Tuesday 13th of April 2021

let it snow... let it snow...


Texas oil refineries released hundreds of thousands of pounds of pollutants including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide, and sulfur dioxide into the air as they scrambled to shut down during last week's deadly winter storm, Reuters reported Sunday.


by By Brett Wilkins, Common Dreams

Winter storm Uri, which killed dozens of people and cut off power to over four million Texans at its peak, also disrupted supplies needed to keep the state's refineries and petrochemical plants operating. As they shut down, refineries flared—or burned off—gases in order to prevent damage to their processing units.

According to the Texas Commission on Environment Quality, the five largest refiners emitted nearly 337,000 pounds of pollutants in this manner. 

ExxonMobil's Baytown Olefins plant in Baytown released 68,000 tons of carbon monoxide and nearly a ton of benzene in what it called a “safe utilization of the flare system.”

Critics noted, however, that benzene is harmful to bone marrow, red blood cells, and the immune system. 

“There is no safe amount of benzene for human exposure,” Sharon Wilson, a researcher at the advocacy group Earthworks, told Reuters.

The five largest U.S. oil refiners emitted tons of pollutants into the skies over Texas this week, including benzene, carbon monoxide, hydrogen sulfide and sulfur dioxide, according to preliminary data provided to the state https://t.co/or15mDwYV3

— Reuters (@Reuters) February 21, 2021

Motiva's Port Arthur refinery released 118,100 pounds of pollutants into the air between February 15 and February 18. This was triple the amount of excess emissions the plant reported to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for the entire year of 2019.

Valero's refinery in Port Arthur flared 78,000 pounds of pollutants over 24 hours beginning February 15, while Marathon Petroleum's Galveston Bay refinery released 14,255 pounds in less than five hours that same day. 

Hilton Kelly, who lives in Port Arthur, told Reuters that there were “six or seven flares going at one time.” 

Wilson said that the flaring “could have been prevented” by winterizing the refineries. 

“We need someone in the Texas legislature to file a bill requiring the oil and gas industry to thoroughly winterize all their equipment,” Wilson told Earther. “The bill probably won't pass in Texas, but that will create some more scrutiny about it.”

“If [the industry] had winterized their equipment, this wouldn’t be happening.”

ICYMI: oil & gas “pollution event” reports in Texas skyrocketed during last week's extreme cold snap.https://t.co/d7m6LlkVES

— Earthworks (@Earthworks) February 21, 2021

Earther reports that between February 11 and February 18, there were 174 so-called “emissions events” from fossil fuel facilities in Texas, compared to between 37 and 46 such events in weeks before the storm.

In addition to the previously mentioned pollutants, chemicals released from Texas facilities include over 6,500 pounds of the carcinogen isoprene from a Shell plant in Deer Park near Houston, as well as an indeterminate amount of methane, which is 84 times more harmful to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide over the short term. 

Wilson told Earther that “in Texas we don't count methane” in pollution reports. 

The release of large amounts of dangerous pollutants during Uri stands in stark contrast with claims by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott that alternative energy sources such as solar and wind are responsible for Uri's deadly power outages and that the Green New Deal would be a “deadly deal” for the United States.


This article originally appeared on Common Dreams and has been republished at DeSmog under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.


See: https://www.desmogblog.com/2021/02/23/environmentalists-sound-alarm-over-texas-refineries-release-pollution

neanderthal bones found in texas...


President Joe Biden has criticised the lifting of mask requirements in the states of Texas and Mississippi, calling it "Neanderthal thinking".

"I think it's a big mistake," he said.

Masks, social distancing and other measures were still important, despite the role vaccines were playing in containing the pandemic, he said.

Texas and Mississippi will also allow all businesses to open at full capacity. Other states have announced a relaxation of some rules.

The US has recorded 28.7 million infections and 519,000 deaths related to Covid-19 since the pandemic began. 

Some 78 million vaccine doses have been administered but Mr Biden said this was not a reason to end public health measures.

"The last thing we need is Neanderthal thinking that in the meantime everything's fine, take off your mask, forget it," Mr Biden said. "It still matters."

Senior health officials in his administration have warned about the continued spread of the virus - and highly contagious variants of it - hampering the progress of the country's vaccination programme.

"Now is not the time to release all restrictions," Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said.

"The next month or two is really pivotal in terms of how this pandemic goes."

How did Mississippi and Texas respond?

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves, a Republican, reacted to Mr Biden's comments with a terse tweet.

"Mississippians don't need handlers," Mr Reeves wrote in the tweet. "As numbers drop, they can assess their choices and listen to experts. I guess I just think we should trust Americans, not insult them."

A spokesperson for Texas Governor Greg Abbott said he was "clear in telling Texans that Covid hasn't ended".


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winning the jackpot...

AS A SEVERE winter storm swept Texas last week, cutting electricity from millions of residents in freezing temperatures and causing nearly 70 deaths so far, some energy executives saw an upside to the catastrophe.

“Obviously, this week is like hitting the jackpot,” boasted Roland Burns, the chief executive and chief financial officer of Comstock Resources, a shale drilling company that benefited from the sudden demand for natural gas, in a call with investors last Wednesday. The price for gas, said Burns, has been “incredible.”

Marshall McCrea, the co-chief executive of pipeline firm Energy Transfer, told investors last Wednesday that his company has “been able to benefit,” given its ability to transport gas from storage facilities near Houston to power plants across the state. The company, McCrea said, has transported large volumes of gas in Texas and capitalized on “very strong commodity prices.” Energy Transfer, when reached for comment, said that McCrea’s comments “are pretty clear.”

Ronald Mills, the vice president of investor relations at Comstock Resources, said the company apologizes for the use of the word “jackpot” to describe natural gas prices last week. “That description was inappropriate and insensitive to the millions of Texans that did not have electricity or power, including many of our own employees who suffered through the same since we are based in the Dallas area,” said Mills in an email to The Intercept.



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