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June 13, 2013 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The Justice Department and the state of Arkansas filed suit against the oil giant ExxonMobil over a March 29 pipeline rupture that spilled 210,000 gallons of oil into a residential neighborhood and waterways in the small town of Mayflower. The spill prompted evacuations, killed wildlife, polluted wetlands and a lake, and stirred health complaints from people living near the rupture site, north of Little Rock. In the suit filed in federal district court, the Justice Department seeks civil penalties for violations of the Clean Water Act. The Arkansas attorney general is also pursuing civil penalties for violations of the Arkansas Hazardous Waste Management Act and the Arkansas Water and Air Pollution Control Act. The state also seeks to have ExxonMobil pay for all cleanup and removal costs under the federal Oil Pollution Act. The ExxonMobil Pegasus pipeline split open just as the Obama administration entered the final phases of review for the far bigger, controversial Keystone XL pipeline, handing ammunition to opponents who say that Keystone's path from Canada through major rivers such as the Platte and the Missouri and over the Ogallala aquifer, the main freshwater source for the Great Plains, could lead to a catastrophe.
June 5, 2013 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
MAYFLOWER, Ark. - On warm spring evenings, North Starlite Drive buzzed with children. They cycled around the cul-de-sac at the end of the wide, block-long road, shot baskets in driveways and inevitably wound up on the swing set and trampoline behind the Bartletts' large brick house. These days, there are no children. Yellow police tape stretches across the turns from the main road onto the street. All 22 families who lived there are gone. About 2:45 p.m. on March 29, an underground ExxonMobil oil pipeline ruptured in the woods behind the cul-de-sac.
May 17, 2013 | By Christi Parsons, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - President Obama said Friday he wanted to put more Americans to work by slashing the amount of time it takes to grant federal approval for big job-creating projects. But Obama's choice of venue for his remarks - a Baltimore company that makes mining and pumping equipment - provided fodder for Republicans. They noted that the company president had, just the day before, testified on Capitol Hill in support of the Keystone XL pipeline, which the Obama administration has delayed for years over environmental concerns.
May 11, 2013 | By Marc Lifsher, Los Angeles Times
Almost 21 million residential customers of Southern California Gas Co. will see their monthly bills increase by about 5%, or $1.94, now that state utility regulators have approved a four-year plan to guarantee revenue collected by the nation's largest natural gas distribution network. The California Public Utilities Commission on Thursday granted the unit of San Diego-based Sempra Energy a rate increase totaling $1.95 billion for 2012 through 2015. The amount is $84.83 million more than current revenue but $154 million less than the company asked for at the start of a lengthy legal proceeding, the commission said.
April 22, 2013 | By Neela Banerjee, Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON - The Environmental Protection Agency on Monday criticized the State Department's environmental impact review of the Keystone XL pipeline, saying there was not enough evidence to back up key conclusions on gas emissions, safety and alternative routes. In a letter to top State Department officials, the agency said it had "environmental objections" to their review, which concluded the pipeline would have minimal impact on the environment. The analysis could complicate efforts to win approval for the controversial $7-billion project.
April 12, 2013 | By Matt Pearce
The images from Mayflower, Ark., after a March 29 oil spill were particularly repulsive: A river of black goo running through yards and down the street of a subdivision, and hundreds of workers arriving to clean up an industrial mess in a peaceful burg. But the Exxon Mobil pipeline spill, initially estimated to have released at least 157,000 gallons of crude oil and driven more than 20 families from their homes, represents only a fraction of the regular oil losses from the huge network of pipelines stretching across the United States.
April 6, 2013 | By Neela Banerjee, Los Angeles Times
This year President Obama will decide whether to allow construction of the Keystone XL pipeline from Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. Few environmental issues in recent years have engendered so much passion and debate. The pipeline would facilitate the transportation of a particularly thick type of oil, oil sands crude, from Canada to U.S. ports. What is oil sands crude? It is a tar-like substance containing bitumen, extracted from the boreal forests of western Canada by strip mining.
April 4, 2013 | By James Hansen
In March, the State Department gave the president cover to open a big spigot that will hitch our country to one of the dirtiest fuels on Earth for 40 years or more. The draft environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline acknowledges tar sands are nasty stuff for the environment, but concludes that the project is OK because this oil will get to market anyway - with or without a pipeline. A public comment period is underway through April 22, after which the department will prepare a final statement to help the administration decide whether the pipeline is in the "national interest.
March 26, 2013 | By Lisa Dillman
CHICAGO -- Kings captain Dustin Brown already had his semi-private talk with President Obama, shortly after the Kings won the Stanley Cup in June. So what will be on his mind if he gets the chance to chat with the president later today when the Kings and MLS champion Galaxy visit the White House? “I'll keep it pretty simple,” Brown said. “I'll just go there and enjoy it. Hopefully it won't be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But you've got to treat it like that.” Brown was talking shortly after the Kings' biggest win of the season, a 5-4 victory on Monday night here over the Blackhawks in which he scored the game-winning goal with just under a minute and a half remaining.
March 11, 2013 | By Alex Rodriguez
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Work formally began Monday on a controversial pipeline that would feed energy-starved Pakistan natural gas from Iran, a project that has drawn stern warnings from the U.S. of possible sanctions against Islamabad if the South Asian nation doesn't reverse course. President Asif Ali Zardari led a 300-member delegation from Islamabad to Iran, where officials from both countries attended a ceremony inaugurating the project. The 1,244-mile pipeline would each day transport more than 750 million cubic feet of natural gas to Pakistan from Iran's South Pars gas field in the Persian Gulf.
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