MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Add this to another adverse side effect of fracking: On some major (and secondary routes), long freight trains filled with fracking oils and extraction supplies allegedly delay Amtrak trains for hours, enraging passengers and likely decreasing Amtrak usage on the affected routes.
Although a quick Google search of Amtrak and fracking reveals that this disruption due to fracking shipments has occurred in various parts of the nation, the most affected route appears to be the Empire Builder, which runs from Seattle to Chicago. Indeed, the Midwest Amtrak PR representative, Mark Maglari, referred BuzzFlash at Truthout to an Amtrak service alert warning passengers of delays on the Empire Builder route:
Passengers traveling aboard Empire Builder trains can encounter significant delays due to very high volumes of freight train traffic along the route. During the previous weeks in May and June, delays averaged between three and five hours. While delays to the Empire Builder have primarily been occurring west of St. Paul, MN, passengers should anticipate delays in both directions.
Maglari pointed out what is confirmed by other sources: BNSF Railway Company owns the tracks that Amtrak uses in North Dakota. Given that the tracks are the property of BNSF, it decides which trains have de facto priority passage (even though a federal law is supposed to give priority to Amtrak), and it has apparently given fracking and oil container car shipments passage scheduling times that impede the passage of Amtrak passenger trains (and, apparently, trains carrying farm goods that are perishable).
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
CO2, Methane, and Brine Leakage through Subsurface Pathways: Exploring Modeling, Measurement and Policy Options is a first-of-its-kind study from Mary Klang that describes how abandoned oil wells serve as leakage pathways for carbon dioxide, methane, brine and more.
Based on records, Kang estimates that between 280,000 and 970,000 abandoned wells account for 4 to 13 percent of the state's methane emissions.
Three of the 19 wells measured by the team are considered high emitters. Leakage was found in both plugged and unplugged wells.
WALTER BRASCH FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Persons living in the Mid-Atlantic and New England states will experience increased rainfall and floods if data analysis by a Penn State meteorologist and long-term projections by a fisheries biologist, with a specialty in surface water pollution, are accurate.
Paul Knight, senior lecturer in meteorology at Penn State, compiled rainfall data for Pennsylvania from 1895—when recordings were first made—to this year. He says there has been an increase of 10 percent of rainfall during the past century. Until the 1970s, the average rainfall throughout the state was about 42 inches. Beginning in the 1970s, the average began creeping up. "By the 1990s, the increase was noticeable," he says. The three wettest years on record since 1895 were 2003, 2004, and 2011. The statewide average was 61.5 inches in 2011, the year of Tropical Storm Lee, which caused 18 deaths and about $1.6 billion in damage in Alabama, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Texas, and devastating flooding in New York and Pennsylvania, especially along the Susquehanna River basin.
Dr. Harvey Katz, of Montoursville, Pa., extended Knight's data analysis for five decades. Dr. Katz predicts an average annual rainfall of about 55 inches, about 13 inches more than the period of 1895 to 1975. The increased rainfall isn't limited to Pennsylvania, but extends throughout the Mid-Atlantic and New England states.
Both Knight and Dr. Katz say floods will be more frequent. The industrialization and urbanization of America has led to more trees being cut down; the consequences are greater erosion and more open areas to allow rainwater to flow into streams and rivers. Waterway hazards, because of flooding and increased river flow, will cause additional problems. Heavy rains will cause increased pollution, washing off fertilizer on farmlands into the surface water supply, extending into the Chesapeake Bay. Sprays on plants and agricultural crops to reduce attacks by numerous insects, which would normally stay localized, will now be washed into streams and rivers, says Knight.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
The recent White House announcement of executive branch-mandated carbon cuts has evoked much debate about whether the incremental step is going to have any significant impact on rolling back the global warming juggernaut.
According to Environmental Protection Agency Chief Gina McCarthy, however, a key objective of the federal regulation to cut back on coal power plant emissions is not in question. McCarthy, in a meeting with Chicago corporate executives, revealed that the White House's primary aim in implementation of moderately increased carbon cutback requirements is to kick-start the US nuclear power industry.
