Nel's New Day

September 12, 2019

Bolton, Science Gone But Not Forgotten

John Bolton is the latest person who Dictator Donald Trump (DDT) dumped: Bolton said he resigned, and DDT’s tweeted that he fired his national security adviser. DDT’s stated reason was that he “disagreed strongly” with Bolton, who has been criticized for being a hawk. A recent disagreement was bringing the Taliban to Camp David for “peace talks” during the anniversary of the 9/11 U.S. bombings in 2001. DDT ignored Bolton and VP Mike Pence who said that the idea was bad. Bolton wouldn’t defend DDT’s positions on Afghanistan, North Korea, and Russia. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed pleasure, saying that DDT should have “people around him who will carry out his policies.” Another major Senate suck-up Lindsey Graham (R-SC) was less pleased, saying that Bolton’s agenda “makes America safe.” Three of Bolton’s top aids resigned the day after DDT fired Bolton. 

Although DDT said that he fired Bolton Monday night, Bolton was still scheduled the next morning to appear with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin for a briefing about new sanctions against a “wide range” of terrorist groups and their supporters. Pompeo and Mnuchin (right) seemed to be downright giddy at the meeting with the press corps without Bolton.

DDT tweeted his firing of H.R. McMaster as national security adviser 17 months ago, but he’s been calling his ex-adviser for advice for almost a year and said he missed him. This pattern is not new: DDT called Reince Priebus after he became disenchanted with chief of staff replacement, John Kelly.

Charles M. Kupperman, Bolton’s acting replacement, might be worse than the war-mongering Bolton. Decades-long associates, they seem to be birds of a feather with Kupperman a past member on the boards of several defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin and Boeing. Kupperman, a right-wing extremist, has connections to Islamophobe Frank Gaffney from when he served on the board of the misnamed Center for Security Policy that promotes Islamophobic conspiracy theories, according to Nihad Awad, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations.

Almost two weeks after Hurricane Dorian sat on the Bahamas for two days—and left Alabama untouched—1,300 people are still missing in the country of 395,000, and 50 people are dead. In the hardest-hit northern islands, almost 70,000 people of the 395,000 population have lost everything; on the Grand Bahama Island, population 50,000, three-fourths of the houses were underwater. A tropical storm is now headed for the Bahamas.

Not satisfied with the tragedies facing people from the Bahamas during the Category 5 hurricane, DDT turned on his cruelty to make it worse. He turned back over 100 people heading for refuge in Florida because they didn’t have visas. He refuses to grant temporary protected status to displaced people from the Bahamas, a status that would allow them to work and live in the U.S. until they could safely return home. Although existing visas permit Bahamans to come to the U.S., they won’t be allowed to work. DDT said some of those seeking aid could be “very bad people” and “very bad gang members” and “very, very bad drug dealers.” These statements were a 180-degree switch from DDT’s initial statement when he pledged U.S. help with recovery efforts. DDT said:

“We’re working hard, we’re with you, and God bless you.”

Florida GOP Sens. Marco Rubio and Rick Scott asked that DDT permit Bahamians to live with their relatives in the United States, but DDT separated at least one family instead. CBP took refugee Kaytora Paul from her godmother and sent the child to a detention facility with migrant children. Paul’s mother were living in a wrecked car with Kaytora and her two younger children while Paul’s father stayed with an adult son after their home’s roof collapsed. Officials refused to release Kaytora to a biological aunt at the airport, and the mother, who went to Florida to get her daughter, was told she must apply to be her own daughter’s sponsor, a process requiring many documents and taking weeks. The mother would have been deported in two weeks, but immigration advocacy and publicity forced the reunification of Kaytora and her mother after the 12-year-old was in detention for four days.

DDT looks at all the federal agencies, even those supposed to be independent, as personal “fixers” for his whatever he wants, such as DDT’s forcing NOAA to back his lies about Hurricane Dorian badly damaging Alabama. Documentation shows that a top NOAA official ordered its staff to not contradict DDT’s lies about Hurricane Dorian doing great damage to Alabama. Media reports that DDT told his staff to deal with NOAA contradicting his weather forecast, acting chief of staff Mick Mulvaney called Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to fix the problem, and Ross threatened to fire people if they didn’t immediately take care of it. DDT said he didn’t tell NOAA to do this. No, he told his staff to tell NOAA. Democrats on the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology are investigating the Commerce Department’s part in NOAA’s decision siding with DDT over its scientists and requested a briefing with Commerce Department staff. Former NOAA administrator Jane Lubchenco said:

“It is truly sad to see political appointees undermining the superb, lifesaving work of NOAA’s talented and dedicated career servant.”

