Published: Sunday 16 December 2012
Now, as commercial crops wilt in the dry heat and winds rip the dust loose from American prairies, questions are mounting about whether the EPA should continue to grant exemptions going forward.

Federal officials have given energy and mining companies permission to pollute aquifers in more than 1,500 places across the country, releasing toxic material into underground reservoirs that help supply more than half of the nation's drinking water.

In many cases, the Environmental Protection Agency has granted these so-called aquifer exemptions in Western states now stricken by drought and increasingly desperate for water.

 

EPA records show that portions of at least 100 drinking water aquifers have been written off because exemptions have allowed them to be used as dumping grounds.

READ FULL POST 5 COMMENTS

Published: Friday 12 October 2012
“The financial disclosure system Congress has implemented also does not require the legislators to identify potential conflicts at the time that they take official actions that intersect or overlap with their investments.”

 

As legislators, members of Congress shape the environment where both benefits and detriments to their own fiscal wellbeing can be derived. A recent investigation by the Washington Post has shown the 73 congresspeople engage in practices which leverage their power for a net a financial gain. No one is corrupting these members — they’re doing it to themselves.

The Washington Post reports that:

The practice is both legal and permitted under the ethics rules 

that Congress has written for itself, which allow lawmakers to take actions that benefit themselves or their families except when they are the lone beneficiaries. The financial disclosure system Congress has implemented also does not require the legislators to identify potential conflicts at the time that they take official actions that intersect or overlap with their investments.

The committees rarely discipline their own, instead providing advisory opinions that generally give support and justification to lawmakers who take actions that intersect with their personal financial holdings, according to interviews with nearly a dozen ethics experts and government watchdog groups. And though Congress has required top executive branch officials to divest themselves of assets that may present a conflict, lawmakers have not asked the same of themselves.

While members of Congress are encouraged to consult the ethics committee for advice on whether or not to endorse or vote on a bill that may benefit their or one of their close relatives financial holdings, the committee

Published: Friday 14 September 2012
“Republicans agree it’s good news but blame Obamacare for the fact that employer health-care costs continue to rise faster than inflation.”

 

 

Employer outlays for workers’ health insurance slowed from a 9 percent jump last year to less than half that — 4 percent — this year, according to a new survey from the Kaiser Foundation. Good news?

Our political class believes it is. The Obama administration attributes the drop to the new Affordable Care Act, which, among other things, gives states funding to review insurance rate increases.

Republicans agree it’s good news but blame Obamacare for the fact that employer health-care costs continue to rise faster than inflation. “The new mandates contained in the health care law are significantly increasing the cost of insurance” says Wyoming senator Mike Enzi, top Republican on the Senate health committee.

But both sides ignore one big reason for the drop: Employers are shifting healthcare costs to their workers. (The survey shows workers contributing an average of $4,316 toward the cost of family health plans this year, up from $4,129 last year. Many are receiving little or no employer-provided coverage at all.)

Score another win for American corporations — whose profits continue to be robust despite the anemic recovery — and another loss for American workers.

Those profits aren’t due to a surge in sales. Exports are down (Europeans, Japanese, and Chinese are all pulling in their belts) and American consumers don’t have the dough to buy more.

The profits are largely due to lower corporate costs, especially when it comes to their payrolls. Employer-provided health and pension contributions are shrinking, and the real median wage continues to drop.

High unemployment has given companies more bargaining leverage over their workers, who have to accept lower real pay and benefits or risk losing their jobs.

Published: Monday 20 August 2012
The commission, which proved to be a bust, was headed by co-chairs named by the president. For the Republicans, who since its inception have wanted to destroy this last vestige of the New Deal, it was former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a cadaverous wretch of a man who promptly called the program a “milk cow with 300 million tits.”

 

If you want to know how moribund the Democratic Party is, how completely owned by Wall Street the president is, and how sick our national politics have become, just consider Social Security.

The president, earlier in his term, convened a “blue ribbon” panel, supposedly composed of a “broad spectrum” of opinions from liberal to conservative,” to come up with a plan to “reform” the system.

At issue: It is known that because of the huge number of Baby Boomers -- people born between 1946 and 1964 -- just starting to hit retirement age, and the general aging of the population, the Trust Fund composed of revenues paid into the system by working people will be depleted by about 2033. That would leave current worker taxes covering just 78% of the benefits promised to be paid out the same year, unless something is done sooner to increase revenues or decrease the rate of payouts of those benefits.

The commission, which proved to be a bust, was headed by co-chairs named by the president. For the Republicans, who since its inception have wanted to destroy this last vestige of the New Deal, it was former Wyoming Sen. Alan Simpson, a cadaverous wretch of a man who promptly called the program a “milk cow with 300 million tits.” ‘Nuff said there. Nice pick Barack.

As for his Democratic co-chair, the president named Erskine Bowles. If you wanted to know the views of this former congressman and Clinton advisor on Social Security, you need only learn that in 2011 at a public event, he praised Rep. Paul Ryan, now Mitt Romney's choice for VP, who has said he wants to privatize Social Security, and condemned the president’s last budget proposal as a joke. Barack sure knows how to pick ‘em. Bowles ...

