B12 Solipsism

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Archive for the ‘EPA’ tag

House Republicans Versus Environmental Protection

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A Spy in the House of Sky
A Spy in the House of Sky

GOP assholes taking advantage of the distracted country to attempt to sneak in an eviseration of everything protecting the environment from corporate rape and pillage. A paint-by-the-numbers definition of what Naomi Klein called the Shock Doctrine, aka disaster capitalism…

With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.

One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.

But Democrats argue that the policy prescriptions are proof that Republicans are determined to undo clean air and water protections established 40 years ago.

Many of these new restrictions, they point out, were proposed in the budget debate earlier this year and failed. They are back, the Democrats say, because Republicans are doing the bidding of industry and oil companies.

“The new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber-baron era where there were no controls on pollution from power plants, oil refineries and factories,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, excoriating the proposal on the floor.

Environmental regulations and the E.P.A. have been the bane of Tea Party Republicans almost from the start. Although particularly outraged by efforts to monitor carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas linked to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, freshmen Republicans have tried to rein in the E.P.A. across the board — including proposals to take away its ability to decide if coal ash can be designated as a toxic material and to prevent it from clarifying rules enforcing the Clean Water Act.

Conservatives have been adding amendments at a furious pace. Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, counted more than 70 anti-environmental amendments filed as of Wednesday morning and was monitoring for more.

But Mr. Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that although most of the policy attachments would never become law, the Republican appropriations flurry was still unnerving — and could pose more reason for concern in coming months. ”We are then going to be in a situation again where the Senate and president face the question of whether they are willing to shut down the government or appease a motley group in the House over a spending bill,” he said. “No one knows how that plays out.”

(click here to continue reading House Republicans Try to Roll Back Environmental Rules – NYTimes.com.)

For a complete list of the proposed riders, click here

Written by Seth Anderson

July 31st, 2011 at 8:51 am

Posted in Business,environment,politics

Tagged with , ,

Bush Administration Prevented Regulation of Perchlorate In Drinking Water

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Mendenhall Glacier Melt Off

Mendenhall Glacier Melt Off

Simply and unequivocally criminal. Disgustingly craven, and a lot more besides. We wrote about this travesty back in November, 2008.

The EPA’s controversial 2008 decision not to regulate a drinking water contaminant long connected to impaired brain development and decreased learning capability in infants had more to do with the interests of the Bush administration than with scientific findings regarding its safety, according to a report (146 page PDF) released Tuesday by a congressional watchdog agency, the LA Times reports.

Perchlorate is a toxin in rocket fuel and fireworks, is present in most states’ drinking water, lettuce and milk, and is found in high concentrations near current and former military bases as a byproduct of weapons testing. The E.P.A. currently says it could be contaminating the public wells supplying anywhere from 5 million to 17 million Americans. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) was asked to look into the EPA’s evaluation of the known thyroid-disturbant, and found that the path to the no-regulation decision “used a process and scientific analyses that were atypical, lacked transparency, and limited the agency’s independence in developing and communicating scientific findings.”

Instead of the EPA’s usual process—which begins with creating a work group of “professional staff with relevant expertise from across the agency”—the Agency placed a “less inclusive, small group of high-level officials” in charge of the deliberations.

These high-level members included officials who answered directly to the White House, from the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Department of Energy, the Department of the Interior and the Department of Agriculture. NASA and the Department of Defense were part of the board as well.

Not included in the work group was the Office of Children’s Health Protection, a bureau essentially created for this purpose, despite the EPA’s conclusion of the risk perchlorate poses to pregnant women and children. The chemical can inhibit iodide uptake, causing increased the risk of neurodevelopmental impairment in fetuses of pregnant women, and contribute to developmental delays and decreased learning capability in infants and children, according to the report.

“Everyone who’s paying attention knows that EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson is acutely tuned-in to the political signals coming from the White House – so tuned-in that his conversations with the executive branch have become a form of highly privileged state secret,” Sierra Club Executive Director Carl Pope told NBC in 2008.

 

The GAO report also found significant flaws in the actual testing process. The work group chose to use data from a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report, which was based primarily on the results of a single two-week clinical study which did not include infants or children younger than six years old.

 

(click here to continue reading Bush Administration, Not Science, Prevented Regulation of Toxin In Drinking Water | TPMMuckraker.)

