Saturday, April 22, 2017

Carbon Footprint of Canada's Oil Sands Is Larger Than Thought

From:  Inside Climate News 

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Questions remain after huge hydrofluoric acid leak


Korean residents in the affected zone are still afraid to return home six weeks after the disaster that killed five workers
More than six weeks after eight tonnes of hydrofluoric acid was accidentally released at a chemical plant in South Korea, many of the thousands of local residents who fled the area at the time have reportedly not yet returned to their homes despite assurances from authorities that the area is now safe.
The highly toxic hydrofluoric acid was released on 27 September at the Hube Global chemical plant in Gumi, about 200km from Seoul. The leak killed five workers at the plant and severely injured at least 18 others, including workers and emergency personnel. The  plant is reportedly still idle after the accident with no date yet set for resuming operations.
Hydrofluoric acid is used to produce chemical precursors for the pharmaceutical industry and has other industrial   applications. Highly corrosive and an acute poison, exposure can cause death and serious damage to the skin, lungs, heart, bones and nervous system. MORE

Regulation Freedom Update

By a 2-1 Margin of 27-13 the Kansas Senate on March 30 passed Majority Leader Jim Denning's Resolution, HCR 5003, urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment to require that Congress approve major new federal regulations.

The Resolution's support includes:

Kansas Chamber..United for Business
Kansas Automobile Dealers Association
Kansas Bankers Association
Kansas Building Industry Association
Kansas Farm Bureau (KGFA))
Kansas Grain and Feed Association
Kansas Cooperative Council (KCC)
Kansas Agribusiness Retailers Association (KARA)

The KS House voted 93-29 on Feb. 15 for the same Resolution sponsored by Rep. Steven Johnson.

23 Legislative Chambers have now passed Resolutions urging Congress to propose the Regulation Freedom Amendment.

Just as states helped force Congress to propose the Bill of Rights, pressure from the states could help force Congress to permanently curb federal regulators and preserve the regulatory reforms of the current Administration.

As we search for issues that can unite supporters of limited government, the cause of permanently ending "regulation without representation" could be one of the decisive issues of 2018.

If you or someone you know would like to learn more, please contact me.

Roman Buhler
The Madison Coalition
202 255 5000

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Toxic acid poses an unnecessary health risk to more than a million in the Greater New Orleans region

From:  The Lens 

By Ariella Cohen, The Lens staff writer |
The accidents unfold with eerie similarity: an unexpected explosion, a stubborn blaze, workers coughing and rubbing damaged eyes, a thick, ash-colored cloud of toxins racing away from the burning refinery.
On July 19, 2009, when a refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, lit up, a worker was critically hurt and the fire burned for two days. On Nov. 24, 1987, an explosion at an ExxonMobil refinery in Torrance, Calif., shot a fireball 1,500 feet into the air, blasted the windows out of nearby houses and generated allegations of broken eardrums, back pain and lung damage.
The common denominator in both explosions was a toxic chemical many Louisiana residents have never heard of, though more than 3.7 million people across the state are at risk if a similar explosion happens here, according to company filings submitted to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  MORE

Saturday, March 25, 2017

In 1959 Dad took me to hear something he through was important.

He was right.  Dr. Arthur F. Pillsbury, my father, was a life-long Conservative who understood the problems we still face today with pollution, water, air and land.  Dad was named to the first EPA in 1969.

