Wed, 2014-12-24 15:00Julie Dermansky
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Christmas Parade in the Shadow of an Oil Refinery

The city of Norco, Louisiana, 25 miles from New Orleans, held its annual Christmas parade on December 7th. It is situated on the east bank of the Mississippi River, along the stretch between Baton Rouge and New Orleans that is know to some as “The Petrochemical Corridor” and to others as “Cancer Alley.”

The parade departed from River Road after Santa Claus arrived via helicopter, landing on the levee. A crowd lined Main Street to watch the parade and collect plastic beads and toys thrown from the floats and marchers passing by.

The parade’s backdrop, Shell’s chemical plant and Motiva’s refinery, was a reminder of our relationship to fossil fuels.

Those who live in communities like Norco may benefit from a new rule the Environmental Protection Agency will release in April 2015 in accordance with a consent decree approved by a federal judge earlier this year.

Implementation of the proposed rule “will result in project reductions of 1.760 tons per year of hazardous air pollutants, which will reduce cancer risk and chronic health effects,” according to the EPA.

Here are photos of the parade and a holiday video shot in Norco last year. 

Wed, 2014-12-24 13:34Guest
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Harvard Professor Tribe Makes Peabody Coal’s Case Against Clean Power Plan in The Wall Street Journal

This is a guest post by Climate Nexus.

While many legal experts have already picked apart his argument, Harvard Professor Laurence H. Tribe took his analysis on behalf of the world’s largest privately held coal company against the EPA Clean Power Plan (CPP) to The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page.

The opposition of fossil fuel interests to any climate change law or regulation has long been clear, and Tribe – one of the nation’s premier constitutional scholars – was retained by Peabody Coal to dispute the proposed regulations’ legal foundations.

Tribe’s arguments have already drawn substantive legal criticism:

Tue, 2014-12-23 08:47Graham Readfearn
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Climax Denied As Climate Denial Group Hits Repeat At UN Climate Talks in Lima

You know that weird sensation when you experience something and you immediately get the feeling you’ve seen that very same thing before?

No, I’m not talking about déjà vu.

I’m talking about watching a press conference from climate science denialists at United Nations climate talks.

Specifically, we’re talking about the Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT) whose delegation took up the option of a press conference a couple of weeks ago within the confines of the latest round of international talks in Lima, Peru.

In a flyer promoting its press conference, CFACT declared “UN Allows Debate on Global Warming!” – a declaration that sounded like some kind of breakthrough moment when the UN had finally granted a press conference to climate science misinformers.

Except 12 months earlier, CFACT had also been granted press conference time at the talks in Warsaw, Poland (CFACT has long been accommodated by the UN and has also held press conferences at talks in Bonn, Durban and Doha to name a few). CFACT even survived expulsion when one of its delegates - British hereditary peer Lord Christopher Monckton - was debadged in Doha in 2012 after impersonating an official delegate during talks.

Sun, 2014-12-21 11:25Sharon Kelly
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As New York Bans Fracking, Calls for Moratorium in Pennsylvania Grow Stronger

This week, New York Governor Cuomo announced that his state would ban fracking, due in large part to concerns about impacts on public health. But right across the border in Pennsylvania, one of the fastest-moving shale booms in the country still proceeds at breakneck speed.

While Governor-elect Tom Wolf campaigned on promises to tax shale gas extraction, evidence continued to grow that Pennsylvania has struggled to police the drilling industry or even keep tabs on its activities. A scathing report issued in July by State Auditor General Eugene DePasquale found that record-keeping was “egregiously poor,” and environmental regulators do “not have the infrastructure in place to meet the continuing demands placed upon the agency by expanded shale gas development.”

For the past several years, Pennsylvania has had a history of lax regulation of the shale rush and its impacts on drinking water. For example, in 2011, the state made national headlines for allowing shale wastewater laced with toxic and radioactive materials to be discharged after incomplete treatment into rivers and streams that were not capable of fully diluting the waste, according to internal EPA documents. Even now, toxic waste from the fracking industry is only tracked via industry self-reporting, which a Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation found has led to major gaps in tracking and reporting.

“I think there is a strong feeling in Pennsylvania that what happened in New York is in large part because of the demonstrated damage caused by gas production here,” said Myron Arnowitt, State Director of Clean Water Action.

“It appears that the leadership in New York has been more responsive to what has been happening to Pennsylvanians than the leadership in Pennsylvania.”

Fri, 2014-12-19 19:04Julie Dermansky
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Breaking: Fracking Permit Issued in Louisiana's St. Tammany Parish

The Louisiana Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued a drilling permit for Helis Oil and Gas today, bringing the company one step closer to realizing its ambition to frack in St. Tammany Parish.

Public outcry against fracking in St. Tammany Parish, an area known for its pristine water and picturesque wetlands 40 miles east of New Orleans, was not enough to sway the state agency. But the public's input has led to unprecedented conditions being attached to the permit.


Concerned citizens in St. Tammany Parish fill the bleachers in the Lakeshore High School gym in Mandeville, LA. ©2014 Julie Dermansky

Fri, 2014-12-19 18:27Mike Gaworecki
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New EPA Coal Ash Regulations Are Not Enough To Stop The Next Coal Ash Spill

The Environmental Protection Agency released long-awaited coal ash regulations today, the first rules ever to be imposed on the storage and disposal of the toxic waste left over after burning coal for electricity—the second largest industrial waste stream in the U.S.

But according to Earthjustice and the 10 environmental and public interest groups it represented in suing to force the release of the regulations in the first place, the EPA’s new rules are not nearly stringent enough to stop the next coal ash spill before it happens.

The new rules will not phase out the practice of storing massive quantities of coal ash—which contains highly toxic substances like arsenic, mercury, lead and radioactive uranium—in unlined ponds shored up by earthen dams that are often unstable and likely to fail. This is exactly what happened in the case of the Dan River coal ash spill in North Carolina this past February and the spill in Kingston, Tennessee in 2008 that released 1.1 billion gallons of coal fly ash slurry, covering up to 300 acres of surrounding land.

The typical coal ash dam is built from soil and ash and is used to impound millions of tons of coal ash and wastewater. The majority are over 40 years old, according to Earthjustice, and most do not have monitoring systems in place for detecting leaks of the toxic coal ash slurry they contain.

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