Latest OpFred – Dirty Exports

•March 31, 2015 • Leave a Comment

BP “grossly negligent” in Deepwater Horizon case

•September 7, 2014 • Leave a Comment
BP "grossly negligent" in Deepwater Horizon case USCG photograph

SEPTEMBER 5, 2014 — BP was grossly negligent in the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier ruled yesterday in New Orleans. The finding of gross negligence rather than simple negligence means that BP could face a penalty of up to $4,300 for each barrel of oil spilled in the disaster — a potential liability of up to $18 billion, according to analysts.

“The Court concludes that the discharge of oil ‘was the result of gross negligence or wilful misconduct’ by BP,” Judge Barbier said in his written ruling. “BP’s conduct was reckless.”

Judge Barbier apportioned 67 percent of the blame for the spill to BP, 30 percent to Transocean and 3 percent to Halliburton. Though both Transocean and Halliburton were found negligent, only BP was found grossly negligent.

All three companies issued statements yesterday. BP said it would immediately appeal the decision. Transocean called it “a welcome and favorable ruling.” Halliburton said it was “pleased” with the ruling.

You can read Judge Barbier’s 153 page written ruling HERE

BP strongly disagrees with the decision issued today by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and will immediately appeal to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.

BP believes that the finding that it was grossly negligent with respect to the accident and that its activities at the Macondo well amounted to willful misconduct is not supported by the evidence at trial. The law is clear that proving gross negligence is a very high bar that was not met in this case. BP believes that an impartial view of the record does not support the erroneous conclusion reached by the District Court.

The Court has not yet ruled on the number of barrels spilled and no penalty has yet been determined. The District Court will hold additional proceedings, which are currently scheduled to begin in January 2015, to consider the application of statutory penalty factors in assessing a per-barrel Clean Water Act penalty. The Clean Water Act requires the District Court to consider a number of factors in determining an appropriate penalty. The statutory maximum penalty is $1,100 per barrel where the court finds simple negligence and $4,300 per barrel where the court finds gross negligence or willful misconduct. During the penalty proceedings, BP will seek to show that its conduct merits a penalty that is less than the applicable maximum after application of the statutory factors.

BP is reviewing the decision and will issue a further statement as soon as possible.


Transocean Ltd. (NYSE: RIG) (SIX: RIGN) today announced that it received a decision by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana on phase one of litigation related to the April 20, 2010 Macondo well incident involving the Deepwater Horizon. Key findings in the Court’s decision with respect to Transocean are as follows:

Contractual indemnity: The Court found that BP’s contractual agreement to indemnify Transocean for compensatory damages is valid and enforceable.

Liability for punitive damages: The Court’s finding that Transocean was not grossly negligent means that the company is not liable for punitive damages.

BP’s claims against Transocean: The Court ruled that BP’s contractual agreement to release its own claims against Transocean is valid and enforceable. BP had assigned these claims to the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee (“PSC”), and the release bars the PSC from pursuing the claims.

Although the decision is subject to appeal, as written it effectively eliminates Transocean’s financial risk arising from the below-surface discharge of oil at Macondo. Transocean’s remaining financial risk is for above-surface discharge of pollutants, if any, occurring during the initial two days of the spill. Transocean believes any such pollution either caused no significant harm or is covered by BP’s indemnity.

“This is a favorable and welcome ruling for Transocean, its employees, and all offshore drilling contractors, as the Court has again ratified the industry-standard allocation of liability between drilling contractors and the owners and operators of oil wells,” said Steven Newman, President and Chief Executive Officer. “As we remember the 11 men who died in this tragic accident, we appreciate the Court’s observation that the Deepwater Horizon crew was attentive and serious and acted bravely in the face of chaotic circumstances, committing multiple heroic acts that saved many lives on April 20, 2010.”


Halliburton (NYSE: HAL) today said that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana ruled that Halliburton was negligent in its conduct related to the April 20, 2010 Macondo well incident in the Gulf of Mexico. The Court allocated 3 percent of the fault to Halliburton with the remaining fault allocated to other parties involved. Further, the Court did not find that Halliburton’s conduct constituted gross negligence.

Halliburton is pleased with today’s ruling, which, coupled with our earlier announced settlement with the plaintiffs’ class, means the Macondo case is essentially over for Halliburton.

The Court also held that, pursuant to the parties’ contract, BP must indemnify and release Halliburton with respect to compensatory damages claims. In addition, the lack of a gross negligence finding against Halliburton should resolve all remaining punitive damages claims against the company. Halliburton is continuing to evaluate the various aspects of the rulings and will act appropriately to defend its interests in any further proceedings.

Halliburton previously announced that it has reached an agreement to settle punitive damages claims against Halliburton by a class of plaintiffs who allege damages to property or associated with the commercial fishing industry arising from the Deepwater Horizon incident, and claims against Halliburton that BP assigned to the settlement class in BP’s April 2012 settlement. The approximately $1.1 billion settlement, which includes legal fees, is subject to approval by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana, and will be paid into a trust until all appeals have been resolved in three installments over the next two years. The company’s previously accrued loss contingency provision relating to the multi-district litigation proceedings is currently $1.3 billion.

Environmental Heroism

•September 6, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Click to access 201436.pdf

Fred Felleman is recognized for his research, photography, and advocacy work to conserve and protect the Pacific Northwest’s marine environment. Over the past three decades, Fred has worked with marine conservation organizations, both locally and nationally, as well as local governments and tribes, to protect whale habitat and mitigate threats, particularly from oil spills. A skilled writer and photographer, Fred has used his talents to translate his research into public awareness and concern for the health of the Salish Sea. He has been involved with every major industrial expansion effort that would increase shipping traffic in our area, and has successfully challenged a variety of permits to decrease the risk of catastrophic oil spills. Fred has made integral contributions towards the creation of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, the stationing of the Neah Bay response tug, enhancing Washington State’s oil spill prevention and response capabilities, banning Naval bombing of the Copalis Wildlife Refuge, listing the Southern resident killer whale community under ESA, creating the Cherry Point Aquatic Reserve and Management Plan, and improving cruise ship discharge requirements. Fred monitors and holds accountable decision makers, as in the recent case where the Army Corps neglected to release a draft Environmental Impact Statement for a massive expansion of the BP pier. For over thirty years, Fred has been the leading citizen paying attention studies and rules that impact the safety of the Salish Sea.

Environmental Heroes
Annual awards recognize stewards and 
job creators

As we debate jobs versus the environment—a tiresome, simpleton binary of winners versus losers—we gloss a fundamental truth: Focus on the environment creates jobs. Lots of jobs.

This truth became astoundingly clear in last year’s county elections, where candidates who championed a more careful, circumspect analysis of the expansion of heavy industry at Cherry Point had themselves created hundreds of jobs in comparison to their opponents, who promised focus on jobs at any cost.

It’s not jobs versus the environment. The vitality of the one depends upon the other.

Rud Browne created a business that recycled old electronics into new applications, building one of the county’s premier employers in the manufacturing sector. His colleague on Whatcom County Council, Carl Weimer, helped launch the RE Store, which similarly recycles old building materials into new uses. In the ashes of a gasoline pipeline explosion in Bellingham that killed three boys in 1999, Weimer helped form the Pipeline Safety Trust, a grassroots watchdog group concerned with pipeline safety across the nation, advocates of new management and infrastructure protocols and energy alternatives. Weimer also helped lead RE Sources through its formative years, building an education and policy advocacy group that—along with the RE Store, which the group manages—employes more than 30 people.

Each year, RE Sources recognizes Environmental Heroes for their extraordinary efforts in protecting and promoting the health of the Pacific Northwest environment. RE Sources has hosted Environmental Heroes for 11 years as a way to support, applaud and encourage work of this quality.

Job creation in environmental pursuits is, by its very nature, entrepreneurial—an emergent need is discerned, investment is accumulated and applied to in response to that need, people are gainfully employed in pursuit of tasks related to those needs. What’s striking, in fact, with this year’s Environmental Heroes is how each saw a need and set about to create a career to address that need.

“Driven by passion, all five innovated jobs so they could work full-time on what they cared about,” observes Peter Frazier, director of communications at RE Sources. “They started their own nonprofits that now employ scores of people. These are not just environmental heroes, but they are also job creators.”

“The accomplishments of our Heroes have made huge impacts in shaping our community’s culture and providing models of sustainability,” boasts RE Sources’ Executive Director Crina Hoyer. “Our vision at RE Sources is to see people living satisfying lives in accord with the ecosystem we depend on—generation after generation. We are delighted to highlight the work of our Heroes in advancing that shared vision.”

Could BP turn Bellingham into a NW oil export capitol

•July 21, 2014 • Leave a Comment


Come to the hearing and rally at the Corp’s headquarters 4735 East Marginal W at 6 PM August 6th.



Stop BP from Making the Sound a Tanker Super Highway

•July 15, 2014 • Leave a Comment


The Pacific Northwest is currently subject to an onslaught of proposed fossil fuel terminals, jeopardizing the climate and increasing the risk of a catastrophic oil spill.

Protect the Salish Sea from the immediate risks of oil spills posed by BP’s proposed increase in tanker traffic in violation of the late Senator Magnuson’s legislative prohibitions. The proposed Gateway coal terminal just to the north of BP further compounds oil spill risks.

Counter BP’s political influence by testifying and/or submitting written comments to the Army Corps of Engineers on the permit they issued illegally to BP to build a new oil tanker dock at Cherry Point without adequate environmental review.

The two upcoming hearings are a result of an environmental lawsuit. The dock was built while the lower court decision was being appealed. Now is the time to let your voice be heard and support Friends of the Earth’s written comments summarized below:


Ms. Olivia Romano

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Seattle Regulatory Branch

P.O. Box 3755

Seattle, Washington 98134


x July 2014

Dear Ms. Romano:


My name is X and I care about Cherry Point/ Salish Sea / oil spills because…….

The Army Corps’ Draft Environmental Impact Statement fails to adequately consider ways to prevent oil spills associated with the increased oil tanker traffic that can come to the BP refinery due to the permit you issued for their new refinery dock.

Please include the following in the Final Environmental Impact Statement:

1-    Enforce the late Senator Warren Magnuson’s law prohibiting federal permits that will result in increased crude oil tankers traveling through the biologically rich and vulnerable waters of the San Juan Islands. Condition BP’s permit to assure that no more crude oil tankers are allowed to call on both docks than were able to call on the original dock (114)

2-    Be sure that these tanker limits apply to both imports and exports of crude oil, including oil derived from Tar Sands.

3-    Retain the restriction on the new dock to only handle refined oil, not crude.

4-    Require that prior to every oil transfer, a protective oil spill boom is deployed encircling the tanker so that if a spill does occur at the dock, it will be contained. This is critical during the spring when the dwindling Cherry Point herring spawn.





Bellingham Hearing:

When: July 16, 2014 from 7pm to 9pm

Open house and rally from 6pm to 7pm,

Where: Shuksan Middle School Gymnasium

2717 Alderwood Avenue, Bellingham, WA 98225

Seattle Hearing

When: July 24, 2014: from 7pm to 9pm

Open house and rally from 6pm to 7pm

Where: Federal Center South Galaxy Room,

4735 East Marginal Way South, Seattle, WA 98134

Note: A valid government-issued photo identification needed

            (eg drivers license) to enter a Federal Buildling.



Surging oil traffic puts region at risk

•April 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Originally published April 19, 2014 at 4:05 PM | Page modified April 19, 2014 at 9:53 PM

The amount of oil leaving Prince William Sound is a quarter of what it was when the Exxon Valdez spilled 10.8 million gallons of crude in Alaska. But as the energy industry transforms the Pacific Northwest into a fossil-fuel gateway, tanker traffic could explode.

Seattle Times environment reporter

Graphic: Fossil fuels and spill risk

Click to learn more about the changing landscape of fossil-fuel distribution.

Efforts to transform the Northwest into a fossil-fuel hub for North Dakota’s crude, Alberta’s oil sands and coal from the Rocky Mountains mean the risks of major spills and explosions in and around Washington state are rising and poised to skyrocket.

Millions of gallons of oil are suddenly transiting our region by train. Barges now haul petroleum across the treacherous mouth of the Columbia River and on to Puget Sound. Oil-tanker traffic through tricky channels north of Puget Sound may well increase dramatically in coming years.

Earth Day: Greenwashing works well for oil industry

•April 22, 2014 • Leave a Comment
April 22, 2014

Guest Opinion: While the industry buffs its image, Washington’s waters are at increasing risk.
A refinery on Fidalgo Island near Anacortes (2008).


A refinery on Fidalgo Island near Anacortes (2008). 24hourmoon/Flickr


It’s Earth Day, but maybe it ought to be called Greenwash Day.

Just four years ago today, a massive gusher of oil began flowing from British Petroleum’s Deepwater Horizon. The oil rig in the Gulf had sunk two days earlier, leading to what was to become the largest accidental oil spill in history. The accident resulted in the death of 11 rig workers, at least 210 million gallons of crude oil spilled and what are today increasingly apparent impacts to the Gulf ecosystem.

Seven times the oil tanker traffic in the Strait? Canada weighs pipeline terminal in Vancouver, B.C., area

•March 24, 2014 • Leave a Comment
Click here to zoom...

The Marshall Islands-flagged tanker ship Densa Whale sits anchored in Port Angeles Harbor on Saturday after visiting BP’s Cherry Point refinery earlier in the week. Tankers servicing Canadian oil could add to traffic on the Strait of Juan de Fuca north of the border. —Photo by Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News


The Associated Press


Most Popular this week
U.S. risk study underway

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

A study, funded in part by the Makah tribe, detailing potential risks associated with a rise in tanker vessel traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca is expected to be presented to a nonprofit panel on Puget Sound marine safety early next year.

Fred Felleman, a member of the nonprofit Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee, said a final draft of a vessel traffic risk assessment currently in development is expected to be discussed at the committee’s February meeting.

The committee is a collection of marine industry, governmental and environmental stakeholders who meet every other month to discuss maritime safety issues in the Puget Sound region, according to the group’s website,

The study used U.S. Coast Guard vessel traffic data to extrapolate the risk of tanker and bulk carrier ship collisions and spills based on three private company proposals that would increase such traffic in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the larger Puget Sound region, Felleman explained.

The study is being prepared by Johan Rene Van Dorp, a professor of engineering management and systems engineering at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and Jason Merrick, a professor of statistical sciences and operations research at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Funding for the report came both from the Makah tribe and the Puget Sound Partnership.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

SEATTLE — The number of oil tankers in Washington state waters could increase almost sevenfold under a proposal by a Canadian pipeline company to expand the amount of crude oil it sends to the Pacific Coast.

The Makah Nation is among the entities studying the risk to the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Kinder Morgan Canada filed a formal application with Canadian regulators earlier this month to expand its Trans Mountain pipeline that carries crude oil from Alberta’s oil sands to the Vancouver, B.C., area.

Under the proposal, up to 34 tankers a month would be loaded with oil at a terminal outside Vancouver, then generally travel through Haro Strait west of San Juan Island and the Strait of Juan de Fuca for export to markets in Asia and the U.S.

That’s up from about five tankers a month now.

The $5.4 billion expansion project would nearly triple pipeline capacity from about 300,000 to 890,000 barrels of crude oil a day to meet customer demand.

Much of that future cargo will likely be diluted bitumen from Canada’s oil sands.

Environmental groups in the U.S. and Canada oppose the project, saying it would put communities and natural resources at risk.

They say more tanker traffic raises the potential for a major oil spill or leaks.

“Putting more vessels on the water creates tremendous new risks, and risks we’re not really prepared to deal with adequately,” said Bruce Wishart, a policy adviser with the Washington Environmental Council.

“We don’t want to see more of this product moving across our waters.”

The company says it has been responsibly loading tankers and barges from the Westridge terminal for decades without incident.

Michael Davies, senior director of marine development for Kinder Morgan Canada, said in a statement the company has “clearly heard and understood the concerns raised about tanker traffic.”

He added: “We have been safely loading vessels for more than 50 years and have recommended further enhancements to marine safety and spill response in our application to ensure the local level of care and safety is well above global shipping standards.”

If approved, the expansion is expected to be operational in late 2017. The pipeline is operated by Kinder Morgan Canada and owned by Houston-based Kinder Morgan Energy Partners LP.

About 6,000 large commercial vessels transit Canadian and U.S. waters toward Vancouver or Washington ports each year.

Two other proposed projects also are expected to increase cargo vessel traffic in the Salish Sea region.

They include the Gateway Pacific coal-export terminal proposed at Cherry Point, which could add up to 487 cargo ships a year, and the proposed expansion at Deltaport at Roberts Bank in Delta, B.C.

Meanwhile, officials in Washington state are trying to anticipate how those proposals could change vessel traffic in north Puget Sound and what that means for spill risks.

The Puget Sound Partnership, the Makah Nation and others are working with researchers at George Washington University to study different risk scenarios.

“For more than two decades we’ve had a great track record of maritime safety and we want to continue that success,” said Todd Hass with the Puget Sound Partnership.

“In the face of a number projects that could add hundreds of vessels arriving in the system, we want to make sure we anticipate the changes that might occur and plan.”

Some marine officials say increased vessels can be managed.

“Safeguards are in place. They may have to be tweaked. Some folks think it’s a heavily congested waterway. There aren’t many vessels out there,” said John Veentjer, a former Coast Guard officer who heads the Puget Sound Harbor Safety Committee.

“If those projects were to be built, there would be more vessels. Can we manage those numbers? Sure,” he said. “I think it’s going to take some additional vessel traffic management effort, but it’s not something out of our reach.”

Fred Felleman, Northwest consultant for Friends of the Earth, said Canadian officials haven’t done enough to ensure they can adequately respond to spills in waters it shares with the U.S.

“They haven’t taken enough steps to prevent and respond to the size of a spill such traffic would generate,” he said.

Linda Pilkey-Jarvis, manager of the Department of Ecology’s spills preparedness section, said various efforts are underway to identify and align spill preparedness standards between the U.S. and Canada.

When the state updated its contingency plan last year, it required the industry to include response equipment to locate oil in the water column.

That was in response to some emerging proposals, such as the Kinder Morgan pipeline expansion, she said.

“There’s work to be done, but we’re not completely unprepared,” she said.

Last modified: December 28. 2013 5:26PM

Oil spill risks would rise from three major projects: U.S. study

•February 3, 2014 • 1 Comment

The Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER — A U.S. study that takes a wider examination than Canadian research into oil spill risks in the Salish Sea shows the greatest potential increase in spills is off the San Juan and Gulf Islands. The potential for oil spills in the Haro Strait-Boundary Pass passage increases by 4.75 times as a result of the anticipated increase of 1,250 large ships annually from three planned projects in the waters shared by British Columbia and Washington state, according to the draft findings of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency-funded study.
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Where have all the activist singers gone?

•January 28, 2014 • 1 Comment

Where have all the activist singers gone?

Pete opens Bumbershoot in Seattle with Norm Rice 17 years ago or so.