This is a transcription of this speech made for the convenience of readers and researchers. A copy of the text of this speech exists in the Senate Speech file of the John F. Kennedy Pre-Presidential Papers here at the John F. Kennedy Library.
No change in a fast-changing world presents a greater challenge 2– no problem in a world full of problems calls for greater leadership and vision – than the control of nuclear weapons, the utter destruction which would result from their use in war, and the radioactive pollution of our atmosphere by their continued testing in peace-time.
It is not a simple problem with simple answers. The experts disagree – the evidence is in conflict – the obstacles to an international solution are large and many. But the issue of nuclear tests and their effects is one which should be discussed in the coming months – not as a purely partisan matter, but as one of the great issues on the American scene.
It was well, therefore, that this issue was raised last Sunday in a constructive way by the Governor of New York. His statement contributed to the dialogue on this basic issue – it represented the position of a leading figure in the Republican Party – and he did not attempt to evade the question. So I commend Governor Rockefeller for stating his views, and I hope they will be considered and debated by interested citizens everywhere.
But I must also express my own emphatic disagreement with his statement, which called for this country to resume nuclear test explosions. Such a proposal, it seems to me, is unwise when it is suggested just prior to the reopening of negotiations with the British and Russians at Geneva on this very question. It is damaging to the American image abroad at a time when the Russians have unilaterally suspended their testing and the peoples of the world are fearful of continued fall-out.  And, while Mr. Rockefeller did suggest that the testing take place underground to prevent fall-out, he also – according to press reports – “discounted” the harmful effects of fall-out – which I am unwilling to do.
While many competent scientists agree that there has been no great harm done to mankind as a whole from the amount of radiation created by bomb tests so far, it is also true that there is no amount of radiation so small that it has no ill effects at all on anybody. There is actually no such thing as a minimum permissible dose. Perhaps we are talking about only a very small number of individual tragedies – the number of atomic age children with cancer, the new victims of leukemia, the damage to skin tissues here and reproductive systems there – perhaps these are too small to measure with statistics. But they nevertheless loom very large indeed in human and moral terms. Moreover, there is still much that we do not know – and too often in the past we have minimized these perils and shrugged aside these dangers, only to find that our estimates were faulty and the real dangers were worse than we knew.
Let us remember also that our resumption of tests would bring Russian resumption of tests – it would make negotiations even more strained – it would spur other nations seeking entry into the “atomic club”, with their own tests polluting the atmosphere – and, in short, it could precede the kind of long, feverish testing period which all scientists agree would threaten the very existence of man himself.  And, perhaps even more importantly the ability of other nations to test, develop and stockpile atomic weapons will alter drastically the whole balance of power, and put us all at the mercy of inadvertent, irresponsible or deliberate atomic attacks from many corners of the globe. This problem – called the nth country problem, because we do not know how many nations may soon possess these weapons – is at the real heart of the Geneva negotiations. For once China, or France, or Sweden, or half a dozen other nations successfully test an atomic bomb, then the security of both Russians and Americans is dangerously weakened.
The arguments advanced in favor of a test resumption are not unreasonable. The emphasis is on weapons development – the necessity to move ahead “in the advanced techniques of the use of nuclear material.” This reason is not to be dismissed lightly. Our basic posture in world affairs relies on technical military superiority. We need to develop small tactical nuclear weapons and so-called “clean” nuclear weapons, in order to deter their use or other forms of limited aggression by the enemy, and in order to facilitate a decision to respond in good conscience with atomic weapons when necessary. We need to increase the flexibility and range of weapons in our arsenal in order to increase the flexibility and range of diplomatic possibilities. This is not, I might add, justification for cutting back our ground forces and our ability to wage conventional warfare – but it is nevertheless important. Certainly the destruction rained upon us all by a small nuclear battle – and this our weapons development program is intended to deter – would be many times the damage caused by all the test fall-out in the future. But such a weapons development program cannot be suspended indefinitely in a free country without our scientists and technicians scattering to other positions in other laboratories.  In addition, France and other nations on the verge of becoming nuclear powers will resent a ban – and their goodwill is also important.