In a June 18 business section article of The Chicago Tribune, Julie Wernau reports:
Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy said Tuesday that the federal agency's proposed carbon rules are designed to boost nuclear plants that are struggling to compete.
“There are a handful of nuclear facilities that because they are having trouble remaining competitive, they haven't yet looked at re-licensing (to extend their operating lives). We were simply highlighting that fact,” McCarthy said at a round-table discussion with business leaders in Chicago.
The comments by the highest-ranking official charged with carrying out the Obama administration's environmental policies firmly positions the U.S. as a supporter of nuclear power, which doesn't emit carbon. Those views run counter to Germany, which is phasing out nuclear power over health and environmental concerns after Japan's nuclear disaster in 2011.
The headline of the Tribune story reinforces McCarthy's statement on the White House's public policy goal: "EPA: Carbon rules could ensure nuclear power's survival."
As an Illinois state senator and as a candidate for president in 2008, Obama voiced his support of the nuclear power industry. However, since that time - particularly post-Fukushima - the revival of the nuclear energy has not been prominent in the president's remarks about reducing global warming.
JACQUELINE MARCUS FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
If you had to take America's temperature, predictably it would be raging hot.
Across the courts of America, citizens are being pushed off the cliff by corporate greed. There is practically no legal compensation for victims of pollution produced by oil and coal disasters.
Court rulings, with their lopsided scales heavily favoring the defense of corporate polluters, eliminate any hope for victims, leaving them in the ditch of poisonous toxins, polluted water, and contaminated lands. Once the land and water have been permanently polluted, there is no possible way residents can sell their homes. If homeowners get sick, they're out of luck—thanks to corrupt judges, big polluters don't even have to pay for the victims' medical bills.
When the government sows the seeds of injustice and corporate greed, it puts the country at risk; it's a recipe for upheavals and disaster.
JIM HIGHTOWER ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
Have you noticed "the powers that be" employ an entirely different standard for measuring the health of America's job market than they use for the stock market?
They're currently telling us that, "The job market is improving." What do they mean? Simply that the economy is generating an increase in the number of jobs available for workers. But when they say, "The stock market is improving," they don't mean that the number of stocks available to investors is on the rise. Instead, they're measuring the price, the value of the stocks. And isn't value what really counts in both cases? Quality over quantity.
Employment rose by 217,000 jobs in the month of May, according to the latest jobs report — and that brought us up to 8.7 million. That is how many new jobs the American economy has generated since the "Great Recession" officially ended in 2009 — and it also happens to be the number of jobs that were lost because of that recession. You can break out the champagne, for the American economy is back, baby — all of the lost jobs have been recovered!
ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUTBRANDON BAKER OF
“We have heard from thousands of residents across the state about many issues associated with hydrofracking, and prudent leadership demands that we take our time to address all these concerns,” said New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. “We do not need to rush into this. The natural gas deposits within the Marcellus Shale are not going to go anywhere.”
The assembly passed a three-year moratorium of oil and natural gas drilling permits by an 89-to-34 count to allow for more time to study the environmental impact of the practice. The state has been under a fracking moratorium since 2008, with the most recent one passing in 2013. It would have expired in May 2015.
BILL BERKOWITZ FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
about the rise of Debtors' Prisons in the U.S. The piece focused on how regular people, convicted of relatively minor crimes, were assessed fines by the court that they could not afford to pay, and subsequently were sent off to jail. At this point in this story, I might write something like "meet so and so," one of the many people caught up in the criminal justice system. In this case, however, you will never meet Eileen DiNino.Last year, I wrote a piece
On June 7, Eileen DiNino, 55, a mother of seven, was found dead in a Berks County, Pennsylvania jail cell.
DiNino's crime? Unemployed, on welfare, and trying to raise seven kids by herself, DiNino was unable to pay several thousand dollars "in fines relating to her children's truancy from schools in the Reading, PA. area," Think Progress' Alan Pyke reported. The fines weren't solely based on her children's truancy. Once individuals get caught in the cycle of fines, it can tend to spin out of control.
