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July 10th, 2012 Archives
Posted: 07/06/2012 10:53 am Updated: 07/06/2012 11:00 am
There aren't many issues that can unite Republicans and Democrats in an election year, but a new national poll seems to have found at least one: conservation. Conducted for the Nature Conservancy by two opinion-research firms — one Democratic and one Republican — the poll found more than four in five Americans consider it a patriotic duty to protect natural resources, regardless of politics.
"From Tea Party Republicans to liberal Democrats, overwhelming majorities of Americans of all political persuasions believe that 'conserving the country's natural resources — land, air and water — is patriotic,'" the pollsters write in a summary of their findings. That includes 89 percent of Democrats, 79 percent of Republicans and 79 percent of independents, but the sentiment doesn't only cross political lines. The following percentages of various groups agree that conservation is patriotic:
- More than 70 percent of registered voters in every U.S. region
- Voters younger than 35 (84 percent) and those 65 or older (83 percent)
- Urbanites (79 percent), suburbanites (85 percent) and rural residents (83 percent)
- Hunters (80 percent), anglers (80 percent) and wildlife watchers (82 percent)
- Hikers (80 percent), mountain bikers (78 percent) and ATV users (77 percent)
"Overall, it is clear that conservation is an issue that more often unites, rather than divides, the American people," says David Metz of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates, the Democratic polling group. And according to Lori Weigel of Public Opinion Strategies, the GOP firm, "Whether it is a general sense of patriotism and pride in national parks, or support for several specific federal policies, the survey finds a great deal in common among Americans regarding their views on conservation."
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/06/national-parks-poll-patriotic-conservation-america_n_1651641.html?view=print&comm_ref=falseShare This Post
Ken Silverstein | Jul 09, 2012
Who is winning the energy and environmental debate? The answer really depends on how the discussion is framed and whether the focus is on the economy and energy prices or the ecology and human health.Share This Post
By George F. Will, Published: July 6
The federal government is a bull that has found yet another china shop, this time in Arizona. It seems determined to inflict, for angelic motives and progressive goals, economic damage on this state. And economic and social damage on Native Americans, who over the years have experienced quite enough of that at Washington’s hands.
The gain from this pain? The most frequently cited study says “research to date . . . is inconclusive as to whether” there would be “any perceptible improvement in visibility at the Grand Canyon and other areas of concern.” The Environmental Protection Agency says that the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is “near” 11 national parks, several of which are 175 miles distant.
The NGS on Navajo land in northern Arizona burns coal from the Kayenta Mine, which is co-owned by the Navajo and Hopi nations. The EPA is pondering whether all three units of the NGS should be required to install the “best available” emission-control technologies, perhaps costing more than $1.1 billion. More than 80 percent of the power plant’s employees are Navajo, many of whom speak Navajo to help preserve the nation’s culture. In 2007, the percentage of the Navajo Nation’s population living in poverty was 36.8.
But the Navajos, the plant and the mine that powers it may be sacrificed to this dubious environmental crusade. The new technology would reduce nitrate aerosols. They, however, are responsible for just 4 percent of what is called “light extinction” over the Grand Canyon.Share This Post
RALEIGH, N.C.—The abrupt ouster of Duke Energy Corp.'s new chief executive just hours after Duke merged with Progress Energy Inc. is adding to the pressure on North Carolina officials, who already faced public criticism for letting the state's two biggest electric utilities combine.
Bill Johnson, the CEO of Raleigh-based Progress, was supposed to head the combined company under the $26 billion merger approved by North Carolina regulators June 29. But company directors forced him out almost immediately after the merger was completed July 2, replacing him with Jim Rogers, CEO of Charlotte-based Duke.
North Carolina Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat, has launched an investigation into the boardroom coup, and the North Carolina Utilities Commission has summoned Mr. Rogers to explain at a public hearing Tuesday whether state officials who signed off on the deal were misled. The commission's six members were appointed by either Gov. Bev Perdue or her predecessor, Mike Easley, both of whom are Democrats.
To read the entire article go to: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702303292204577517251437457974.html?Share This Post
By PETER LATTMAN July 6, 2012, 7:34 am
A former board member involved in a merger that created the nation’s largest electric utility has blasted an abrupt leadership change at the company.
“This is the most blatant example of corporate deceit that I have witnessed during a long career on Wall Street,” said John H. Mullin III, the former lead director of Progress Energy, which completed its combination with Duke Energy this week.
On Monday, Duke closed its merger with Progress, a $32 billion deal, including debt, originally struck a year and a half ago. William D. Johnson, the head of Progress, was to become chief executive of the combined company, according to the terms of the merger agreement.
