Dale Schultz, the Republican State Senator who has been on the fence on the budget repair bill that will strip away public employee collective bargaining rights, will vote against the bill, according to protest organizer leadership. According to the Capitol City Leadership Committee, Schultz told State Sen. Lena Taylor (D) that he’s a no on the bill.
And here’s the bad news: Capitol police were welding the windows shut this morning to make sure protesters didn’t have access to food and supplies.
Blocking access to the Capitol is illegal under the state Constitution.
With hydrofracking, a well can produce over a million gallons of wastewater that is often laced with highly corrosive salts, carcinogens like benzene and radioactive elements like radium, all of which can occur naturally thousands of feet underground. Other carcinogenic materials can be added to the wastewater by the chemicals used in the hydrofracking itself.
While the existence of the toxic wastes has been reported, thousands of internal documents obtained by The New York Times from the Environmental Protection Agency, state regulators and drillers show that the dangers to the environment and health are greater than previously understood.
The documents reveal that the wastewater, which is sometimes hauled to sewage plants not designed to treat it and then discharged into rivers that supply drinking water, contains radioactivity at levels higher than previously known, and far higher than the level that federal regulators say is safe for these treatment plants to handle.
Other documents and interviews show that many E.P.A. scientists are alarmed, warning that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania. Their concern is based partly on a 2009 study, never made public, written by an E.P.A. consultant who concluded that some sewage treatment plants were incapable of removing certain drilling waste contaminants and were probably violating the law.
The Times also found never-reported studies by the E.P.A. and a confidential study by the drilling industry that all concluded that radioactivity in drilling waste cannot be fully diluted in rivers and other waterways.
But the E.P.A. has not intervened. In fact, federal and state regulators are allowing most sewage treatment plants that accept drilling waste not to test for radioactivity. And most drinking-water intake plants downstream from those sewage treatment plants in Pennsylvania, with the blessing of regulators, have not tested for radioactivity since before 2006, even though the drilling boom began in 2008.
In other words, there is no way of guaranteeing that the drinking water taken in by all these plants is safe. Continue Reading »
It’s that time of year again (I know, it seems like yesterday, right?) Once I pay my rent this week, I’m officially out of money.
It’s a lot of work, this blogging thing. I work 18-hour days, seven days a week. Even my friends don’t really believe how much effort goes into it until they spend time with me and see for themselves. It’s mentally aggravating and yes, physically and emotionally exhausting.
But the proof, as they say, is in the pudding. If you value what I do, if you’ve been coming here a long time because you find that my work informs, infuriates, uplifts or cheers you, well, I’d really appreciate your support right now.
Not if you can’t afford it, of course. (After all, I know a lot of you are in the same leaky financial boat.) But if you can make a donation, I would really appreciate it.
Addressing governors from around the country at the White House this morning, President Obama dedicated a moment of his speech to warning them not to vilify public workers.
“I believe that everybody should be prepared to give up something to solve our budget challenges,” Obama said. “In fact, many public employees in your respective states have already agreed to cuts. But let me also say this: I don’t think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or when their rights are infringed upon.”
Thousands of public employees have protested in Wisconsin and Ohio as Republicans have proposed stripping them of some collective bargaining rights, as part of new state budget plans. Pensions and compensation to unionized state and municipal workers have come under increasing fire from conservatives during the past year.
“We need to attract the best and brightest to public service,” Obama said. “We’re not going to attract the best teachers for our kids if they only make a fraction of what other professions make … Yes, we need a conversation about pensions and Medicare and Medicaid and other promises that we’ve made as a nation, and those will be tough conversations and necessary conversations.”
Not liking that last part, though. If we have to keep promises to bankers to allow them to keep their obscene bonuses, well, you won’t get away with swatting the rest of us away.