Newcastle refinery under investigation again, updated

Newcastle, Wyoming has been part of energy production since coal was discovered nearby and shipped through town by rail; a hand-dug oil well is a local tourist attraction.

The Rapid City Journal's Mary Garrigan reminds readers back in September, 2010 just how dependent some communities are on industry no matter what the cost. Resident Rhonda Sandness begins the story:
It was so pungent and so strong. It smelled like dead cattle and propane mixed together,” Sandness said. “I couldn’t see. My eyes were watering. My throat felt like it was closing up. I couldn’t breathe.”
Carol Wolfe and Forest Sullivan smelled it, too.
“It was like hitting a wall of vapor,” said Sullivan, who was returning to his Newcastle home from Rapid City about 7 p.m. when he first encountered the odor. It filled his home, killed birds in his backyard and sickened his dogs.
Wolfe described a sulfuric acid smell that lingered for days and caused her throat to burn and bleed.
Sullivan called 911 on July 29 to report what he assumed was a noxious odor — and a public safety issue — caused by the Wyoming Refining Co. Bad smells are not unusual at the oil refinery, which is located, literally, on Main Street in this town of 3,000 people on the southwestern edge of the Black Hills National Forest.
Elliott and Ellis Hemler are two longtime Newcastle residents who blame Wyoming Refining for a litany of health ailments. The refinery does have a history spotted with spills, leaks and soil contamination that have occurred over its more than 80 years of operation. That includes a 2005 pipeline leak at a pumping station at Mule Creek Junction, where remediation is still ongoing after the 6-inch pipeline that brings gasoline from the refinery to Rapid City leaked up to 200 barrels. Elliott alleged the cumulative effect of those pollutants has had a detrimental effect on the health of many, including him.
Garrigan's story is horrifyingly comprehensive and comes on the heels of the announcement that Black Hills Corp. is closing the ancient asbestos-cited coal-fired plant just upwind at Osage.

Garrigan will become manager of an historical exhibit in Rapid City after her exit from the Rapid City Journal. Husband Kevin Woster also left the Lee paper taking a West River position with Sioux Falls teevee station KELO.

Laura Hancock of the Casper Star reports that the refinery is still a health hazard:
On Sunday night, an anonymous person called the National Response Center, an interagency service to which people can report oil and chemical spills, to complain about the smoke from the refinery. The center created a report and referred it to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which referred it to DEQ.
James Runyon, president of Wyoming Refinery Company, calls compliance with permits "a matter of debate."

Columnist Jim Kent reminds readers of the Rapid City Journal that energy producers don't care who gets in the way and lie to get their needs met.


NRDC: rogue federal agency exterminating wildlife

From my inbox:
Dear larry,
A little-known government agency called Wildlife Services is killing thousands of wild animals every year -- and you and I are picking up the tab.
We need your help to end the taxpayer-funded slaughter of wildlife!
This out-of-control agency is part of the Department of Agriculture. It kills at the behest of big ranchers and agribusiness. It spends tens of millions of our tax dollars to "resolve conflicts" with wildlife -- by using poisons, traps, aerial gunning and other brutal methods.
The result? More than 100,000 native carnivores -- such as wolves, bobcats, foxes and black bears -- are being wiped out every year.
The tragic toll since 2000 is two million dead, and that number grows larger every day.
More than 50,000 of those animals were killed accidentally. The victims have included endangered species and even household pets.
It’s time to expose this secretive and senseless attack on wildlife -- and end it.
Please demand an investigation of Wildlife Services and its heartless "predator control" methods.
Make no mistake: The agency is going to carry on with its wildlife killing spree unless they are held accountable and forced to stop.
But that won’t happen unless hundreds of thousands of us make our voices heard right away.
Join NRDC in calling for an immediate end to this taxpayer-funded travesty. The lives of thousands of wild animals depend on it.


