Today’s essential reads
A new management plan proposed for the George Washington National Forest would restrict a controversial method of drilling for natural gas deposits that lie beneath much of the 1.1 million acres of woodland.
The New School’s Tishman Auditorium was nearly filled to capacity yesterday afternoon for Water Fight! Fracking, Food, Art & Economy. Lots of great info on the building fight against fracking in the Marcellus Shale–which spans several states in the northeast US, though the focus has largely been in opposing fracking in Pennsylvania, New York, and the Delaware River Basin.
Pennsylvania regulators levied a record fine for contaminating drinking water against major natural gas producer Chesapeake Energy, a move that threatens to intensify a fierce debate over drilling for natural gas in the state.
BP OIL SPILL:
With Democrats citing last year’s oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico as a cautionary tale, the Senate on Wednesday decisively rejected a Republican plan to allow more coastal oil and gas exploration and to speed the issuance of drilling permits to oil companies.
It’s not pretty when several irrational ideas collide. On May 12, the Senate conducted a hearing to discuss the removal of a $2 billion per year tax break for the top five oil companies. The New York Times called the testimony at the hearing “a big whine for big oil.” Eliminating a tax break like this should be a no-brainer, but that idea is blocked by six irrational notions from the right that come together in an explosion of false logic.
Everyone seems to be forgetting about the BP spill — except, of course, for the millions of people still dealing with it every day. So, in an effort to prevent the event from vanishing from our collective memories completely (it seems already to have escaped our finest politicians, who are moving ahead with plans for more offshore drilling) I try to make sure to check in on the Gulf now and again. So here’s a recent development from Pensacola — newly released documents reveal that at least 1,200 oiled birds were officially picked up in that city alone. 800 of them were already dead, and hundreds more died later on. Could this mean that more birds perished in the spill than authorities are letting on?
No one has any lingering doubts that the Corexit brand chemical oil dispersant is nasty stuff. However, the actual formula has been kept secret for weeks despite mounting concerns about its overall toxicity, including a lack of documentation about possible effects on the environment. This week, the EPA published the formulas without fanfare. Neither the public nor Nalco, the manufacturer of Corexit, were notified that the formulas would be released for general review
JAPAN NUCLEAR CRISIS:
Emergency vents that American officials have said would prevent devastating hydrogen explosions at nuclear plants in the United States were put to the test in Japan — and failed to work, according to experts and officials with the company that operates the crippled Fukushima Daiichi plant.
During the last several years, there has been talk of a global “renaissance of nuclear energy”. That was yesterday. Today, the tragic disaster in Fukushima, Japan, has raised worrying questions about the safety standards of existing nuclear power plants.