No Dumping - Drains to Creek
No Dumping – Drains to Creek

Luckily, the Obama administration is a huge improvement in this area at least, and reversed this Bush era mistake last February.

Written by Seth Anderson

July 13th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Obama administration seeks stricter limits on mercury pollution

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Tales of the Towering Dead

The smart energy companies are already upgrading their smokestacks – making them more efficient, more modern, better for their investors – but the old guard will fight innovation every step of the way, even if it means reducing life expectancy of humans on earth…

the Obama administration is pushing stringent limits that by 2015 would force every power plant in the nation to capture 90 percent of the mercury in the coal it burns, a standard many plants already are meeting. The proposed rule also would impose tougher limits on lung- and heart-damaging soot and other “air toxics,” including arsenic and chromium.

On Tuesday, industry lawyers, environmental groups and public health advocates will converge in Chicago for a daylong hearing on the administration’s proposal, which has prompted an intense lobbying effort from some power companies that are trying to delay or kill the rule.

Echoing claims made during past debates about antipollution measures, opponents say tough national standards on mercury and other toxic air pollution will force dozens of coal plants to shut down, costing jobs and making the nation’s electrical grid less reliable.

But some power companies already have moved to clean up their coal plants. And supporters note that recent power auctions guarantee there will be enough electricity to meet demand for years after the rule takes effect, even if some older plants are shuttered.

“It is disappointing, irresponsible and coldhearted for the power companies that are operating these plants not to make the sensible, relatively easy and inexpensive changes the (Environmental Protection Agency) is requesting,” said Mary Gade, a Chicago lawyer who served as President George W. Bush’s regional EPA administrator.

Coal-fired power plants are the biggest man-made source of mercury contamination, one of the last kinds of pollution to be targeted for limits under the federal Clean Air Act. Uncontrolled for years, the pollution is so pervasive that Illinois and 43 other states advise people, especially women of childbearing age and young children, to avoid or limit eating certain types of fish because they often are contaminated with high levels of the toxic metal.

(click here to continue reading Air pollution: Obama administration seeks stricter limits on mercury pollution from power plants – chicagotribune.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

May 24th, 2011 at 2:28 pm

Obama EPA orders cleanup of the Chicago River

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Intrepid Explorers

Awesome news, actually. Mayor-elect Rahm Emanuel will have a good way to start helping the City of Chicago improve…

Michael Hawthorne reports:

The Obama administration is ordering an ambitious cleanup of the Chicago River, a dramatic step toward improving an urban waterway treated for more than a century as little more than an industrialized sewage canal.

In a letter obtained Wednesday by the Tribune (PDF), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency demands that stretches of the river must be clean enough for “recreation in and on the water,” a legal term for recreational activities including swimming and canoeing. The order also applies to two connected waterways, the Cal-Sag Channel and Little Calumet River.

If state officials fail to adopt more stringent water quality standards, the “EPA will promptly do so itself” by invoking its authority under the federal Clean Water Act, the agency’s top water official told Lisa Bonnett, interim director of the Illinois EPA.

“A decade of investments in walkways, boat ramps and parks have provided people with access to the water,” Susan Hedman, the U.S. EPA’s regional administrator, said in a statement. “And now we need to make sure the water is safe.”

Federal officials have been suggesting the river improvements for more than a year but took more aggressive action because they believed state regulators haven’t gone far enough. Complying with the order likely will require more expensive sewer bills in Chicago and the Cook County suburbs, where homeowners and businesses pay among the nation’s lowest costs for treating human and industrial waste.

The nine-page order goes far beyond standards adopted last year by the Illinois Pollution Control Board, a state rule-making panel. The state’s plan limits disease-causing bacteria in the river, but only to a point considered safe enough for paddlers and boaters who briefly fall into the water.

What the Obama administration is envisioning sets the bar higher. As a result, two of the Chicago-area’s massive sewage-treatment plants would need to be overhauled to disinfect partially treated human and industrial waste that churns endlessly into the waterways. Chicago is the only major U.S. city that skips that important germ-killing step. Until now, the river and its connected waterways have been exempt from the toughest provisions of the Clean Water Act because it was long assumed that people wouldn’t want to come near the fetid channels.

