Oil and gas drillers ran afoul of regulators on average 2.5 times a day in three energy-intensive states for mistakes such as wastewater spills, well leaks or pipeline ruptures during the boom in hydraulic fracturing.Online records in West Virginia, Pennsylvania and Colorado showed regulators issued 4,600 citations from 2009 to 2013, the Natural Resources Defense Council said Thursday in a report. The report excluded violations in 33 other states with drilling because such records aren’t available on the Internet.
The five healthiest counties in West Virginia, starting with most healthy, are Pendleton, Jefferson, Monongalia, Pleasants, and Upshur. The five counties in the poorest health, starting with least healthy, are McDowell, Wyoming, Mingo, Logan, and Mercer.
For decades, people in southern West Virginia have suffered from elevated rates of health problems like lung cancer, cardiovascular disease, and birth defects. In McDowell County, for example, life expectancy for females is about 73 years, approximately eight years below the national average.Although many attribute these problems to the poverty of the region, scientists and epidemiologists have been looking at a different culprit. Beginning in 2006, more than two dozen studies have explored the possibility of a link between the region’s illnesses and mountaintop removal mining, a common term for the surface mining of coal.
Governor Earl Ray Tomblin announced that the state would conduct an official review of those studies, under the leadership of the state Bureau for Public Health’s commissioner, Dr. Rahul Gupta.
U.S. coal companies that are publicly skeptical of man-made climate change acknowledge in mandatory financial disclosures the widely accepted scientific link between fossil fuel emissions and a warming planet, a Greenwire analysis has found.Sustainable investment advocates warn that such doublespeak undermines the industry's credibility with shareholders. And scientific integrity experts are critical of the coal companies' climate communication strategy, which they argue is detrimental to the long-term health and security of the American people.
A new study from PEW Charitable Trusts shows a decrease in America's middle class.The analysis was conducted by Stateline, a PEW project. Researchers found through the study all 50 states experienced declines in the percentage of middle class households, even as the median income for most states declined.The research also showed the share of a family's income going toward housing state-by-state is generally about 30 percent.With still one of the smallest median incomes, West Virginia's share of households in the middle class in 2013 was 44.7 percent, while it was 46.7 percent in 2000.
Following West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s March 20 veto of Senate Bill 347, a move possibly inspired by U.S. Senator Joe Manchin’s fierce opposition to the civil rights proposal, gun rights supporters have renewed calls to ouster Manchin from their ranks.Manchin, infamous for his authorship of the Manchin-Toomey gun control proposal, attacked the West Virginia civil bill in a March 12 press release.
Gun owners and Second Amendment advocates can participate in the #BootJoe initiative at bootjoe.com, a website created by the Firearms Policy Coalition to urge gun rights groups to revoke the memberships of Manchin and other anti-gun politicians.
On keeping WV water safe:
This should help:
A subsidiary of Exxon Mobil Corp. has been fined $2.3 million for allegedly polluting waterways as part of hydraulic fracturing operations.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Justice Department said Monday that XTO Energy Inc. dumped sand, dirt, rocks and other fill materials into West Virginia streams and wetlands at eight sites without permits, in violation of the Clean Water Act.
From the Huntington News:
Nearly a year after the Elk River MCHM spill left 300,000 West Virginians without water, the West Virginia Division of Environmental Protection reported that tens of thousands of above ground tanks will have not reported on their inspection status.
Can we quit with the stuff about how businesses in WV spend too much time dealing with needless government regulations?
An update on repealing WV's prevailing wage law
A couple of posts down, I wrote about the possibility that the new Republican legislature will repeal the prevailing wage laws in the state. Of course, our local "newspapers" endorsed the idea. In a recent state news search I came across this interesting article:
WV Contractors Say "Don’t Repeal the Prevailing Wage"
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Many of the state's construction contractors say repealing West Virginia's Prevailing Wage law is a terrible idea.
The new Republican leadership at the legislature says it wants to do away with the law, which mandates that construction workers on public projects make the going rate for their specialty in a given area.
Kim Carfagna, president and CEO of Jarvis, Downing & Emch, says for decades the prevailing wage has been key to his company’s ability to maintain a high-quality workforce.
He says without it, low-cost, out-of-state contractors will try to under bid local companies.
"You're bringing in out-of-state contractors that will undercut our projects," he maintains. "The safety issue comes into it, the quality issue comes into it.
Does anybody care about safety and quality?
Manchin and the NRA
Senator Manchin has shown some independence lately. Not from the NRA, however, where Manchin (surprise, surprise) continues to voice the NRA line on Obama’s surgeon general nominee:
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) on Monday bucked Democratic leadership to vote against the controversial surgeon general nominee whom conservatives have bashed for calling gun violence a public health concern.
"I don’t believe it’s appropriate for America’s number one doctor to participate in political activism," Manchin said in a statement Monday an hour before the Senate confirmed Dr. Vivek Murthy in a 51-43 vote.
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. had an excellent op-ed piece about West Virginia coal and Don Blankenship, "Coal, an Outlaw Enterprise," in yesterday's New York Times
Coal is an outlaw enterprise. In nearly every stage of its production, many companies that profit from it routinely defy safety and environmental laws and standards designed to protect America’s public health, property and prosperity. In fact, Mr. Blankenship once conceded to me in a debate that mountaintop removal mining could probably not be conducted without committing violations. With a business model like that, one that essentially relies on defiance of the law, it is no wonder that some in the industry use their inordinate political and economic power to influence government officials and capture the regulating agencies.
A Daily Kos diarist writes what may happen to prevailing wage laws in WV next month
Perhaps it's a reward for voting Republican.
Update December 20 - That didn't take long!
Today's lead editorial in the Intelligencer: "Prevailing Wage Law Too Costly."