Leaking pipelines or exploding rail cars — choose your Big Oil poison


There’s one thing that’s clear — when it comes to North America’s recent oil and gas boom, there’s no way that the average citizen can win. That’s especially true when it comes to the critical issue of how to transport those millions of barrels of oil and natural gas that are now being produced from the Canadian tar sands, from underneath the North Dakota...

As pipeline spills get worse, regulators are in bed with Big Oil


The website Midwest Energy News asks a very good question: When a ruptured pipeline spilled 20,000 barrels of oil into a North Dakota wheat field last month, a state health official said it was “the best place it could’ve occurred” — far from population centers and water supplies. But what if a similar spill occurs in the worst place? For better or worse, the year 2013 will be remembered as the...

Victims of last pipeline disaster forgotten as North America races to build new ones


What does it take to get people’s attention these days? How about blowing up a cornfield in rural Illinois and sending bright orange flames shooting 300 feet into the prairie sky? Folks who live for miles around the small town of Erie, Ill., were treated to that unexpected nighttime fireworks show this past Monday night, courtesy of a Texas company with the bland name of Enterprise Products...

Arkansas spill is like Deepwater Horizon on land


Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. A large global oil company ignores basic safety protocols, and a major accident ensues. From practically the first news report, this icon of Big Oil works to downplay the extent of the spill and to minimize the risk to citizens — often despite clear visual evidence to the contrary. And government regulators bend over backwards to represent the...

ExxonMobil nightmare grows as Ark. residents report illnesses


 It just keeps on getting worse for ExxonMobil and its major oil pipeline spill in Mayflower, Ark.  This week, officials were bracing for a major storm that threatened to send more of the spilled oil from the Canadian tar sands into nearby Lake Conway — a major, environmentally sensitive waterway: Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel says he’s concerned about the effect heavy...

When the pipeline breaks


There’ve been multiple reports over the last couple of days about officials in Arkansas restricting access — apparently upon orders from top officials at ExxonMobil — to news helicopters and other media photographers seeking to capture the full extent of the Pegasus pipeline spill  in Arkansas. Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency made it clear why the oil giant...

ExxonMobil — already in hot water for AK spill — blamed for New Orleans stench


This would not be the week that you’d want to begin work in the ExxonMobil PR department. Indeed, this seems to be the time when the oil giant — in fact, the world’s most profitable company, let us never forget — and its proverbial chickens are finally coming home to roost. Just in time for Earth Day, ExxonMobil’s environment-be-damned efforts to feed America’s...

Arkansas pipeline disaster a foreshadowing of Keystone XL nightmare?


The debate over the Keystone XL pipeline — which would take millions of barrels of oil extracted from the tar sands of Canada and ship them to refineries and ports along the U.S. Gulf Coast (where a lot would be shipped overseas, ironically) — has evolved over the last couple of years. At first, the worry was massive oil spills on U.S. soil, especially atop the environmentally...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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