You’ll never guess why Exxon doesn’t have to pay to clean up its mess

Isn’t this just perfect: Exxon won’t have to pay into the cleanup fund for their pipeline spill — because under the regulations, tar sands crude isn’t classified as oil! And of course, the same regulation applies to the Keystone XL pipeline, too.

A technicality has spared Exxon from having to pay any money into the fund that will be covering most of the clean up costs of its Arkansas pipeline spill.

The cleanup efforts themselves took a sobering turn as crews found injured and dead ducks covered in oil.
The environmental impacts of an oil spill in central Arkansas began to come into focus Monday as officials said a couple of dead ducks and 10 live oily birds were found after an ExxonMobil Corp. pipeline ruptured last week.

“I’m an animal lover, a wildlife lover, as probably most of the people here are,” Faulkner County Judge Allen Dodson told reporters. ”We don’t like to see that. No one does.”

Exxon has confirmed that the pipeline was carrying “low-quality Wabasca Heavy crude oil from Alberta.” This oil comes from the region of Alberta where the controversial tar sands are located. Heavy crude is strip mined or boiled loose from dense underground formations that often contain a large amount of bitumen. This oil is very thick and needs to be diluted with lighter fluids in order to flow through pipelines. Reports have stated that at least 12,000 barrels of oil and water spilled into the town.

A 1980 law ensures that diluted bitumen is not classified as oil, and companies transporting it in pipelines do not have to pay into the federal Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Other conventional crude producers pay 8 cents a barrel to ensure the fund has resources to help clean up some of the 54,000 barrels of pipeline oil that spilled 364 times last year.

As Oil Change International said in a statement today:

“The great irony of this tragic spill in Arkansas is that the transport of tar sands oil through pipelines in the US is exempt from payments into the Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund. Exxon, like all companies shipping toxic tar sands, doesn’t have to pay into the fund that will cover most of the clean up costs for the pipeline’s inevitable spills.”

Whatever you call it, as Judge Dodson says, “Crude oil is crude oil. None of it is real good to touch.”

The smell of the spilled oil (similar to asphalt) has reached residents five miles out in the country, and will likely keep residents of 22 nearby homes evacuated for several days.

Think it can’t happen here?

UPDATE: Looking around, I see that Ellen Brown is considered to be a bit of a RW conspiracy nut. So, since we have so many real problems to worry about, I think we can leave these hypothetical one alone.

Gaius Publius at AmericaBLOG:

Deposit confiscation is being planned in the U.S. and the U.K.

Just as the New Zealand plan has been in process for a while, so is a similar plan in the U.S. and the U.K. This piece is making the rounds and making waves. It should (again, my emphasis; h/t a must-read DownWithTyranny piece):

It Can Happen Here: The Confiscation Scheme Planned for US and UK Depositors
Posted on March 28, 2013 by Ellen Brown

Confiscating the customer deposits in Cyprus banks, it seems, was not a one-off, desperate idea of a few Eurozone “troika” officials scrambling to salvage their balance sheets. A joint paper by the US Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation and the Bank of England dated December 10, 2012, shows that these plans have been long in the making; that they originated with the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland (discussed earlierhere); and that the result will be to deliver clear title to the banks of depositor funds. …

Although few depositors realize it, legally the bank owns the depositor’s funds as soon as they are put in the bank. Our money becomes the bank’s, and we become unsecured creditors holding IOUs or promises to pay. (See here and here.) But until now the bank has been obligated to pay the money back on demand in the form of cash. Under the FDIC-BOE plan, our IOUs will be converted into “bank equity.”  The bank will get the money and we will get stock in the bank. With any luck we may be able to sell the stock to someone else, but when and at what price? Most people keep a deposit account so they can have ready cash to pay the bills.

The 15-page FDIC-BOE document is called “Resolving Globally Active, Systemically Important, Financial Institutions.”  It begins by explaining that the 2008 banking crisis has made it clear that some other way besides taxpayer bailouts is needed to maintain “financial stability.” Evidently [the writers anticipate] that the next financial collapse will be on a grander scale than either the taxpayers or Congress is willing to underwrite …

No exception is indicated for “insured deposits” in the U.S., meaning those under $250,000, the deposits we thought were protected by FDIC insurance. This can hardly be an oversight, since it is the FDIC that is issuing the directive. …

December 10, 2012 was pre-Cyprus. Deposit-confiscation wasn’t something cooked up on the fly. It’s been in the works for a while, by all the international Bigs. Note that the source of the negotiations is “the G20 Financial Stability Board in Basel, Switzerland.” This is indeed international.

Bottom line

This proves three things, I think:

  1. Major governments exist, in part, to make sure no banker takes a loss anywhere in the world, regardless of risky behavior on the part of the banks. The world and its governments serve the bankers.
  2. The next banking crisis is anticipated to dwarf the last one, and the Bigs have been making plans to bail it out with depositor funds, not taxpayer funds. Cyprus is just the first implementation.
  3. Loss of deposit insurance is coming to the U.S.

The Rich vs. the Rest. “All your money are belong to us“ indeed. The outcome has bloodshed written all over it.

Nice guy

It always seems like the people who struggled are the most generous, aren’t they? This really made me smile:

Powerball winner Pedro Quezada is hosting a rent party — for his entire block.

A close friend of the newly minted megamillionaire said Quezada promised to temporarily cover the housing costs for residents in the Passaic, N.J., neighborhood that housed his bodega.

“He said he’s going to pay the rent for everybody here on this block for at least a month or two months,” the friend said Saturday outside Quezada’s Apple Deli Grocery. “He’s such a good guy.”

Word of Quezada’s magnanimous gesture left several of his neighbors stunned.

“God bless him, and thank you,” crowed Richard Delgado, 45, after learning of the pledge.

John Koblarz’s eyes lit up when he heard Quezada had offered to cover his neighbors’ rents.

But then the 78-year-old landlord came to his senses.

“Oh, he can’t afford to pay mine,” Koblarz said. “Mine is $20,000. I own the building!”

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