(click here to continue reading Water pollution: Obama EPA orders dramatic cleanup of the Chicago River – chicagotribune.com.)

A few photos of the Chicago River. More here

Herd of Kayaks

Looking For a Piece of Something - EPP

Kayaking after the War

Paddling Down the Chicago River

Chicago River at Dusk

crazy race

Chicago River Taxi is Yellow

 

You Can Spend Your Whole Life

Chicago River Scene Velvia

Summer of George

 

Written by Seth Anderson

May 12th, 2011 at 10:54 am

GOP Wins Deep Cuts in Environment Spending, Earth Loses

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Petty Sacrifices

Yes, the GOP won, in the short term. But I’d argue we all lose if the air we breathe is tainted with toxicity, if the water we drink is full of carcinogens, if the soil our food is grown is destroyed with heavy metals, or worse. So I wouldn’t want to start doing a jig in celebration. I’d rather mourn that so-called conservatives have no interest in conserving the only planet we have.

In negotiating the budget deal that averted a government shutdown, Democrats and the White House claimed a big victory in preventing Republicans from blocking a set of environmental regulations. But as details of the compromise became known Tuesday, it was clear Republicans had won deep reductions in spending at the Environmental Protection Agency.

Under the deal headed to House and Senate votes by the end of this week, the EPA’s 2011 budget would be reduced by 16% from 2010 spending, taking it to $8.7 billion.

That reflects the kind of tradeoffs each side made in the negotiations over the bill. The legislation doesn’t include most of the policy provisions that Republicans proposed to block funding for key administration priorities on health care, the environment and other issues. But Republicans found Democrats moving more than halfway in the compromise over how much to cut spending in the $1.05 trillion bill for the remaining six months of the 2011 fiscal year.

The EPA was also a major focus of both parties. The deal didn’t include a Republican-backed measure that would have stripped the agency of its authority to regulate greenhouse gases and other pollutants. But the bill cuts $1.6 billion from the agency.

“The Obama administration has dumped money into the EPA over the past two years, and what the American people have seen as a result is a slew of new regulations pouring out of the agency,” said Rep. Mike Simpson (R., Idaho). Mr. Simpson, chairman of the Interior subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, helped fashion the EPA cut in the spending deal.

On Mr. Obama’s watch, the EPA’s budget has risen sharply, to $10.3 billion in the 2010 fiscal year, after years in which its funding hovered between $7.5 billion and $7.7 billion.

Most of the EPA cuts will reduce aid to help states implement health and environmental-protection laws. Mr. Obama had proposed cutting those programs, but only by about $200 million.

“These federal cuts make our job to provide a clean environment that much harder,” said R. Steven Brown, the agency’s executive director, who said the practical effect would be to derail roughly $1 billion in improvements to sewage-treatment and drinking-water plants.

The deal also cuts by $149 million, or 33%, a federal fund for buying land for environmental purposes. Programs related to climate change would be cut by $49 million, or 13%.

The position of the president’s special adviser on climate change would be eliminated.

(click here to continue reading GOP Wins Deep Cuts in Environment Spending – WSJ.com.)

Sickening. The EPA is already short-staffed and underfunded; intentionally gutted so as to not be able to enforce existing regulations. Now big businesses will have even less of a fear of being cited for destroying the environment. Again, we all lose.

Written by Seth Anderson

April 13th, 2011 at 11:23 am

Posted in environment,government

Tagged with ,

The Man With the Snow Job

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Visitors on Snowy Streets

Proving once again that Illinois elected a moron for our Senator, Mark Kirk blamed Al Gore’s divorce for the lack of climate change bill in Congress. Yeah, I know, it doesn’t seem to make much sense to me either.

Gail Collins writes, in part:

Al Gore, on the phone between plane flights Wednesday, of course, pointed to global warming. “Here’s a basic fact,” he said. “There is about 4 percent more water vapor in the atmosphere today than there was in 1970.” That extra water, he said, is because of warmer oceans and warmer air, and is returning to earth as extra-heavy rain and snow.

Remind me again why we aren’t fighting global warming? It’s win-win. Even if all the hordes of scientists are wrong in believing that human beings are causing climate change, the remedies would still be good for the environment and for energy independence.