Geology thwarts railroad, makes KXL untenable

Until 1996, there were no significant stretches of ribbon. It was all stick rail, 30 and 25 mph, with lots of 10 mph restrictions. In ’96, the state of South Dakota loaned DM&E the money to replace Wolsey-Pierre with ribbon, as the track condition was so abysmal it was nearing shutdown by FRA [Federal Rail Administration]. DM&E got federal loans starting in 2004 that enabled them to lay significant stretches of ribbon each year since. CP has continued that practice, leading to the situation now, where the majority of the main line is ribbon. The Fort Pierre-Wasta segment is still all 10 mph stick rail. Plans were that if the coal project got built, that whole stretch would be moved onto a new alignment parallel to the current one. They'd haul in clean fill from other places. The geology underlying that stretch, known as the Pierre Shale, turns to slurry when it gets wet. [Andy Cummings, Trains, May 9, 2011]
Recall the reminder from TCMack that the Army Corps of Engineers touted the construction of the Oahe Dam on the geological formation known as Pierre Shale. That same shale accounts for the systematic breakup of roadways and railbeds in South Dakota likewise confounding KeystoneXL pipeline engineers.

Note this publication archived at the USGS:
... The non-tectonic origin for this deformation is strongly supported by the observation that, since construction was completed in 1962, movement on a fault in the Pierre Shale near the spillway of Oahe Dam (about 10 km north of the city of Pierre) has created a 1.5-m-high scarp. This scarp formed without any notable seismic events.
The topic was covered at the conference of the United States Society on Dams in 2009: Slope Stability Concerns on Pierre Shale, Oahe Dam - Pierre, South Dakota...655, Robert J. Worden and Michael T. Kelly, Corps of Engineers.

Robert Schneiders took listeners' calls on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio.

A Pierre radio station and the Rapid City Journal reported that sinkholes developed in Stanley County, 28 June, 2011 during record mountain snowmelt and rainfall in the upper Missouri River basin:
KCCR radio reports that state Transportation Department crews already have filled a large hole that developed on state Highway 1806. It was estimated at 6 feet across and 10-15 feet deep.
The earthquake that occurred ten miles under the sinkholes that developed in the Pierre Shale in Stanley County that June was just one large enough to be felt by the humans that live there. An earthquake bot in ip's Twitter feed recorded ripples preceding the South Dakota event.
The Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern (DM&E) Roundhouse site is a locomotive maintenance facility in Huron, South Dakota. Wastewater from the facility containing petroleum hydrocarbons, volatile organics, and heavy metals were conveyed to ponds and subsequently discharged into a creek which in turn flowed into the James River. In the early 90's approximately 100 dead birds were found in and near the ponds by federal and state employees. As a result, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has worked with DM&E; to drain the ponds and clean up the site. [US Fish and Wildlife Service]
Former Dakota, Minnesota and Eastern Railroad President Kevin Schieffer greased South Dakota Attorney General Marty Jackley. Schieffer recently sucked his way into a post on the Board of Regents.


Nelson, Sioux Falls bishop enjoy medical coverage that includes birth control, abortions

The assault on ObamaCare is an insult to the American people. Rich women have full reproductive freedom while women living on the fringes and even in the middle class take more unwanted pregnancies to term.
Pope Benedict XVI appointed Paul J. Swain as the eighth bishop of Sioux Falls on August 31, 2006 and he was consecrated as Bishop of Sioux Falls on October 26, 2006. Bishop Swain previously served as a member of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People.--bio, Catholic Diocese of Sioux Falls.
Protection of children and young people, my sore ass.

Swain is in the news again denouncing the message being brought to his chemical toilet by Sister Simone Campbell in an address to Mount Marty College in Yankton. She supports ObamaCare while the woman hating bishop does not.

Karl Gehrke interviewed the head of the Sioux Falls chapter of the Church of the Holy Roman Kiddie Diddlers during the Dakota Midday segment on Bill Janklow's idea of public radio. Topics of discussion included the implications of a pope tied to the military dictators who orchestrated Argentina's Dirty War and church abuses on South Dakota's reservations.

