Posts tagged train
By John Nicol and Dave Seglins, CBC News
Back and forth shipments prompt accusation of fraud, EPA and CBSA probes
The mystery of the trainload of biodiesel that crossed back and forth across the Sarnia-Port Huron border without ever unloading its cargo, as reported by CBC News, has been solved.
CBC News received several tips after a recent story about a company shipping the same load of biodiesel back and forth by CN Rail at a cost of $2.6 million in the summer of 2010. It turns out the shipments were part of a deal by a Toronto-based company, which made several million dollars importing and exporting the fuel to exploit a loophole in a U.S. green energy program.
The entire U.S. biodiesel market has been the centre of controversy and even legislative hearings this summer over problems with the regulatory program administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The fallout and distrust of a market-based biodiesel credit system has had several repercussions for the industry, particularly for fledgling biodiesel companies trying to produce environmentally friendly fuel. The recent CBC reports on that train to nowhere have prompted an investigation by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), as well as a further investigation by the EPA.
The company that organized the train shipment was Bioversel Trading Inc. of Toronto. Its principal, Arie Mazur, gave CBC a detailed explanation this week explaining that the trip was all about RINs — renewable identification numbers — the credits set up by the EPA to promote and track production and importation of renewable fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel.
The complicated deal unfolded in the final two weeks of June 2010.
Train records used to generate millions in RIN credits
Bioversel Trading hired CN Rail to import tanker loads of biodiesel to the U.S. to generate RINs, which are valuable in the U.S. because of a “greening” policy regulating the petroleum industry. The EPA’s “Renewable Fuel Standard” mandate that oil companies bring a certain amount of renewable fuel to market, quotas they can achieve through blending biofuel with fossil fuel or by purchasing RINs as offsets.
Because RINs can be generated through import, the 12 trainloads that crossed into Michigan would have contained enough biodiesel to create close to 12 million RINs. In the summer of 2010, biodiesel RINs were selling for 50 cents each, but the price soon fluctuated to more than $1 per credit.
Once “imported” to a company capable of generating RINs, ownership of the biodiesel was transferred to Bioversel’s American partner company, Verdeo, and then exported back to Canada. RINs must be “retired” once the fuel is exported from the U.S., but Bioversel says Verdeo retired ethanol RINs, worth pennies, instead of the more valuable biodiesel RINs. Bioversel claims this was all perfectly legal.
However, one of the companies Bioversel approached to be the ‘importer of record’—Northern Biodiesel Inc. of Ontario, N.Y. — discovered that the same fuel was going back and forth across the border and the same gallons were being used to repeatedly generate new RINs under their company’s name. The company called the EPA and also sent a letter that would become an open letter to the biodiesel industry, accusing Bioversel of “trying to perpetrate a fraud against NBI and the Renewable Fuel Standard program.”
The EPA, which has a buyer beware policy for oil companies that buy RINs, did not act immediately, and the industry has been begging for it to play the role of sheriff on this case and others. The EPA won’t comment on continuing investigations, but insiders said the case is still under investigation.
Trust in US biodiesel credits shaken
Many observers of the Bioversel deal of 2010 doubt the RINs repeatedly generated on the same gallons of fuel are legal.
“If the facts in your story bear out, there needs to be some people go to prison,” said Joe Jobe, CEO of the U.S. National Biodiesel Board. “It’s not a victimless crime. [RIN fraud] has impacted the livelihoods and jobs of absolutely everybody in this industry, and it has cost the folks in the petroleum industry who have to comply with this, millions and millions of dollars and it has put small- and medium-sized biodiesel producers completely out of business.
“We’ve taken this very seriously. I testified before the House energy oversight committee this summer. Congress has been whopping mad about [RIN fraud] as well.”
CBC has contacted the EPA repeatedly is recent days asking for an opinion on whether the Bioversel imports were legal. The agency has refused to comment.
Northern Biodiesel owner Bob Bechtold says his company’s role in the deal made it a victim. His firm agreed to act as importer to generate the RINs, but when the paperwork wasn’t forthcoming from Bioversel, one of his employees called CN Rail to find out what was happening at the border.
“All we got from [CN Rail] was that there was a curious thing happening, that there were a number of cars that just kept going back and forth across the Canadian border,” he told CBC News. “When we started smelling something that was weird, we called the EPA, and notified them that this was happening, and then we called the company that we were doing this transaction with and said we’re not doing any more business with you.”
Bechtold said Bioversel had a “fit.”
“First they threatened us that we were breaking the contract,” he said. “One person came here and tried to insist that I would be in a lot of trouble because of breaking the contract, and I assured him that I thought he would be in a lot more trouble if this continued. Then they offered to buy our company, which we thought was pretty absurd, and I basically sent him on his way.”
In its letter to the EPA, Northern Biodiesel cautioned its RIN company codes had been compromised, alleging that Bioversel’s partner company, Verdeo, took its numbers and made up new RINs “as if the biodiesel has been blended into the U.S. transportation fuel stream and separated from the renewable fuel. Then they were illegally sold by Verdeo to parties obligated to acquire RINs by the Renewable Fuel Standard.”
Northern Biodiesel insisted the RINs issued were not valid because it had never received any bills of lading or chemical analysis reports from Verdeo, and thus Northern Biodiesel never reported/certified them with the EPA. However, millions of these RINs were sold in its name.
As a result, Northern Biodiesel RINs became tainted within the industry and Bechtold said that put him out of business.
“That was about the dumbest thing we ever did,” said Bechtold about the letter and coming forward to the EPA. “We thought we were saving the industry, doing good to protect the industry, but it ended up being the kiss of death for us, because we are no longer able to participate in the field.”
Beyond this case, the entire U.S. biodiesel RIN system has been plagued by problems, loopholes and even outright frauds. It has all undermined efforts to get U.S. industry to use more renewable fuels and has left big oil companies and other major fuel purchasers wary of smaller producers.
Biodiesel plant set for Welland, Ont.
Bioversel Trading told CBC News this week that everything it did was legal and insisted they never directly generated or sold RINS. The company also distanced itself from its partner Verdeo, even though one of Verdeo’s former names was Bioversel Trading (US), and Arie Mazur of Bioversel Trading (Canada) was a former director and executive of the US company.
Bioversel Trading of Toronto is at the centre of a probe by the European Union and the CBSA, which claims in search warrant documents (executed on their Toronto office last spring) that the firm is suspected of exporting American biodiesel to Romania and Italy while saying it was Canadian, to avoid huge duties. That would amount to violations of the Customs Act – but have never been proven. Bioversel Trading flatly rejects the CBSA allegations.
The Bioversel family of companies has changed its names in Canada and the U.S., and has also been embroiled in several lawsuits in the U.S. over its trading in biodiesel fuel.
One of the companies that shares the same Toronto office space, once known as Bioversel Sarnia Inc., is now known as Great Lakes Biodiesel (GLB), which is planning to open a biodiesel plant in Welland, Ont. Mazur’s lawyer said Mazur is no longer a director of Great Lakes, but confirms a Mazur’s involved in, Einer Canada, is a shareholder of GLB.
If it opens in early 2013 and meets its production targets, Great Lakes Biodiesel is eligible for $65 million in Canadian government subsidies over the next five years under the federal eco energy biofuels incentive program.
Republished with permission.
By John Nicol and Dave Seglins, CBC News
CN Rail nets $2.6M to move shipments nowhere
A CBC news investigation has uncovered a mystery involving unexplained shipments of biodiesel tanker cars moved between Canada and the United States, and back again, that were never unloaded.
According to leaked internal CN documents, the rail company stood to make $2.6 million for the effort.
“CN received shipping directions from the customer, which, under law, it has an obligation to meet,” CN Rail spokesperson Mark Hallman said last week. “CN discharged its obligations with respect to those movements in strict compliance with its obligations as a common carrier, and was compensated accordingly.”
When asked whether CN wasn’t helping to do something strange, Hallman responded: “CN met its obligations as a common carrier and we have no further comment.”
CN employees, although guarded, were more candid.
By Paul Joseph Watson
Dozens of outraged residents attended a Houston METRO board meeting yesterday to express their disgust at how TSA workers were used to interrogate passengers on buses during a so-called “anti-terror” exercise last week.
Complaining of how their fourth amendment rights were violated, residents were joined by several prominent lawyers in an extraordinary backlash against the federal agency and local authorities.
The meeting was dominated by more denials on behalf of METRO that warrantless bag searches had occurred during the drill, labeled BusSafe, which was billed as a counter-terror exercise yet only managed to snag alleged prostitutes and drug users.
Despite the fact that the METRO’s official website stated after the exercise that “Law officials performed random bag checks,” in addition to a press release before the exercise that stated bag checks would take place, METRO officials continued to deny that any bag searches had occurred besides those where the passenger had been coerced into giving permission.
“On April 13, the METRO Police Department invited TSA to be a part of its bus-safe exercise. METRO said then and repeated for days afterwards there would be random searches of bus and train passengers’ bags,” reports ABC 13.
What definitely did take place was police officers and TSA agents interrogating passengers about their behavior and journey details.
“METRO and TSA were going onto the buses and questioning people about their normal routes and their normal behavior, and it just kind of creates an atmosphere of fear,” said METRO rider Derrick Broze.
“I don’t feel like by purchasing a ticket or riding a bus that I have to forfeit my Constitutional rights and my protections and be subject to search or seizure,” Broze told METRO board members. “We don’t plan on letting this issue die if the TSA stays in our city.”