Published: Friday 10 August 2012
“Eventually 120,000 people were forced into 10 remote camps across the western U.S. until the end of World War II.”

 

It is late afternoon. The grounds are quiet and sun-drenched. The waters of Puget Sound lap against the nearby shoreline and a gentle summer breeze blows through. There is a restorative calm to the site, which makes the reality of what took place here seventy years ago all the more jarring.

On March 30, 1942, 227 children, women, and men of Japanese ancestry living on Bainbridge were taken from their homes, rounded up by soldiers armed with rifles fixed with bayonets, and herded onto the Eagledale Ferry Dock. After being transported to nearby Seattle they were sent by train to concentration camps in either Manzanar in California or Minidoka in Idaho. The Bainbridge Island contingent was the first group to be incarcerated under President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066, which, following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, authorized the military to exclude people of Japanese descent from much of the West Coast. Eventually 120,000 people were forced into 10 remote camps across the western U.S. until the end of World War II.

Like many of us, I was taught to call these sites “internment camps,” a term designed to make a distinction between confinement and punishment, which sometimes refers to detaining belligerent armed forces, as spelled out in the Second There is, however, a long history of referring to “a guarded compound for the detention or imprisonment of aliens, members of ethnic minorities, political opponents” as a “concentration camp,” beginning as early as the 18th century in Poland. There is some evidence that FDR himself referred to the U.S. sites as concentration camps. A vigorous discussion about the appropriate term has ensued for decades, with some commentators contesting the ...

Published: Tuesday 26 June 2012
“Over the last year, the Orange County Register has published numerous editorials that falsely portray California’s pollution reduction program as costly, ineffective and arbitrarily imposed by state regulators.”

 

Over the last year, the Orange County Register has published numerous editorials that falsely portray California's pollution reduction program as costly, ineffective and arbitrarily imposed by state regulators. In fact, the program -- which incorporates a cap-and-trade program -- is part of a bipartisan law expected to benefit the state's economy.

 
 

THE OC REGISTER PORTRAYS CLEAN ENERGY PROGRAM AS AN INEFFECTIVE, JOB KILLING TAX IMPOSED BY STATE REGULATORS

OC Register: AB 32 Bill Is "Costly" And "Jobs-Killing." According to the Orange County Register:

READ FULL POST 5 COMMENTS

Published: Sunday 24 June 2012
“Such blackmail deftly plays to our reflexive fears of job outsourcing — and those fears are understandable.”

With states looking to raise taxes on oil and gas production and better regulate the most controversial drilling practices, we can expect industry to soon trot out its tried and true argument against such moves. As they did here in Colorado a few years back when our governor proposed a hike in severance levies, oil and gas companies will promise to leave any place where taxes or regulation increase.

Such blackmail deftly plays to our reflexive fears of job outsourcing — and those fears are understandable. Indeed, in a "free-trade" era that has seen corporate decision-makers dream of putting "every plant you own on a barge" and shifting production to the lowest-wage nations on earth (a direct quote from GE's then-CEO Jack Welch), offshoring is very real in too many industries.

But, as a new study highlights, when it comes to natural resource extraction, there's a little secret the oil and gas industry doesn't want voters to know: namely, that the "we will leave if you tax or regulate us!" threats are hollow when it comes to fossil fuels thanks to their captive status.

Before we get to the study, remember how energy economics fundamentally differ from those of other industries. Specifically, remember that unlike textile or electronics firms, whose raw material inputs are common and that can therefore move production all over the world, fossil fuel companies are extracting a resource that is relatively rare, altogether finite, and — most important — tied to specific geographies. Additionally, because of both scarcity and consumers' insatiable demand, these resources retain their long-term value like few other commodities, meaning if one company leaves a fossil-fuel-rich area, another will surely move in to exploit the vacuum.

That brings us to the analysis by the nonpartisan Headwaters Economics, which proves ...

Published: Monday 11 June 2012
Published: Saturday 19 May 2012
“Released earlier this month, the proposed rule is now open for public comment. While the regulations it contains are a significant step forward, they've disappointed environmentalists and watchdogs who hoped that the Obama administration would lead by example.”

Nearly two years after Wyoming became the first state to regulate high-volume hydraulic fracturing, the federal government is finally taking similar steps to supervise oil and gas drilling on public lands.

 


Released earlier this month, the proposed rule is now open for public comment. While the regulations it contains are a significant step forward, they've disappointed environmentalists and watchdogs who hoped that the Obama administration would lead by example.


Compared to existing state regulations, the federal rule is in the "middle of the pack," said Bruce Baizel, senior staff attorney at Earthworks, a nonprofit that advocates for responsible oil and gas drilling. "It's not a model leader but it's also not stepping back either."


The proposed rule will require operators to test for leaks, create a plan for managing wastewater and reveal some of the chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.


