Oil is the cheapest it has been relative to gold since 1988...
"cheap" is relative
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The Guardian: BP will face a maximum fine of $13.7bn under the Clean Water Act for its Gulf of Mexico oil spill in 2010, several billion less than feared.
Federal magistrate Carl Barbier ruled on Thursday that the size of the spill from the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig, the worst offshore spill in US history, was smaller than the government had claimed.
He said that it amounted to 3.19m barrels, well below the government's estimate of 4.09m barrels, which could have led to penalties of up to $17.6bn.
US-listed shares of BP rose about 1% to $36.20 in after-hours trading as investors worried about the size of potential penalties breathed a sigh of relief.
For the first time in at least 50 years, a majority of U.S. public school students come from low-income families, according to a new analysis of 2013 federal data, a statistic that has profound implications for the nation.
The Southern Education Foundation reports that 51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches. The lunch program is a rough proxy for poverty, but the explosion in the number of needy children in the nation's public classrooms is a recent phenomenon that has been gaining attention among educators, public officials and researchers.
"We've all known this was the trend, that we would get to a majority, but it's here sooner rather than later," said Michael A. Rebell of the Campaign for Educational Equity at Teachers College at Columbia University, noting that the poverty rate has been increasing even as the economy has improved. "A lot of people at the top are doing much better, but the people at the bottom are not doing better at all. Those are the people who have the most children and send their children to public school."
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On February 4, 2011, the United States and Canada formed the U.S.-Canadian Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to facilitate closer regulatory cooperation between both countries. Working together under the auspices of the RCC, regulatory agencies in the United States and Canada develop Joint Action Plans to increase regulatory cooperation and their respective regulatory systems into further alignment.
Building off of the Joint Action Plan, OSHA is working to develop a specific work plan to address workplace chemicals and the implementation of the GHS in the United States and Canada. OSHA proposed the following three objectives:
In its comments, ACA supported the agency’s proposed objectives and forward-looking approach to collaboration with Health Canada. However, ACA believes the RCC Joint Action Plan should include a firm commitment by both countries to adopt the same version of the GHS at the same time in the future. ACA noted that if both countries do not adopt the GHS in unison, market disruption and “disharmonization” will occur every time either country adopts and implements an update to the GHS.
In addition to commenting on the objectives, ACA asked OSHA to work with Health Canada to resolve industry’s immediate concerns with the current implementation of GHS. In particular, ACA’s comments urged OSHA to provide clarity regarding its policy to exercise enforcement discretion, considering the flow of hazard communication materials for chemical mixture manufacturers who cannot classify their products due to the lack of flow of SDS in the distribution chain under the 2012 Hazard Communication Standard (HCS 2012). ACA’s comments also noted a number of inconsistences between the U.S. and Canadian regulations for workplace chemicals, and pressed OSHA to coordinate with Health Canada to resolve variances through the use of appropriate guidance. Lastly, ACA asked the agency to release guidance on shipping product into Canada to ensure that products labeled under the GHS scheme may pass freely across the border.
ACA is continuing to work with OSHA and Health Canada, through its counterpart the Canadian Paint and Coatings Association, to facilitate the transition to GHS and resolve inconsistencies between the HCS 2012 in the United States and the Hazardous Product Regulation in Canada.
Throughout 2014, ACA repeatedly urged Congressional passage of a multi-year CFATS reauthorization bill.
The “Protecting and Securing American Chemical Facilities from Terrorist Attacks Act of 2014” reauthorizes the CFATS program until 2018, improves management practices and whistleblower protections, and simplifies reporting and information sharing.
ACA believes that the multi-year authorization not only enables DHS to implement CFATS, but also provides industry with the confidence to make important investments, knowing the program will be authorized. ACA believes that the former practice of year-to-year extensions (or worse, short-term continuing resolutions through the appropriations process), is a destabilizing force in the implementation and investment process.
The law addresses some of the major impediments to completing site security plans and full implementation of the program. It restores the principle that facilities have flexibility to choose how to meet personnel surety requirements for access, gives covered facilities the ability to meet site security plans through alternate security plans approved by DHS and an option to use third parties as inspectors, improves Congressional oversight regarding tiering methodology, and ensures better coordination with state and local officials.
ACA believes that multi-year authorization gives DHS just enough guidance to more successfully carry out its duties, while at the same time providing Congress the ability to monitor the program and make any necessary changes to it after the expiration of the multi-year period.
CFATS, which was first authorized under the 2007 DHS Appropriations Act, requires facilities with threshold quantities of particular “chemicals of concern” to complete a “top screen” notifying DHS that they possess such chemicals on site. Once notified, DHS can direct the facility to submit a Security Vulnerability Assessment (SVA) and it then might assign the facility to one of four tiers based on the potential security threat on site, an action which triggers a requirement to submit an SSP to DHS for authorization and approval.