…We could blame President Obama for doing health care reform instead of global warming, but Congress is even more afraid of the energy lobby than the insurance companies. The president seems to be planning to do what he can by regulation. That prospect makes Republicans so angry that they’re introducing legislation to prohibit the Environmental Protection Agency from using its powers under the Clean Air Act to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Obviously, there is nothing more nefarious than having the agency in charge of protecting the environment use the clean air law to keep harmful gases out of the atmosphere.

The Senate sponsor is James Inhofe of Oklahoma, who recently claimed that the supercold winter proves that theories about global warming are “an intellectual fraud.” We could blame Senator Inhofe, but he really isn’t all that satisfactory a villain. It’d sort of be like blaming nuclear proliferation on gophers.

Another opponent of E.P.A. action, Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, used to be aligned with the environmentalists — until he left his moderate House district to run in a Republican Senate primary and abruptly switched positions. Defending himself in a recent interview with Greenwire, Kirk claimed that there was no longer real support for a climate change bill because of “the personal and political collapse of Vice President Gore.”

In other words, environmental warrior Al Gore is responsible for the weather, as well as the pathetic wimpiness of Mark Kirk.

(click here to continue reading The Man With the Snow Job – NYTimes.com.)

Really? Facts are facts, but because someone who popularized the fact went through a public divorce, the facts don’t matter anymore? Lame.

Written by Seth Anderson

February 3rd, 2011 at 11:31 am

Posted in environment

Tagged with , ,

Coal Tar Toxic, EPA Indifferent

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Everything Is Political

If only there was some regulatory agency that protected the interests of people and the environment…

Michael Hawthorne of the Trib writes:

If a company dumped the black goop behind a factory, it would violate all sorts of environmental laws and face an expensive hazardous-waste cleanup.

But playgrounds, parking lots and driveways in many communities are coated every spring and summer with coal tar, a toxic byproduct of steelmaking that contains high levels of chemicals linked to cancer and other health problems.

Nearly two decades after industry pressured the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to exempt coal tar-based pavement sealants from anti-pollution laws, a growing number of government and academic studies are questioning the safety of the widely used products. Research shows that the tar steadily wears off and crumbles into contaminated dust that is tracked into houses and washed into lakes.

In Lake in the Hills, a fast-growing McHenry County suburb about 50 miles northwest of Chicago, researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey found that driveway dust was contaminated with extremely high levels of benzo(a)pyrene, one of the most toxic chemicals in coal tar. The amount was 5,300 times higher than the level that triggers an EPA Superfund cleanup at polluted industrial sites.

(click to continue reading New doubts cast on safety of common driveway sealant – Chicago Tribune.)

…because profits for industry always seem to trump petty health concerns as far as the EPA is concerned:

Despite the EPA’s long-standing worries about the chemicals, industry successfully lobbied to exempt coal tar pavement sealants when the agency tightened hazardous-waste rules for coke ovens during the early 1990s. The little-noticed change made it easier for manufacturers to keep selling the products, which can contain as much as 30 percent coal tar by weight.

Agency spokesmen declined to make anyone available to discuss the exemption, but said in a statement there are no plans to revise it. “EPA regulations allow for the legitimate recycling of coal tar under certain specified parameters,” the statement said.

Scientists started to track the movement of coal tar sealants into homes and lakes about a decade ago, after pinpointing the source of alarmingly high levels of PAHs in Barton Springs, a popular swimming hole in Austin, the Texas capital. Tom Bashara, an environmental investigator, noticed that pollution hotspots in a creek flowing into the pool were near parking lots coated with coal tar.

In Austin, the scientists also found that dust inside apartments next to parking lots coated with coal tar was 25 times more contaminated than the dust in units next to lots coated with asphalt or left unsealed. Young children could be the most vulnerable to exposure, the researchers concluded, because they play on or near floors where dust collects.

Sick kids? Who cares? Got to ensure quarterly profit margins increase…

Side note, home testing sounds fairly easy:

Q. Is there a test to check if I have coal tar sealant on my driveway?

A. A definitive test is expensive, but officials in Austin, Texas, came up with an alternative. Use a screwdriver or razor blade to scrape off a small amount of pavement sealant and place it in a glass vial filled with mineral spirits. Seal the vial, shake it and allow it to sit for 30 minutes. If the liquid is dark and coffee-colored, the sealant likely is asphalt-based. If it looks like amber-colored tea and remains more clear, assume it’s coal tar-based.

