With each new bit of regulation proposed a screeching chorus rises from industry pronouncing the dire consequences set to befall the country if even the slightest utterance of such rules are dared spoken. How many times have these warnings of cataclysm been heard? And how many times have they come to pass?
A vibrant example of how the political rumor mill has led to false legitimacy from the fair & balanced news media to the halls of Congress and made its way across the country. It is truly amazing how inaccurate statements, or outright lies, can morph into accepted, yet unchecked, fact. This is a disappointing commentary on the state of journalism and public acceptance of anything without verification.
It was a blood-boiler of a story, a menacing tale of government gone too far: The Environmental Protection Agency was spying on Midwestern farmers with the same aerial “drones” used to kill terrorists overseas.
This month, the idea has been repeated in TV segments, on multiple blogs and by at least four congressmen. The only trouble is, it isn’t true.
House Speaker Boehner stepped to the podium in front of an early morning, hastily called press conference. With bright stage lights glistening against his newly bronzed, tanning bed taxed, skin he wipes a slight tear from his left eye. Flanking the Speaker, standing in stark contrast to his blushed appearance, are Eric Cantor – appearing slightly obsequious – and the obligatory “press-conference-third” nondescript, expendable congressman.
“Thank you to the Washington press corps for your attention at this, what I know was a last minute press conference. You may notice a slimmer crowd today but only non-biased outlets were invited to attend. Those identified as members of the ‘liberal media’ were not admitted.”
Oil drilling has sparked a frenzied prosperity in Jeff Keller’s formerly quiet corner of western North Dakota in recent years, bringing an infusion of jobs and reviving moribund local businesses.
But Keller, a natural resource manager for the Army Corps of Engineers, has seen a more ominous effect of the boom, too: Oil companies are spilling and dumping drilling waste onto the region’s land and into its waterways with increasing regularity.
This is the first Earth Day I have made an effort to take part in its celebration. My regular readers may find this a bit odd given the topics about which I opine. As an educated environmental scientist not taking part in the annual April 22ndobservance in some capacity may well be seen as dipping a toe into the pool of heresy. Perhaps it is. But then again I tend to be Earth Day-ish everyday.
Environmental regulation doesn’t kill jobs; it creates them
In December, the Obama administration approved long-overdue environmental regulations requiring U.S. power plants to reduce emissions of mercury, arsenic, and other toxic metals. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or air toxics rule, is expected to prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths a year and have many other health benefits. And yet conservative members of Congress oppose it.
Here are a series of articles compiled by ProPublica on the issue of fracking in the US from 2004 to 2012. Well worth reading through.
Los Angeles Times, October 2004
ProPublica, November 2008
ProPublica, December 2009
This American Life, July 2011
Much has been made of late about new EPA rules regarding coal-powered powerplants and an apparent ban on any new facilities in the future. The article here dispells some of inaccuate claims and rumors.
Washington Post: On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its first-ever rules on carbon-dioxide emissions from new power plants. These rules are part of the EPA’s program to tackle global-warming pollution. But what sort of impact will they actually have? Not a whole lot — at least for the foreseeable future.
Environmentalists have repeatedly pressed regulators to compel oil and gas companies to report what chemicals they use in the drilling and fracking process. Drilling companies add these chemicals to perform particular functions (for example, to prevent corrosion or give the fluid the right consistency), or leave them in because they’re too expensive to remove. According to a 2011 congressional report, many of the chemicals used can pose a serious health risk. No one knows the exact makeup of the frack mixture, drilling muds and other stuff used at well sites (which change from well to well), but this list breaks down the main ingredients revealed so far. Click on the chemical name for more detailed information.