A meteorologist said that he had never before been told “to not say that truly is the forecast.” Other agencies have sided with DDT against facts, but accurate weather forecasts in disasters are vital to preserving lives. Acting NOAA administrator Neil Jacobs and NOAA director of public affairs Julie Kay Roberts, who had worked on DDT’s campaign, were responsible for the anonymous false statement trying to cover up for DDT’s “mistake.” The department’s Inspector General is reviewing NOAA’s statement supporting DDT’s false statement about the great danger to Alabama from Hurricane Dorian.

Most of DDT’s hurricane briefings were by people without meteorological expertise. A 2018 survey of scientists in 16 federal agencies revealed a culture of fear and self-censorship with sidelined scientific evidence in favor of political expediency.

Meteorology will become even more problematic if DDT gets his 5G cellphone networks that seriously degrade forecasting accuracy, up to 30 percent according to Jacobs’ testimony on Capitol Hill. He added that the loss in tracking could cut “forecasts’ lead time by roughly two to three days,” a catastrophic effect on human life. The 5G is already available from Verizon to corporate customers in some cities.

In his desire to return to 1986 in water pollution, DDT will roll back a 2015 regulation to protect waters that feed into But critics say the rollback will speed the conversion of wetlands and headwaters, which provide critical habitat for wildlife and support the nation’s drinking water supply. Americans drained about half of the 220 million acres of wetlands in the contiguous United States between the 1970s and 1980s, most of it to expand farmland. The 2015 rule gave the federal government authority to oversee a wide array of lakes, streams, wetlands, storm-water controls and ditches that feed into larger waterways that are clearly protected under the 1972 Clean Water Act. He justified the rollback with his claim that he wants “crystal clean water.”

The DDT-led Equal Employment Opportunity Commission plans to dump reporting rules by large companies, those with more than 100 workers, for gender and race pay disparities by large companies. In 2017, Mick Mulvaney, Director of Office of Management and Budget, froze the data collection, but a court ordered the collection for 2017 and 2018. DDT’s EEOC chair confirmed by 50-43, Janet Dhillon, is a former general counsel for Burlington Stores and JCPenney. The gender pay gap has not moved from 82 percent during the past year, only four percent higher than the 78 percent 12 years ago. The gap is 62 percent for black women and 54 percent for Latinas. Ivanka Trump opposed collecting the data after she tweeted on Equal Pay Day that “we must work to close the gender pay gap!”

Luckily DDT has Pompeo to lie for him. He was in Kansas when a state university a physics professor asked Pompeo if he supported “the suppression of scientific reports from the U.S. Department of State” because of the “exodus of scientists” from federal agencies after their work is suppressed. Pompeo said he disagrees because “no one supports the absence of science.” With a straight face, he said this and more on the same day that NOAA was told to support DDT’s falsifying science with his Sharpie line on a hurricane map. DDT also didn’t a pick a scientist to be the chief scientist at the USDA, and he hid dozens of government-funded studies warning about the climate crisis and potentially dangerous chemicals.

DDT, however, knows that his magical black sharpie pen that he uses to sign orders, make notes on his hands for speeches, and redirect hurricane warnings will solve everything. 

March 5, 2014

Water Shortage from Conservative Waste

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 10:46 PM
Tags: , , , ,

When 300,000 people in West Virginia couldn’t use any of their water supplies except for flushing toilets, their dilemma hit headlines day after day. The crisis in Ukraine came along, and the news media turned in unison to another big story. Today, one of the nation’s largest coal producers agreed to pay a $27.5-million fine and spend $200 million to reduce illegal toxic discharges into hundreds of waterways across five Appalachian states. This fine is the largest thus far for violating water pollution permits, but the information will appear on the back pages of the paper if at all.

The violations covered the years between 2006 and 2013 when Alpha Natural Resources Inc. and dozens of subsidiaries exceeded the permits up to 35 times over 6,000 instances. Alpha bought the company from Massey in 2011 after it was fined $20 million in 2008 for other pollution violations. Both companies discharged contaminants such as heavy metals from almost 800 outfall pipes directly in water sources such as rivers, streams, and tributaries.