But it is even more important that we find a way out the present menacing military situation.  And let us remember that our present test suspension is implicitly conditional on a continued Russian test suspension. If we are not developing new weapons in the absence of tests, so, in all probability, will they. And the facts of the matter are that, generally speaking, we are ahead of the Russians in the development of atomic warheads of all sizes but behind in the development of delivery systems. Until this lag can be overcome, there is a lesser value for us in testing and developing further “techniques in the use of nuclear material.” In short, for both sides to resume atomic tests today might well turn out to be more of a disadvantage to the West militarily than a help. The Soviet Union – which apparently made great progress in it 1958 tests – is quite as likely as we in any new tests to score a break-through with some new means of destruction which will make all the more delicate the present balance of terror.
I would suggest, therefore, the following alternative position:
1. First, that the United State announce that it will continue its unilateral suspension of all nuclear tests as long as serious negotiations for a permanent ban with enforceable inspections are proceeding with tangibly demonstrated good faith, provided that the Russians do not meanwhile resume their own tests. The latest extension of our test suspension announcement expires on December 31 – and we cannot take the chance of continuing it indefinitely without an inspection system – or afford the cost of extending a temporary suspension so long that our scientists disperse and our laboratories break down. But neither can we afford to undercut negotiations close to success – to resume polluting the atmosphere while the Russians pose as moral leaders. As long as serious, good faith negotiations continue into the early month of 1960 – and are not prolonged indefinitely beyond that – we must continue our suspension beyond December 31.
2. Secondly, the United States must redouble its efforts to achieve a comprehensive and effective agreement to ban all nuclear tests under international control and inspection – and this means developing a single, clear-cut, well 2– defined, realistic inspection proposal of our own. We do not have this today. We have not made as concentrated and effort on techniques for preserving mankind as we have on techniques of destruction. Nor do we have a clear, concrete policy for the general arms control of disarmament program which must necessarily follow an agreement on testing if it is to be meaningful. But the whole international climate could benefit from this demonstration that East and West can reach significant, enforceable agreements. At least a part of the burdensome arms race would come to a halt. The danger of new nuclear powers emerging would be lessened. For the first time the Russians would have accepted effective international controls operating within their own territory. The hazards of health would be over. Such an agreement, in short even if not perfect – even, for example, if it looks to further modification regarding inspection systems for underground or outer-space tests – would nevertheless be worth far more effort than we are presently exerting. And it would be far more valuable than the military benefits to be gained from test resumption.
3. Third – if our best efforts do not succeed, the negotiations collapse, the Russians resume testing and it becomes necessary for our test to resume, even then they should be confined to underground and outer-space explosions, and to the testing of only certain small weapons in the upper atmosphere, in order to prevent a further increase in the fall-out menace – and in hope, moreover, that the Russians and others will be forced by world opinion to follow our example.
4. Fourth and finally, we must step up our studies of the impact of radioactive fall-out and how to control it, through the Public Health Service here at home and a special United Nations monitoring commission abroad. Let us not discover the precise point of danger after we have passed it. Let us not again reject these warnings peril as “catastrophic nonsense” (to quote Mr. Nixon), as they were rejected in 1956 when put forward by a great Democratic standard-bearer, Adlai E. Stevenson. There is every indication that had a test ban been accomplished then, it would have been far more useful, far more easily accomplished and far more beneficial to our national security than it would today, now that the missile gap had widened so far.
These four policy positions that I have stated are no magic solution – nor can they be achieved overnight without effort. The course which I am suggesting is full or risks. It will require more effort, more leadership, more moral courage than merely “running scared.” But the new and terrible dangers which man has created can only be controlled by man. And if we can master this danger and meet this challenge, we will have earned the deep and lasting gratitude, not only of all men, but of all yet to be born – even to the farthest generation.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Why Fake News Spreads: A Neurological Explanation


