up.</p><p>Another reason for this is the process of refining the crude oil before it gets to the pump.</p><p>There are four refineries that generally serve the Chicago market, including BP&rsquo;s massive refinery in nearby Whiting, Indiana, right across the state border.</p><p>The Whiting refinery has been around longer than there have been automobiles. It was part of John D. Rockefeller&rsquo;s Standard Oil empire in the late 1800s. Of course, it&rsquo;s more expensive now to refine crude oil than it was back then primarily because of environmental regulations.</p><p>You&rsquo;ve probably heard about the cleaner burning &ldquo;summer blend&rdquo; that the Environmental Protection Agency requires for cities like Chicago.</p><p>&ldquo;Summer gasoline, or gasoline with a different RVP, is a different formulation. You can&rsquo;t use some of your lighter ends, such as your butanes to add to the volume of the gasoline, because it would evaporate out in the higher temperatures so it is more expensive in the summer,&rdquo; said BP Whiting senior spokesman Scott Dean.</p><p>Unfortunately for Chicago&rsquo;s gas customers, the city&rsquo;s close proximity to the BP Refinery doesn&rsquo;t help much in keeping costs down. Dean says that&rsquo;s not how wholesale pricing works.</p><p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s called the rack price,&rdquo; Dean said. &ldquo;The rack price is what the tanker truck driver who may be representing any number of companies, will go, will get the fuel, will pay whatever the rack price of what they&rsquo;ve agreed to. And, the retailer will then determine the final price that they sell on the street.&rdquo;</p><p>Customers may also have a desire to blame gas station owners for the high price of gasoline. But Beth Mosher, spokeswoman for AAA Chicago Motor Club, says it&rsquo;s not their fault.</p><p>&ldquo;Everybody wants to take it out on their local gas station owner why these prices are so high,&rdquo; Mosher said. &ldquo;But the reality is when the prices are this high the profit margins for these gas stations are so thin, they are going to make more from a bag of doritos that they are selling you than they are the gas.&rdquo;</p><p>Mosher says the final factor for high gasoline prices can be pinned on the tax man.</p><p>&ldquo;First and foremost, we have to talk about the high taxes in Chicago,&rdquo; she said. &ldquo;About 70 cents on the gallon is what people pay in Chicago for gas taxes, really, really a high number, especially given the statewide average is 49 cents on the gallon.&rdquo;</p><p>Those figures can fluctuate, but that means generally 70 to 90 cents for every gallon of gas pumped in Chicago goes to taxes.</p><p>For example, if gas costs $4.67 a gallon that means 18 cents goes to the federal government; 43 cents for the state. And if you live in Chicago, tack on another 33 cents for Cook County and the city.</p><p>That includes sales and motor fuel taxes, the latter of which goes to pay for roads and bridges and some of the capital projects.</p><p>Although increasingly that money is being diverted to pay for things like pensions.</p><p>Another factor that hits wallets particularly hard is the way all levels of government in Illinois levy sales tax on gasoline purchases. The state of Illinois alone charges 6.25 percent sales tax. Twenty years ago when gas was much cheaper that meant just pennies on the dollar. But now that can be an extra 20 cents or more per gallon since the higher the gas price, the more taxes you pay.</p><p>&ldquo;Most states don&rsquo;t do that. Most states tax only based per unit, per gallon if you will. So, even if the cost goes up, the amount of tax you pay does not go up in terms of your overall cost,&rdquo; said John Tillman, Chief Executive Officer for the Illinois Policy Institute, based in downtown Chicago.</p><p>Last summer, the Institute called for the state sales tax to be changed so it&rsquo;s based on the number of gallons purchased, and not the price. The proposal fell on deaf ears in Springfield.</p><p>Still, if prices aren&rsquo;t coming down anytime soon, what are drivers supposed to do?</p><p>Well, for one thing, we can buy less gas.</p><p>&ldquo;We urge people not to wait for the government to do things but start consolidating your trips and take the L or the Metra train if that&rsquo;s a possibility to you,&rdquo; Mosher said. &ldquo;Do things on your own to start getting better gas mileage out of your car.&rdquo;</p><p>But even if you buy that fuel efficient hybrid or an electric car, drivers still might not be out of the woods when it comes to paying higher gas taxes.</p><p>Lawmakers in Springfield are talking about boosting motor fuel taxes to make up the lost revenue from fuel-efficient cars that use less gas. They may even impose fees on the fuel-efficient vehicles themselves to help fund road repairs.</p><p>One supporter of this proposal is Doug Whitley, president and CEO of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.