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Fracking updates interspersed with jokes

Fracking in the news! Lots of news about fracking! Step right up, get your fracking news!

New York won't allow fracking this year

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) made it official yesterday: The state's review of the health effects of natural gas drilling won't be ready until next year. According to sources that I have at the highest levels of various fracking companies, the CEOs of said companies said, "Aw, fiddlesticks," and did that thing where you snap your fingers while you swing your hand in front of you. Is there a name for that? I don't know. People don't do that very much anymore, but fracking company CEOs have a median age of 206.

New York City is one of the three largest cities in the state of New York.

The state was supposed to have come to a final decision on fracking rules by the end of the month. From the Associated Press:

The deadline for finalizing regulations is Nov. 29 under the state Administrative Procedures Act, which says a proposed rule expires 365 days after the last public hearing unless it's officially adopted by then. If the regulation isn't finalized by the deadline, the agency has 90 days to submit a new notice of rulemaking, and another 90 days to complete the job. That could potentially delay a final decision for six months. The public would have the opportunity to comment during that time.

A panel of three nationally recognized public health experts was named last week to review the state's health impact study of fracking. Cuomo told a radio interviewer Tuesday he sees no way the panel's work can be completed by the end of next week.


Boston has a few thousand gas leaks it shouldn’t worry about

Just FYI, Bostononianites, there's a natural gas leak under your city. Not a big deal. It's a little one. Little small little natural gas leak.

And a tiny bit of additional bad news -- there are also over 3,300 other such leaks.

From The Boston Globe:

Natural gas is escaping from more than 3,300 leaks in Boston’s underground pipelines, according to a new ­Boston University study that underscores the explosion risk and environmental damage from aging infrastructure ­under city sidewalks and streets.

The vast majority of the leaks are tiny, ­although six locations had gas levels higher than the threshold at which explosions could ­occur. Although there have been no reports of explosions in ­Boston from any of the leaks, the study comes three years ­after a Gloucester house ­exploded probably because of a cracked and corroded gas main dating to 1911.

Happily, no one was killed in that explosion, but the owner of the home suffered burns and lacerations.

The remains of a house explosion, which can also happen in places other than Boston.
Read more: Cities, Climate & Energy


Chevron is newly concerned about politicians being influenced by money

You're probably familiar with the longstanding, pedantic dispute over use of the word "irony." Well, a bit of good news for the holiday: We now have an example of irony that will stand the test of time. An example of irony that is so obvious and appreciable that when, several millennia from now, people are arguing about Alanis Morissette, the debate will be curtailed when someone notes this news story.

For you see, Chevron has filed a complaint against the comptroller of New York, suggesting that he was unduly influenced to criticize the company due to campaign contributions he received. Chevron. Complained about how campaign contributions influenced an elected official.

Can. You. Fucking. Imagine.



San Francisco approves micro apartments

Always wanted to live in an adorable Tiny House except, like, without all that nature around you? Well today is your lucky day, urban dwellers! Following the lead of Vancouver and New York, San Francisco has approved legislation that will change the city building code to allow for "micro-unit apartments" that boast only 150 square feet of living space.

San Francisco is the most expensive rental market in the U.S., in part because it's tough to get anything built in the city. About 40 percent of San Francisco residents live solo, and those who work in tech tend to live in their offices anyway, so why not a closet for a condo?

City Supervisor Scott Wiener had pushed the legislation as an "affordable option" for S.F. residents who don't want to pay upwards of $2,000 for the average "large" city studio. (Wiener had said previously that he expected the units to rent for $1,200 to $1,700, so it seems "affordable" is in the eye of the beholder.) “Allowing the construction of these units is one tool to alleviate the pressure that is making vacancies scarce and driving rental prices out of the reach of many who wish to live here," Wiener said in a statement.

From Atlantic Cities:

Read more: Cities, Living


Celebrate Food Workers Week by being uncharacteristically nice at the grocery store

As you're rushing in to grab that last bag of frozen cranberries and a couple wrinkly sweet potatoes, as your impatience balloons while waiting in that endless line for the cash register, and as you're about to rage at the cashier who is out of paper bags, step back, breathe, and remember the human toll of your food choices.

Read more: Food


The WTO may halt Ontario’s clean energy program

Canada loves the planet so much, it put a tree object on its flag.

You may be aware that Canada has a policy under which a certain percentage of music on the radio must be by Canadians. This is not the only reason that Nickelback enjoys undeserved success, but it doesn't help.