Regulating these activities will "ensure the health and safety of the land and the public ... and raise public confidence in hydraulic fracturing," Bureau of Land Management spokeswoman Megan Crandall told Inside Climate News.


Kathleen Sgamma, vice president of government and public affairs for the industry group Western Energy Alliance, said the BLM regulations will "add more delays and cost onto an already excessively bureaucratic federal process."


At least nine states have adopted new fracking regulations in the past two ...

Published: Saturday 28 April 2012
The Wyoming incident occurred following completion of horizontal drilling, a precursor to the hydraulic fracturing (fracking) of the well, which would’ve occurred in the coming weeks, according to local press accounts.

A potentially dangerous oil well blowout at a Chesapeake Energy site in Wyoming caused at least 60 and perhaps 70 residents to evacuate within 5 miles of the disaster for several days until it was contained earlier today. Chesapeake Energy (NYSE: CHK) was drilling the well in the Niobrara Shale region underlying parts of Wyoming, Colorada, and Nebraska. 

"Potentially explosive methane gas roared from the ground at the site five miles northeast of the town of Douglas," the AP reported.

Residents reported hearing the roar of escaping gas six miles away

The blowout occurred Tuesday afternoon at Chesapeake's Combs Ranch Unit well site. However, workers were unable to plug the well with drilling mud until today due to shifting winds that made the site too dangerous to attempt the now infamous "Top Kill" technique.  Halliburton subsidiary Boots & Coots workers were able to shove enough mud and other materials into the well to finally stop the methane gas leaking out of the well today.

Chesapeake had to resort to the "Top Kill" technique last year at a 

Published: Wednesday 18 April 2012
“The Buffett Rule, the GOP says, is a gimmick that doesn’t raise enough revenue to merit consideration and is simply a weapon of class warfare, not a means to bring about more equity in America’s tax structure.”

Senate Republicans last night successfully filibustered the Buffett Rule, a minimum tax on millionaires that the GOP has falsely claimed would actually hit small business owners and “job creators.” The Buffett Rule, the GOP says, is a gimmick that doesn’t raise enough revenue to merit consideration and is simply a weapon of class warfare, not a means to bring about more equity in America’s tax structure.

A new report from Innovation Ohio and the Center for American Progress, however, shows that the Buffett Rule is far from just a gimmick. According to the report, some of America’s wealthiest zip codes — ritzy communities like Fisher Island, Florida and Wyoming’s Teton Village ...

Published: Sunday 12 February 2012
“The Lamborn bill is a fossil fuel giveaway, and deserves to be defeated.”

On Feb. 1, the House Natural Resources Committee approved a three-headed monster of an energy bill: drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, drilling off the California coast, and expansion of oil shale drilling. But hey, the bill has the magic word “jobs” in the label, so it’s all good! The committee’s press release trumpets the quantity of oil shale lurking deep under the Green River formation (Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming) and the need for job creators’ certainty.

The committee doesn’t bother with the thirsty facts of oil shale mining. ...

Published: Thursday 29 December 2011
“For the first time, independent scientific investigations linked the drilling technique with water pollution.”

This was the year that "fracking" became a household word.

It wasn't just that environmental concerns about the underground drilling process finally struck a mainstream chord -- after three years of reporting and more than 125 stories. For the first time, independent scientific investigations linked the drilling technique with water pollution, and ...

Published: Friday 9 December 2011
To confirm their findings, EPA investigators drilled two water monitoring wells to 1,000 feet.

In a first, federal environment officials today scientifically linked underground water pollution with hydraulic fracturing, concluding that contaminants found in central Wyoming were likely caused by the gas drilling process.

The findings by the Environmental Protection Agency come partway through a separate national study by the agency to determine whether fracking presents a risk to water resources.

In the 121-page draft report released today, EPA officials said that the contamination near the town of Pavillion, Wyo., 

Syndicate content
Make your voice heard.
Write for NationofChange
More than any other time in the history of the conflict over the tiny ancient land we call Israel...
Part I - David Harris and the American Jewish Congress For reasons unknown I have ended up on the...
For commentators on the payday loans sector, these have had a busy few months with new initiatives...
For commentators on the payday loans sector, these have had a busy few months with new initiatives...
Oncology nurses provide support and care for patients and their families when they're facing a...
The United States can be an exceptional place.   Where else can a talking United States military...
For those of us interested in understanding what is driving the conflict in Ukraine, now seriously...
Information transference has never seen a brighter age in our society. Now with the help of...
The world can be a disheartening place. You turn on the news and hear about the economic turmoil in...
Online classes have become omnipresent in college course catalogs, allowing students to learn from...
You’re an HR professional, which means you’re charged with putting together employment offer...
Before 2008, real estate was the way to make great profits. Between 2008 and 2014, the stock market...
Part I - Rationalizations With the Israelis once more inflicting collective punishment in Gaza (a...
Remember the film Jaws? Remember how the whole town was affected by the presence of the predatory...
What would a psychiatrist call this? Delusions of grandeur? US Secretary of State John Kerry, July...