ACA’s members own and operate paint, coatings, resin, and chemical manufacturing facilities that are potentially subject to the CFATS provisions, and under CFATS’ statutory authority, many ACA members have submitted top screens identifying chemicals of interest and have been assigned preliminary or final tiers by the department. As a result, a number of ACA member companies have become subject to the CFATS Risk-Based Performance Standards. ACA is also a member of the DHS Chemical Sector Coordinating Council, which provides industry views to the Department of Homeland Security on CFATS and other chemical security issues.
Contact ACA’s Allen Irish for more information.
EPA’s 2014 amendments were based on an EPA environmental justice analysis of the 2008 DSW rule that examined the location of recycling facilities and their proximity and potential impact to adjacent residents. The agency concluded that the analysis indicated “regulatory gaps” in the 2008 DSW rule that could negatively impact communities adjacent to third-party recyclers.
Based on these “gaps,” EPA has amended the 2008 DSW rule to include the following provisions:
Although EPA replaced the 2008 transfer-based exclusion with a more stringent verified recycler exclusion, the transfer-based exclusion is still generally less stringent than more onerous subtitle C regulations proposed in 2011. ACA is currently reviewing this lengthy rulemaking and will provide additional materials to its membership in the near future.
Notably, EPA finalized a new “remanufacturing” exclusion that will exempt 18 high-value hazardous materials and solvents that can be made into commercially valuable products from hazardous waste regulations.
Because most states are authorized to administer and enforce the RCRA program, these authorized states will have to adopt the DSW rule before any such changes become effective.
The final rule, press release, fact sheet, FAQs, and Environmental Justice analysis is available at http://www.epa.gov/osw/hazard/dsw/rulemaking.htm.
Responsible for 400,000 deaths each year globally, air pollution has yet to be sufficiently addressed by the world's governments, researchers have warned. EurActiv France reports.
Air pollution damages the heart. According to an expert position paper published in the European Heart Journal, many types of cardiovascular disease are linked to poor air quality.
Not only does air pollution exacerbate existing heart problems, but it also appears to play a role in the development of heart disease in otherwise healthy people, the researchers said. There is particularly strong evidence of the harmful effects of suspended particles, as opposed to gas pollution, they said.
Air pollution is made up of thousands of different particles and gasses. Among the most important pollutants, from a health point of view, are particles in suspension and gasses like ozone (O3), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), volatile organic compounds (like benzene), carbon monoxide (CO) and sulphur dioxide (SO2). The burning of fossil fuels releases soot particles, nitrogen oxides and sulphur directly into the atmosphere. The main sources of NO2 are road traffic, power generation, industrial processes and domestic heating.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) ranks heart disease as the world's leading cause of premature death. In Europe alone cardiovascular diseases kill 4 million citizens every year, 1.9 million of which come from the EU, according to the European Society of Cardiology.
Air pollution, the leading environmental cause of death
Last November, the European Environment Agency (EEA) published a report indicating that air pollution was the leading environmental cause of death in urban Europe. "Almost all of the urban population is exposed to levels of pollutants considered dangerous by the WHO".
Cardiovascular disease and heart attacks are the main causes of death due to air pollution (80%), before lung diseases and cancer, according to the EEA study. The document also states that nine out of ten inhabitants of Europe's cities are forced to breathe air that contains the very pollutants responsible for 400,000 premature deaths every year.
This polluted air has been linked to coronary-artery disease, heart failure, arrhythmia and cardiac arrest, cerebrovascular disease and arteriosclerosis.
Mounting expectation for public action
The European Heart Journal's position paper calls for a redoubling of efforts to reduce exposure to atmospheric pollution through the implementation of appropriate and effective legislation.
The European Commission launched a Thematic Strategy on Air Pollution in 2005, in the hopes of achieving "levels of air quality that do not give rise to significant negative impacts on, and risks to human health and environment". A new air quality directive, adopted three years later, modified the legislation to bring pollution down to levels that would reduce the harmful effects on human and environmental health, whilst improving public information on the risks of poor air quality.
But the mood changed radically with the arrival of the new Juncker Commission in 2014. In December, Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans announced that the planned updates to European rules on air pollution were to be scrapped, provoking anger from environmentalists, who accused the Commission of capitulating to pressure from business leaders.
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A MIT researcher has made the bold claim that half of all children will be autistic by 2025 due to the toxicity from the glyphosate herbidice.
Stephanie Seneff, a researcher at MIT, said at a recent conference in a panel discussion about genetically modified organisms that the figure is a projection based on “today’s rate.”
Seneff, a senior research scientist at the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, noted how glyphosate is in many products due to the increasing prevelance of GMO corn and soy additives.
“All of the 70 or so people in attendance were squirming, likely because they now had serious misgivings about serving their kids, or themselves, anything with corn or soy, which are nearly all genetically modified and thus tainted with Roundup and its glyphosate,” a fellow panelist observed.