The province of Ontario figured that the concept of building in a home-team advantage could work elsewhere. Like, in renewable energy production.

In 2009, Ontario established the Green Energy Act. The bill created demand for green energy by setting a feed-in tariff -- offering long-term contracts to renewable energy producers -- and establishing an initial requirement that 25 percent of wind projects and 50 percent of solar projects be made in Ontario. (Nickelback briefly considered going into solar panel manufacturing, but they were too lazy.)

Japan and the E.U. were understandably not happy about the local production requirements, so they complained to the World Trade Organization. And yesterday, the WTO reportedly ruled against Ontario.


Butterball not answering meaty questions about turkey treatment

Last year, an undercover investigation led to five workers at a Butterball turkey factory farm being charged with criminal cruelty to animals. This year, the world's largest producer of turkey meat is back at it, and just in time for the holidays.


Mercy For Animals recorded the new undercover video in October, documenting:

workers kicking and stomping on birds, dragging them by their fragile wings and necks, and maliciously throwing turkeys onto the ground or on top of other birds; birds suffering from serious untreated illnesses and injuries, including open sores, infections, and broken bones; and workers grabbing birds by their wings or necks and violently slamming them into tiny transport crates with no regard for their welfare.

Local law enforcement is currently investigating the MFA's legal complaint. Butterball's public relations manager told ABC News that the company has a "zero tolerance policy for animal abuse," and that, "Pending the completion of that investigation, Butterball will then make a determination on additional actions including immediate termination for those involved."

Read more: Food


Why are there more traffic deaths in red states?

A weird bit of data came out earlier today from a website called FairWarning. According to the website, red states -- those that voted for Romney -- had more traffic fatalities than blue states.

From the site:

To an extent that mystifies safety experts and other observers, federal statistics show that people in red states are more likely to die in road crashes. The least deadly states -- those with the fewest crash deaths per 100,000 people -- overwhelmingly are blue. …

The 10 states with the highest fatality rates all were red, while all but one of the 10 lowest-fatality states were blue. What’s more, the place with the nation’s lowest fatality rate, while not a state, was the very blue District of Columbia.

And sure enough, there's a correlation. Here's the electoral college map …

Washington Post
Click to embiggen.

… and here's the map of traffic fatalities per 100,000 people.

Click to embiggen.

It's not one-to-one, but it does appear that bluer states are less deadly. But why? Is it a fluke?

Read more: Cities, Living, Politics


Hawaii is overflowing with solar power because it’s obnoxiously perfect

Hawaii residents are generating so much power from solar panels that utilities are worried about accommodating the excess electricity. This is because Hawaii never has any real problems and is a goddamn paradise.

From the Los Angeles Times:

Solar power has grown increasingly popular across the U.S. Sun Belt, but hardly anywhere has it taken hold as it has in Hawaii. Friendly tax credits, the highest average electricity rates in the nation and the most aggressive renewable energy program adopted by any state have sent homeowners scrambling to install photovoltaic systems on their roofs.

The number of solar power systems across the island state has doubled every year since 2007, with nearly 20,000 units installed. But with homeowners and businesses now producing nearly 140 megawatts of their own power -- the equivalent of a medium-size power plant -- and solar tax credits biting seriously into the state budget, Hawaii legislators and electrical utilities are tapping the brakes. …

Hawaiian Electric Co. on Oahu, which oversees subsidiary utilities on Maui and the Big Island, has warned that the explosion of do-it-yourself solar could threaten parts of the power grid with the possibility of power fluctuations or sporadic blackouts as the power generated by homeowners — unpredictable and subject to sudden swings — exceeded output from power plants in some areas.

Read more: Climate & Energy, Living


Keystone XL fight heats up again in East Texas

Yesterday was another intense day of direct environmental action and resulting pepper spray in East Texas.

Tar Sands Blockade

More than 100 activists intent on shutting down construction of TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline again gathered in the small East Texas town of Nacogdoches, again constructed treesits, again chained themselves to TransCanada's equipment, and again were brutalized and arrested for their efforts. (We reported on a previous day of action last month.)

Tar Sands Blockade

"Everyone who took action today knew the risks inolved and for many of them it was an act of conscience. They understand that the risks of this toxic pipeline far outweigh the cost of inaction," the group wrote on its website. "Despite brutal police repression, we will not be intimidated and continue to resist TransCanada’s bullying of our friends and neighbors."

According to the blockaders, 12 were arrested, seven of whom are facing felony charges. Their report: