Oil and Gas

Disaster Planning
9:16 am
Wed September 24, 2014

North Idaho Counties Plan For Oil Spills As Rail Traffic Increases

Crude oil trains travel across northern Idaho at least twice a day.
Credit 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.

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Energy Economy
11:27 am
Wed September 17, 2014

Railroad Wants Second Bridge To Handle Increase In Coal, Oil Trains

Credit 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.

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9:02 am
Thu January 9, 2014

Oil Equipment 'Megaloads' Headed For Canada Stalled In Idaho

This is the 'megaload' sitting at the Idaho/Montana border.
Credit 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.

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11:27 am
Mon October 28, 2013

GE Will Find A New Route For Its Megaloads Or Scale Back The Over-Sized Shipments

Credit 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.

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12:45 pm
Thu September 26, 2013

BNSF Defends Safety Of Oil Trains To West Coast Regulators

This BNSF train is headed West through West Glacier, Montana and into northern Idaho.
Credit 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."

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7:54 am
Thu July 11, 2013

'Megaloads’ Opponents Count On Federal Hurdles To Halt Trucks

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.

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7:48 am
Fri June 28, 2013

Proposed Columbia River Crude Oil Shipping Terminal Would Be Largest In The Northwest

The proposed Tesoro/Savage crude oil terminal would be built on this rail loop at the Port of Vancouver, Washington on the Columbia River.
Credit 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.

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Oil Spill
11:43 am
Thu May 9, 2013

How To Clean Up A Crude Oil Spill From Trains

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. 

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9:33 am
Wed December 5, 2012

Oil Trains On The Rise In The Northwest

Ann Jones watches a train pass in front of her home outside of Bellingham. Trains carrying oil through the Northwest are on the rise.
Credit 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.

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1:30 pm
Wed March 21, 2012

Ethics Charges Against Idaho Lawmaker Dismissed

State Sen. Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth)
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.   

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1:51 pm
Tue March 20, 2012

Democrats Get Specific On Lawmaker’s Alleged Conflict Of Interest

Idaho State Senator Monty Pearce (R-New Plymouth)
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.   

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4:45 pm
Mon March 19, 2012

Ethics Panel Ponders Lawmaker’s Alleged Conflict Of Interest

Idaho Senate Ethics Panel Members: Chairman Dean Mortimer (R-Idaho Falls), Sen. Elliot Werk (D-Boise), Sen. Diane Bilyeu (D-Pocatello), Sen. Dan Schmidt (D-Moscow)
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.

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5:21 pm
Thu March 15, 2012

Update: Ethics Panel To Investigate State Senator Monty Pearce

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."

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5:56 pm
Wed March 14, 2012

Idaho Lawmakers Okay State Control On Gas Developments

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.

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