West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky will get half the fine while the remainder goes to the federal government. It appears that Virginia and Tennessee get nothing.

The settlement for pollution from mines and processing plants comes nearly two months after the spill of a coal-cleaning chemical near Charleston (WV) closed down businesses, schools, and other facilities throughout the area when the only usable water for over 300,000 people had to be shipped in. That disaster was followed by polluted water in North Carolina’s Dan River after the rupture of a pipe underneath a coal ash impoundment at a Duke Energy Power plant. Two weeks after the 82,000 tons of coal ash went into the river, officials found a second Duke pipe leaking water with very high levels of arsenic. How long, no one knows. Danville (VA) gets its drinking water from the Dan River.

North Carolina regulators are a large part of the state’s pollution problem: last year they stopped three Clean Water Act lawsuits which would have forced Duke to clean up its toxic coal ash pits. The state’s offer to handle enforcement at all of Duke’s 31 coal ash storage ponds protected the company from further lawsuits. Gov. Pat McCrory worked for Duke for 30 years, and the company donated at least $1.1 million of his campaign. A former state regulator has said that he told her not to fine or cite polluters.

While the country focused on the Dan River disaster, coal slurry spilled into a West Virginia creek that leads to the Kanawha River. The mix of solid and liquid waste contains the same chemical that spilled a month earlier. Unnerved by the loss of usable water in their state, West Virginia inspectors started an unofficial inventory of above-ground storage tanks that could impact drinking water and located over 1,600 of them in the state thus far. These could be subject to new rules if protective legislation ever passes. 

Until now, the EPA has been almost helpless to save the water of the nation. A federal court vacated the agency’s attempts to regulate the pollution from mountaintop coal mines, and there are no federal limits on chemicals piped from coal waste sites into water sources. Five years after a spill from a Tennessee coal ash pond covered 300 acres, the EPA still has no rules governing coal ash disposal.

A February district court ruling may help the EPA—at least a little bit—when it threw out a Bush decision that had eliminated a decades-old policy protecting streams from the spoils of mountaintop mining. The word “spoil” refers to the broken rock coming from drilling, blasting, or bulldozing mountaintops that is moved to valleys and streams. A few days before Bush left office, his administration removed the buffer zone around streams to keep the toxic spoil from waterways. The Interior Department admitted that it didn’t consider the Endangered Species Act impacts when it made the 2008 decision to allow pollutants in the streams.

If coal advocates in the House pass a bill applying the Bush buffer zone to all states, the EPA won’t be able to protect water sources from “spoil. Even with Bush’s buffer zones overturned, regulators refuse to enforce the earlier buffer zone.  Other bills, both federal and state such as the Tennessee bill to outlaw mountaintop removal, could help the EPA.  Last year, the EPA also got a boost from the ruling that it could veto “dredge and fill” permits. The EPA’s rejection of a permit stopped one of the largest mountaintop removal mines in West Virginia history.

The EPA is also entering the fray of fracking. Although it cannot regulate most of the chemicals used in the process—the majority of them unknown—it has been allowed since 2005 to control, but not stop, the use of diesel in the process. Until mid-February, it had not done so, but it is now requiring permits for the use of diesel. At the same time that frackers insisted that they did not use diesel, they denounced the new EPA direction. The EPA also claims to be developing regulations about fracking on public lands.

While corporations like Duke Energy cost taxpayers in cleanup costs, they pay no taxes. A five-year study showed that 26 of these companies paid no federal corporate income taxes. During that time, Duke made a profit of over $9 billion but received $299 million in tax rebates while paying zero taxes.

Last Friday, the governor of West Virginia lifted the emergency, don’t-use-the-water order after 50 days of deprivation. Yet residents still smell the licorice odor that alerted them to the chemical in the first place. After 50 days, there is no more free drinking water, and many people are paying hundreds of dollars for the water necessary to flush the pipes. This is in just one area of the United States. In other areas, pipelines make water resources unusable, and fracking uses 3 to 8 million gallons of water per day that can’t be reused, even if the wells don’t further pollute groundwater.

