Nationwide Briefs

Pipeline Burst at Prudhoe

Two BP well pads producing 5,000 barrels of oil per day were forced to shut down last week, when a pressurized gas pipeline blew apart. Investigators found that corrosion had attacked the outside surface of the above-ground pipe at the point where insulation jackets were missing. This is not the first time that BP has had oil leaks from major Prudhoe pipelines. In 2006 they pled guilty to a federal misdemeanor pollution crime. Three years of probation and $20 million in penalties were imposed. It is was not known at time of press if last week’s leak will constitute another pollution crime.

Bad global warming news under ice

Carbon dioxide isn’t the only greenhouse gas that worries climate scientists. Airborne levels of two other potent gases – one from ancient plants, the other from flat-panel screen technology – are on the rise, too. The gases are methane and nitrogen trifluoride. Methane is by far the bigger worry. It is considered the No. 2 greenhouse gas based on the amount of warming it causes and the amount in the atmosphere. The total effect of methane on global warming is about one-third that of man-made carbon dioxide.
Methane comes from landfills, natural gas, coal mining, animal waste and decaying plants. But it’s the decaying plants that worry scientists most. That’s because thousands of years ago, billions of tons of methane were created by decaying Arctic plants. It lies frozen in permafrost wetlands and trapped in the ocean floor. As the Arctic warms, the concern is this methane will be freed and will worsen warming. Scientists are trying to figure out how they would know if this process starts.
It’s still early and the data is far from conclusive, but scientists say they are concerned that what they are seeing could be the start of the release of the Arctic methane.

Palin’s ties to pipeline may be questionable

From the beginning of the McCain/Palin campaign, Gov. Sarah Palin’s pipeline accomplishments have been touted as a prime example of her astonishing abilities as governor and running mate.
It turns out, however, her signature accomplishment – a contract to build a 1,715-mile -$40 billion pipeline to bring Alaska’s natural gas to the Lower 48 – emerged from a flawed process that narrowed the bidding field to a corporation with friendly ties.
An Associated Press investigation recently revealed that not only did the corporation, TransCanada Corp., win a bid that was crafted to favor them, but the company could also stand to get a maximum state subsidy of $500 million.
Furthermore, the leader of Palin’s pipline team had not only been a partner for a lobbying team to a TranCanada subsidiary but was a partner with a woman who became TransCanada’s lead private lobbyist during the pipeline deal.

Missing Orca whales have scientists concerned

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Seven Puget Sound orcas are missing and presumed dead in what could be the biggest decline among the sound’s orcas in nearly a decade, say scientists who carefully track the endangered animals.
“This is a disaster,” Ken Balcomb, a senior scientist at the Center for Whale Research on San Juan Island, said Friday. “The population drop is worse than the stock market.”
While the official census won’t be completed until December, the total number of live “southern resident” orcas now stands at 83.
Among those missing since last year’s count are the nearly century-old leader of one of the three southern resident pods and two young females who recently bore calves.
A lack of salmon, pollution and whale watching charters are believed to be contributing factors to the orca population drop.

Beaten McCain supporter confesses to lying

Last week, a McCain campaign volunteer confessed to police that she made up a story of being robbed, pinned to the ground and having the letter “B” scratched on her face in a politically inspired attack.
Ashley Todd, 20-year-old college student from College Station, Texas, told investigators that she suspected the man who attacked her had noticed a John McCain sticker on her car, then became angry and punched her in the back of the head, knocking her to the ground and telling her “you are going to be a Barack supporter.”
Police said they doubted her story from the start. It might have been the “B” scratched on her face. backwards.