A photo taken by Broze’s friend shows a ‘TSA Inspector’ looking at a passenger’s bus ticket.
“You’ve gone one step too far by bringing the TSA into our house,” another resident fumed.
Our last hope, so don’t be a “party” tool!
Now more than every we need the Champion of the Constitution!
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!
By: Ethan A. Huff
Taxpayers slapped with $32 billion bill to pay for TSA molestation of their children and seniors
According to a recent Reuters report, the administration wants to charge airlines a $100 departure fee for every commercial, business, and other type of jet that takes off from an airport. The plan would also eliminate federal grant funding for medium and large-sized airports to complete construction projects, which means the airports would have to significantly raise fees for travelers and airlines in order to cover these costs.
This massive proposed shakedown of Americans who utilize air travel would not be necessary, of course, if the TSA and its pseudo-security monstrosity was simply eliminated altogether, as is one of the proposed plans being made by 2012 presidential candidate and Texas Representative Ron Paul. If airports and airlines were permitted to simply establish their own air travel screening protocols, in others words, none of these federal fees would even be necessary.
But being the war-mongering globalist that he truly is, Obama would rather have air travelers directly cover the costs of TSA goons digging around in granny’s underwear, or taking off the diapers of young children. In essence, he would rather that every air traveler pay directly to be blasted with ionizing radiation in the backscatter x-ray machine, or to be molested by the prodding hands of a TSA screener.
What this will all accomplish, of course, is the utter destruction of the private airline industry, which is already having a difficult time staying afloat as frustrated travelers increasingly choose other forms of travel to avoid being illegally groped and screened. And just like General Motors, the endgame of this scenario is the takeover of the airlines industry by the federal government.
Sources for this article include:
Scary! Filmed today 1/20/2012 in Watsonville, CA South of Santa Cruz going South
I began filming this after a dozen or so train cars went by on a stretch of track south of Santa Cruz California. Where are the military vehicles going? Why are they being shipped? What could this possibly be for? Barack Obama, what are you up to? We want answers…..
Either way, we are paying for it or now owe more for it. The military industrial complex that profits from war does not care where the funding comes from, it simply wants more to increase profits. War is big business, and I am just referring to the manufacturing side that we the people are paying for. This does not include the opium trafficking that is widely reported on and the horrible loss of life.
Should you ever choose to truly support or great military people you can pass on the cute ribbon decal or bumper sticker. Show real sincerity, vote to bring the troops home! There is only one candidate not preaching fear and needless wars, Dr. Ron Paul.
Please visit Ron Paul’s official campaign site by following the link below and donate today!
The Transportation Security Administration had quite a year of free publicity in 2011, including headline-grabbing news of agents groping grandmas, fondling supermodels, joking about passengers’ “junk” while virtually disrobing them and pilfering possessions from luggage.
In 2012, the agency is planning to expand its operations at train stations, subway stations, ferry docks and other transportation hubs.
Special TSA teams conducted 9,300 surprise inspections at non-airport facilities in 2011 alone. The Department of Homeland Security is pressing Congress to pay $24 million more for 12 additional roving units next year.
The Los Angeles Times reports that these teams — called “viper” units, with 25 currently operational — drop in at transportation facilities and conduct random inspections.
Not everyone is convinced that the teams are necessary, with critics referring to the operations as “security theatre.”
“It’s a great way to make the public think you are doing something,” Fred H. Cate, a professor at the Indiana University Maurer School of Law, told the Times. “It’s a little like saying, ‘If we start throwing things up in the air, will they hit terrorists?’”
In 2011, a variety of libertarian, progressive and tea party advocates vented about the intrusive nature of TSA procedures, also referring to them as “political theatre.”
Upset airport passengers have staged a variety of protests against the agency, with some selecting to remove all of their clothes at airport checkpoints and others plotting mass civil disobedience with a 2010 national opt-out day.
Republican presidential candidate and Texas Rep. Ron Paul, a chief congressional opponent of the agency, is sponsoring the “American Traveler Dignity Act,” which would remove TSA agents’ immunity from prosecution for carrying out invasive procedures. In July, Paul called for the TSA to be abolished.
TSA officials told the Times that the mobile “viper” units have not foiled any known terror plot.
A burgeoning story is the failure of China’s much-hyped infrastructure projects.
The country’s high-speed rail has really come under a lot of suspicion due to high costs, performance that’s less than what was promised, and straight up failures.
The latest: A bullet train has derailed on a bridge, leading to this awful image posted on Sina Weibo:
Image: Wikimedia Commons
According to AFP, the crash occurred at 8:30 PM local time on the line that went from Hangzhou to Wenzhou.
Update: Sadly, 11 people are reported to have been killed in the accident.