The only definitive way to tell is by checking the CAS number on the product’s material safety data sheet, usually available online or from contractors. The CAS number for coal tar is 65996-93-2.

Written by Seth Anderson

January 18th, 2011 at 11:52 am

What’s in Your Water

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If you are curious what toxic chemicals are in your water, the New York Times took the data from the Environmental Working Group and turned it into a slick little database. Click through, and check out your community:

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines. The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.

(click to continue reading What’s in Your Water – Interactive Feature – The New York Times.)

Written by Seth Anderson

December 20th, 2010 at 10:09 am

Posted in environment,health

Tagged with , ,

hexavalent chromium found in drinking water in Chicago and elsewhere

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Tracing Patterns in the Air

[Lake Michigan, near Green Bay, WI]

Hexavalent chromium1 found in drinking water in Chicago and elsewhere, and yet the EPA refuses to add it to their list of toxins to pay attention to. Criminal oversight, if you ask me.

Michael Hawthorne writes, in part:

The cancer-causing metal made infamous by the movie “Erin Brockovich” is turning up in tap water from Chicago and more than two dozen other cities, according to a new study that urges federal regulators to adopt tougher standards.

Even though scientists at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and National Toxicology Program have linked the ingestion of hexavalent chromium to cancer, the EPA doesn’t require Chicago or other cities to test for the toxic metal. Nor does the EPA limit the dangerous form of chromium in drinking water.

To take a snapshot of what is flowing through taps across the nation, the Environmental Working Group, a Washington-based research and advocacy organization, hired an independent laboratory that found the metal in treated drinking water from 31 cities. The amount in Lake Michigan water pumped to 7 million people in Chicago and its suburbs was 0.18 parts per billion, three times higher than a safety limit California officials proposed last year.

A handful of other cities were significantly above the proposed California limit, including Norman, Okla.; Honolulu; Riverside, Calif.; and Madison, Wis., according to a report to be released Monday. Levels in Milwaukee water were the same as in Chicago.

(click to continue reading Pollution: Dangerous form of chromium found in drinking water in Chicago, other cities – chicagotribune.com.)

We’ve used a reverse osmosis water filter for many years, I hope it filters out hexavalent chromium. Seems like it does

A Screaming Comes Across the Sky

So what is the main cause of this pollutant? Besides a lax, underfunded EPA that is? Industry, of course. Industry that spends millions of dollars defeating regulations that would at least mitigate some of this contamination.

Last year alone, records show, the U.S. Steel and Arcelor Mittal mills dumped a combined 3,100 pounds of chromium into Lake Michigan and its tributaries, less than 9 miles away from Chicago’s water-intake crib off 68th Street. (The federal Toxics Release Inventory doesn’t require industry to report specific types of the metal, but chromium-6 and chromium-3 convert into the other form and back in the environment.)

Indiana officials once sought to relax limits on chromium discharges from U.S. Steel’s massive Gary Works, the largest industrial polluter on the Great Lakes.…Industry has fought for years to block tougher federal and state limits on chromium, which has contaminated drinking water supplies across the country. The award-winning movie “Erin Brockovich” dramatizes one of the most high-profile cases: a miles-long plume of hexavalent chromium dumped by a utility in rural Hinkley, Calif., that led to a $333 million legal settlement over illnesses and cancers.

Update:

If you are curious what specific toxic chemicals are in your water, the New York Times took the data from the Environmental Working Group and turned it into a slick little database. Click through, and check out your community:

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines. The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.

(click to continue reading What’s in Your Water – Interactive Feature – The New York Times.)

Footnotes:
  1. aka chromium-6, a clear cause in stomach cancers []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 19th, 2010 at 6:49 pm

EPA to Delay Enforcing Lead-Paint Regulation

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Lame. Just lame. The EPA shouldn’t value business lobbyists over the nation’s health. Declining Issues

The Environmental Protection Agency has decided to delay enforcing a new lead-paint regulation following pressure from home builders and members of Congress.

The rule would require contractors who work in older homes to become certified by a government-approved trainer and follow a series of safety precautions.

