The Charleston Gazette | Lab official admits faking coal water quality reports

A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits. – See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141009/GZ01/141009217/1419#sthash.gUWvR9Lu.dpuf
A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits. – See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141009/GZ01/141009217/1419#sthash.gUWvR9Lu.dpuf

Environmental activists in Appalachia have long suspected that water samples from mountaintop removal mines are sometimes tampered with, but now someone has been caught at it. IMO, this kind of thing is a natural consequence of letting the extractive industry buy politicians…or lab techs or anybody else.

I hope this case strengthens the campaign in Tennessee and other states  to keep regulatory authority for coal mining (primacy) with the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and not the states.

“A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits.”

The Charleston Gazette | Lab official admits faking coal water quality reports.

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Capitalism vs. the Climate: Naomi Klein on Need for New Economic Model to Address Ecological Crisis | Democracy Now!

As the United Nations prepares to hold one-day global summit on climate change, we speak to award-winning author Naomi Klein about her new book, “This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate.” In the book, Klein details how our neoliberal economic system and our planetary system are now at war. With global emissions at an all-time high, Klein says radical action is needed. “We have not done the things that are necessary to lower emissions because those things fundamentally conflict with deregulated capitalism, the reigning ideology for the entire period we have been struggling to find a way out of this crisis,” Klein writes. “We are stuck because the actions that would give us the best chance of averting catastrophe — and would benefit the vast majority — are extremely threatening to an elite minority that has a stranglehold over our economy, our political process, and most of our major media outlets.”

Capitalism vs. the Climate: Naomi Klein on Need for New Economic Model to Address Ecological Crisis | Democracy Now!.

Colorado Town Sues State, Gov. Hickenlooper and COGA to Protect Right to Ban Fracking | EcoWatch

In a state wracked with clashes over its explosive expansion of fracking, residents of Lafayette, Colorado just outside Boulder, have filed a motion for a preliminary injunction to prevent the state of Colorado, Gov. John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Oil and Gas Association (COGA) from taking away the town’s right to ban the practice.

Colorado Town Sues State, Gov. Hickenlooper and COGA to Protect Right to Ban Fracking | EcoWatch.

Opposition mounts to seismic testing for Atlantic oil and gas reserves

Opposition mounts to seismic testing for Atlantic oil and gas reserves.

The governors of North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia are among those calling to allow seismic testing to proceed off their coasts. They appear to have won the support of the Department of Interior, which in February published an environmental analysis that endorses seismic exploration for an area stretching from Delaware to Florida.

But a growing number of coastal cities and town have passed resolutions opposing seismic testing. They are Cape Canaveral, Fla.; Cocoa Beach, Fla.; Carolina Beach, N.C.; Nags Head, N.C.; Bradley Beach, N.J.; and Red Bank, N.J. In addition, the city of St. Augustine Beach, Fla. voted unanimously to oppose seismic testing and wrote a letter to the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management expressing its opposition, while Caswell Beach, N.C. approved a resolution expressing concern about seismic testing.

DEP rolls back approval process for shale violations

I first heard about this via Sierra Club’s press release today applauding Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett’s decision. According to the Sierra Club press release,

In an internal DEP e-mail message from DEP Executive Deputy Secretary John Hines, dated March 23, DEP inspectors were told that any Notices of Violations (NOVs) would need to be cleared by DEP Secretary Michael Krancer.  The new enforcement policy would prevent inspectors from taking enforcement actions by issuing an NOV directly to a drilling company violating environmental laws or regulations.  The directive, never intended to be made public, was sent to a reporter at the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, who broke the story.

After hearing about the memo, the Sierra Club and other groups had quickly launched a campaign to get members to contact Governor Corbett to protest his decision.

Here’s an excerpt from a story on the reversal that appeared in today’s Post-Gazette:

The state Department of Environmental Protection has completely rolled back a controversial, 5-week-old procedural change that required all field enforcement actions involving Marcellus Shale gas drilling operations be pre-approved by political appointees in Harrisburg.

Katy Gresh, DEP spokeswoman, said the department’s oil and gas field inspectors are again allowed to write violation notices as they did prior to a March 23 internal department memo that directed them to take no action on violations until they received “final clearance” from DEP Secretary Michael Krancer and a handful of other administrators.

“The notice of violation process is just as it was. The inspectors don’t need pre-approval and that has been communicated to them,” said Ms. Gresh, who added that department administrators will continue to review the violations after they are written to ensure regulations are enforced consistently.

via DEP rolls back approval process for shale violations.

Safety Becomes Victim in Japan’s Nuclear Collusion – NYTimes.com

In 2000, Kei Sugaoka, a Japanese-American nuclear inspector who had done work for General Electric at Daiichi, told Japan’s main nuclear regulator about a cracked steam dryer that he believed was being concealed. If exposed, the revelations could have forced the operator, Tokyo Electric Power, to do what utilities least want to do: undertake costly repairs.

What happened next was an example, critics have since said, of the collusive ties that bind the nation’s nuclear power companies, regulators and politicians.

via Safety Becomes Victim in Japan’s Nuclear Collusion – NYTimes.com.