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Exxon weasels their way out of paying for their Arkansas oil spill

The tar sands-derived compound that spilled all over Arkansas isn't legally defined as oil, so Exxon won't pay cleanup costs. Exxon's Duck-Killing Pipeline Won't Pay Taxes To Oil Spill Cleanup Fund | ThinkProgress
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.

April 01, 2013

40% of stocks are now being traded in unregulated "dark pools"

If you've been wondering where the next financial bubble and crisis will be coming from --like i have--look no further. Rise of Dark-Pool Trading Concerns Regulators - NYTimes.com
The portion of all stock trading taking place away from the public exchanges hit new highs over the last few weeks, amounting to close to 40 percent on several days, up from an average of 16 percent in 2008, according to Rosenblatt Securities. . . . Dark pools, like public exchanges, give investors a place to connect with buyers and sellers of stock, but the pools are subject to less stringent regulations than public exchanges. Often run by big banks, dark pools do not require buyers and sellers to publicly announce their intention to trade stocks, allowing traders and investors to hide behind a veil that only the operator of the pool can penetrate. That appeals to a pension fund that wants to buy a million shares of Ford stock, for instance, because it allows the fund to avoid tipping off competitors who could push the price of the stock up. Investors also have said that they have moved more of their trading into the dark because they have grown more distrustful of the big exchanges like the N.Y.S.E. and the Nasdaq. Those exchanges have been hit by technological mishaps and become dominated by so-called high-frequency traders. But the biggest factor pushing trading away from the public exchanges is the ongoing decline in volatility in stock prices, traders say. When share prices are rising or falling sharply, investors want to quickly and reliably get their trade done, leading to a preference for the safety of an exchange. In calmer trading, on the other hand, the anonymity of dark pools is more attractive. What’s more, dark pools are generally cheaper to use than an exchange. . . .