But in a news release announcing the deal’s completion, Duke’s newly formed board put the Duke chief executive, James Rogers, in the top spot and said that Mr. Johnson had resigned “by mutual agreement.”
The news of Mr. Johnson’s ouster sent shock waves through the energy industry. Since Tuesday, when the deal was announced, a growing chorus of dissent has condemned the last-minute move, including Mr. Mullin, who did not join the merged companies’ board.
“As a noncontinuing director of the combined company,” Mr. Mullin said in a letter to The New York Times, “I now, along with similarly situated former directors of Progress, find myself without a constituency and without an ability to mount a challenge to what I believe is one of the greatest corporate hijackings in U.S. business history.”
Alfred C. Tollison Jr., another former Progress director who did not join the new Duke board, said: “I was surprised, shocked, and I felt misled. I did not expect this from Duke Energy and am really disappointed with how this turned out.”
The credit ratings agency Standard & Poor’s has warned that it may cut the ratings of Duke, which is based in Charlotte, N.C., because of the surprise switch.
To read the entire article go to: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/uproar-over-c-e-o-s-ouster-at-merged-energy-giant/?ref=energy-environmentShare This Post
Posted Friday, July 6, 2012, at 2:57 PM ET
Naming the chief executive was a prize electric firm Progress Energy demanded when selling itself to larger rival Duke Energy.
Leadership is supposed to have its privileges. So naming the chief executive was a prize electric firm Progress Energy demanded when selling itself to larger rival Duke Energy. In return they accepted a tiny premium. That Progress’ man Bill Johnson lasted only hours in his job is a reminder to investors never to sacrifice value for the prestige of getting the top job.
When Jim Rogers, Duke Energy’s veteran chief executive, consummated his takeover of Progress in January 2010 he joked with analysts about arm-wrestling his successor as leader of the combined company. He noted that Johnson, a powerfully built former Penn State football player, was likely to win any such battle of strength. When it came to the power struggle, however, Rogers lost no time in slamming his rival.
This was an unequal match. After the merger Duke, whose shareholders owned 63 percent of the new firm, controlled 11 of the board’s 18 board seats. Former Progress directors understandably feel aggrieved at this unexpected act of aggression. One, John Mullin, described it as “one of the greatest corporate hijackings in U.S. business history.” At the time the Progress board accepted a tiny 4 percent takeover premium, modest even by the standards of the electric sector.
The ousting of Johnson is hard to explain in anything other than Machiavellian terms. True, one of Progress Energy’s nuclear reactors in Florida is having some costly technical problems. Still, such mishaps are not unheard of and should not disqualify Johnson from leading the combined group. Rather it seems that Rogers and his entourage were unwilling to play second fiddle.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.slate.com/blogs/breakingviews/2012/07/06/duke_ceo_sucker_punch_a_value_lesson_for_investors_.html?wpisrc=sl_iphoneShare This Post
By JODY FREEMAN Cambridge, Mass.July 5, 2012
Jody Freeman, a Harvard law professor, was the White House counselor for energy and climate change in 2009 and 2010.
AMERICA’S energy future has been transformed by the production of natural gas made possible by hydraulic fracturing. This gas is a much cleaner source of electricity than coal. The problem is that the fracturing process used to extract the gas can, if done improperly, pollute surface and drinking water and emit dangerous air pollution.
States like Texas, Pennsylvania and New York are now rushing to impose their own rules. But what we really need is a system of federal oversight that will promote confidence in this technique and provide the industry with uniform standards without overregulating it.
The federal government has the power to regulate some but not all the risks. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency has set standards to control emissions of toxic and greenhouse gases from the drilling process and is considering new rules for polluted wastewater. But in 2005, Congress exempted the fracturing process itself — a process in which huge quantities of water, sand and toxic chemicals are injected into tight shale rock, to force open the rock and capture the gas trapped within — from federal regulation.
The states have moved forward with a patchwork of regulations — some specific and prescriptive, others vague and general. Many states require some disclosure of the chemicals the drillers use, but in some states drillers decide which chemicals constitute proprietary secrets and therefore do not have to be disclosed. Some states allow operators to store toxic wastewater from the fracturing process in open pits, risking surface or groundwater contamination. Some states simply lack the experience or resources to enforce their standards.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/06/opinion/the-wise-way-to-regulate-hydraulic-fracturing.htmlShare This Post
By MANNY FERNANDEZ July 8, 2012
FORT WORTH — Henry Donald Young Sr. is buried in a small pioneer cemetery next to his parents here, beneath the drooping leaves of an old tree at the industrial edge of one of the largest cities in Texas.
But Mr. Young’s relatives wonder how restful his final resting place has become. Thousands of feet beneath the cemetery, a company has been drilling for natural gas using the controversial technique known as hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
“I would imagine that drilling and fracking and all that vibration is bound to cause some damage,” Mr. Young’s son, Don, said of the 134-year-old Handley Cemetery. “But who’s going to dig up their dead relatives to see if there’s a crack in the casket? What’s being done to Fort Worth in general, whether it’s to the living or the dead, it’s immoral.”
Mr. Young, 60, has been a longtime critic of fracking, which has proliferated in the Barnett shale formation that runs underneath the Fort Worth area. He also is the founder of a group called Fort Worth Citizens Against Neighborhood Drilling Operations.
His concern is shared by others in both rural and urban parts of Texas, Pennsylvania and Ohio, where drilling for natural gas beneath homes, parks, churches, schools and even cemeteries has become commonplace. The fracking process, in which sand, water and chemicals are injected deep underground at high pressure to extract natural gas from rock formations, has been criticized by environmentalists and others who worry about its effects on groundwater and residents’ health.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/us/drilling-for-natural-gas-under-cemeteries-raises-concerns.htmlShare This Post
By RACHEL NUWER July 9, 2012, 3:14 pm
A new study enters the debate over the safety of hydraulic fracturing: researchers report that naturally occurring paths in the rock bed in northeastern Pennsylvania allowed some contaminants to migrate into shallow drinking aquifers. They found no direct connection between the contamination and shale-gas drilling operations in the region, however.
“The good news is there is no direct link between this finding with saline water and shale gas extraction,” said Avner Vengosh, a geochemist at Duke University and a co-author of the report, published on Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “The bad news is that we think there are natural pathways that exist between the Marcellus formation and the shallow groundwater.”
To read the entire article go to: http://green.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/fracking-did-not-sully-aquifers-limited-study-finds/Share This Post
Posted: 07/09/2012 7:45 pm Updated: 07/09/2012 7:45 pm
New research has concluded that salty, mineral-rich fluids deep beneath Pennsylvania's natural gas fields are likely seeping upward thousands of feet into drinking water supplies.
Though the fluids were natural and not the byproduct of drilling or hydraulic fracturing, the finding further stokes the red-hot controversy over fracking in the Marcellus Shale, suggesting that drilling waste and chemicals could migrate in ways previously thought to be impossible.
The study, conducted by scientists at Duke University and California State Polytechnic University at Pomona and released today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, tested drinking water wells and aquifers across Northeastern Pennsylvania. Researchers found that, in some cases, the water had mixed with brine that closely matched brine thought to be from the Marcellus Shale or areas close to it.
No drilling chemicals were detected in the water, and there was no correlation between where the natural brine was detected and where drilling takes place.
Still, the brine's presence – and the finding that it moved over thousands of vertical feet -- contradicts the oft-repeated notion that deeply buried rock layers will always seal in material injected underground through drilling, mining, or underground disposal.
"The biggest implication is the apparent presence of connections from deep underground to the surface," said Robert Jackson, a biology professor at the Nicholas School of the Environment at Duke University and one of the study's authors. "It's a suggestion based on good evidence that there are places that may be more at risk."
The study is the second in recent months to find that the geology surrounding the Marcellus Shale could allow contaminants to move more freely than expected. A paper published by the journal Ground Water in April used modeling to predict that contaminants could reach the surface within 100 years – or fewer if the ground is fracked.Share This Post
By JASON HOWARD Published: July 8, 2012
Jason Howard is a co-author of “Something’s Rising: Appalachians Fighting Mountaintop Removal.”
ANYONE traveling on Interstate 77 just north of Charleston, W.Va., can’t miss the billboard perched high above the traffic, proclaiming “Obama’s No Jobs Zone,” a reference to increased regulations on the coal industry and mountaintop removal mining. Like countless other bits of pro-coal propaganda that have sprouted over the last few years across Appalachia, the sign is designed to inflame tensions — and by all counts, it’s working.
Appalachia is engaged in a civil war of sorts over coal, with miners and their families pitted against environmental activists. The central issue is mountaintop removal, a radical form of strip mining that has left over 2,000 miles of streams buried and over 500 mountains destroyed. According to several recent studies, people living near surface mining sites have a 50 percent greater risk of fatal cancer and a 42 percent greater risk of birth defects than the general population.
Despite the evidence, the coal industry and its allies in Washington have persuaded the majority of their constituents to ignore such environmental consequences, recasting mountaintop removal as an economic boon for the region, a powerful job creator in a time of national employment distress.
Of course, since mountaintop removal is heavily mechanized, the coal industry is the real job killer — and, until recently, miners would have been suspicious of any claim to the contrary. For decades the companies had fought the miners’ efforts to unionize, resulting in violent strikes.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/opinion/appalachia-turns-on-itself.html?_r=1Share This Post
Humanitarian Disaster From Electricity Crisis Grows in Coalfields, As Coal Baron Entertains PGA Golf Tour, Rock Stars
Posted: 07/06/2012 9:41 pm
Author of forthcoming book, State Out of the Union: Arizona and the Final Showdown Over the American Dream
As reports of revamped mountaintop removal operations and detonations continue to rock the electricity-bereft disaster areas in the West Virginia coalfields, ailing residents -- entering their second week of a mounting humanitarian crisis -- expressed disbelief and contempt for the inaction of Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and multimillionaire coal baron Jim Justice. Both of these men have been accused of making sure the PGA golf tournament at the Greenbrier Resort lit up in joyfully air-conditioned clubhouses and parties.
"William Shakespeare once famously wrote 'The show must go on,'" West Virginia broadcaster Bob Kincaid said. "Marie Antoinette said, in a piqué of cluelessness, 'Let them eat cake.' This week, we have seen both converge in a blisteringly hot West Virginia."
With more than 137,000 West Virginians still without power after last Friday's epic storm, according to news reports, Kincaid said the antiquated coal-fired grid defended by Gov. Tomblin had exposed the devastating stranglehold by Big Coal-bankrolled politicians who have kept the state from diversifying its energy sources and updating its out of date grid. An estimated 90 Appalachian Power distribution substations were toppled last week. Since then, residents have attempted to fend off brutal summer temperatures without electricity, along with shortages of food, water and gas.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jeff-biggers/humanitarian-disaster-fro_b_1655403.html?utm_hp_ref=greenShare This Post
Published: Friday, July 06, 2012, 6:04 AM Updated: Friday, July 06, 2012, 2:02 PM
By Amanda Waldroupe, Special to The Oregonian
Activists, Clark County residents and environmental and health organizations opposing the possibility of six additional train terminals being built in Northwest ports are beginning to combine forces.
The prospective terminals would export coal to Asia and are raising concerns citywide about the effects of increased train traffic on the Vancouver area.
Laura Stevens is a Sierra Club organizing representative working in southwest Washington and supporting the efforts of the Southwest Washington Beyond Coal Task Force, which she says already has more than 100 engaged members.
Currently, around 20 coal trains travel through Vancouver each day. The proposed terminals could ship up to 160 million tons of coal each year from Montana's Powder River Basin. That could require as many as 63 coal trains between 1 and 1 1/2 miles long a day.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/clark-county/index.ssf/2012/07/in_vancouver_potential_coal_tr.htmlShare This Post
Published: Friday, July 06, 2012, 3:48 PM Updated: Friday, July 06, 2012, 6:04 PM
The derailment took place Monday night in Mesa, 25 miles north of Pasco. It caused a cloud of coal dust as 10 cars fell on their side and forced another 20 cars to be pushed to the side by heavy equipment to clear the tracks.
Gus Melonas, a spokesman for Burlington Northern Santa Fe, said no more than 900 tons of coal were spilled in all. No one was injured. The train was en route from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming to an export terminal in British Columbia. The route and others in the Pacific Northwest could see more coal train traffic because of controversial plans to develop new coal export terminals.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.oregonlive.com/news/index.ssf/2012/07/eastern_washington_coal_train.htmlShare This Post
By Juliet Eilperin, Published: July 8
The fact that Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has fought so hard for the Keystone XL pipeline underscores the changing politics of oil: A global commodity has become a local issue.
“All I care about is working right now to get the most jobs for Montanans, and Keystone is a part of that solution,” Baucus said in an interview. “To me, it’s a no-brainer. . . . People at home, they want this.”
Baucus has emerged as one of Capitol Hill’s fiercest proponents of the project, largely because the pipeline extension will mean that oil extracted from parts of Montana and North Dakota will have an easier route to Gulf Coast refineries.
He not only has lobbied President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton — whose department is reviewing TransCanada’s proposal to construct a 1,700-mile pipeline between Alberta, Canada, and the Gulf Coast of Texas — but also pushed unsuccessfully last month for language in the highway bill that would have greenlighted the project over the administration’s objections.
To read the entire article go to: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/keystone-oil-pipeline-finds-champions-in-montana-democrats-eyeing-local-benefits/2012/07/08/gJQABAQnWW_story.htmlShare This Post