August 17: EPA Says Missouri Fuel Leak Can’t Be Recovered; Shell Clueless on Cause of North Sea Oil Spill

EPA: No way to capture fuel leaked into Missouri River

Fuel leaked from Enterprise Products Partners’ natural gas liquids pipeline into the Missouri River in Iowa has dissipated or evaporated with little chance of recovery, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said on Tuesday .

The leak sprung in a 10 mile (16 km) stretch of Enterprise’s Conway North 33,600-barrels-per-day pipeline, which extends between Nebraska and Iowa.

The line was carrying up to 140,000 gallons of natural gasoline, a volatile liquid hydrocarbon derived from natural gas, when controllers detected a pressure drop on the line and shut down operations on Saturday.


Enterprise’s Conway North line is the latest in a string of pipeline accidents in a year, many of which — like the leaks from Enbridge Inc’s two crude lines last summer and the 1,000 barrels of crude oil spilled from Exxon Mobil’s Silvertip pipeline in July — have raised serious environmental concerns.

Shell uncertain about cause of North Sea oil spill

Royal Dutch Shell says it still does not know what caused the worst North Sea oil spill in a decade but the leak is now only pumping one barrel — or 42 gallons — of oil into the cold water per day.

Company spokeswoman Sally Hepton said Wednesday the company is still trying to isolate and shut down the leak.

Shell had said the main spill was caused by a leak at an oil flowline at the Gannet Alpha platform 112 miles (180 kilometers) east of the Scottish city of Aberdeen. It said that was under control but it is struggling to control a second leak from a relief valve near the flowline.

Shell says the oil sheen on the North Sea now covers 6,400 acres (26 square kilometers).

Fracking’s ‘Ominous’ Cost To New York’s Roads

A draft discussion paper [pdf] from the New York State Department Of Transportation (NYSDOT) projects costs that unconventional gas and hydraulic fracturing (fracking) will have on state transportation infrastructure.

New York already ranks near the bottom of the 50 states with regards to bridge and pavement conditions. Considering this fact, the discussion paper should be treated as a warning sign. NYSDOT’s draft Transportation Impacts of Potential Marcellus Shale Gas Development describes the effects of drilling as “ominous,” requiring the reconstruction of hundreds of miles of roads and numerous bridges. As well, safety and operations improvements in many other areas will be required.

The paper pegs the costs to transportation infrastructure as totaling up to $378 million.

Vestas Climbs Most Since 2003 After Earnings Beat Estimates

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the largest wind-turbine maker, jumped the most in eight years in Copenhagen trading after posting earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.

Vestas advanced as much as 26 percent, the steepest intraday gain since August 2003, to trade at 104.30 kroner as of 9:15 a.m. local time. That pared its loss in the past 12 months to 63 percent.

Net income of 55 million euros ($79 million) in the second quarter compared with a net loss of 119 million euros in the year-earlier period, the Randers, Denmark-based company said today in a statement. That surpassed the 41.5 million-euro average estimate of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales rose 36 percent to 1.4 billion euros.

Vestas maintained its 2011 revenue forecast of 7 billion euros and a margin for earnings before interest and tax of about 7 percent. The company expects to receive new orders this year with a combined turbine capacity of 7,000 to 8,000 megawatts.

2012 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive hits 75 mph, whizzes to 60 in 13 seconds

The third-generation, 2012 Smart Fortwo Electric Drive ditches its 16.5-kWh Tesla-engineered battery pack in favor of a 17.6-kWh unit manufactured by Deutsche ACCUmotive and, in the process, gains a much needed boost in acceleration, top speed and a slight increase in range.

Scheduled to launch next spring, the 2012 Fortwo Electric Drive features an EM-motive 55-kW (74-horsepower) electric motor, a massive increase from the 30-kW (40-hp) unit found in the 2011 Fortwo electric. The boost in power means that the 2012 Fortwo Electric Drive can hit a highway-capable top speed of 74.6 miles per hour and scoot from 0 to 60 mph in less than 13 seconds. Though still lethargic, that 13-second time is a vast improvement over the estimated 23.4 seconds required for the 2011 Fortwo electric to wheeze its way to 60 mph. The third-gen 2012 dashes from 0 to 37 mph — a reasonable in-city speed — in five seconds flat, a useful 1.5-second improvement over the outgoing model.

Norquist Won’t Oppose Extension of Gas Tax

Anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist said he won’t oppose an extension of U.S. gasoline and diesel- fuel taxes set to expire Sept. 30, as he pushes for broader transportation-funding overhaul.

Norquist, president of Americans for Tax Reform, said today that an extension with no changes wouldn’t violate a pledge signed by many congressional lawmakers not to raise taxes.

That may allow Republicans to agree to extend surface transportation funding and authority to collect the gasoline tax. The Federal Aviation Administration last month temporarily lost its authority to collect airline ticket taxes when Congress couldn’t agree on an extension bill for that agency, and about 4,000 FAA workers were furloughed for two weeks.

“We’re interested in the broader issue that states should keep their own fuel taxes. We don’t want it run through Washington,” Norquist said in a telephone interview. “Why should Connecticut pay for what’s going on in Wyoming and Wyoming pay for the New York City subway system?”

Climate Change Could Drive Native Fish out of Wisconsin Waters

The cisco, a key forage fish found in Wisconsin’s deepest and coldest bodies of water, could become a climate change casualty and disappear from most of the Wisconsin lakes it now inhabits by the year 2100, according to a new study.

In a report published online in the journal Public Library of Science One, researchers from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources project a gloomy fate for the fish — an important food for many of Wisconsin’s iconic game species — as climate warms and pressure from invasive species grows.

In the case of the cisco, a warming climate poses a much greater risk than do exotic species such as the rainbow smelt, the invasive that most threatens the deep-dwelling cisco by eating its eggs and young, the Wisconsin researchers say.

“By 2100, 30 to 70 percent of cisco populations could be extirpated in Wisconsin due to climate change,” says Sapna Sharma, a researcher at the UW-Madison Center for Limnology and the lead author of the new study, which predicts the decline of the cisco according to a number of possible future climate scenarios. “Cisco are much more at risk due to climate change rather than interactions with exotic species.”