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Monday, Nov 24th

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Rupture-Prone Oil Trains Keep Rolling After Quebec Crash

oil trains keep rollingWhen Aurora Mayor Tom Weisner sees rail cars full of crude oil rumble down the tracks that criss-cross his Chicago-area town, he often thinks about the derailment that killed 47 people almost a year ago in Canada.

The disaster focused attention on the design of the oil tankers, yet two-thirds of the tank cars in use today are still older models that safety experts say are vulnerable to puncture. The July 6 derailment last year in Quebec and seven other major ones in the U.S. and Canada since then have spilled more than 3 million gallons of oil, with some cars catching fire or exploding.

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Fracking Company Tries To Buy Off Pennsylvania Residents

Fracking bribesFor the last eight years, Pennsylvania has been riding the natural gas boom, with companies drilling and fracking thousands of wells across the state. And in a little corner of Washington County, some 20 miles outside of Pittsburgh, EQT Corporation has been busy – drilling close to a dozen new wells on one site.

It didn't take long for the residents of Finleyville who lived near the fracking operations to complain – about the noise and air quality, and what they regarded as threats to their health and quality of life. Initially, EQT, one of the largest producers of natural gas in Pennsylvania, tried to allay concerns with promises of noise studies and offers of vouchers so residents could stay in hotels to avoid the noise and fumes.

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Why 28 years have passed since the EPA’s last chemical risk review

epaThis week, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hit a major milestone that some people, including leaders at the agency itself, think shouldn’t be celebrated.

On Wednesday, the agency released a final risk assessment for trichloroethylene (TCE), an industrial solvent used by artists, car mechanics, dry cleaners and others. The EPA’s in-depth report, released after a two-year analysis, shows that long-term exposure to TCE can cause cancer and other health issues, and recommends that workers take serious precautions if they must use TCE.

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Supreme Court limits greenhouse gas regulations

Supreme Court limits greenhouse regulationsA divided Supreme Court blocked the Obama administration Monday from requiring permits for some industries that spew greenhouse gases, but the ruling won't prohibit other means of regulating the pollutant that causes global warming.

The court's conservative wing ruled that the Environmental Protection Agency exceeded its authority by changing the emissions threshold for greenhouse gases in the Clean Air Act. That action can only be taken by Congress, Justice Antonin Scalia's opinion said.

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Earth 'on brink of mass extinction event'

earth extinction comingEarth is on the brink of a "mass extinction event" which could be equivalent in scale to the one that killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago, a landmark study by an international group of scientists has concluded.

Researchers warned that deforestation, climate change, and overfishing have driven extinction rates to 1,000 times their normal level, Reuters reports.

Duke University biologist and conversation expert Stuart Pimm says that "time is running out" to avert the threat of mass extinction.

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The new oil crisis: Exploding trains

New oil crisisCommunities throughout the U.S. and Canada are waking up to the dark side of North America’s energy boom: Trains hauling crude oil are crashing, exploding and spilling in record numbers as a fast-growing industry outpaces the federal government’s oversight.

In the 11 months since a runaway oil train derailed in the middle of a small town in Quebec, incinerating 47 people, the rolling virtual pipelines have unleashed crude oil into an Alabama swamp, forced more than 1,000 North Dakota residents to evacuate, dangled from a bridge in Philadelphia and smashed into an industrial building near Pittsburgh. The latest serious accident was April’s fiery crash in Lynchburg, Virginia, where even the mayor had been unaware oil was rolling through his city.

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Alex Baer: Freedom's Just Another Word

FreedomSituation Report:  I steamed my eyelids open again with real coffee, a nice treat for a weekday.  This idle, schedule-less time is a gift from my era.  It is a gift from the same chunk of time that decided a long while ago that I was not only economically redundant, but execrably so, and so, I was added to the Shoals of the Doomed & Adrift -- and then expertly excreted from the highly-lauded realm of competitive, cutthroat capitalism and into the murky lagoons and mired holding ponds of Excess Capacity.

In economics, as in most other areas of America life since, oh, 1960, it's best to fog and cloud the real issues, and all-too-human effects, with cold, distancing euphemisms.  So, the Shoals of the Shredded & Damned are magically converted -- presto! -- to Excess Capacity.  Language is very much like statistics:  What is revealed is routine; what is concealed is essential.

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