CHECKBOOK DEMOCRACY: Greenpeace has accused 15 members of the U.S. House of Representatives—all of whom get substantial financial support from the energy business—of fighting attempts to set tougher federal standards for pollutants from coal-fired power plants. The eco-group’s list of allegedly dirty pols includes both Democrats and Republicans. The pollutants in question include mercury and sulfur dioxide. Read the group’s new report, “Polluting Democracy: Coal Plays Dirty on the Hill,” at www.greenpeace.org/usa.
TOXIC THREAT: Many North Birmingham residents are worried about the health effects of toxic soils near their schools and homes. According to a July 14 report by WIAT-TV 42, federal and county officials plan to address toxic air contamination in the neighborhood during a public meeting at Hudson K-8 School, Monday, Aug. 1. To check out the report, “Toxic contamination in B’ham gets national attention,” go to www.cbs42.com.
GULF RECOVERY AIN’T EASY: The Gulf Coast is coming back a year after the BP Deepwater Horizon oil leak was capped, but residents are anxious about the future and the spill’s long-term effects. That’s the theme of a recent report by reporter Lesley Clark of McClatchy Newspapers. Clark talked to people like Debra Bosarge in Bayou La Batre, Ala., as she waited at the docks to say goodbye to her shrimp-fisherman boyfriend. “They’ve gone back to work, but is it still scary? Yes,” Bosarge told Clark. “We just pray and try not to think of it a whole lot.” To read Clark’s feature, Google “A year on: doubt, recovery, anxiety on Gulf Coast.”
AND THE OIL’S STILL THERE: A big share of the millions of gallons of oil that spewed from BP’s well is still trapped beneath the waters of the Gulf of Mexico, according to Samuel Arey, an environmental chemist at the Federal Institute of Technology in Switzerland. Arey spent the last year studying the behavior of the oil released from the damaged well, according to a July 18 report by Simon Bradley at www.swissinfo.ch/eng,
TRYING FOR ABSOLUTE ZERO: Honda Motor Co. said 10 of its 14 North American plants now send no waste to landfills and four others cut scrap and trash to nearly zero as the firm seeks to curb manufacturing-related pollution, according to a July 14 report by Alan Ohnsman at www.bloomberg.com. The automaker claimed in 2001 that its Alabama assembly plant was first in the U.S. to send no trash to landfills.
Honda has prevented an estimated 4.4 billion pounds of waste material from being sent to landfills over the past 10 years, according to a July 15 report at www.sustainablebusiness.com.
EPA GETS SOME LOVE: The EPA recently adopted a new Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, which requires that 27 states improve air quality by reducing power plant emissions that worsen ozone or fine particle pollution in neighboring states. The new rule, which was adopted July 6, has been praised by such groups as the American Lung Association, the American Thoracic Society and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, according to a recent report at www.rtmagazine. com.
WHAT THE FRACK? “Fracking” is a controversial technique used by energy companies in search of natural gas deposits. Fracking involves pumping a pressurized blend of water, sand and chemicals into underground formations, releasing the gas. Many environmentalists say that fracking pollutes drinking water. A business professor at the University of Alabama says these concerns are overblown and that the technique is helping the U.S. get its hands on more domestic energy.
Andrew Morriss cites EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, who told Congress that there had been “no proven cases where the fracking process itself has affected water.” (It should be noted, however, that Jackson added a qualifier to the sentence Morriss cites—“although there are investigations ongoing.”) Morriss wrote an op-ed, “‘Fracking’ has EPA seal of approval,” that has appeared in dozens of U.S. newspapers and web sites over the last week.