Swain enjoyed and likely still benefits from TRICARE. Military personnel, their families, some retirees and spouses enjoy free medical care that include birth control and abortion services.
Does TRICARE cover abortions?
Yes but only when:The pregnancy is the result of rape or incest; orThe life of the mother would be at risk if the mother carries the pregnancy to term.
TRICARE covers the following forms of birth control when prescribed by a TRICARE-authorized provider:
Contraceptive diaphragm, including measurement, purchase and replacement;Intrauterine devices, including surgical insertion, removal and replacement; Prescription contraceptives, including the Preven Emergency Contraceptive Kit containing special doses of regular birth control pills and a self-administered pregnancy test; Surgical sterilization, male and female.
TRICARE does not cover:
Condoms; Nonprescription spermicidal foams, jellies or sprays.
Most in the Catholic Church love ObamaCare.
Three years ago, the Affordable Care Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. This historical law is structured to transform health care in America. To start, it will grant health care to people who could not otherwise afford it.--Candace Y.A. Montague, NBC News.
Determine what you will have to pay out of your own pocket for covered services (deductible, co-insurance, copayments, and out-of-pocket limit).
Check whether the plan’s health care providers include your current providers.
Inquire about whether or not the provider’s location is convenient for you.
Check whether the plan covers the health care services and medications you require.
Beware of insurance-like products that don’t offer comprehensive coverage.
State Rep. Stace Nelson is running in the earth hater US Senate primary: he enjoyed and likely still gets TRICARE benefits, too.

Separation of church and state is just so bothersome in the chemical toilet, especially when litigation hurts donations.


Syria = Chile = Iran = Egypt: the September 11 edition

=Iraq = Libya = Vietnam =....

Israel took organs from Palestinians.
Powerful new evidence emerged yesterday that the United States dropped massive quantities of white phosphorus on the Iraqi city of Fallujah during the attack on the city in November 2004, killing insurgents and civilians with the appalling burns that are the signature of this weapon. Ever since the assault, which went unreported by any Western journalists, rumours have swirled that the Americans used chemical weapons on the city. [Peter Popham, The Independent]
Governor Ronald Reagan used chemical weapons on students at Berkeley.
That the United States and Great Britain orchestrated the overthrow of Iran’s democratically elected prime minister in 1953 is well known, but it wasn’t until last week’s 60th anniversary that the CIA openly acknowledged its role in planning and executing the coup. The new level of candor should lead to a new level of reflection about the price of such over-reaches of power. Costly reverberations from the coup continue. [Editorial, Eugene, Oregon Register-Guard]
Yes, I believe that 1, 2, and 7 were "pulled." And, when you're appointed POTUS by your brother(s) or your father, you lop all the heads of those with whom you do not agree when you come to office because you're focused on deposing Saddam, the winner of the first Gulf War.

CIA analysts threatened to resign ahead of the attack because they knew they'd be blamed for the failures of the Bush White House.

ProPublica has this. Salon has this. The New York Times has this. lizard posted this. VegasJessie said this. The Dick, Cheney, blames President Obama for poor timing to take out OBL.


Chemical weapons already being used in US

Ronald Reagan used chemical weapons on students at Berkeley.

From Raviya Ismail at Earthjustice:
On Friday the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency withdrew a pair of proposed regulations that would have increased transparency of health and safety information related to potentially dangerous chemicals.
Read why chemical companies are backing the 'Chemical Safety Improvement Act' at the Environmental Working Group's Enviroblog.

Recall the 2005 secret Cheney energy task force. Koch Industries had millions of tons of waste chemicals like formaldehyde and benzene that the Environmental Protection Agency was pressuring them to destroy. A plan was hatched by Bush Interior Secretary Gale Norton to skirt regulation and force the EPA administrator to allow the pumping of these volatile chemicals into oil shale.

From an EPA press release, 05/29/2013, contact Molly Hooven:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed two rules to help protect Americans from exposure to the harmful chemical formaldehyde, consistent with a Federal law unanimously passed by Congress in 2010. EPA's first proposal limits how much formaldehyde may be emitted from hardwood plywood, medium-density fiberboard, particleboard and finished goods, that are sold, supplied, offered for sale, manufactured, or imported in the United States. The second proposal establishes a third-party certification framework designed to ensure that manufacturers of composite wood products meet the TSCA formaldehyde emission standards by having their composite wood products certified though an accredited third-party certifier.

