EJToday: Top Headlines
EJToday is SEJ's selection of new and outstanding stories on environmental topics in print and on the air, updated every weekday. SEJ also offers a free e-mailed digest of the day's EJToday postings, called SEJ-beat. SEJ members are subscribed automatically, but may opt out here. Non-members may subscribe here. EJToday is also available via RSS feed. Please see Editorial Guidelines for EJToday content.
"CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- As this year's legislative session begins, a state advisory council is again urging lawmakers to increase a coal production tax that funds abandoned mine cleanups and a scathing new audit says mismanagement by the Department of Environmental Protection could leave the state responsible for 'immense amounts of monies' for reclamation."
"The U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments Monday in a case near and dear to EPA haters. It would seem to be a David-and-Goliath case that pits a middle-class American couple trying to build their dream home against the Environmental Protection Agency. But the couple, Michael and Chantell Sackett, is backed by a veritable who's who in American mining, oil, utilities, manufacturing and real estate development, as well as groups opposed to government regulation."
"BALTIMORE — As operators of coal-fired power plants around the country welcome a court-ordered delay on tighter pollution rules, the owner of a retrofitted plant here says that the rules cannot come too soon. The company, Constellation Energy, says it is an issue of fairness. A little more than two years ago, it completed an $885 million installation that has vastly reduced emissions from two giant coal-burning units at its Brandon Shores plant here, within view of the city’s downtown office towers."
Sunflower Electric Power Corp. refused to take no for an answer when Kansas rejected its bid to build two new power plants there. A heavily funded political push eventually won approval, even as the company denied it was engaging in politics. "Yet the company’s success is a telling snapshot of how, when industry flexes its muscles over Clean Air Act issues, it often wins. From Kansas to Louisiana to Texas, Wisconsin and Ohio, community groups have fought new plants, expansions and chronic emissions – only to see industry score victories with regulators and politicians."
"Robert Finne was talking with a friend about the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission earlier this year when they both started wondering, 'Who are these people?' So they wrote to the commission and asked. Finne, a critic of gas drilling in the Fayetteville Shale, was surprised to learn that most of the commissioners owned oil and gas drilling companies. 'I knew the cards were stacked against us, but I had no idea how badly,' Finne said."
"U.S. EPA has failed to provide adequate oversight of state regulatory programs, leading to inconsistent environmental protections, the agency's inspector general said in an unusually pointed audit."
"Louisiana is among the worst states at enforcing federal clean air, clean water and hazardous waste laws, and the Environmental Protection Agency should either force Louisiana and fellow laggards to do a better job, or enforce the laws itself, according to a report released Monday by EPA’s inspector general."
"CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- U.S. Labor Department officials blocked an independent state team investigating the Upper Big Branch Mine Disaster from digging into questions about the federal government's response to earlier incidents where methane leaked from the Raleigh County operation's mine floor, newly disclosed records show."
"Montana's rivers are pristine and iconic, but they are also at the center of a property rights dispute that wound up before the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Gwen Ifill discusses the details of the dispute with Marcia Coyle of The National Law Journal."
"State oil and gas agencies across the country are straining to prevent a flood of new drilling from harming human health and the environment. But that's not really their job. Or at least not all of it. Their job is also to promote drilling. And sometimes the law makes that their top priority."
As Republican politicians pound the narrative theme that government regulations are killing jobs, employment data show that the GOP story simply isn't true. Economists who are used to this argument don't expect the facts to change many people's minds.
"A Coast Guard admiral who led the government's response to the Deepwater Horizon disaster is taking over as the nation's chief overseer of offshore drilling safety, the Obama administration said Monday. Rear Adm. James Watson begins his post as director of the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement on Dec. 1."
"A former police spymaster who spent years living deep undercover in the protest movement has confessed he tricked an innocent woman into having a long-term relationship with him, as part of an elaborate attempt to lend 'credibility' to his alter ego."
"The Supreme Court said Monday it will consider a lawsuit against Royal Dutch Shell PLC to decide whether corporations can be sued in U.S. courts for allegedly aiding human-rights abuses overseas. The case examines whether corporations can be held liable under a 1789 law passed by the first U.S. Congress. The law, the Alien Tort Statute, allows foreign citizens to file U.S. lawsuits based on alleged violations of international law."
"NEW ORLEANS -- Federal regulators on Wednesday cited oil company BP PLC and two other companies – Transocean Ltd. and Halliburton – for alleged safety and environmental violations stemming from last year's rig explosion and massive Gulf oil spill.
The companies have 60 days to appeal the citations issued by the Interior Department's Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement.
The bureau says the alleged regulatory violations could result in civil penalties once the appeal period has ended.