</p><p>Whitely is also co-chair of the <a href="http://tficillinois.org/" target="_blank">Transportation for Illinois Coalition</a> which has been in Springfield pushing an increase to Illinois&rsquo; motor fuel tax. Although with only one week remaining in the state&rsquo;s spring schedule, he says most lawmakers are focused on issues like pensions, conceal-carry and same-sex marriage.</p><p>&ldquo;The state&rsquo;s capital program to fund construction for roads, bridges and transit falls off the cliff next year. That fiscal cliff we heard about in Washington also exists in Springfield,&rdquo; Whitely told WBEZ this week.</p><p>Whitely explained that the state&rsquo;s fiscal program that started in 2009 will expire in the next fiscal year.&nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;There&rsquo;s discussion of how to keep capital dollars flowing to the state and local government and the transit districts so they can continue to build, maintain and modernize and handle their construction needs,&rdquo; Whitely said.</p><p>Whitely said one proposal garnering a lot of attention is the idea of abolishing Illinois&rsquo; 19 cent motor fuel tax and establishing a new sales tax on fuels. A similar plan was just implemented in Virginia.</p><p>&ldquo;The motor fuel tax was last increased 23 years ago and there&rsquo;s no growth in that tax in large part because of the mile-advantages of today&rsquo;s more fuel efficient cars can take advantage of,&rdquo; Whitely said. &ldquo;We already have cars getting 50 miles to the gallon and electric cars, so the motor fuel tax isn&rsquo;t putting the money into the road fund to support construction.&rdquo;</p><p>Another idea is to levy new taxes or registration fees on hybrids and electric cars directly.</p><p>&ldquo;If you have an electric car, you&#39;re really getting away to use the roads but not having to pay much for them,&rdquo; Whitely said.</p><p>Whitely is sympathetic to Chicago area residents who already pay a lot of taxes on gas. &ldquo;But if you want to continue to have transportation systems that are modern, efficient, clean and safe, there&rsquo;s going to be a cost related to that,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&ldquo;The bottom line is, there is no free lunch.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-393eb71c-d7eb-292a-bd1c-de35c9fd58e4"><em>Michael Puente is WBEZ&#39;s Northwest Indiana bureau reporter. Follow him on Twitter <a href="https://twitter.com/MikePuenteNews">@MikePuenteNews.</a></em></p></p> Fri, 24 May 2013 13:04:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/why-does-chicago-still-have-such-high-gas-prices-107356 Fuel subsidy cuts spark protests in an already volatile Nigeria http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-12/fuel-subsidy-cuts-spark-protests-already-volatile-nigeria-95497 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/segment/photo/2012-January/2012-01-12/nigeria2.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>On Monday, the Nigerian government announced it would end two decades of fuel subsidies. The actions prompted a nationwide strike in a country already rocked by deadly religious tensions in the north.</p><p>Now, the country’s top oil union - which represents 20,000 oil and gas workers - is threatening to completely shut down oil production if President Goodluck Jonathan doesn’t reverse his decision.</p><p><a href="http://%20http://las.depaul.edu/psc/People/Full-time%20Faculty/Adibe/index.asp" target="_blank">Clement Adibe</a>, a professor of political science at DePaul University, provides analysis. He’s originally from the Niger Delta.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 12 Jan 2012 16:23:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/episode-segments/2012-01-12/fuel-subsidy-cuts-spark-protests-already-volatile-nigeria-95497 Worldview 8.30.11 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-83011 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/episode/images/2011-august/2011-08-30/keystone1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p><span class="filefield_audio_insert_player" href="/sites/default/files/wv_20110830.mp3" id="filefield_audio_insert_player-114958" player="Default">wv_20110830.mp3</span></p><p>The Keystone XL is a proposed 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry acidic crude oil from Canada’s Alberta tar sands to refineries along the Texas Gulf Coast. Today, we speak with landowners who oppose the creation of the pipeline, which spurred environmentalists around the country to action. Earlier this month, hundreds marched on the White House to protest the pipeline. Over two hundred people were taken away in handcuffs – including high-profile activists Bill McKibben, Gus Speth and Lietenant Dan Choi. We also consider the ethics and societal implications of the pipeline with Canadian philosopher <a href="http://www.augustana.ualberta.ca/profs/dgoa/" target="_blank">David Goa</a>.</p></p> Tue, 30 Aug 2011 14:53:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/episode/worldview-83011 New air pollution report calls Illinois one of the 'Toxic 20' http://www.wbez.org/story/new-air-pollution-report-calls-illinois-one-toxic-20-89426 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-July/2011-07-20/NRDCchart.