Understanding our neurological superpowers and social pain.

If efforts by foreign powers to influence American society via disinformation — like the “fake news” that spread during last year’s presidential election — are rising as a national-security concern, then we need to know why such antics work. How does an adversarial government go about persuading an entire population that something is true, or that one truth is more important or relevant than another?  
Recent research into the roots of persuasion in the brain yields some important clues about how people  are convinced to propagate news that is not true or poorly sourced. Bottom line: fake news appeals directly to the portions of the brain associated with social acceptance.  Activity from those regions has a bigger effect on decision-making than logical argument — like some snobby East Coast news outlet trying to tell you “true” things.
If you haven’t heard of the social brain or the role that it may play in deciding what to news to believe, you’re not alone. We associate most high-level decision making with the very front of the brain, the prefrontal cortex. You could be forgiven for thinking that prefrontal cortex would be the part of the brain we would use to evaluate the authenticity or accuracy of a big national news story.  MORE

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

'Extreme and unusual' climate trends continue after record 2016

From: BBC News Science & Environment

NOTE:  There are two camps on this issue.  It is clear changes are taking place.  The question is what is causing these to happen.  The dominant opinion expressed by the Environmental Movement is the changes are caused entirely by humanity.  The second is that the present changes are normal and not caused by any one factor.  

But there is an alternative opinion.  This is that the change is caused partly by humanity and the use of petroleum and other technologies but that other factors driving change includes the Climate Change - Milankovitch Theory - Eccentricity Cycle

It appears to many now that the petroleum industry knew they needed to deflect attention away from the impact of petroleum on people and property because these were provable and, if documented, would result in successful liability lawsuits.  Therefore, they began strenuously denying petroleum was causing climate change knowing they could cite the Milankovitch Theory, which is gaining increased support academically, if called into court.

In the atmosphere, the seas and around the poles, climate change is reaching disturbing new levels across the Earth.
That's according to a detailed global analysis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO).
It says that 2016 was not only the warmest year on record, but it saw atmospheric CO2 rise to a new high, while Arctic sea ice recorded a new winter low.
The "extreme and unusual" conditions have continued in 2017, it says.  MORE

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Southern California Gas to pay $8.5 million to settle lawsuit over Aliso Canyon leak

From:  LA Times 

by Tony Barboza
February 8, 2017
A tarp covers the well where the 2015 gas leak occurred at the Aliso Canyon storage facility near L.A.'s Porter Ranch neighborhood. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Southern California Gas Co. will pay $8.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by air quality regulators over the Aliso Canyon gas leak and will fund a study of community health effects. 
The settlement with the South Coast Air Quality Management District, announced Wednesday, resolves a dispute over the months-long leak of methane from the gas company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility above the Porter Ranch neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The facility has been shut down since a well blowout in late October 2015 resulted in the worst methane leak in U.S. history. The invisible gas spewed for nearly four months, causing 8,000 residents to flee their homes, many complaining of headaches, nosebleeds and nausea. MORE

Chevron Continues in Canada

From:  Truth Out 

Sunday, February 12, 2017By Joe EmersbergerteleSUR | Interview

In 1993, US lawyer Steven Donziger and others filed a lawsuit in New York against Texaco on behalf of Indigenous nationalities and campesino communities in Ecuador's Amazon whose land and water had been thoroughly contaminated over a 26-year period.
From 1964-1990, Texaco ran all drilling, waste disposal, and pipeline operations in the region and admitted it had dumped 16 billion gallons of oil waste into rivers and streams relied on by local inhabitants for their drinking water, bathing, and fishing. The damage has been called the "Amazon Chernobyl" by locals and is considered by some experts to be the worst oil-related environmental disaster on the planet and credibly linked to unusually high cancer rates in the area.
Texaco spent almost 10 years fighting to get the lawsuit moved to Ecuador's courts, which it praised in numerous sworn affidavits. In 2001, Chevron (which had just merged with Texaco) won that battle and agreed to abide by any judgment issued in Ecuador, subject only to narrow enforcement defenses.  MORE

Monday, January 9, 2017

Should House Impeach Trump If He Launches Unconstitutional Wars?

by Andrew Kreig

Posted: 09 Jan 2017 02:26 AM PST

U.S. House members should pledge to impeach the incoming President Trump if he starts any new wars in office without first comply with the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of a congressional declaration of war, according a non-partisan civic group that announced its plan last week.