The delay follows an outcry from businesses and trade groups, including the National Association of Home Builders, Home Depot Inc. and Lowe’s Cos., as well as lawmakers in both parties. Industry groups charged the regulation would drive up costs and expose contractors to fines and litigation. Some also contended the regulation could derail Washington’s efforts to promote energy efficiency because EPA has not approved enough instructors for the required training programs.

(click to continue reading EPA to Delay Enforcing Lead-Paint Regulation – WSJ.com.)

 

Written by Seth Anderson

June 21st, 2010 at 8:06 pm

Posted in government,health

Tagged with

Leak from Exelon nuke hits major NJ aquifer

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Speaking of government regulation being half-hearted, notice how this spill occurred in 2009, but nobody seemed to care much at the time.

It Is a Bit of a Joke

Radioactive water that leaked from the nation’s oldest nuclear power plant has now reached a major underground aquifer that supplies drinking water to much of southern New Jersey, the state’s environmental chief said Friday. The state Department of Environmental Protection has ordered the Oyster Creek Nuclear Generating Station to halt the spread of contaminated water underground, even as it said there was no imminent threat to drinking water supplies.

The department launched a new investigation Friday into the April 2009 spill and said the actions of plant owner Exelon Corp. have not been sufficient to contain water contaminated with tritium. Tritium is found naturally in tiny amounts and is a product of nuclear fission. It has been linked to cancer if ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin in large amounts.

“There is a problem here,” said environmental Commissioner Bob Martin. “I am worried about the continuing spread of the tritium into the groundwater and its gradual moving toward wells in the area. This is not something that can wait. That would be unacceptable.” The company did not immediately return messages seeking comment. The tritium leaked from underground pipes at the plant on April 9, 2009, and has been slowly spreading underground at 1 to 3 feet a day.

At the current rate, it would be 14 or 15 years before the tainted water reaches the nearest private or commercial drinking water wells. But the mere fact that the radioactive water — at concentrations 50 times higher than those allowed by law — has reached southern New Jersey’s main source of drinking water calls for urgent action, Martin said.

(click to continue reading Leak from Exelon nuke hits major NJ aquifer | Crain’s Chicago Business.)

Crazy fools, did they think the problem would just solve itself? If corporations want to be treated like people, then corporations that subvert the public interest should lose their corporate charter. Or worse.

Written by Seth Anderson

May 8th, 2010 at 7:12 pm

EPA Plans to slowly regulate emissions

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Speaking of obstructionist asses in the US Senate1, note how Senator Rockefeller words his plea to the EPA.

Sun Like a Drug

Facing wide criticism over their recent finding that greenhouse gases endanger the public welfare, top Environmental Protection Agency officials said Monday that any regulation of such gases would be phased in gradually and would not impose expensive new rules on most American businesses.

The E.P.A.’s administrator, Lisa P. Jackson, wrote in a letter to eight coal-state Democrats who have sought a moratorium on regulation that only the biggest sources of greenhouse gases would be subjected to limits before 2013. Smaller ones would not be regulated before 2016, she said.

“I share your goals of ensuring economic recovery at this critical time and of addressing greenhouse gas emissions in sensible ways that are consistent with the call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation,” Ms. Jackson wrote.

The eight Democratic senators, led by John D. Rockefeller IV(Coal) of West Virginia, said hugely significant decisions about energy, the economy and the environment should be made by elected representatives, not by federal bureaucrats.

The senators, who earlier questioned broad cap-and-trade legislation pushed by the Obama administration, join a number of Republican lawmakers, industry groups and officials from Texas, Alabama and Virginia in challenging the proposed E.P.A. regulations of industrial sources. Senate Republicans are going a step further, seeking to prevent the agency from taking any action to limit greenhouse gases, which are tied to global warming.

[Click to continue reading E.P.A. Plans to Phase in Regulation of Emissions – NYTimes.com]

Don’t do anything, in other words. Senator Rockefeller (Coal) wants climate change policy making to come back to the Senate where it can die the Death of the Thousand Cuts and Additions2, and generally get debated until we’re all dead. In the last 10 years, what climate change policy has the Senate actually passed into law, Senator Rockerfeller (Coal)? I have exactly zero faith in the US Senate accomplishing anything productive, not unless LBJ rises from the grave to give some of the nattering nabobs of the Senate The Treatment.

