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.
"What happens when the fox builds the hen house?"
"When US President Barack Obama proposed a US$664-million cut in congressional funding for the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in his 2013 budget request, he tried to ease the pain by replacing much of it with money from other sources. But only days after the 13 February request, a vote on Capitol Hill made clear just how vulnerable those substitutions are, suggesting that the US public-health agency is on increasingly shaky financial ground."
"Earlier this week, National Weather Service Director Jack Hayes delivered some difficult news to his small agency: The White House budget would remove one employee from each of the 122 weather forecasting offices."
"The Commerce Department agency that oversees everything from daily weather forecasts to storm warnings, climate monitoring and fisheries management would be transferred to the Interior Department under an ambitious plan of government consolidation announced by the president [Friday].
In an address, President Obama proposed merging six government agencies that primarily oversee business and trade into one, a move designed to 'help businesses grow, save businesses time and save taxpayer dollars.'
Ongoing controversy over Pennsylvania's oversight (or lack thereof) of fracking for gas in the Marcellus Shale has brought a lot of readers to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's "Pipeline" reporting portal. The Post-Gazette offers interactive maps of drilling data from the Department of Environmental Protection. One big problem: "DEP's production data ... says there are 495 more wells producing gas, or ready to produce gas, than DEP has recorded as ever being drilled, and 182 of those wells don't even show up on the state's Marcellus Shale permit list."
"Dr. Paul Anastas, a top EPA scientist who heads the agency’s research branch is leaving EPA and returning to Yale University in February."
"EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson announced the news in a memo to staff Thursday. Anastas is EPA’s formal science adviser and heads the Office of Research and Development."
"Having left Congress after an embarrassing 2007 arrest, former Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho) has quietly reemerged in Washington as a lobbyist working on behalf of the coal industry. According to his federal filings, Craig has registered to wheedle his former Capitol colleagues on the obscure but critical issue of mine safety."
"BEIJING — Armed with a device that looks like an old transistor radio, some Beijing residents are recording pollution levels and posting them online. It’s an act that borders on subversion. The government keeps secret all data on the fine particles that shroud China’s capital in a health-threatening smog most days. But as they grow more prosperous, Chinese are demanding the right to know what the government does not tell them: just how polluted their city is."
The gas drilling boom is making at least one congressman rich.
"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."
Maryland is struggling with a backlog of water pollution violations.
"CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Investigators from the U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Inspector General have found that federal regulators are not identifying 'scofflaw violators' who don't pay mine safety and health fines, allowing those mine operators to avoid debt-collection lawsuits or other enforcement actions."
"BOISE, Idaho -- When lightning ignited a wildfire near Idaho's Sun Valley in 2007, environmental regulators used monitoring gear to gauge the health effects for those breathing in the Sawtooth Mountains' smoky, mile-high air.
That equipment sits idle today after the Idaho Department of Environmental Quality was hit by $4 million in spending cuts, a quarter of its budget, since the recession began. Water testing on selenium-laced streams in Idaho's phosphate mining country also has been cut back, as have mercury monitoring and hazardous waste inspections.
"France's state energy firm EDF has been fined €1.5m by a Paris court for spying on Greenpeace."
'U.S. EPA has still not implemented recommendations from the agency's inspector general that stretch as far back as 2001, according to a recent IG review.'