The lack of water is a world-wide problem. Since 1990, half the rivers in China have disappeared; considering the greed of many leaders in the U.S., people may be willing to sell them our water, leaving us without necessary resources. This would be the mentality of people who believe “we have enough regulations,” as House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) said after the recent West Virginia water debacle.

The United States is one of the countries that is overpumping its aquifers. The Ogallala Aquifer that supplies the central area of the United States that provides much of our food will be gone “in our lifetime,” according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Kansas is taking excessive water out of the High Plains Aquifer for corn and beef: 30 percent of the groundwater is gone, and another 39 percent will disappear in another 50 years with the current trend. Most of the rivers and creeks have dried up after 60 years of pumping.

Even chickens are polluting the nation’s waters. Maryland produces 1.5 billion pounds of poultry waste that goes into the Chesapeake Bay. Yet Gov. Martin O’Malley refuses to allow a $.05 tax per chicken to clean up their mess.

At this time, the majority of the world’s population lives within 31 miles of an endangered water source. Trade policies give corporations the right to claim “ownership” of water. By 2030, global demand for water will outstrip supply by 40 percent.

Right now, naysayers will claim that the drought in California is over and that the plentiful snowfall across the United States proves that we will have no water shortage. They’ll turn back to Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) thundering speeches about the weakness of President Obama’s leadership. These people won’t pay for their waste; their grandchildren will.

January 11, 2014

WV Loss of Water Only the Tipping Point

“You can’t do nothing [without water]. You don’t miss it until it goes away.” What’s what 60-year-old Curtis Walls, resident of Charleston (WV), said after over 300,000 people in the state capital and nine surrounding counties were told not to use their water for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing clothes, brushing teeth, or any other personal use except flushing toilets. No restaurants, hotel reservations, nursing homes, day-care centers, schools, etc. are operating in the nearly deserted business areas although sales of bottled water are going gangbusters. No one knows how long the disaster will last.

Two days ago, complaints about a noxious odor led to inspectors to a chemical leak from a ruptured tank at Freedom Industries, a company that processes and stores 14 tanks of chemicals on the Elk River, about 2.5 miles upstream from its junction with the Kanawha River in downtown Charleston. The chemical can reportedly can cause symptoms ranging from skin irritation and rashes to vomiting and diarrhea. The company’s president, Gary Southern, claims that the chemicals have low toxicity and “has no effect on aquatic life.”

The leaked chemical, 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, is used to separate ground-up coal from soil and rock particles. Left-over mixtures of chemicals and mud are stored in slurry ponds before being reused. The water-soluble chemical cannot be removed with surface booms used for capturing spilled oil.

Facts about the chemical spill:

  • Freedom Industries failed to report the leak; therefore no one knows when the leak started or how much of the chemical has been leaked. Or if it’s still leaking.
  • No one knows when people will be able to use their water. Contaminated water can’t be treated; the entire water system of 1,500 miles must be flushed and then certified clean of contaminants.  There’s also no standard process for testing the chemical’s toxicity.
  • The company providing residents with water assured its customers that they are in no danger but also told them not to use the water. The water company’s president, who claimed that the chemical is “not particularly lethal” also acknowledged, “This is not a chemical that we deal with every day. It’s not the type of thing we would see in dealing with a water treatment plant.” And the water company is not in communication with Freedom Industries who provided no notice of the spill.
  • Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said, “Nobody really knows how dangerous it could be.”
  • The Toxicology Data Network lists a large number of effects from the chemical but adds under “Clinical Effects” that “Data on toxic effects in humans are limited.” Again, “nobody really knows.”
  • No one knows how much of the chemical may have leached into the soil. After the failure of the containment in the chemical holding tank, the chemical traveled across land to reach the Elk River.

West Virginia vigorously protects its coal mining industry, especially because jobs pay as well as $80,000 a year, but these positions have fallen from 130,000 to around 14,000 workers after mechanization and strip-mining when the companies simply blasted off the tops of mountains.

Freedom Industries has existed in its current form for less than two weeks because of its merger with three other companies on the last day of 2013. It was originally formed in 1992, but an “incorporator” listed with the state, Carl L. Kennedy II, has not been with Freedom for years. The website lists Dennis P. Farrel as president, but his name is not on any papers filed with West Virginia’s Secretary of State. Farrel’s name appeared on the Facebook page of his girlfriend, Kathy Stover-Kennedy, who asked for “a little empathy” for Farrel.  

