Debate over Keystone Pipeline

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There are all sorts of opinions on the Keystone Pipeline. Many environmentalists are very much opposed, while many people concerned with weaning ourselves off of Mid East oil are in favor of it, even with all the new oil American is producing through fracking. The Arkansas oil spill complicates the issue of course.

Here’s T. Boone Pickens discussing natural gas, oil and the pipeline.

BP Attempts Static Kill To Permanently Plug Damaged Oil Well

The news is good so far in the Gulf . . . . finally!

BP began plugging the damaged oil well today with a “static kill” by pumping mud into it. Early reports are encouraging.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen said Wednesday he has “high confidence” that no more oil will leak from BP’s Gulf of Mexico well, hours after BP announced that the well had reached “static condition” after pumping heavy drilling mud into it.

BP called the outcome a “significant milestone” in its efforts to permanently seal the well.

The energy giant began the “static kill” procedure at 4 p.m. ET Tuesday and workers stopped pumping mud in after about eight hours after the effort achieved its “desired outcome.”

Let’s hope we’ve seen the end of this nightmare.

Pelicans covered in oil


Photo from fOTOGLIF

Some of the other photos out there are much worse, but it’s heartbreaking to see these pelicans covered in oil.

Meanwhile, oil spill protests are heating up against BP.

We’ve added more depressing photos after the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

Oil spill may result in ecological disaster


Photo from fOTOGLIF

The photo above shows birds flying over a wildlife protected area, south of Venice, Louisiana. The United States scrambled on Friday to ward off an ecological disaster that could cost billions of dollars as a huge, spreading oil spill reached coastal Louisiana, imperiling wildlife and seafood areas.

Rescue crews are already rescuing the first bird coated with oil from the spill. Meanwhile, government officials have been criticizing BP, while the Obama administration said that any future drilling plans will be delayed pending an investigation of this disaster.

Don’t drink the water!

This is a very sad story from The New York Times. It’s stunning that we still have issues with contaminated drinking water in the United States. On the other hand, with so many corporate interests undermining common sense regulation, it shouldn’t be that big of a surprise. Remember the all the issues with financial regulation? It seems like we’re having the same problems here.

Jennifer Hall-Massey knows not to drink the tap water in her home near Charleston, W.Va.

In fact, her entire family tries to avoid any contact with the water. Her youngest son has scabs on his arms, legs and chest where the bathwater — polluted with lead, nickel and other heavy metals — caused painful rashes. Many of his brother’s teeth were capped to replace enamel that was eaten away.

Neighbors apply special lotions after showering because their skin burns. Tests show that their tap water contains arsenic, barium, lead, manganese and other chemicals at concentrations federal regulators say could contribute to cancer and damage the kidneys and nervous system.

“How can we get digital cable and Internet in our homes, but not clean water?” said Mrs. Hall-Massey, a senior accountant at one of the state’s largest banks.

She and her husband, Charles, do not live in some remote corner of Appalachia. Charleston, the state capital, is less than 17 miles from her home.

“How is this still happening today?” she asked.

When Mrs. Hall-Massey and 264 neighbors sued nine nearby coal companies, accusing them of putting dangerous waste into local water supplies, their lawyer did not have to look far for evidence. As required by state law, some of the companies had disclosed in reports to regulators that they were pumping into the ground illegal concentrations of chemicals — the same pollutants that flowed from residents’ taps.

Hopefully the EPA in the Obama administration will push for real enforcement.

Chinese citizens are sick of pollution

China’s growth has been impressive, but until now things like pollution and dissent have not been roadblocks to growth. The Chinese government has done as it pleased with little resistance.

Those days might be over, as BusinessWeek reports.

China has some of the most polluted cities in the world, a consequence of the country’s rapid economic development. More than 320 million people in China drink unsafe water, according to Greenpeace China. The country’s Environmental Protection Administration considers 45% of the rivers and waterways it monitors to be unsuitable for human contact, says Greenpeace.

Now, after years of silent suffering from the effects of filthy air and dirty water, many Chinese are saying they’ve had enough. And in some cases, their protests are turning violent.

This may be one of the issues that cracks the Chinese government’s grip on power. The situation in China is dire, and the people are awakening to the seriousness of the problem. This is good for China and the rest of the world.

As reported earlier, the Chinese are making huge investments in wind and solar, and this poses a threat to the US from a manufacturing point of view, but naturally these investments are a positive step for the entire world and the green economy. But this isn’t enough to address the pollution crisis in China. China needs to enact and enforce real regulations preventing companies from polluting the environment. They need to change the manufacturing culture. Until that happens, they will be facing ever-increasing protests and possible social unrest that can destabilize the regime.

Can we get rid of plastic bags?

They’re doing it in China, one of the most polluted countries in the world, so why can’t we do it here in the United States?

A strict Chinese limit on ultra-thin plastic bags significantly reduced bag-related pollution nationwide during the past year. The country avoided the use of 40 billion bags, according to government estimates.

Plastic bags are commonly found in waterways, on beaches, and in other “unofficial” dumping sites across China. Litter caused by the notorious bags has been referred to as “white pollution.”

The State Council, China’s parliament, responded in January 2008 by prohibiting shops, supermarkets, and sales outlets from providing free plastic bags that are less than 0.025 millimeters thick.

The State Administration of Industry and Commerce also threatened to fine shopkeepers and vendors as much as 10,000 yuan (US$1,465) if they were caught distributing free bags.

In its first review of the ban, the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) announced earlier this month that supermarkets reduced plastic bag usage by 66 percent since the policy became effective last June. The limit in bag production saved China 1.6 million tons of petroleum, the NDRC estimated.

Prior to the ban, an estimated 3 billion plastic bags were used daily across China, creating more than 3 million tons of garbage each year. China consumed an estimated 5 million tons (37 million barrels) of crude oil annually to produce plastics for packaging.

The amount of garbage generated by these bags, which take roughly 100 years to decompose, is staggering. More and more jurisdictions around the world are banning or taxing the bags. It seems like a logical step, though I suspect the oil lobby might have something to say about it.

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