Seneff pointed out that despite Monsanto’s claim that humans don’t have a pathway for its chemicals to enter their system, our gut bacteria do have the pathway, enabling the Roundup to enter humans. She also noted recently that some of the chemicals in Roundup are untested. “In my view, the situation is almost beyond repair,” Dr. Seneff said after her presentation. “We need to do something drastic.”
However, Seneff’s claims have been receiving hard criticism.
“There is an ideological subculture that is motivated to blame all the perceived ills of the world on environmental factors and corporate/government malfeasance. Often this serves a deeper ideological drive, which can be anti-vaccine, extreme environmentalism, or anti-GMO. The latest environmental bogeyman making the rounds is glyphosate, which is being blamed for (you guessed it) autism. Glyphosate is the active ingredient in the herbicide Roundup,” wrote Dr. Steven Novella on his blog.
“It has been widely used for about 40 years, and with the introduction of GM crops that are Roundup resistant, its use has increased significantly in the last 20 years. It has therefore become a popular target for anti-GMO fearmongering.”
He said Seneff’s claims stem from “pure speculation, bad science, and bad logic.”
Snopes, which tries to establish whether claims are true or not, likewise took issue with Seneff’s predictions, saying that the estimate of one of every two children “looks to be a rudimentary extrapolation of an apparent uptick in autism diagnoses in recent years.”
“Even disregarding the sloppy mathematics, the claim’s very basis (that glyphosate is the cause of a perceived increase in autism) is unsupported. No mention was made of how glyphosate was isolated and shown to be a cause (or even a factor) in some or any cases of autism,” it added.
On the other hand, Dr. Mercola notes that Seneff’s previously published research on Roundup and glyphosate shows that the residues, which are found in most commonly produced foods in the West, “enhance the damaging effects of other food-borne chemical residues and toxins in the environment to disrupt normal body functions and induce disease.”
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TONAWANDA, N.Y. (WKBW) - US Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) is trying to get the US Army Corps of Engineers to move a little quicker when it comes to compiling options for the cleanup of radioactive wastes from the Tonawanda Landfill.
"They were supposed to complete this work by the end of 2104. It is now 2015," said Schumer during a morning press conference attended by upset residents, as well as, City and Town of Tonawanda Officials.
The nuclear wastes are leftovers from the World War II Manhattan Project that developed the world's first atomic bomb. They were discovered by a Department of Energy survey of the 55-acre Tonawanda Landfill in 1991.
A survey in 2010 determined the radioactive wastes could pose a problem if exposed due to soil erosion, something many residents who live near the landfill already feel is happening during rain and snowfall.
"The water can move the nuclear wastes right into the backyards, right into the neighborhood, and right into the school," added Joyce Hogenkamp, president of Citizens United for Justice.
Riverview Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda is located very close to the area where the wastes are buried under approximately two-feet of soil.
"Our kids are outside playing. It is not fair to them," commented Hogenkamp.
The US Army Corps of Engineers Buffalo District Commander Lt. Col. Karl D. Jansen responded to the criticism:
"The Corps of Engineers appreciates Sen. Schumer's interest and focus on the Tonawanda Landfill. We are committed, within the limits of our authority and funding, to work towards a solution that is protective of human health and the environment, technically sound, environmentally sustainable and economically justified."
The Army Corps of Engineers says it plans to release it feasibility study and project plan later this Spring 2015.
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The state of New Mexico has fined federal energy regulators and private contractors for actions that led to a serious radiation leak in the nation’s only repository for nuclear waste, which is now closed for the foreseeable future.
In February, a drum of radioactive waste ruptured half a mile underground at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad. The leak caused temperatures to soar to 1600 degrees Fahrenheit, threatening to set off a chain reaction of ruptures in other drums.
The problem was allegedly caused when the contractor hired by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) mixed organic kitty litter with acid neutralizers as part of the storage of nuclear waste. It has been speculated that the use of the kitty litter resulted from a typographical error that occurred in 2012 during the process of revising a government manual on the proper handling of nuclear waste. Waste handlers had previously been instructed to stop using the litter.
The combination, according to New Mexico officials, “could lead to or cause the generation of extreme heat, pressure, fire, explosions or violent reactions; or a threat to human health or the environment.”
Citing 37 violations of hazardous waste permits, the state Environment Department has thus far levied $54 million in penalties against the DOE and its contractor—$36.6 million to the Los Alamos National Laboratory (the original source of the waste) and $17.7 million to WIPP. It is the largest amount of penalties ever charged to a federal agency by the state. The figure may grow as the investigation continues.
“New Mexico is proud of our national labs and cutting-edge scientific facilities, and we have important rules in place to protect those facilities, the people who work there, and all New Mexicans,” Governor Susana Martinez said in a statement. “The health and safety of New Mexicans will always be our priority and we have to hold federal agencies accountable for safe operations in the state of New Mexico.”
The leak exposed at least 20 workers to radiation.
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