Spokesman Tom Aluise for the WV DEP claimed that Freedom doesn’t have to have inspections because it is only a “storage facility” and that “there is nothing processed there.” Yet the website describes Freedom as “a full service producer of specialty chemicals” that “can process large volumes of chemical rapidly.”

This pollution of the nation’s water is only a small example of what is happening to the water across the nation. An examination of 386 coal-fired power plants in the United States shows that coal plants are the largest source of toxic water pollution in the country. The report, “Closing the Floodgates: How the Coal Industry Is Poisoning Our Water and How We Can Stop It” reveals that nearly 70 percent of the 274 coal plants discharging coal ash and scrubber wastewater into waterways have no limits on the toxic chemicals dumped directly into rivers, lakes, streams, and bays.

Almost half the 187 coal plants surveyed are operating with an expired Clean Water Act permit. Even if the plants were to show that they conform to standards, these were established in 1982 and do not cover most of the worst pollutants. The proposed EPA coal plant water pollution standards have been changed because of industries pressured the agency into weakening these standards.

The EPA estimates that almost 140,000 people annual risk increased cancer because of arsenic in fish, almost 13,000 children under seven have reduced IQs because of lead in the fish that they eat, and another 2,000 children are born with lower IQs because of the mercury in fish that their mothers eat. The nation has taken lead out of paint and gasoline but leaves toxins in water because the coal industry demands weak standards.

In the United States, corporations are also polluting and using up water through fracking, an industrial process in which oil and gas companies inject massive amounts of water, laced with toxic chemicals and sand, into subterranean shale. The hydraulic pressure cracks open fissures in rocks and releases natural gas. One hydrofracked well requires three to eight million gallons of water per day. Although corporations deny any leakage, there is a growing realization that wells are leaking gas into the water supply and the air at an alarmingly high rate.

In addition to polluting the land, water, and air with toxic chemicals in 17 states—thus far—fracking is also endangering the population with radioactive elements released through the process. A Duke University research team found radium-226 – a naturally occurring radioactive material found in rock – appeared in concentrations unsafe for human exposure in fracking wastewater. Although treated, there were discharges “roughly 200 times higher than background levels” as well as heavy metals such as barium and strontium and salts. Bromide was measured at ten times greater than normal.

Mixed with water and fracking fluid in the fracturing process, these hazardous substances form a brine requiring treatment or reinjected into a deep disposal well. The geology in Pennsylvania stops the use of the latter solution; thus treated wastewater is released into local waterways. Deep-well disposal has been connected to human-made earthquakes, and wastewater and drilling ponds break or flood, contaminating land and water. Pennsylvania is trying to send its wastewater out of state, but at this time only Ohio will take it for disposal.

The following map shows natural gas reserves in red and rivers in blue. Although not all these areas are currently being fracked, they may be if corporations persuade the president and Secretary of State to allow unlimited fracking.

MapUS fracking

Fracking not only pollutes water but also takes it out of the water supply. A new report “Water Resource Reporting and Water Footprint from Marcellus Shale Development in West Virginia and Pennsylvania” shows that over 90 percent of the water injected underground to frack gas wells is permanently removed from the water cycle.

Nearly one in 10 watersheds in the United States is “stressed,” meaning that they have a higher demand for water than natural supply. Most of these watersheds are in the southwestern United States because of fewer surface water resources.

Stresses on water levels include agriculture, electric power plants, and cities. Climate change will both increase water demands and decrease water supplies, again particularly in the U.S. West. This map shows the stressed watersheds with red showing the greatest level of stress.

stressed watershedIn the past, the Colorado River system provided seven states in the West with water for almost 40 million people. The gap between need and supply in the next 45 years, however, will be five times the amount of water that Los Angeles uses in a year. Some people estimate that 20 percent of the Colorado River could dry up in 35 years.

Approximately 1.2 billion people, almost 20 percent of the world—live in areas of water scarcity, and another 1.6 billion face economic water shortage. As people move from starch-based diets to meat and dairy, the situation will only worsen. The equivalent weight of beef to rice requires over four times as much water. The United States uses half of its water for animal agriculture.

water_scarcity_figure_1Corporations take the position that water is not a human right, that it is a food stuff to be sold at market value.  At this time, water scarcity is not a problem for most of the people in the United States, but that will soon change.

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