Covering up

So I guess we should add gas drillers to that list of companies that now perch on the upper level of our two-tiered justice system? If the situation went down the way the AP describes it, this is truly disgusting. The EPA is supposed to protect our natural resources, not cover up for the polluters:

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) — When a man in a Fort Worth suburb reported his family’s drinking water had begun bubbling like champagne, the federal government sounded an alarm: An oil company may have tainted their wells while drilling for natural gas.

At first, the Environmental Protection Agency believed the situation was so serious that it issued a rare emergency order in late 2010 that said at least two homeowners were in immediate danger from a well saturated with flammable methane. More than a year later, the agency rescinded its mandate and refused to explain why.

Now a confidential report obtained by The Associated Press and interviews with company representatives show that the EPA had scientific evidence against the driller, Range Resources, but changed course after the company threatened not to cooperate with a national study into a common form of drilling called hydraulic fracturing.

Regulators set aside an analysis that concluded the drilling could have been to blame for the contamination.

For Steve Lipsky, the EPA decision seemed to ignore the dangers to his family. His water supply contains so much methane that the gas in water flowing from a pipe connected to the well can be ignited.

“I just can’t believe that an agency that knows the truth about something like that, or has evidence like this, wouldn’t use it,” said Lipsky, who fears he will have to abandon his dream home in an upscale neighborhood of Weatherford.

The case isn’t the first in which the EPA initially linked a hydraulic fracturing operation to water contamination and then softened its position after the industry protested.

A similar dispute unfolded in west-central Wyoming in late 2011, when the EPA released an initial report that showed hydraulic fracturing could have contaminated groundwater. After industry and GOP leaders went on the attack, the agency said it had decided to do more testing. It has yet to announce a final conclusion.

Desmogblog has additional information that confirms the likelihood that the testing conclusions were accurate.

Way to go

Love this. I want House Dems to bring up THE PUBLIC OPTION every damn time Republicans mention the deficit. Even better, SINGLE PAYER. But this is a great start:

The public option is back … sort of.

House Democrats on Tuesday introduced the “Public Option Deficit Reduction Act,” which would provide consumers the choice to opt into a government-run health insurance plan in the Obamacare exchanges.

The bill, which almost certainly cannot pass in the Republican-controlled House, is a mostly symbolic effort meant to keep the public option alive as a policy prescription. It is sponsored by Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), who is on the Energy & Commerce health subcommittee, along with Energy & Commerce Ranking Member Henry Waxman (D-CA) and 43 other lawmakers.

“The Public Option Deficit Reduction Act will give health care consumers more choice and lower their premiums,” said Schakowsky. “And, by providing a lower-cost alternative to private insurance, it would put pressure on all insurers to lower their premiums in order to compete.”

Citing an earlier estimate by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Schakowsky expects it to reduce the deficit by some $100 billion over 10 years by boosting competition among insurers and paying providers at Medicare rates. The 2010 version of the public option was expected to reduce the debt by $68 billion over 10 years.

Good karma

In my never-ending quest to find some hopeful news (because this line of work really sucks the joy out of you), I ran across this story from Laffy at the Political Carnival. Seems that some years ago, pop singer Usher founded something called the New Look Foundation, and now he’s teaming up with Accenture to develop leadership skills in teens around the world:

Usher’s New Look, a non-profit organization founded by Usher Raymond IV, today announced their partnership with Accenture to help New Look reach its goal of training and certifying 50,000 youth as global leaders. The effort reflects Accenture’s Skills to Succeed corporate citizenship initiative.

Over two years, Accenture is supporting New Look with a more than $900,000 contribution, which includes a cash grant as well as pro bono support to develop iLEAD – an online, interactive, curriculum-based platform that will provide data management and tracking for students and parents as they move through New Look’s four leadership pillars – talent, education, career and service.

Through the iLEAD platform, New Look will be able to better track the progress of enrolled students. It will also support developing leaders in schools, raising graduation rates and preparing youth for college and career readiness.The platform will align with national public school, career training and development standards.

It’s always nice to hear about a celebrity who wants to give something back, who uses his fame and fortune for something besides partying and extravagant living. Hopefully this program will plant seeds that will sprout and spread.

And maybe Accenture can make a large enough deposit in the karma bank to make up for past sins.

Going after NRA Dems

I was on Mark Thompson’s “Make It Plain” on Sirius XM last night (I’m on every Wednesday night), and we were talking about how urban people and rural people have such different opinions on guns because they have different experiences of guns. Urban gun violence is so random, and so interwoven with the drug trade (that’s a whole other discussion), that city dwellers just want to make it stop. (Although the only time I’ve had a loaded gun pointed right at me was in the Hellmouth, by my Iraqi vet neighbor who was having a PTSD episode. A little unnerving!)

So no, it’s not that we want to take away your guns. We just want gun violence against other human beings to stop. We want better odds against being a victim, and against our children being victims. We love living in the city, but we don’t want to be so afraid of guns.

When I lived in Mt. Airy, my apartment was on a main city artery, with an iron gate across the front entrance, and I don’t know that I would have moved in without it. Shortly after I moved in, a neighborhood woman was shot in the head from a stray bullet — while she was asleep in her bed. (This was a few blocks from me.) I said to myself, “Well, my bedroom is in the back of the building, so I’m less likely to get hit.” Because that’s how you think when you live in the city.

Because I live in the city, there’s part of me that still can’t believe we even have to call our representatives and push for such a “controversial” idea as protecting children from gun violence. That the discussion in our country is so very slanted toward fear and paranoia, keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and the severely mentally ill is what passes for radical.

That’s why I’m happy that we have these outside groups to turn up the political heat. Check out this hard-hitting ad from the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. They’re now going after conservative Dems who support the NRA in opposing gun controls, and they’re linking Rep. John Barrow’s stance to the recent slaughter at Newtown:

One week ago, Barrow declared that “no new [gun] laws will have a big chance of passing in the House.” Yesterday, he commented on President Obama’s reform package, saying, “We need to find practical solutions to gun violence that are consistent with the Second Amendment, rather than having another political debate in Washington that divides Americans.”

According to CSGV executive director Josh Horwitz, “Representative John Barrow has decided to put his love of the NRA above his concern for his fellow Americans. That is not acceptable.”

Noting that Barrow has received $27,250 in NRA campaign contributions over his eight-year congressional career, Horwitz added, “Rep. Barrow has been bought for the price of a new truck. It would be laughable if his lack of regard for our families’ safety wasn’t so dangerous.”

[…] The Coalition to Stop Gun Violence is encouraging concerned citizens to call Representative Barrow at (202) 225-2823 to tell him to support the President’s gun policy proposals.

The CSGV also went after the newly-elected Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) for calling the White House’s effort to reform our gun laws “extreme.”

The Heitkamp ads, signed by four parents who lost their children in mass shootings, stated “SHAME ON YOU.” They urged Americans to call Senator Heitkamp to express their disgust, and enough of them did that Heitkamp changed her position, saying, “We have a responsibility to keep guns out of the hands of criminals and the mentally ill.”

My point is, we can stop gun violence. Finally, the tide of public opinion is overwhelmingly with us. Call your reps, call your senators, write letters to the editor. Call talk radio. Get involved.

The time is now.

Is it just me?

Or is this a little… overblown? Everyone at Notre Dame is so upset about a Notre Dame football player being punked (the school even hired a private investigator to look into it.)

The school didn’t hire an investigator when Lizzy Seeberg reported being raped by a football player. She ended up killing herself. Hear about it? Didn’t think so.

You probably didn’t hear about the other student who was too afraid to report her rape after she saw how Seeberg was treated.

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