TagU.S. Environmental Protection Agency

New study confirms the worst about toxic dispersant in the Gulf

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In 2010, I was part of an alliance of environmentalists and others who pleaded with the federal government to work with BP in ending the widespread use of the toxic chemical called Corexit. This dangerous substance was being sprayed, in large quantities, to make the crude oil from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe disappear. It seemed clear from Day One that simply spraying another poisonous...

EPA’s disaster in Colorado is also a warning

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There has been a terrible — and completely unexpected — environmental catastrophe in Colorado. Work crews for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, undertaking a long-delayed project to deal with the hazard of wastewater from abandoned mines in and around the city of Durango, saw the accidental collapse of a barrier and a torrent of highly polluted water flowing into local rivers...

Obama gets it right on climate change

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Here we go on the political see-saw with President Obama. Just last week, it was a sharp move down, as the White House continued to knuckle under to Big Oil interests on the critical issue of offshore drilling as it signed off on the risky practice of offshore drilling in the Arctic while continuing to promote new oil exploration in the Atlantic and elsewhere. The administration’s pro...

The Supreme Court’s mercury poisoning

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There’s been a lot of excitement about the U.S. Supreme Court as it wrapped up its 2014-15 session, and understandably so. On Friday, many people took to the streets in celebration when the High Court ruled that same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states. In fact, that ruling was held up as a sign that the nine justices were, as a whole, becoming more liberal — building upon two...

Flawed EPA study still confirms fracking can pollute your water

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One of the biggest questions that’s hovered out there since the fracking boom first entered the public’s consciousness about five years ago is this: Is unconventional oil-and-gas drilling safe for the water supply. The industry’s position is that fracking can’t affect people’s drinking water because the extraction process takes place too far below that groundwater...

Dumping on Louisiana’s poorest communities

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It’s something of a mixed blessing working as an environmental attorney in Louisiana. On one hand, the power and prevalence of the state’s oil refineries, offshore drilling and chemical plants means that there’s no shortage of environmental cases to handle. On the other hand, it’s been simply heartbreaking to watch what the rise of locals call “Cancer Alley”...

The feds act on toxic oil-spill dispersants — too little, too late

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One of the many battles with Big Oil that I chronicle in my new book — Crude Justice: How I Fought Big Oil and Won, and What You Should Know About the New Environmental Attack on America — is the fight over BP’s handling of the Deepwater Horizon disaster in 2010. The action peaked during the darkest days of the spill that poisoned the Gulf with 5 million barrels of oil. While...

Amid talk of EPA rollback, Texas chemical leak kills 4

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There’s been a lot of news on the environmental front this week, most of it concerning the intersection between our fragile ecology and our broken politics. Word that the Republican Party re-took control of the U.S. Senate and amped up its big majority in the House of Representatives has also led to increased speculation that the GOP’s No. 1 priority will be a crusade against...

The watchdogs have changed since BP’s spill…they’ve gotten worse

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They promised us it was going to be different the next time. What else could they say after the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe four years ago, when 11 people lost their lives and so much crude oil spewed forth into the Gulf. The BP oil spill was, first and foremost, a failure of corporate responsibility, with a culture that was geared toward cutting costs and maximizing profits, not toward dealing...

Big Oil and toxic sludge: The problem that won’t go away

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Fracking has caused a lot of Americans to focus on the alarming environmental practices of the U.S. oil and gas industry, and that’s perfectly understandable. For one thing, the term “fracking” is still new and  scary sounding to some, and perhaps funny sounding to others. Perhaps more importantly, the boom in unconventional gas drilling has come to a lot of parts of the...

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