CategoryHuman Interest

A GOP governor’s surprising stand against fracking

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Despite the growing evidence about problems from tainted wells to earthquakes, it’s taken a while for opposition to fracking to build, especially among our elected officials. Back in the mid-2000s when the boom in unconventional drilling for natural gas and oil was just taking off, many governors and other politicians were sold on the promise of new jobs and that natural gas would be a...

Good news and bad news in the quest for safe tap water

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Late last year, I told you about the dire situation in the small, mostly black and underprivileged Louisiana community of St. Joseph. For years, residents had complained about the brackish and discolored water that flowed from their tap. But a largely unresponsive City Hall ignored those complaints, as did mostly unaware state and federal regulators. When the city water was finally tested in...

Too early spring

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The book that triggered the environmental movement in America was Silent Spring, published by Rachel Carson in 1962. The subject of the book was the indiscriminate use of pesticides such as DDT — which was banned by the federal government a few years later, in part a result of the outcry that Carson had raised. The title refers to the fact that flagrant abuse of these chemicals was killing...

Why does W. Va. want MORE toxic water pollution?

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It wasn’t that long ago when the issue of water pollution in West Virginia was front-page national news. You may remember the incident that happened just over three years ago, in January 2014, involving a company called Freedom Industries. To paraphrase the old Janice Joplin song, “freedom” was just another word, in this case, for corporate neglect. A holding tank filled with...

Here’s more bad news for Louisiana seafood

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One of the first stories that I’ve covered since the very beginning of this blog is the threat to Louisiana seafood. It’s certainly an issue that I can relate to, as a New Orleans native who grew up eating the rich harvest from the nearby Gulf of Mexico. And needless to say, it was particularly heartbreaking in the early days to have to report in the early days of the BP Deepwater...

Fracking spills are worse than they want you to know

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One fact has remained pretty constant since the fracking boom in America began back in the 2000s: Almost any environmental problem has turned out to be worse than the oil-and-gas industry and government regulators want the public to know. When it comes to polluting the wells of people who live near fracking rigs, the industry clings to its story line that fracking can’t possibly pollute the...

Fukushima’s radiation would kill a person in 2 minutes

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Every month or two, I feel that it’s important to check in on the meltdown-ravaged nuclear reactors at Fukushima. It’s been nearly six years since a near “perfect storm” of bad events — a major earthquake, followed by a tsunami making a direct hit on the four-reactor power plant on the Japanese coast — caused the worst nuclear accident of the 21st Century...

How Louisiana missed a large oil spill

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One issue that’s come up repeatedly since I launched this website seven years ago has been the multiple failings of Louisiana’s state environmental regulators, especially when it comes to reining in the state’s powerful oil and natural gas interests. For decades, under both Republican and Democratic governors, the regulatory agencies in Baton Rouge haven’t been up to snuff...

Flooding of Atlantic coastal cities about to get a lot worse

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If you live near the Atlantic Ocean — and millions of Americans do, along the most densely populated stretch of the nation — then you know the coastal flooding is always in the background. When a big storm like a Nor’easter barrels its way up the Eastern Seaboard, cities from Miami Beach all the way up to Maine can expect some beach erosion and possibly a couple feet of water...

Hitting the Dakota Access pipeline where it hurts

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Things are stirring again with the Dakota Access pipeline. It was late last year, near the end of his term, when then-President Barack Obama handed a victory to activists seeking to block the opening of the $3.8 billion project. This is the pipeline which aims to ship fracked oil from the Bakken field in North Dakota across the U.S. Heartland to refineries and ports on the Gulf Coast — and...

Stuart H. Smith is an attorney based in New Orleans fighting major oil companies and other polluters.
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