Charles W. "Chas" Freeman
Committee for the Republic leaders identified Virginia, Ohio and Iowa as the first three states where organizers plan to rally public opinion behind a pledge by their representatives to impeach if the Executive Branch launches new "wars," which would be narrowly defined to include covert advisors and major arms supply creating new conflicts defined as war.

“Thirteen years ago,” said former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Charles “Chas” Freeman, Jr. as he announced the grassroots campaign in Washington, DC on Jan. 5, “George W. Bush invaded Iraq without a congressional declaration of war.”
“Our nation is now mired in nine ongoing presidential wars,” continued Freeman, the chairman and a co-founder of the committee in 2003. “They have cost nearly ten trillion dollars; starved our infrastructure; crippled our liberties; and multiplied and united our enemies.”
Donald Trump button open mouth
“They have also enabled,” said Freeman (shown in a file photo), “the growth of apparently limitless presidential power to play prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner to kill any American the President decrees is an imminent national security danger based on secret, unsubstantiated evidence.

Speakers at the campaign launch at the Metropolitan Club, located a little more than a block from the White House, stressed that their initiative was not an attempt to thwart Trump (shown on a campaign button) but was intended instead to stop a long-term erosion of Constitutional checks-and-balances on Executive Branch power. 
Freeman, whose three decades of defense and diplomacy posts included high-level positions under both Republicans and Democrats, was the first of committee board members voicing strong support. Most provided compelling personal biographical reasons about why they had reached such a momentous decision as to push for a pledge.
The other speakers included constitutional law expert, attorney and former Reagan administration FCC counsel Bruce Fein; Washington, DC Tea Party Founder Tom Whitmore; and lawyer and former Reagan Administration Defense Department Assistant Secretary for Manpower Delbert Spurlock; and investment adviser John Henry.
U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) also spoke passionately about a need for constituents to hold House members and for limits on Executive Power, including to declare war. But Massie said he would have to study the impeachment pledge for agreeing to it.U.S. House members should pledge to impeach the incoming President Trump if he starts any new wars without following the U.S. Constitution’s requirement of seeking a congressional declaration of war, according a non-partisan civic group that announced its plan last week.
Since 2003, the Committee for the Republic has held 130 conferences (termed "salons") said the group, whose board of directors is shown below.
Committee for the Republic Board
“The time for talk alone has expired,” the committee’s announcement said. “Unconstitutional wars continue to feed dysfunction in government and to corrode liberty in the United States. They turn children into orphans, wives into widows, husbands into widowers, and families into refugees, while provoking terrorist blowback.
The Committee's Board of Directors believes that patriotism demands making the Constitution in general and the warfare state in particular the battleground of national politics. It proposes to devote the Committee's January 5 salon to elaborating a proposal to do this and to encourage past and future participants in Committee activities to attend this salon and to contribute as best you can to realizing the resulting proposal.
It is past time to restore a decent respect for the Constitution and the opinions of humankind to the conduct of US foreign relations.

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Twitter Reddit Pinterest 1 COMMENT ... Home News Business Oil and gas refining Smelly chemical release from Torrance refinery lingers on minds of residents

From:  Daily Breeze 

The Torrance Refining Co. described the recent odor problem at the refinery as a minor mishap. File photo. (Stephen Carr/The Daily Breeze/SCNG) 
rotten-egg smell wafting from Torrance Refining Co. refinery spread into nearby neighborhoods in such a high dose this week that several neighbors reported it to local and state officials, worried about the effects of noxious chemicals floating around their homes.
But fire officials cleared the area within an hour, and a refinery spokeswoman apologized and described it as a minor mishap. City officials simply noted the smelly incident in a Facebook post that stated there were no harmful air pollution readings taken in the area.
Still, community members remained alarmed Thursday about the refinery’s brief hazardous burp. MORE