I watched a movie Tuesday night, along with more than 100 of my closest friends, many of whom I’d never previously met. It was about global warming, and about a preacher and his daughter and their disagreement over whether our home planet really is getting dangerously warmer.
I am diabetic. It’s no big deal, relative to the millions of other folks making Big Pharma rich with sales of antidotes to the sugar-water guzzling ways of our early years. I would go to bed with a bowl of corn chips, a bowl of salsa, a Pepsi in a Big Gulp cup, and television. Now I take, among a small smorgasbord of medications, metformin, a.k.a. Glucophage. It’s one of the mainstays of the diabetes treatment industry.
When the EPA turned Colorado’s Animas river yellow, Republicans launched an all out offensive. Early this month, workers for the federal watchdog poked a hole in a wall blocking the outflow of effluent from the Gold King Mine near Silverton, Colo.
The online political magazine “The Hill” reported the agency was playing defense as GOP lawmakers attacked it for causing the outpouring of toxic fluid, and then not holding itself “to the same standards as private companies that pollute.” For a few days, one of the most picturesque rivers in the American West resembled a flow of used mustard after EPA workers released millions of gallons of trapped poison from the mine – a situation the EPA normally is charged with preventing.
It occurs to me the EPA, contrary to opponents’ claims, has held itself tightly to private company standards. The federal, public, agency, once it was faced with the impossibility of disguising all those miles of once beautiful river turned baby-poop yellow, circled the wagons and began following a script with which many reporters are too familiar.
The 17-foot Old Town Tripper canoe glides easily across the water. A light blue sky mirrors off the surface, blocking the subsurface view in any direction but straight down. A tweak of the Moose polarizer on the end of the camera lens blocks the reflection; suddenly a large Smallmouth bass hovers above a patch of water-weed.
This time of year, a younger me would be swimming a quarter-mile and back across another lake, through the place where a spring created a cold spot – where the upwelling water would make that the last spot to freeze come winter. But there are laws, or at least local ordinances, against swimming in water that isn’t chemicalized and confined by concrete shores. A state regulator once told me we humans exude our medications into the water supply, and treatment plants cannot keep up with removing them. Continue reading →
Three conservation organizations have released their 2014 environmental scorecard, giving Pennsylvania lawmakers poor grades for protecting the environment in which we all live.
[pullquote]Place the right industry near the creek and the effect of all that work is gone.[/pullquote]
The report had been delayed to await the results of a Senate vote on a House initiated bill that essentially makes voluntary previously mandatory requirements that developers protect the state’s high value waterways as they pursue corporate profits. The Senate approved, and as I write this the bill awaits the signature of Gov. Tom Corbett, R-Marcellus, to turn it into law.
When the merits of “sustainable” growth are mentioned, the parts most often left out of the hype are more roads to maintain, more schools to build, more police, fire and emergency medical services to provide.
And more water to drink.
More water – two million gallons a day – is what some directors of Gettysburg Municipal Authority would have its customers believe they need to buy from York Water Company. Continue reading →
The Susquehanna River Basin Commission reports its data collection funding has been cut, while more than 2,000 miles of waterways still suffering from mine drainage from coal mines abandoned nearly a century ago. And increasing numbers of smallmouth bass are being found cancerous and dying in the 100 miles of river below Sunbury, PA (near the Shamokin Dam).
Meanwhile, PA DEP Secretary Mike Krancer and PA Fish and Boat Commission head John Arway continue to spar over whether the river should be declared “impaired,” a declaration that would make the river eligible for federal funding to research the dying fish.
The Chicago Tribune reported last week nuclear and coal-fired power plants along the Great Lakes have been granted waivers to release hotter-than-normal water into the lakes, causing fish to die or migrate to deeper, cooler locales. Plant operators say they need the waivers because shutting down the plants will cost them profits and make them unable to supply electricity for their elderly customers.
Last week, the Nuclear Regulatory Agency put the brakes on renewing licenses for existing nuclear-powered electricity generating plants. The agency also announced it will not be approving any additional plants – at least in the near future.
And a nuke plant in Connecticut was shut down Sunday because the ocean water on which it depends has become too warm to use for cooling the plant’s processes.