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Daily Archives: February 10, 2014

U.S. Rail Transportation of Crude Oil: Background and Issues for Congress

CRS – February 6, 2014 – “North America is experiencing a boom in crude oil supply, primarily due to the growth of heavy crude production in the Canadian oil sands and the recent expansion of shale oil production in North Dakota, Montana, and Texas. North American production now supplies 66% of U.S. crude oil demand, displacing crude from Latin America, Africa, and the Middle East. This shift has led to significant challenges in transportation, as refineries that once received crude oil principally from oceangoing tankers are now seeing increasing deliveries by domestic transport. Existing pipeline capacity is, in some cases, insufficient to carry growing crude oil from some production areas, or does not link to the refineries needing the oil. The domestic barge network does not serve some key production regions located far from navigable waterways. As a quicker, more flexible alternative to new pipeline projects, North American crude oil producers are increasingly turning to rail as a means of transporting crude supplies to U.S. markets. Increased exports of refined products—and, if Congress changes the law, of crude oil—could lead to even larger volumes of oil being transported by rail. According to rail industry officials, U.S. freight railroads are estimated to have carried more than 400,000 carloads of crude oil in 2013, or roughly 280 million barrels, compared to 9,500 carloads in 2008. Crude imports by rail from Canada have increased more than 20-fold since 2011. The rapid increase in crude oil shipments by rail will likely increase the number of oil spills from rail transportation. However, the most recent data available indicate that railroads consistently spill less crude oil per ton-mile transported than other modes of land transportation. The amount of crude spilled per ton-mile of rail transport declined significantly between the early 1990s and the 2002-2007 period, the most recent years for which data are available. Nonetheless, the increase in rail shipments of crude has raised safety and environmental concerns. These concerns have been underscored by a series of major incidents involving crude oil transportation by rail, including a catastrophic fire and explosion in Lac Mégantic, Quebec, in July 2013 and a derailment in Casselton, ND, in December 2013 that led to a mass evacuation. Consequently, government agencies in the United States and Canada are considering new regulations related to oil transport by rail, and some Members of Congress have called for tighter rules governing crude oil railcars as well as a broader reconsideration of the role of rail in the nation’s oil transportation infrastructure.”

Report – STEM Education for the Innovation Economy

Joint Economic Committee, U.S. Congress, January 2014: “Innovation is a primary driver of American prosperity. A significant portion of economic growth in the United States has been attributed to improved productivity resulting in part from innovation. To ensure that innovation and productivity growth continue, more Americans than ever will need to be equipped with science, technology, engineering and… Continue Reading

Does Every Research Library Need a Digital Humanities Center?

An OCLC Research Report by Jennifer Schaffner and Ricky Erway, OCLC Research. “The digital humanities (DH) are attracting considerable attention and funding at the same time that this nascent field strives for an identity. Some research libraries are committing significant resources to creating DH centers. But questions about whether such an investment is warranted persist across… Continue Reading

New York Fed – Survey of Consumer Expectations – February 2014

“The New York Fed’s Survey of Consumer Expectations (SCE) provides timely and comprehensive information about consumer expectations through three broad categories: inflation, labor market and household finance. The SCE contains monthly insight about how consumers expect overall inflation and prices for food, gas, housing, education and medical care to change over time. It also provides Americans’ views… Continue Reading

EIA – China is largest energy consumer and producer in the world

“China is the world’s most populous country with a fast-growing economy that has led it to be the largest energy consumer and producer in the world. Rapidly increasing energy demand, especially for liquid fuels, has made China extremely influential in world energy markets. China has quickly risen to the top ranks in global energy demand over… Continue Reading

New GAO Reports – Drinking Water, Drug Shortages

DRINKING WATER – EPA Has Improved Its Unregulated Contaminant Monitoring Program, but Additional Action Is Needed, GAO-14-103: Published: Jan 9, 2014. Publicly Released: Feb 10, 2014. “Congress should consider amending the Safe Drinking Water Act to allow EPA to monitor for more than 30 contaminants under certain circumstances, and to adjust statutory time frames so UCMR data… Continue Reading

New York Fed – Research Series Examines Stability of Funding Models

“The Federal Reserve Bank of New York [on February 7, 2014] released a series of research reports on “funding models,” or arrangements for financial intermediation.  The three-part Economic Policy Review series aims to provide a comprehensive overview of the structure and stability of different funding models, as well as an in-depth examination of factors affecting the fragility… Continue Reading

Report – The SEC and Climate Change Reporting

“The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has not adequately addressed the climate disclosure deficiencies of publicly traded corporations, despite four-year-old formal guidance requiring companies to disclose material climate change risks, according to a report published by Ceres today. The report, Cool Response: The SEC and Climate Change Reporting, is based on a survey of more than… Continue Reading

The Future of the U.S. Intercontinental Ballistic Missile Force

RAND – “In the lead-up to the Air Force Ground Based Strategic Deterrent Analysis of Alternatives, RAND was asked to examine and assess possible intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) alternatives against the current Minuteman III system and to provide insights into the potential impact of further force reductions. The researchers developed a framework consisting of five categories — basing, propulsion, boost,… Continue Reading

A Case Study in Managerial and Regulatory Failures

Wilmarth, Arthur E., Citigroup: A Case Study in Managerial and Regulatory Failures (2013). Indiana Law Review, Vol. 47, 2013, Forthcoming; GWU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2013-139; GWU Law School Public Law Research Paper No. 2013-139. Available at SSRN: “Citigroup has served as the poster child for the elusive promises and manifold pitfalls of… Continue Reading