According to a World Socialist Web Site report by Samuel Davidson, "An Associated Press examination of Ms. DiNino's fines shows that for one truancy violation $10.00 was added for postage, $60.00 for the county constables and $8.00 for a "computer project."
The 48 hours DiNino was to spend in jail would have supposedly eliminated her debt, Christine DiGangi reported at blog.credit.com.
MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
You can start with the profoundly tragic irony that the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld Iraq War of 2003 created a terrorist threat instead of ending one. That point was made yesterday in a BuzzFlash commentary by Steve Jonas, "Real Goal of Iraq War in 2003: Oil and Inciting Terrorism to Create Permanent Conflict."
The devastating implications of how the invasion of Iraq ignited an al Qaeda offshoot uprising are also emphasized by Peter Bergen, CNN's security analyst:
From where did ISIS spring? One of George W. Bush's most toxic legacies is the introduction of al Qaeda into Iraq, which is the ISIS mother ship.
If this wasn't so tragic it would be supremely ironic, because before the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, top Bush officials were insisting that there was an al Qaeda-Iraq axis of evil. Their claims that Saddam Hussein's men were training members of al Qaeda how to make weapons of mass destruction seemed to be one of the most compelling rationales for the impending war. After the fall of Hussein's regime, no documents were unearthed in Iraq proving the Hussein-al Qaeda axis despite the fact that, like other totalitarian regimes, Hussein's government kept massive and meticulous records
The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency had by 2006 translated 34 million pages of documents from Hussein's Iraq and found there was nothing to substantiate a "partnership" between Hussein and al Qaeda.
Two years later the Pentagon's own internal think tank, the Institute for Defense Analyses, concluded after examining 600,000 Hussein-era documents and several thousand hours of his regime's audio- and videotapes that there was no "smoking gun (i.e. direct connection between Hussein's Iraq and al Qaeda.)"
When Sen. Lindsey Graham (R - SC) argues that the US needs to recommence warfare in Iraq because another 9/11 might occur, he is one of the senators who bears the responsibility for this hypothetical occurrence, given that he was a captain of the cheerleading squad for the Iraq War when it was launched on the basis of lies.
In a revealing 2007 Atlantic interview with former Secretary of State Colin Powell (he of the infamous mendacious UN speech warning of the horrors of Saddam Hussein's virtually nonexistent chemical warfare capabilities), David Samuels asked:
You were famously quoted as saying “if you break it, you own it” about the consequences of an American invasion of Iraq. So do we own it? And, as a practical matter, is it possible for the United States to declare at this late date that we don’t take part in other people’s Civil Wars, and to withdraw our troops?
To which Powell replied, tacitly admitting that the cynical narrative of bringing democracy to Iraq was a cover story:
The famous expression, if you break it you own it—which is not a Pottery Barn expression, by the way—was a simple statement of the fact that when you take out a regime and you bring down a government, you become the government.
In what fashion other than ownership of the nation can the invasion be considered a success, as Steve Jonas argues, when the launching of the war against Iraq produced the very threats that it was supposed to eliminate - threats that did not exist at the time in 2003?
BRANDON BAKER OF ECOWATCH ON BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
While the president recognized that coal-fired power plants are responsible for about 40 percent of the country's emissions, he didn't denounce oil and gas. His federal Interior Department on Friday gave us all a reminder of that when it announced its first step in selling offshore oil and gas leases that would allow companies to explore the nation's waters for energy sources.
Perhaps anticipating pushback, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell and Acting Director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Walter Cruickshank stated early that Friday's announcement was only the first step toward a lease auction. It was simply a "Request for Information and Comments on the Preparation of the 2017-2022 Outer Continental Shelf Oil and Gas Leasing Program."
Still, the thought of offshore drilling upset many environmental groups.
"Our beaches and coastal wildlife, like seabirds, dolphins and turtles are too precious to be threatened by oil spills," said Anna Aurilio, director of the Washington D.C. office of Environment America. "President Obama should not open new areas to drilling. Instead, he should be protecting all our coasts from the kinds of environmental and economic devastation the 2010 BP oil spill brought to the Gulf of Mexico."