In recent corporate public relations attempts, BP has tried to shift the public’s focus from its corporate wrongdoing and outright criminal behavior to criticizing BP's victims and their legal representatives. According to a privileged, plaintiff’s attorney work document, BP has dumped over $500 million into PR, attacking “judges, special masters, and claimants’ lawyers - trying to change the focus from its tragic track record of ignoring safety and deepwater despair.”
Farron Cousins's blog
Last Thursday, in one of their final acts before they take the entire month of August off, the Republican-controlled House passed a piece of legislation that would greatly reduce the EPA’s ability to regulate corporate pollution. The vote, according to The Hill, was largely along party lines, with Republicans supporting the bill and Democrats opposing.
The legislation, cleverly titled Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny or REINS, would give Congress the ability to approve or deny any regulations put in place by the EPA, if they cost more than $100 million or any standards that would tax carbon emissions.
The Hill details the conservative reasoning behind the legislation:
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has spent countless taxpayer dollars and man-hours over the last few years investigating the environmental threats posed by hydraulic fracturing (fracking) in many regions across the United States. And when their draft reports showed that the practice was poisoning water supplies, the gas industry stepped in and immediately put a halt to the studies.
According to a new report by ProPublica, the EPA has halted several investigations into the safety of fracking operations in places like Texas, Pennsylvania, and Wyoming.
Most recently, the EPA halted a study on the environmental impact of fracking in Pavillion, Wyoming. The draft report of the study had been finished, but the gas industry intervened and questioned the validity of the study, so the EPA decided to back off and hand over the task of completing the study to the state of Wyoming. The state will finish the investigation, but the funding will come from the natural gas drilling company EnCana. Incidentally, EnCana is responsible for the pollution that the EPA was testing.
And it wasn’t that the EPA didn’t find anything that citizens should be concerned about; quite the opposite is true. In spite of halting the study, the agency still told residents that they should not drink the water coming out of their taps, nor should they use it to bathe because of the chemicals that were found in the tap water.
After decades of operating with complete disregard for the environment, the dirty energy industry finally has to face the music for destroying the wetlands that form a natural barrier against storm damage in the state of Louisiana.
The suit, filed by the board of the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East, claims that the oil and gas industry's irresponsible pipeline placement, drilling, and excavation methods have eroded and polluted vital wetlands in Louisiana.
The New York Times has more:
The board argues that the energy companies, including BP and Exxon Mobil, should be held responsible for fixing damage done by cutting thousands of miles of oil and gas access and pipeline canals through the wetlands. It alleges that the network functioned “as a mercilessly efficient, continuously expanding system of ecological destruction,” killing vegetation, eroding soil and allowing salt water into freshwater areas…
The suit argues that the environmental buffer serves as an essential protection against storms by softening the blow of any incoming hurricane before it gets to the line of levees, flood walls, and gates and pumps maintained and operated by the board. Losing the “natural first line of defense against flooding” means that the levee system is “left bare and ill-suited to safeguard south Louisiana,” the lawsuit says. The “unnatural threat” caused by exploration, it states, “imperils the region’s ecology and its people’s way of life — in short, its very existence.”
The suit alleges that the wetlands, which took more than 6,000 years to form, provide vital protection for the state from the impacts of severe storms, floods, and hurricanes. The degradation caused by the dirty energy industry’s activities leaves the state more vulnerable to the effects of severe weather.
According to a new report, the coal industry’s pollution is contaminating our water supplies, our regulatory agencies, and even our political process. The report, a joint project by the Waterkeeper Alliance, Clean Water Action, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice, and the Environmental Integrity Project, shows that when it comes to spewing toxic chemicals into our waterways, the coal industry is public enemy number one.
The report found that many coal plants across the country are releasing coal ash waste and scrubber waste without any federal oversight, and many are held to standards that are outdated and virtually limitless. Many of the standards currently in place were written more than 30 years ago, and they do not include any regulations on toxic threats that had not yet been identified at the time the original rules were put in place.
A few highlights of the report, from the Sierra Club:
Of the 274 coal plants that discharge coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways, nearly 70 percent (188) have no limits on the toxics most commonly found in these discharges (arsenic, boron, cadmium, lead, mercury, and selenium) that are dumped directly into rivers, lakes, streams and bays.
Of these 274 coal plants, more than one-third (102) have no requirements to monitor or report discharges of these toxic metals to government agencies or the public.
A total of 71 coal plants surveyed discharge toxic water pollution into rivers, lakes, streams and bays that have already been declared impaired due to poor water quality. Of these plants that are dumping toxic metals into impaired waterways, more than three out of four coal plants (59) have no permit that limits the amount of toxic metals it can dump.
Nearly half of the coal plants surveyed (187) are operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit. 53 of these power plants are operating with permits that expired five or more years ago.