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Pro-fracking petition with fake signatures embarrasses gas association

The oil and gas industry's amateur attempt to mislead Fort Collins lawmakers
The oil and gas industry's amateur attempt to mislead Fort Collins lawmakers.

Outlawing fracking in Fort Collins makes local business owners sad. At least, that's what liars working for the Colorado Oil and Gas Association tried to tell local lawmakers.

Anders’ Auto Glass, Meneike Car Care Center, and Computer Renaissance were among 55 businesses whose names appeared with signatures on a petition that the association submitted to Fort Collins City Council. The petition urged city councilors to vote against a proposed ban on fracking within the city.

The petition failed. Following a two-hour Feb. 19 hearing, the council voted 5-2 to ban hydraulic fracturing in Fort Collins.

But it turns out that none of those three businesses support fracking in their town, they told Fort Collins Coloradoan reporter Bobby Magill. Why on earth would they?


Blazing tires will no longer power Illinois homes

Tires should not be burned for electricity
Tires should not be burned for electricity.

Take a cloud of carbon monoxide. Mix in nitrogen oxide, sulfur oxide, and ammonia. Sprinkle it with a heap of soot.

That poisonous recipe is cooked up and released into the air when tires are burned. And it's what residents of the heavily polluted, low-income, predominantly black community of Ford Heights, Ill., have been breathing, on and off, since a tire-incinerating power plant began operating in their neighborhood in 1995.

But relief has finally arrived: Following a string of air pollution citations and a federal civil rights complaint, Geneva Energy has agreed to stop burning tires to generate electricity at the sprawling Cook County facility.

"This settlement will eliminate the source of almost 200 tons of air pollutants each year, in a community that has historically been disproportionately impacted by environmental contamination," EPA Regional Administrator Susan Hedman said in a statement on Monday.

The company began operating the incinerator in 2006. By 2010, it had been cited four times by state inspectors for pollution violations at the facility, at which point the EPA stepped in with the civil rights complaint, the Chicago Tribune reports. In 2011, the incinerator was switched off. In Monday's announcement, the EPA said that it had reached an agreement that prevents the company from switching the incinerator back on.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Can Yahoo be more ‘efficient’ with more workers driving to the office?

Marissa Mayer
Adam Tinworth
Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer puts the kibosh on telecommuting.

In a decision that sent the internet into a tizzy today, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer has decided that employees will no longer be allowed to telecommute to work. USA Today reports:

Yahoo's decision is meant to foster collaboration, according to a company memo sent to employees Friday.

Yahoo's head of human resources, Jackie Reses, wrote that communication and collaboration will be important as the company works to be "more productive, efficient and fun." To make that happen, she said, "it is critical that we are all present in our offices. Some of the best decisions and insights come from hallway and cafeteria discussions, meeting new people and impromptu team meetings."

According to Census figures from 2010, about 9.5 percent of the U.S. workforce telecommutes at least one day a week. That's actually not very much, considering telecommuting can be more productive for some workers, not to mention more comfortable. Millions of Americans working from home or local co-working spaces each day save millions of tons in emissions each year, and potentially cut down on traffic deaths.


Notoriously polluting Carnival Cruise Lines faces legal troubles

Sometimes when you float massive (and massively polluting) multimillion-dollar resort hotels on the high seas, you run into problems. As it happens, Carnival Cruise Lines has bumped up against a couple of big problems recently, ones that have migrated from the oceans to the courts.

Roberto Vongher

Passengers stranded on the Carnival cruise ship that was stuck in the Gulf of Mexico earlier this month have filed a lawsuit seeking damages for "mental and emotional anguish" sustained on their ill-fated trip. (Next time, might I humbly recommend a staycation?)


Organic tomatoes are healthier for you, researchers find

They may be smaller but they're also mightier. Organic tomatoes pack in more cancer-fighting phenols and vitamin C than conventionally grown tomatoes, according to research published in the journal PLOS ONE. But the organic tomatoes do tend to be about 40 percent tinier, so make sure your next tomato fight features the conventional kind.


