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Balcombe, target of fracking protests, greens up
by Daniel J. Graeber
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 28, 2014

Illinois lawmakers want answers after BP spill
Washington DC (UPI) Mar 28, 2014 - The possibility that Canada's heavier grade of oil may have spilled from BP's Whiting refinery into Lake Michigan is cause for concern, Illinois senators said.

The British company said about 39 barrels of oil spilled from its Whiting refinery in Indiana into Lake Michigan. It blamed the incident on a malfunction from a distillation unit at one of the country's oldest refineries.

U.S. Sens. Mark Kirk, R-Ill, and Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said they had questions about BP's operations given that Whiting was expanded recently to process more of the heavy grade of Canadian crude oil.

In a letter to BP America Chief Executive Officer John Minge, they said they wanted assurances Whiting's operations were safe.

"We urge you to explore every avenue to expeditiously recover any spilled oil, remediate the damage where possible, and minimize future threats the Whiting Refinery poses to [Lake Michigan]," their Thursday letter reads.

A 2010 spill of Canadian crude oil in southern Michigan was one of the worst onshore incidents of its kind. The heavier grade, dubbed oil sands, sinks in water and makes it more difficult to recover.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said this week most of the Lake Michigan shoreline was clear of oil.

[Chicago Tribune]

Solar installations in Balcombe, a village at the heart of the British fracking debate, is a rebuttal of national energy policy, Friends of the Earth say.

British shale explorer Cuadrilla Resources last year was the target of major protests after it started exploratory drilling in the region. Protesters were concerned the drilling campaign was a prelude to a hydraulic fracturing operation, though the process known also as fracking was not conducted at the site.

Friends of the Earth said news that Balcombe decided to install solar panels on village roofs was a step away from London's reliance on fossil fuels.

"People don't need to accept risky fracking on their doorsteps," campaigner Brenda Pollack said in a statement Thursday. "It's great to see community energy initiatives like this that enable local residents to produce their own clean and safe power."

The British government is looking to replicate the U.S. success with shale natural gas, though the program is in its infancy.

Cuadrilla in January sent a letter to village residents saying it was applying for an extension to a license for exploration in the area but found natural fractures in Balcombe's shale that may prohibit fracking.

[The Times of London]


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