Oil and Gas

Hopeful in NJ / Flickr

In just the last few weeks, Treasure Valley gas prices have increased by nearly 75 cents. Low oil prices caused the cost of gas to drop to less than $1.80 per gallon late last year. Oil prices are still low, but now gas is at $2.53.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Three northern Idaho counties are creating strategies for containing an oil spill as more oil is moving through the inland Northwest on trains.

Trains carry crude oil from North Dakota across the Idaho Panhandle at least twice a day. They run along lakes and rivers, and sometimes cross right over the water.

That’s made local emergency response managers in Boundary, Bonner and Kootenai counties even more nervous about what would happen if a train derailed.

side.tracked / Flickr Creative Commons

Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad wants to build a second bridge in northern Idaho to handle an expected increase in traffic that includes coal and oil trains.

Railway spokesman Gus Melonas tells The Spokesman-Review in a story on Wednesday that the one bridge at Sandpoint restricts train traffic.

The railway wants to build another bridge about 50 feet west of the existing bridge that crosses Lake Pend Oreille where it meets the Pend Oreille River.

Megaload
Rick Strack / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho State Police say two gigantic loads of oil production equipment headed for Montana didn't move Thursday morning.

One of the shipments is parked on U.S. Highway 20 east of Arco.

The other is parked on State Highway 93 at Lost Trail Pass about 10 miles from the Montana border.

The shipments being moved by Omega Morgan are bound for the Kearl oil sands of Alberta in Canada.

Weather has been a problem for moving the loads, and Montana officials have yet to issue a permit for the load 10 miles from the border.

Transportation, megaload
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A subsidiary of General Electric says it’s looking for alternative options for moving huge water purification equipment from the Northwest to Alberta, Canada.

A route through the middle of Idaho turned into a legal battle with the Nez Perce Tribe, but the alternatives are limited.

Resources Conservation Company International, the GE subsidiary, decided to withdraw a federal appeal that sought to re-open Idaho's Highway 12 to so-called “megaloads.” A judge had ordered the Forest Service to close the wild and scenic corridor to the shipments.

Roy Luck / Flickr Creative Commons

The biggest railroad in the Northwest forcefully defended the safety of oil trains Wednesday.

It happened at a meeting in Seattle of environmental regulators from the West Coast. The context is the rapid rise in crude oil trains coming to the Northwest from North Dakota and this summer's deadly explosion in Quebec.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe hazmat expert Patrick Brady calls that train accident "an anomaly."

Oil companies still may find a way to move huge, so-called “megaloads” through a scenic corridor in Idaho, once traveled by Lewis and Clark. But for now at least, opponents of the extra-large shipments are hoping government red tape has closed that option.

Port of Vancouver USA

Oil refiner Tesoro and a terminal operating company named Savage detailed plans Thursday for the biggest crude oil shipping terminal to be proposed in the Northwest. It would be located on the Columbia River at the Port of Vancouver, Washington.

How To Clean Up A Crude Oil Spill From Trains

May 9, 2013

Pacific Northwest refineries have been getting their crude oil for years from tankers and pipelines. Last September, trains began shipping crude oil into the region by rail. 

Katie Campbell / EarthFix

Regulators in the region are weighing the potential impacts of trains full of coal moving along the Columbia River and the shores of Puget Sound. Meanwhile, trains full of Oil are quietly on the rise.

The crude is being extracted from a deposit known as the Bakken shale formation – located in North Dakota and Montana mainly.  Some of that oil is now on its way to refineries in the Northwest.

Dale Jensen is the spill program manager for the Washington Department of Ecology. Oil trains are new concern for him.

Scott Ki / Boise State Public Radio

An ethics panel unanimously dismissed charges against state Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth).  Idaho Democrats accused the lawmaker of violating conflict of interest rules on an oil and gas bill.  Wednesday’s ethics panel discussion played out like a courtroom drama.   

Idaho State Legislature

The ethics investigation of Idaho Sen. Monty Pearce (R- New Plymouth) entered its third day Wednesday.  He's accused of not disclosing his oil and gas leases before voting on nearly two dozen bills dealing with that industry.  Democrats drilled down on one bill Tuesday that Pearce voted on.   

Scott Ki / BSPR

The ethics investigation of Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth) began Monday.  Pearce is accused of a potential conflict of interest over his personal oil and gas holdings.

Idaho State Legislature

BOISE, ID – Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill agreed with Idaho Democrats to convene an ethics panel on Republican Senator Monty Pearce.  The panel will likely convene Friday.  The lawmaker from New Plymouth disclosed his oil and gas interests Wednesday despite nearly two dozen prior votes on such issues.

Here’s how this all started:

Sen. Monty Pearce:  "Prior to debate, I’d like to simply state that I could have a possible conflict of interest. I’ve had oil and gas leases on my lands since the early ‘80s."

BOISE, ID – Idaho lawmakers signed off Wednesday on a plan that limits local control of oil and natural gas development.  But even supporters  say this legislation isn’t perfect.

Idaho Senators debated for nearly an hour on the powers of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission.  Under this bill, the agency has final say on where to drill for wells and how to develop the industry.  Democratic Senator Diane Bilyeu from Pocatello hoped to allow local governments to call public hearings on future developments.