News Round-Up: June 16, 2011


Today’s essential reads.


The Importance of Groundwater

Republican Assemblyman Peter Lopez, who represents all of Greene County except for Coxsackie and New Baltimore, has fully supported the moratorium passed by the Assembly 91-46 to prevent the state from issuing new hydraulic fracturing permits for one year.

Hondo Firm Cited for Industrial Waste Discharge

A rail transport firm in Hondo has been cited by the state for improperly disposing of industrial waste, some of which was commingled with native dirt stored on property owned by the city of Hondo.

‘Fracking’ for Natural Gas Continues to Raise Health Concerns (VIDEO)

Energy companies are increasingly scouring the country for natural gas. But, as they do so, one of the methods they’re using, known as fracking, is coming under sharp scrutiny in many states. NewsHour correspondent Tom Bearden reports from Colorado.

Pa. Radio Host Says Criticism of Shale Fracking Got Him Fired

A long-time conservative radio talk-show host in Pennsylvania’s rural Fayette County says he was fired because a guest on his show said drilling for gas in the Marcellus shale formation had contaminated the local groundwater supply with bromine. Robert Foltz, who for 10 years had hosted the “Let’s Talk” show on WMBS in Uniontown, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette he was fired just moments after the remarks were made on his show by a local municipal official. The radio station said it would not discuss the firing because it was a personnel matter, but did say the firing had nothing to do with the remarks.


Largest Predicted “Dead Zone” Could Further Stress Gulf In Oil Spill Aftermath

The Gulf of Mexico experiences an annual “dead zone” of oxygen-depleted waters as summer storms in the Mississippi River watershed carry a surge of agricultural fertilizer runoff, animal waste, municipal sewage, and other contaminants downstream to the river’s mouth.

Ethical Lapses: The BP Oil Spill

11 people were killed, hundreds of animals have died and the future consequences of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico are largely unknown. Conclusions from a number of investigations into the Minerals Management Service practices reveal ethical lapses, including the acceptance of gifts, being under the influence of illegal substances while on the job and accounting inaccuracies.

Oil and Gas Companies Increased Reserves, Revenue in 2010

Despite fallout from the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, the 50 largest public oil and gas companies operating in the U.S. posted a stellar comeback year in 2010, experiencing major growth in reserves, revenue and acquisitions over a lackluster 2009, according to a report released this week by Ernst & Young.

Old Harry: Urgent Need for Closer Look

Referring to Roger Taylor’s fine June 14 column on the need to review the proposed Old Harry oil field development plan, there is indeed an urgent need to look more closely. Max Ruelokke is right to request a special panel to do that, even though the Canada-Newfoundland and Labrador Offshore Petroleum Board does not expect “significant adverse environmental effects.” BP didn’t either in 2010, and neither did the captain of RMS Titanic. Expecting has nothing to do with it, since we cannot predict when human error and bad luck will combine to create an oil spill.


Tepco to Build Sarcophagus Over Fukushima Reactor

A similar concrete sarcophagus was built over the remains of the reactors at the Chernobyl power plant after that facility was destroyed in an accident in April 1986.

Beyond Brain Cancer: Other Possible Dangers Of Cell Phones

In a nearly unanimous decision, 31 expert advisers to the World Health Organization (WHO) last week stunned the world’s 5 billion cell phone users and declared radiofrequency and electromagnetic radiation a “possible” cause of brain cancer. Microwave radiation from cell phones joins a list of well-reviewed cancer-causing agents, that includes engine exhaust, some pesticides, lead, coffee and unusually preserved vegetables. (See TIME magazine’s perspective here).

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