From Mother Jones:

Read more: Food


Southern section of Keystone XL pipeline is already halfway done

President Obama and the State Department haven't approved the northern leg of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline that would cart tar-sands oil down from Canada, but the southern leg, which Obama blessed last year, is trucking right along. TransCanada says construction on the southern section, from Oklahoma to the Texas Gulf Coast, is about halfway complete.


From the Associated Press:

Nearly 4,000 workers in Oklahoma and Texas are aligning and welding a 485-mile section, TransCanada spokesman David Dodson told The Associated Press.

“We’re right at peak right now,” he said. “We hope to have it in operation by the end of this year.”

Where there's oil there's money, and where there's money there are job creators, right? At least so says TransCanada -- and in the short term, that's not wrong.


Canadians are feeling cocky about Keystone approval

"I heart Keystone XL" sign

A week after climate activists rallied in Washington, D.C., against plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada’s tar-sands salespeople arrived in the nation’s capital with the opposite pitch.

And the fossil-fuel hawkers from up north seem to think it’s their message that will win over America's decision makers.

Alberta Premier Alison Redford arrived Friday with her environment minister to attend the National Governors Association winter meeting, where the duo gauged the mood of officials and pitched the proposed pipeline, which would carry tar-sands oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries and ports.

The way Redford tells it, things went smashingly. “I’m very optimistic,” she told Canada's Postmedia News. “There is strong bipartisan support for this project.”


It’s too hot and muggy to work this century

It's getting too hot to get any work done
It's getting too hot to get any work done.

Think back to summer. No, no, don't think about the good times. Instead, try to remember what it was like when it was too stinkin' hot to get any work done.

Humans don't work so well when it's stinking hot. And that means that as the globe warms around us, we're doing less work. How much less? According to results of a study published Sunday in Nature Climate Change, humanity's summertime productivity has already fallen 10 percent since before the Industrial Revolution. And it's going to get worse.

Read more: Climate & Energy


Multibillion dollar question: How gross was BP’s negligence?

Image (1) bp_logo_425.jpg for post 42921The 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill was gross. Really gross. But what about BP’s negligence in creating that gross oil spill? Was that negligence also gross?

If you’re already tired of hearing the word "gross" over and over, you might want to tune out news of a trial that began today in New Orleans. The U.S. government and Gulf Coast states are seeking billions of dollars from BP in damages and fines. One of the key decisions that the federal judge must make in the case is whether BP was grossly negligent in causing the deadly explosion and subsequent oil spill, or whether the company was merely negligent. The stakes are big -- big with a capital B. Billions of dollars are at stake.

The government says the company’s negligence was totally gross. But, like somebody who farts in an elevator and then asks everybody to please stop whining because they didn’t try to make it smell so gross, BP is denying that claim. From a statement issued by BP:

“Gross negligence is a very high bar that BP believes cannot be met in this case,” said [BP General Counsel Rupert Bondy]. “This was a tragic accident, resulting from multiple causes and involving multiple parties. We firmly believe we were not grossly negligent.”

If U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier rules that the company was grossly negligent, then it could be fined up to $4,300 per barrel spilled under the Clean Water Act. (Barbier is hearing the case without a jury.) The government says 4.1 million barrels spilled, having reportedly backed away from an earlier estimate of 4.9 million barrels. If the judge accepts that figure, and also rules that BP was grossly negligent, the company may have to fork out $17.6 billion to the American people in Clean Water Act fines alone.


For Open Data Day, green hacks and snacks

Image (1) earth_computer_connected_green.jpg for post 39445Civic-minded hacktivists, you best brush off those keyboards and pick out a cute outfit, because tomorrow is International Open Data Day.

Cities around the world will be hosting hackathons to turn government data dumps into useful interactive applications for citizen engagement. Check the map for info on a 'thon near you.

For this special holiday occasion, San Francisco's Climate Corporation is hosting EcoHack. "EcoHack is about using technology to improve and better understand our natural environment," say the event's organizers. "Based on the hacking model of quick, clever solutions to problems, EcoHack is an opportunity to make a difference while having fun!" Woo, nerds!