Footnotes:
  1. aren’t we always??!! []
  2. sometimes called amendments []

Written by Seth Anderson

February 23rd, 2010 at 8:31 am

Tap Water Is Probably Bad For You

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You are much safer drinking tequila than tap water, in the US that is.

Saying goodbye is harder than it seems

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal.

Only 91 contaminants are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act, yet more than 60,000 chemicals are used within the United States, according to Environmental Protection Agency estimates. Government and independent scientists have scrutinized thousands of those chemicals in recent decades, and identified hundreds associated with a risk of cancer and other diseases at small concentrations in drinking water, according to an analysis of government records by The New York Times.

But not one chemical has been added to the list of those regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act since 2000.

[Click to continue reading Millions Drink Tap Water That Is Legal, but Maybe Not Healthy – Series – NYTimes.com]

It is almost as if the US government doesn’t care about the health of its citizens, only about preserving corporate profits.

South branch of the river

If you are curious about your local water, the New York Times has made their findings public, and searchable.

The 35-year-old federal law regulating tap water is so out of date that the water Americans drink can pose what scientists say are serious health risks — and still be legal. Examine whether contaminants in your water supply met two standards: the legal limits established by the Safe Drinking Water Act, and the typically stricter health guidelines. The data was collected by an advocacy organization, the Environmental Working Group, who shared it with The Times.

[Click to continue reading What’s in Your Water – Interactive Feature – The New York Times]

For instance, Chicago tap water has 5 contaminants above health guidelines:
Alpa particle activity, combined radium, lead, Radium-226 and Radium-228, plus another 16 contaminants that are “within legal limits”1: arsenic, barium, chloroform, and so on. Yumm.

Footnotes:
  1. but which should be filtered out, if possible []

Written by Seth Anderson

December 17th, 2009 at 8:05 pm

Reading Around on November 18th through November 19th

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A few interesting links collected November 18th through November 19th:

  • North Branch Railroad Bridge Chicago and North Western Railroad Northwestern Historic Bascule Bridge – Sitting south of the Kinzie Street Bridge, this railroad bridge is always in the up position and is no longer used by trains. …On aesthetic terms, this strange movable bridge is one of only a few bascule bridges in Chicago where the counterweight is above the ground. Like the Lakeshore Drive Bridge, this bascule set records when it was built. At the time of its completion, it was the heaviest as well as the longest bascule leaf in the world! The bridge was built in 1907, with its design being provided by Joseph Strauss, who was an important person who worked to develop the bascule bridge designs, and would often be angry at Chicago since he felt the designs the city was using were to close to his patented designs. The steel superstructure was fabricated by the Toledo-Massillon Bridge Company of Toledo, Ohio. This rail-line was owned by the Chicago and North Western Railway until Union Pacific bought them out in 1995
  • Senators’ Statements — National Geographic Magazine – “To help kick off Geography Awareness Week, National Geographic invited all 100 U.S. Senators to draw a map of their home state from memory and to label at least three important places. Here’s the gallery of maps from the brave Senators who took the challenge. The maps reveal home-state pride, personal history, and even some geographic humor.” Some Senators link everything to their own history, some link to the history of the state itself.
  • Foodie Rant – Properly Sauced? Try Properly Ripped Off. – Chicagoist – Sometimes, one expects to be overcharged. If you’re having a drink at the Signature Room, you’re renting space at the top of the world. If you order a martini at Charlie Trotters, you probably don’t care about the price. On the other hand, when I walk into an average 2-star restaurant and get charged $14 for a martini, I want to go beat the bartender over the head with a bottle. If the martini is bad, as it often is, the situation deteriorates. A decent $14 cocktail is a mild insult; a bad $14 cocktail is a slap in the face.
  • This American Life-307: In the Shadow of the City – Act Three. Yes, In My Backyard.

    The story of the government cracking down on smokestack emissions at a city factory … even though the residents LIKE the emissions. We hear from Jorge Just, who explains the one, magical, special secret about Chicago no one outside Chicago ever believes is true, from Brian Urbaszewski, Director of Environmental Health Programs for the American Lung Association in Chicago; and from Julie Armitage, Manager of Compliance and Enforcement for the Bureau of Air at the Illinois State EPA. (9 minutes)

  • Ebook statistics | swanksalot | LibraryThing – ebooks available – much more than anticipated, many of them free, public domain books. If you are a Library Thing member, this link will link to your bookshttp://www.librarything.com/profile/MEMBERNAME/stats/ebooks

Written by swanksalot

November 19th, 2009 at 1:00 pm

Toxic Water and Your Government

with one comment

This is what happens when you let Republicans and Corporatist Democrats control Congress: there are real consequences to real people, and death panels for all of us.

Saying goodbye is harder than it seems

Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va. In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

When Mrs. Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals — the same pollutants that flowed from residents’ taps.

But state regulators never fined or punished those companies for breaking those pollution laws.

This pattern is not limited to West Virginia. Almost four decades ago, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to force polluters to disclose the toxins they dump into waterways and to give regulators the power to fine or jail offenders. States have passed pollution statutes of their own. But in recent years, violations of the Clean Water Act have risen steadily across the nation, an extensive review of water pollution records by The New York Times found.

In the last five years alone, chemical factories, manufacturing plants and other workplaces have violated water pollution laws more than half a million times. The violations range from failing to report emissions to dumping toxins at concentrations regulators say might contribute to cancer, birth defects and other illnesses.

[Click to continue reading Toxic Waters – Clean Water Laws Are Neglected, at a Cost in Suffering – Series – NYTimes.com]

If you haven’t read this article, you should. There’s also an interactive chart at the NYT worth browsing. There is no money allocated to investigate polluters so that polluting companies can make slightly more profit. Is it worth it?

500,000 violations in five years – that’s a lot of un-investigated crime. If a person committed this many affronts to society in five years, jail would be in their future. A corporation? Not much of a consequence. I say take away their corporate charters, dissolve the company, sell its assets. If the corporation fulfills a needed role in the economy, new, more law-abiding corporations will take the place of the miscreants.

For a closer look at some of the offenders, check out this chart, sortable by zip code, or city, or state. For instance, in Chicago, in the last five years, there are 146 facilities that have permits to discharge pollutants. Of these, zero have been fined, although some have not had their sites inspected since 1978. Hey, see no evil, right?

Like1

Mwrdgc Calumet Wrp 400 East 130th Street, Chicago, Illinois 60628

$0 Total Fines
Total Inspections: 17
Last Inspection: May 10, 1979
Classification: Sewerage Systems

13 Violations

This facility has been out of regulatory compliance 6 of the past 12 quarters.

so, out of compliance more often than not in the last four years, yet hasn’t actually had an on-site inspection2 in more than thirty fracking years. Lovely.

Illinois in general, per the NYT investigation, has 7,304 facilities that are permitted to release some toxic materials into the environment, but of these, again most have not been inspected in many, many years, if ever, despite having thousands of violations cited against these companies. Only three sites have actually had fines levied against them:

Equistar Chemicals, Lp Morris , last inspected – Oct. 4, 1978 – 5 violations fines totaling: $714,200

Mg Industries Mapleton last inspected – Feb. 16, 1995 – 1 violation, fine totaling: $383,501

Kmart Distribution Ctr 8289 Manteno No Information re: last inspection, fine of $102,422

I suspect there is a lot of pollution being released that nobody in the EPA knows about. How about in your state? Aren’t you curious how bad your water is after reading paragraphs like:

In some cases, people got sick right away. In other situations, pollutants like chemicals, inorganic toxins and heavy metals can accumulate in the body for years or decades before they cause problems. Some of the most frequently detected contaminants have been linked to cancer, birth defects and neurological disorders.

Records analyzed by The Times indicate that the Clean Water Act has been violated more than 506,000 times since 2004, by more than 23,000 companies and other facilities, according to reports submitted by polluters themselves. Companies sometimes test what they are dumping only once a quarter, so the actual number of days when they broke the law is often far higher. And some companies illegally avoid reporting their emissions, say officials, so infractions go unrecorded.

Environmental groups say the number of Clean Water Act violations has increased significantly in the last decade. Comprehensive data go back only five years but show that the number of facilities violating the Clean Water Act grew more than 16 percent from 2004 to 2007, the most recent year with complete data.

Footnotes:
  1. The EPA database has more complete details if you are interested. []
  2. that the New York Times could find []

Written by Seth Anderson

September 13th, 2009 at 9:48 pm