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>A new report jointly released from the <a href="http://www.nrdc.org/media/2011/110720.asp">National Resources Defense Council</a> and Physicians for Social Responsibility puts Illinois in the so-called "Toxic 20" for state air pollution levels. The report named Illinois's 17th worst in the nation for toxic air pollution released from electricity-generating power plants.</p><p>"Illinois is a big industrial state with a...diversified economy...," said Dan Lashof, Climate Center director with the NRDC. "These emissions are substantial, and should be controlled. Illinois has taken some steps to reduce emissions, otherwise it might rank even higher, but...there continue to be a number of power plants and other sources that don't have any pollution controls in place for these toxic chemicals, and that needs to change."</p><p>Dr. Lynn Ringenberg of Physicians for Social Responsibility cited a report released last year by the National Association of Nurses that put the responsibility of increased asthma rates in children on the shoulders of power plant companies. "The pediatric asthma prevalence for the state is (200,000) to 300,000 kids, with close to 20,000 that had ER visits last year, so that's pretty significant," she said. "You're in the top six, seven, in the country with asthma prevalence."</p><p>According to the report, entitled “<a href="http://docs.nrdc.org/air/files/air_11072001a.pdf">Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States</a>”, power plants released 5.6 million pounds of chemicals in Illinois in 2009. They emitted 23 percent of state pollution and one percent of all toxic pollution of all power plants nationwide. Almost half of all the air pollution reported from industrial sources in the U.S. comes from coal and oil power plants. The report ultilized Environment Protection Agency data for its findings.</p></p> Thu, 21 Jul 2011 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/new-air-pollution-report-calls-illinois-one-toxic-20-89426 Canadian oil is boosting Midwest economy, but at what cost? http://www.wbez.org/content/canadian-oil-boosting-midwest-economy-what-cost <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/frontandcenter/photo/2011-07-06/88792/oilsands_Refinery1.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Last weekend, an ExxonMobil pipeline spilled about 1000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River in Montana. For those in the Midwest, it’s a reminder of last summer’s bigger pipeline break in Michigan. This region’s pipelines increasingly carry a thick, tar-like crude from the oil sands of Alberta, Canada. It’s a booming industry, creating jobs and boosting profits in the Midwest. But some worry about the bigger risk to the region’s health and environment.</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-06/oilsands_Refinery3.jpg" title="Photo by Adee Braun" width="600" height="400"><br> &nbsp;</p><p><strong>THE JOBS</strong><br> <br> You don’t have to tell Detroiters like Jeff Collins that jobs are hard to come by in that city.<br> “I have been unemployed really since October ’07,” he says.<br> <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-06/oilsands_Jeff Collins.jpg" style="width: 250px; height: 368px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Photo by Adee Braun"></p><p>He’s a construction worker, one of the worst-hit industries in perhaps the worst-hit city.</p><p>On a recent Friday morning, Collins and about 50 other Detroit electrical workers are milling about the basement of their union hall. They wait for their names to be called and hope to land something. There are eight openings this day at Detroit’s expanding Marathon oil refinery. The list of guys hoping for work there is 1700 long.</p><p>“Well I’m too far back on the book, I probably won’t get that,” Collins says.</p><p>He says he’s so far back, he’s just there for male bonding.</p><p>A few miles away, that Marathon refinery is a hulking complex of pipes and towers and concrete. And, it’s one of the biggest construction projects in Michigan.<br> <br> <style type="text/css"> div .inline { width: 290px; float: left; margin-right: 19px; margin-left: 3px; clear: left; } div .inlineContent { border-top: 1px dotted #aa211d; border-top-width: 1px; border-top-style: dotted; border-top-color: #aa211d; margin-bottom: 5px; margin-top: 2px; } ul { margin-left: 15px; } li { font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 12px; line-height: 1em; background-repeat: no-repeat; background-repeat-x: no-repeat; background-repeat-y: no-repeat; background-position: 0 5px; background-position-x: 0px; background-position-y: 5px; padding-left: 3px; margin-bottom: 0.5em; }</style> </p><div class="inline"><div class="inlineContent"><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter"><img alt="" src="http://www.wbez.org/sites/default/files/story/insert-image/2011-June/2011-06-28/FNC-inset-promo.jpg" style="width: 280px; height: 50px;" title=""></a><ul><li><strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/story/about-front-and-center-%E2%80%93-depth-reporting-great-lakes-87655">About Front and Center</a></strong></li></ul><p><strong>VIDEO</strong><a href="http://www.wbez.org/frontandcenter/2011-07-06/kalamazoo-river-one-year-after-spill-video-88811"><br> <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-07/oilsands_riverclean1.jpg" style="width: 90px; height: 60px; margin-left: 3px; margin-right: 3px; float: left;" title=""><span style="font-weight: bold;">Kalamazoo River:</span><br> <span style="font-weight: bold;">One year after </span><br> <span style="font-weight: bold;">the Spill</span></a><br> &nbsp;</p></div></div><p>Over the next several weeks the series will be examining critical issues centered on water. The first installment takes a look at how the lakes affect our lives.