Hundreds of protesters have descended on the UK’s largest coal mine, calling for the mining company to shut it down and ditch its plans to dig out a new one next door....
Across the U.S., the shale rush has unleashed a frenzy of excitement about domestic energy supplies.
But the oil and gas produced from fracking comes along with billions of gallons of wastewater and tons of mud and rock that carry radioactive materials and heavy metals.
As problems with disposal mount, the industry has offered mostly vague promises of “recycling” to describe how the waste will be handled over the long run.
As the nation gears up to produce vast amounts of shale oil and gas — and the toxic waste that comes along with it — it’s worth taking a look back at the failures of another industry to handle its toxic waste responsibly — the coal industry.
Communities across America are still struggling to resolve problems left behind decades ago from coal mining and related industrial pollution.
These aren’t merely yesterday’s problems – the ash from burning coal at coal-fired power plants remains the single largest wastestream in the U.S.
Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project published a scathing 124-page report this week, “Breaking All the Rules: the Crisis in Oil & Gas Regulatory Enforcement.”
The content of the report is exactly as it sounds.
That is, state-level regulatory agencies and officials often aren't doing the jobs taxpayers currently pay them to do and aren't enforcing regulations on active oil and gas wells even when required to under the law.
This is both out of neglect and also because they're vastly understaffed and underfunded, meaning they literally don't have the time and/or resources to do proper inspections.
And on those rare instances when regulatory agencies and the regulators that work for them do enforce regulations on active oil and gas wells, Earthworks demonstrated that the penalties for breaking the rules are currently so weak that it's merely been deemed a tiny “cost of doing business” by the oil and gas industry.
On July 26, the Pennsylvania Commonwealth Court** ruled PA Act 13 unconstitutional.*** The bill would have stripped away local zoning laws, eliminated the legal concept of a Home Rule Charter, limited private property rights, and in the process, completely disempowered town, city, municipal and county governments, particularly when it comes to shale gas development.
The Court ruled that Act 13 “…violates substantive due process because it does not protect the interests of neighboring property owners from harm, alters the character of neighborhoods and makes irrational classifications – irrational because it requires municipalities to allow all zones, drilling operations and impoundments, gas compressor stations, storage and use of explosives in all zoning districts, and applies industrial criteria to restrictions on height of structures, screening and fencing, lighting and noise.”
“It’s absolutely crushing of local self-government,” Ben Price, project director for the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), told Rosenfeld. “It’s a complete capitulation of the rights of the people and their right to self-government. They are handing it over to the industry to let them govern us. It is the corporate state. That is how we look at it.”
Where could the idea for such a bill come from in the first place? Rosenfeld pointed to the oil and gas industry in his piece.
That's half of the answer. Pennsylvania is the epicenter of the ongoing fracking boom in the United States, and by and large, is a state seemingly bought off by the oil and gas industry.
The other half of the question left unanswered, though, is who do oil and gas industry lobbyists feed anti-democratic, state-level legislation to?
The answer, in a word: ALEC.
I've been watching AccuWeather.com for a while now, and they have just unleashed a very strange new front for the global warming denier movement.
AccuWeather's very professionally done video blog section, “Headline Earth,” is touting itself as providing “an unbias look at the global warming debate.” And to prove how unbias they really are, they provide none other than Pat Michaels as their featured interview.
And who will they be airing on their next episode? None other than Dr. Fred Singer.