Wetlands are being destroyed for cropland, livestock demands on water supplies dwarf the needs of cities, global biodiversity is threatened, Arctic ice packs are disappearing, humans are breeding less nutritious food and pesticides are killing native pollinators.
According to Joseph Burger—University of New Mexico PhD student and key player in the development of human macroecology studiesat its core, human macroecology is “the statistical study of exchanges of energy, materials and information between humans and the environment across spatial scales, from local to global and temporal scales, from years to millennia”. Macroecology considers the human species as functioning within the constraints of the natural world, rather than being uniquely divorced from natural resource limitations. The trends that this research continually unveils—massive overexploitation of resources at an unsustainable rate—are very serious. [The Emerging Field of Human Macroecology, Anne-Marie Hodge, Scientific American, May 28, 2013]

Will the US really want chemical weapons manufactured by Israel, the US and the UK turned over to international control?

No one has yet to prove that Mossad and/or the Israel Defense Forces has not gassed Syria:
A former British ambassador underlined that Britain has not had access to any conversation or document showing that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government has used chemical weapons against its citizens, and said that the US has been deceived by the Israeli spy agency Mossad’s fabricated documents. [Ex-UK Envoy: US Deceived by Mossad's Fabricated Intelligence on Syria, FARS News Agency]

Meanwhile, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is bribing the US Congress to bomb the Islamic country:
Officials say that some 250 Jewish leaders and AIPAC activists will storm the halls on Capitol Hill beginning next week to persuade lawmakers that Congress must adopt the resolution or risk emboldening Iran’s efforts to build a nuclear weapon. They are expected to lobby virtually every member of Congress, arguing that “barbarism” by the Assad regime cannot be tolerated, and that failing to act would “send a message” to Tehran that the U.S. won’t stand up to hostile countries’ efforts to develop weapons of mass destruction, according to a source with the group. [Manu Raju, POLITICO]
Rewild the West.


Idaho, Wyoming rural/wildland interface

It's difficult to describe the volume of water in the Columbia River basin and impossible to comprehend the number of acres devoted to the support of the cattle industry.

Recent burn in Idaho near Sun Valley

Interp at Craters of the Moon

Dry reservoir on Upper Snake River

Gratuitous shot of Tetons

Roadside mooses on Snake River side of Divide

Spruce budworm at work

Sunset at the Borderline Bar


Oregon: from west to east

US 101 and US 20 are homes to some breathtaking scenery. Here are some images:

Two images from Willamette National Forest near Santiam Pass show a recent burn where old growth forests mix with heavily logged new stands.

These are cinder cones in the Hillman Peak group: Crater Lake is to the left in this image. Yes, that is snow amid the remnants of glaciers. Sisters, Oregon is a picturesque little town built in a tinder box.


Astoria, Oregon coast could be home

One impetus for some exploration of America's Blue Highways and the Pacific Northwest is a continuing discussion with commenters at A New Century of Forest Planning.

While living in Oregon some of them insist that they know better than I about how to fix the Missouri River basin so it seemed only logical that some familiarization with the Columbia River basin would give this interested party some insight about the relationships of western forests to each other.

A shot from above the ports at Longview, Washington from the Oregon side of the Columbia River. The bridge across the Columbia is permission for incontinence.

A shot of the Washington side of the bridge across the mouth of the river from Astoria.

The Oregon side of the bridge with marine fuel station in foreground

Astoria is the setting for at least two films: The Goonies and Kindergarten Cop.


Olympic paradise found

A trip to the Pacific Northwest has been in cards for some time.

To a man living on the prairie, the high plains and the high desert nothing prepared this interested party for being unable to see beyond the massive stands of fir, pine, cedar and more. It was only until surf was all one could see into an endless horizon that seagoing genetics took over. These photos were captured at Kalaloch: