The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
The Koch Brothers’ Toxic Mountain of Petroleum Coke
The New York Times
The New York Times is reporting about a growing, dirty side effect of refining tar sands bitumen from Canada. The evidence is on clear display as a black mountain piles up alongside the Detroit River, thanks in part to Charles and David Koch.
“Assumption Park gives residents of this city lovely views of the Ambassador Bridge and the Detroit skyline. Lately they’ve been treated to another sight: a three-story pile of petroleum coke covering an entire city block on the other side of the Detroit River. Detroit’s ever-growing black mountain is the unloved, unwanted and long overlooked byproduct of Canada’s oil sands boom,” says the article, “A Black Mound of Canadian Oil Waste Is Rising Over Detroit.”
The toxic mountain of petroleum coke, or petcoke, is like coal but dirtier, and is being sold by Koch Carbon to fuel the coal plants of countries like China. “The coke [in Detroit] comes from a refinery alongside the river owned by Marathon Petroleum, which has been there since 1930. But it began refining exports from the Canadian oil sands—and producing the waste that is sold to Koch—only in November.”
A study from Oil Change International earlier this year details just how dangerous petcoke is to the environment. The Keystone XL pipeline will entrench petcoke production on the Gulf Coast for the next 40 years. Without it, it is increasingly clear that Gulf Coast refiners will idle their cokers and switch to U.S. domestic light oil. Petcoke production will decrease in line with that switch.
“Detroit’s pile will not be the only one. Canada’s efforts to sell more products derived from oil sands to the United States, which include transporting it through the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, have pulled more coking south to American refineries, creating more waste product here.”
The following organizations are calling for international attention to this issue: Bold Nebraska, Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters, 350.org, Oil Change International, Nation Resources Defense Council.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Brian Barth
Late fall, after the last crops have been harvested, is a time to rest and reflect on the successes and challenges of the gardening year. But for those whose need to putter around in the garden doesn't end when cold weather comes, there's surely a few lingering chores. Get them done now and you'll be ahead of the game in spring.
By Bailey Hopp
If you had to choose a diamond for your engagement ring from below or above the ground, which would you pick … and why would you pick it? This is the main question consumers are facing when picking out their diamond engagement ring today. With a dramatic increase in demand for conflict-free lab-grown diamonds, the diamond industry is shifting right before our eyes.
(R) The measles virus pictured under a microscope. PHIL / CDC
The Pacific Island nation of Samoa declared a state of emergency this week, closed all of its schools and limited the number of public gatherings allowed after a measles outbreak has swept across the country of just 200,000 people, according to Reuters.
By Alison Cagle
Rising above the Arizona desert, the Santa Rita Mountains cradle 10,000 years of Indigenous history. The Tohono O'odham Nation, Pascua Yaqui Tribe, and Hopi Tribe, among numerous other tribes, have worshipped, foraged, hunted and laid their ancestors to rest in the mountains for generations.
Native Americans are disproportionately without access to clean water, according to a new report, "Closing the Water Access Gap in the United States: A National Action Plan," to be released this afternoon, which shows that more than two million Americans do not have access to access to running water, indoor plumbing or wastewater services.
By Nanticha Ocharoenchai
In the Czech Republic, horses have become the knights in shining armor. A study published in the Journal for Nature Conservation suggests that returning feral horses to grasslands in Podyjí National Park could help boost the numbers of several threatened butterfly species.