Halliburton and other companies are pumping chemicals into the ground beneath Wyoming to lubricate cracks created during fracking, which allows sand to slide in and hold the cracks open so natural gas can be extracted. Many residents, property owners, and environmentalists would like to know what mixture of chemicals is being used. The state of Wyoming knows, thanks to a 2010 rule requiring companies to disclose the information to the state government, but officials refuse to release that information to the public.
And now a county judge has weighed in, ruling against the public and in favor of energy company secrecy. From the AP:
The bankruptcy of Chinese solar-panel heavyweight Suntech may be an omen that the sun is about to set on super-cheap solar energy.
The world’s biggest solar module manufacturer is on the verge of collapse under a pile of more than $1 billion in debt. The problem is not that the market for solar panels is weak. The problem is that there is too much competition among manufacturers of panels, which has driven prices down to unsustainably low levels.
As Suntech’s hometown tries to bail out the company, its woes are pointing to what could be ahead for other firms operating in the solar sector -- and for those who were looking forward to buying cheap solar panels for their homes and businesses.
On Sunday, the government said the pulling-dead-pigs-out-of-the-water operation was "basically finished." Chinese official media reports that some of the dead animals were traced by their ear tags to pig farms in Shaoxing, and their owners have been prosecuted. Farmers in Shaoxing have recently been charged with selling meat from diseased animals.
The New York Times points out the silver lining of the porcine flotilla: At least the diseased pigs aren't ending up on dinner plates. As the government cracks down on contaminated meat, the only place to put them is in the river. Three cheers for food safety!
Tim Sappington wants to promote the eating of horsemeat, but he really isn't helping his cause.
In a video now stirring up outrage on YouTube, Sappington is shown with a colt on his property. "All you animal activists, fuck you,” he says. Then he pulls a handgun from its holster and aims it between the animal’s eyes. He pulls the trigger. As the horse lies convulsing on the ground with its legs kicking in the air, Sappington walks away and mutters, “Good.”
The killing appears to have been perfectly legal. The U.S. banned the slaughter of horses in 2006, but the ban quietly expired in 2011.
The vote was non-binding but all too telling. On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted 62 to 37 in favor of building the Keystone XL tar-sands pipeline, with 17 Democrats joining all of the Republicans. It was just an amendment to a budget plan that won't even be going to the president's desk, but it shows that the political class in D.C. views the pipeline very favorably -- and believes voters view it very favorably too.
The 17 Democrats who voted yes included every single possibly vulnerable incumbent facing reelection next year, from 34-year veteran [Max] Baucus [Mont.] to first-term Sen. Mark Begich (Alaska).
Perhaps more importantly, Sen. Michael Bennet (Colo.), who chairs the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, voted for the resolution. Bennet is not up for re-election until 2016, but his post requires him to raise money from the wealthy liberal community that is highly opposed to the pipeline.
Additionally, a crop of Democrats who survived difficult reelections in 2012 — Sens. Bob Casey (Pa.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Bill Nelson (Fla.) and Jon Tester (Mont.) — all supported the GOP Keystone amendment.
Beekeepers and activist groups, fed up with the wanton use of insecticides that kill bees and other pollinators, filed a federal lawsuit Thursday. They are suing to try to force the EPA to ban or better regulate neonicotinoids and other pesticides that kill bees and butterflies and lead to colony collapse disorder.
Well here comes a punchline that's darker than a fracker's heart: In northeastern Ohio, where a fracking boom kicked off 2011, there was no more jobs growth last year than there was in the state's unfracked western and southern regions.
That's the conclusion of a new report [PDF] published by Cleveland State University's Maxine Goodman Levin College of Urban Affairs. The report was not peer-reviewed.
Environmentalists struck a rare accord with oil and gas companies this week, agreeing on fracking standards that aim to protect air and water quality and the climate as the Marcellus Shale formation in the northeastern U.S. is mined.
The new and oxymoronically named Center for Sustainable Shale Development was created through an agreement struck by energy companies, the Environmental Defense Fund and other green groups, and Pennsylvania philanthropies. The center will provide certification for oil and gas companies that follow the new standards while fracking the expansive shale formation, which is centered in Pennsylvania and stretches from New York to Kentucky.
Oil and gas companies have no binding requirement to achieve certification from the new center, and environmentalists say it is no substitute for regulations. That said, both camps think its neat.