<br> <br> Marathon Oil is spending $2.2 billion to expand and upgrade this refinery so it can process more of the sulfur-rich, tar-like crude that comes in by pipeline from the Canadian oil sands. About 1,300 construction workers will be on the job there by fall. The oil industry says this is just one example of the Canadian oil sands creating jobs here, something it’s been promoting heavily in advertisements. One ad says the Canadian oil sands and the supporting infrastructure in the U.S. “could create more than 342,000 American jobs in the next four years.”</p><p>Peter Howard of the Canadian Energy Research Institute helped the industry come up with those numbers. He projects the oil sands to create 23,000 jobs a year in Illinois, 8000 in Michigan, and 11,000 in Ohio.</p><p>Howard’s numbers include everything from companies like Caterpillar that make the gargantuan trucks used in the oil sands, to food companies that feed the workers. And, there are all the refineries being converted to process the stuff. BP’s Toledo plant is supposed to start an upgrade soon. And, BP’s expanding Whiting, Indiana refinery near Chicago is already employing hundreds of construction workers.</p><p>After the expansions are done, it’s not exactly the bonanza promised in those ads. The oil companies say each refinery will create fewer than 100 new full time jobs.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>THE RISK</strong><br> The oil comes to the refineries by pipeline. Many are owned by a Canadian company called Enbridge. Penny Miller had never heard of that company or its pipelines until last year. One day, she came home from a lunch and saw a sheen on the creek by her home.<br> <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-06/oilsands_Cleanup4.jpg" style="width: 400px; height: 267px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="(Photo by Adee Braun"><br> “The next thing I knew is the Enbridge people came up and said they’re trying to hunt this down,” Miller says. “Then, by the time I came home from work that night, it was really thick and really bad.”<br> <br> A year ago this month, more than 800,000 gallons of heavy Canadian crude spilled from an Enbridge pipeline by her house near the Kalamazoo River. The day after the spill, Penny Miller’s dog died from the fumes.<br> <br> Nearby, workers are still cleaning up that spill. In one creek, they use rototillers to stir up the oil and bring it to the surface.</p><p>That’s because this crude from the oil sands is not like other crude. For one thing, it sinks. That’s a reason this cleanup has already cost more than half a billion dollars, and it’s still going.</p><p>"A year ago, there was heavy oil here from bank to bank,” says Ralph Dollhopf of the Environmental Protection Agency, as we go on an airboat ride to survey the Kalamazoo River today. It’s a lot cleaner, but there’s more work to do before kayakers and others who use the river can return.<br> <br> We get to two airboats parked near the edge of the river. Dollhopf asks the workers how it’s going as they stick long poles called “stingers” into the water.<br> <img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-06/oilsands_riverclean3.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 450px; margin-left: 5px; margin-right: 5px; float: left;" title="Photo by Adee Braun"><br> “The idea is to bring the submerged oil up to the top where they can recover it,” Dollhopf explains.<br> <br> Not only did the oil sink, but the EPA says this oil sands crude posed health risks unlike more conventional oil. Benzene and other volatile organics were released into the air. Even today, air quality monitors are out at each cleanup site.<br> <br> Josh Mogerman of the Natural Resources Defense Council says the oil sands are partly to blame for this spill. He says this heavy crude is full of acids and sulfur. And, it travels at a higher temperature and pressure than the conventional crude that used to be the mainstay of these aging pipes. That makes cracks and spills more likely.<br> <br> “You’re basically sandblasting the pipelines from inside the pipe,” Mogerman says.<br> <br> The industry contends there is no significant difference between regular and oil sands crude. Peter Howard of the Canadian Energy Research Institute says pipeline companies go out of their way to minimize the risk of spills.<br> <br> “When you think about the number of barrels of crude that’s shipped around the United States on a daily basis versus the number of spills in the last ten years, it’s just a finite number,” Howard says.<br> <br> Enbridge, though, has had at least five other spills in the US in the last decade, according to Reuters. During that time, the amount of crude from the oil sands being piped from Canada has increased dramatically. Mogerman of the NRDC says that’s putting this region’s rivers and lakes at risk. He points to areas around Lake Superior, the southern end of Lake Michigan, Lake Huron, and Lake Erie as vulnerabilities.<br> <br> “Additionally, you have issues where the pipelines actually run underneath Lake St Clair or the St Clair River in Southeast Michigan, and awfully close to the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore,” he says.<br> <br> But that’s not front of mind at the union hall back in Detroit.<br> <br> Ken Wesley walks out of the office with a job slip in his hand. He had been traveling the country for work. Now, he can work in Detroit, his home.<br> <br> “Going to have a good summer,” he says, smiling. “Family and kids: haven’t seen them in about 8 months.”<br> <br> And, with the Midwest eager to put guys like Ken Wesley back to work, it’s easy see why cities embrace pipelines and refinery expansions, even if the oil sands crude could be putting our waterways and lakes in peril.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p style="text-align: center;"><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/blog/insert-image/2011-July/2011-07-06/oilsands_Refinery4.jpg" title="Photo by Adee Braun" width="600" height="393"><br> &nbsp;</p></p> Thu, 07 Jul 2011 18:18:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/content/canadian-oil-boosting-midwest-economy-what-cost Analysts weigh in on Chicago's gas prices http://www.wbez.org/story/allen-good/analysts-weigh-chicagos-gas-prices-85036 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-April/2011-04-11/5602764155_1e3fdf68be.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Drivers around Chicago are paying some of the highest prices for gasoline in the country. AAA estimates the average price per gallon around Chicago is $4.11.</p><p>Tom Kloza is with the Oil Price Information Service. He said the Chicago region moved to a summer blend of gasoline earlier than most other parts of the country. Kloza said the blend is more expensive and is contributing to the higher prices.</p><p>"Prices have overreacted as they are wont to do every year," Kloza said. "Part of that overreaction has had to do with worries about low supply and the switch to the summer gasoline, but those worries will fade away."</p><p>Kloza says he expects prices to continue rising until the end of May then he thinks things will calm down come June.</p><p>Meanwhile, Allen Good, an analyst with Morningstar in Chicago says it's possible gas prices could reach five dollars per gallon if the price of crude oil continues to increase as well.</p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Mon, 11 Apr 2011 19:49:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/allen-good/analysts-weigh-chicagos-gas-prices-85036 Tracking Oil And Gas Rigs In The U.S. (Yes, There's An App) http://www.wbez.org/story/energy/2011-04-01/tracking-oil-and-gas-rigs-us-yes-theres-app-84618 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/0" alt="" /><p><p>Can you guess the number of rigs that are now actively looking for oil and natural gas in the United States? It now stands at 1,776 — one of America's favorite numbers. The figure reflects a rise of 38 rigs in the past week, and a gain of 311 over the same week one year ago.</p><p>The AP reports:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Houston-based Baker Hughes Inc. reported Friday that 891 rigs were exploring for gas and 877 for oil. Eight were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, the count was 1,465.</p><p>Of the major oil- and gas-producing states, Oklahoma gained 19 rigs, North Dakota and Texas each gained four, while Arkansas and Wyoming gained two. Colorado and New Mexico each gained one.</p><p>California and Louisiana each lost one rig. Alaska, Pennsylvania and West Virginia were unchanged. The rig count peaked at 4,530 in 1981, the height of the oil boom. The record low of 488 was in 1999.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>The Obama administration said this week that oil companies are not doing everything they can to drill for fossil fuels in the United States. That was the gist of a <a href="http://www.doi.gov/news/pressreleases/loader.cfm?csModule=security/getfile&pageid=239255">report from the Department of Interior</a> on fuel exploration.</p><p></p><p>Forbes blogger Kenneth Rapoza <a href="http://blogs.forbes.com/kenrapoza/2011/03/31/why-arent-oil-companies-drilling-in-the-us/">gave us this breakdown</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>In the Gulf of Mexico, 34 million acres with an estimated 11.6 billion barrels of oil have been leased. That means companies can indeed drill in those areas. Only 6.3 million acres are currently being drilled.</p><p>On land, 54 percent of onshore acres under lease, and approved in the last two years, are not undergoing any exploration or development at this time.</p><p></blockquote></p><p>If you want to keep an eye on how the drilling's going — whether you're for it or against it — there's an app for that. The <a href="http://itunes.apple.com/app/baker-hughes-rig-counts/id393570114?mt=8">Baker Hughes Rig Count app</a> lets you track the location and number of rigs on your iPhone or iPad.</p><p>And as anyone who's seen the documentary <a href="http://www.gaslandthemovie.com/">Gasland</a> can attest, it's not a bad idea to know where the nearest natural gas and oil rigs are. That film's director was <a href="http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2010/06/21/127988546/gasland-hbo-gas-drilling-film-exposes-drinking-water-worries">on NPR last year</a>. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1301686328?&gn=Tracking+Oil+And+Gas+Rigs+In+The+U.S.+%28Yes%2C+There%27s+An+App%29&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=energy,Energy,oil,Environment,The+Two-Way,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=135043777&c7=1131&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1131&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110401&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=134533390,128644960,127741172,127602567,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Fri, 01 Apr 2011 13:46:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/energy/2011-04-01/tracking-oil-and-gas-rigs-us-yes-theres-app-84618 United, Continental raising airfares http://www.wbez.org/story/airfares/united-continental-raising-airfares-84045 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/archives/images/cityroom/cityroom_20090630_newsintern_2114625_Unit_large.png" alt="" /><p><p>United and Continental airlines are raising fares on many U.S. routes by $10 per round trip. The increase was confirmed Monday by Mike Trevino, a spokesman for the airlines.</p><p>U.S. airlines have raised fares at least a half-dozen times this year as they try to offset rising jet fuel costs.</p><p>The last attempt failed when other airlines decided not to follow American Airlines when it raised prices earlier this month, also by $10 per round trip.</p><p>Rick Seaney, CEO of travel website FareCompare.com, said consumers also got a break last week when U.S. airlines offered more discount seats for early-summer travel. Still, he said, cheap seats will be harder to find this year.</p></p> Mon, 21 Mar 2011 21:31:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/story/airfares/united-continental-raising-airfares-84045 House Subcommittee Moves To Block EPA Funding On Emissions http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-10/house-subcommittee-moves-block-epa-funding-emissions-83509 <p><p>A House subcommittee has voted to deny funds for the EPA to regulate greenhouse gases, in a Thursday session that pitted Republicans against Democrats in a heated debate.</p><p>"This bill would block the Environmental Protection Agency's costly global warming regulatory agenda," said the bill's Republican sponsor, House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Rep. Fred Upton, in prepared remarks.</p><p>From <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704823004576192562543150654.html">The Wall Street Journal</a>:</p><p><blockquote></p><p>Republicans said the EPA has overstepped its bounds and created rules that would kill jobs and encourage U.S. companies to shift work to China and other countries. Democrats accused Republicans of denying scientific findings on global warming and of stripping the EPA from its ability to protect public health.</p><p>The bill "codifies science denial," said Rep. Henry Waxman (D., Calif.), the ranking Democrat on the House energy committee.</p><p></blockquote></p><p></p><p>According to <a href="http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0311/51037.html">Politico's Robin Bravender</a>, the vote is "part of a broader Republican push to blame the White House and congressional Democrats for gas price spikes."</p><p>A similar bill is in the Senate. <em>The Journal</em> reports, "A collection of business trade groups, including the oil industry's American Petroleum Institute and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, applauded the legislation and welcomed the vote."</p><p>The full House Energy and Commerce Committee will take up the bill on Tuesday. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit <a href="http://www.npr.org/">http://www.npr.org/</a>.<img src="http://metrics.npr.org/b/ss/nprapidev/5/1299794272?&gn=House+Subcommittee+Moves+To+Block+EPA+Funding+On+Emissions&ev=event2&ch=103943429&h1=Politics,oil,National+News,The+Two-Way,Around+the+Nation,Environment,U.S.,Home+Page+Top+Stories,News&c3=D%3Dgn&v3=D%3Dgn&c4=134429730&c7=1014&v7=D%3Dc7&c18=1014&v18=D%3Dc18&c19=20110310&v19=D%3Dc19&c20=1&v20=D%3Dc20&c31=130014198,127741172,127602855,127602596,103943429&v31=D%3Dc31&c45=MDA0OTc2MjAwMDEyNjk0NDE4OTI2NmUwNQ001"/></p></p> Thu, 10 Mar 2011 13:47:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/story/around-nation/2011-03-10/house-subcommittee-moves-block-epa-funding-emissions-83509