Weekend Reading 5/29/15

Coal's epic decline, Tesoro's secret oil spill, turning sewage into drinking water, and more.
Original illustration by Nina Montenegro of ghosttide.com.


Politico has an epic treatment of coal’s decline in the United States and the meticulous, truth-telling Sierra Club volunteers and staffers who have helped accelerate it.


One more reason the Northwest beats California: we haven’t had to consider this just yet.

“[The rents] do not go down, that’s one thing that’s a safe bet in the trailer park world. Our rents do not go down.” That’s Frank Rolfe, founder of Mobile Home University, a company that trains  …  read more »

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Event: Lawrence Lessig at Town Hall Seattle

The democracy reform guru heads to the Northwest.

Good news: professor Lawrence Lessig, the greatest orator of democracy reform, is Cascadia-bound. He’s helping to launch a new film. He’s also promoting campaigns near and far to tamp down the systemic money-corruption of government. Event details are below.

  • What: Seattle premier of “Killswitch” and post-screening discussion with Dr. Lawrence Lessig and Marianne Williamson
  • When: Thursday, June 4, 2015, 7:00 p.m.
  • Where: Town Hall Seattle, 1119 Eighth Avenue, Seattle, WA (map)
  • Tickets: $15 pre-sale,

 …  read more »


Low Oil Prices = Less Oil Drilling

The collapse in North Dakota oil drilling could spell trouble for oil-by-rail in the Northwest.
North Dakota oil drilling collapsed after oil prices fell.

North Dakota oil drilling collapsed after oil prices fell. North America Rotary Rig County data by Baker Hughes

A few years back, when most oil industry analysts thought that oil prices would remain in the $100-per-barrel range for the foreseeable future, domestic oil companies found that they could earn a healthy profit by fracking “tight oil” out of shale rock formations. Drilling activity in North Dakota, home of the oil-rich Bakken Shale, shot through the roof, catapulting the Flickertail State (yes, that’s an actual nickname for North Dakota) into the #2 oil producing state in the country, second only to Texas.

But starting in the summer of 2014, global oil prices began to collapse. Within a few months, US prices had fallen below $50 per barrel, and oil drilling activity in North Dakota collapsed. Take a look at the oil drilling trend for North Dakota, derived from the Baker Hughes North American rotary rig count.

It’s perhaps a little early to see the drilling collapse in the state’s oil production statistics. But some Wall Street analysts have certainly noticed the drilling trend and are starting to speculate that the collapse in shale oil drilling could lead to a new round of oil price volatility. Read more »


Event: Coastal Washington, the Oil Industry’s Sacrifice Zone

I'll join Grays Harbor area leaders for a free community forum on oil trains.

Washington State is on the front lines of oil transport by rail. The ten oil train explosions in the last two years and the numerous oil spills on Washington’s coast are reminders that there are devastating consequences when it comes to transporting oil. Ten new proposals have emerged in just the last year to ship crude oil by train to Northwest refineries and port terminals.

On June 10th, I’ll be in Hoquiam with several area leaders for a free, public forum on the alarming growth in oil train traffic through Grays Harbor County and the costs and consequences of the oil-by-rail industry for local residents. I’ll introduce the topic and moderate a panel of local leaders including Larry Thevik, Vice President of the Washington Dungeness Crab Fishermen’s Association; David Batker, of Earth Economics; Tammy Domike, of Citizens for a Clean Harbor; Crystal Dingler, Mayor of Ocean Shores; and Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation. Read more »

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Weekend Reading 5/22/15

How poverty impairs your mind, exposing Port secrets, a Duwamish River rap, and more.

How Science Denial Derails Scientists

Scientists downplay risks to avoid "alarmist" stereotype. Rebuttals inadvertently reinforce myths.

No Taxation Without (Proportional) Representation!

Explained with the aid of some tasty fruits and veggies.

How the Big Apple Boosted Small Donors

And how Seattle’s Honest Elections initiative could do it even better.

How Shell Manipulates Washington State Politics

The Polar Pioneer isn’t the company’s only disruptive presence.

Weekend Reading 5/15/15

NW oil plans can be stopped, a new rideshare app, empathetic rats, and more.