Without the Washington Post editorial page to kick around?
House Republicans tell me Speaker John Boehner wants to craft a “grand bargain” on fiscal issues as part of the debt-limit deliberations, and during a series of meetings on Wednesday, he urged colleagues to stick with him.
The revelation came quietly. Boehner called groups of members to his Capitol office all day, taking their temperature on the shutdown and the debt limit. It became clear, members say, that Boehner’s chief goal is conference unity as the debt limit nears, and he’s looking at potentially blending a government-spending deal and debt-limit agreement into a larger budget package.
“It’s the return of the grand bargain,” says one House Republican, who requested anonymity to speak freely. “There weren’t a lot of specifics discussed, and the meetings were mostly about just checking in. But he’s looking hard at the debt limit as a place where we can do something big.”
Beyond Boehner’s office, the leadership is sending out a similar message through its emissaries. The House GOP’s most influental fiscal strategists, Dave Camp and Paul Ryan, are privately reassuring nervous members that the shutdown may be painful in the short term, but a budget deal is in the works — and they should be enthused about what they’re cooking up.
“Ryan is selling this to everybody; he’s getting back to his sweet spot,” says a second House Republican who’s close with the Wisconsin congressman. “He and Camp are going to be Boehner’s guys. That’s why Boehner put them on the CR conference committee; he knows these guys are going to be his point men as this whole thing plays out.”
And during Wednesday huddles, Ryan and Camp, along with members who met with Boehner, talked openly about what kind of concessions they could potentially win from Democrats on the debt limit, should Republicans hang together. Per sources, entitlement reform, an elimination of the medical-device tax, and delays to parts of Obamacare are all on the table. Instead of fretting about the shutdown and getting mired in the press frenzy, the leadership and Ryan is working to help members accept a shutdown that may linger for weeks, but ultimately win policy reforms.
Ryan and his allies believe Democrats want a delay of aspects of sequestration and, of course, a clean CR and debt-limit extension. So, instead of making separate deals on each front, Ryan and now Boehner are looking at combining the different issues into a single pact.
See, this is why I love Gov. Corbett! Isn’t this great news?
In the state of Pennsylvania, home to the lucrative Marcellus Shale formation, 74 facilities treat wastewater from the process of hydraulic fracturing (a.k.a. “fracking”) for natural gas and release it into streams. There’s no national set of standards that guides this treatment process—the EPA notes that the Clean Water Act’s guidelines were developed before fracking even existed, and that many of the processing plants “are not properly equipped to treat this type of wastewater”—and scientists have conducted relatively little assessment of the wastewater to ensure it’s safe after being treated.
Recently, a group of Duke University scientists decided to do some testing. They contacted the owners of one treatment plant, the Josephine Brine Treatment Facility on Blacklick Creek in Indiana County, Pennsylvania, but, “when we tried to work with them, it was very difficult getting ahold of the right person,” says Avner Vengosh, an Earth scientist from Duke. “Eventually, we just went and tested water right from a public area downstream.”
Their analyses, made on water samples collected repeatedly over the course of two years, were even more concerning than we’d feared. As published today in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, they found high concentrations of of the element radium, a highly radioactive substance. The concentrations were roughly 200 times higher than background levels. In addition, amounts of chloride and bromide in the water were two to ten times greater than normal.
“Even if, today, you completely stopped disposal of the wastewater,” Vengosh says, there’s enough contamination built up that”you’d still end up with a place that the U.S. would consider a radioactive waste site.”
So Thanksgiving falls on the first day of Hanukkah this year, and it won’t happen for another 70,000!