“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.”
—Daniel J. Boorstin

WOTUS: Woe to us

drainage ditchUnless a federal judge issues a preliminary injunction, the definition of the “Waters of the U.S.” will change radically on August 28. The change will give the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) the authority to regulate the water in your backyard – even water that might be in your backyard only because of a heavy rain. Even “any area where agencies believe water may flow once every 100 years,” says West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey.

Thirty-one states, in four districts, have filed motions with the federal courts to block the EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (ACOE) from enforcing the new “Waters of the U.S.” (WOTUS) rule, which represents a dramatically new interpretation of the Clean Water Act (CWA).

L.A.’s Got Balls: Here’s One Answer to the Drought

ballsLos Angeles officials have decided manmade plastic can help their city’s water supply survive the effects of manmade global warming.

Ironic, no?

Whether it’s the best or the worst of life, it always rolls downhill, and so have 96 million plastic balls rolled into the Los Angeles Reservoir, creating what one supporter of the plan told the New York Times is “the world’s largest ball pit.”

The last 20,000 of the balls were rolled into the reservoir Aug. 10, completing the $34.5 million project.

EPA makes a mess out West

animas riverA calamity occurred this month in southwest Colorado. It was precipitated by contractors working for the Environmental Protection Agency.

EPA was trying to clean up pollutants at a long-retired Colorado gold mine and in the process released highly contaminated waste water, three million gallons of it, into the Animas River. The toxic sludge, colored bright yellow, has since traveled through portions of Colorado and is headed into New Mexico where it joins the San Juan River, then through Utah and on to the Colorado River in Arizona.

6,000 Square Miles Of England Earmarked For Shale Exploration

huntHouseholds across an estimated 6,000 square miles of England – an area the size of Yorkshire – are expected to learn within days that their areas have been earmarked for possible fracking. Ministers are preparing to award energy companies licences to explore for shale gas and oil, in an attempt to kick-start the fledgling UK fracking industry. Estimates suggest there could be 1,300 trillion cubic feet of gas trapped in the rocks deep beneath the Bowland. If just 10 per cent could be extracted, it could meet Britain’s annual gas demand for more than 40 years. --Emily Gosden, The Daily Telegraph, 14 August 2015

EPA’s gross negligence at Gold King

epa spillOn August 5, an Environmental Restoration company crew, supervised by US Environmental Protection Agency officials, used an excavator to dig away tons of rock and debris that were blocking the entrance portal of Colorado’s Gold King Mine, which had been largely abandoned since 1923. Water had been seeping into the mine and out of its portal for decades, and the officials knew (or could and should have known) the water was acidic (pH 4.0-4.5), backed up far into the mine, and laced with heavy metals.

But they kept digging – until the greatly weakened dam burst open, unleashing a 3-million-gallon (or more) toxic flood that soon contaminated the Animas and San Juan Rivers, all the way to Lake Powell in Utah. To compound the disaster, EPA then waited an entire day before notifying downstream mayors, health officials, families, farmers, ranchers, fishermen and kayakers that the water they were drinking, using for crops and livestock, or paddling in was contaminated by lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic.

Shock EU Report: Mediterranean to Become Burning Hell by 2100

beachWhat would you say are the biggest threats to the tourist future of the Mediterranean?

If I had to make a list, my top three would be something like:

1. Terrorists on a fast boat from Libya (or similar) wreaking bloody murder on a tourist beach

2. Every last resort being swamped by migrants as a result of the EU’s ongoing inability to deal with the crisis.

Short Break - Open Discussion and Topics

MovingBoxesGonna be on a short break from Thursday till next Monday. Please feel free to post topics of interest, comments, or links to articles that are relevant.

I'll be moving today and throughout the weekend so won't have much time for anything.

'EPA-caused Love Canal' poisons rivers from Colorado to Utah

sludge riverThe Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is tasked with protecting us from those that would seek to pollute our vast network of waterways. But who protects us when it's the EPA's fault? As reported by the NY Times yesterday, an EPA crew caused an alphabetic soup of toxic elements to flow into the Animas River, turning the pristine waters into a mustard-yellow sludge. The agency, which was "investigating a worsening acid discharge from Gold King and three other mines," triggered the toxic torrent from a mixture of poor judgment, little planning, and the use of a heavy digging machine.

EPA's on-site coordinator, Hays Griswold, said it all started when they were exploring where they could put in a pipe that could drain the rising waters inside the mine. "We had found the hard rock I wanted to find overhead," Griswold told the Denver Post. "All of a sudden, there was a little spurt from the top." The spurt quickly turned into a deluge when it blew through the loose dirt that "acted as a barrier between the collapsing mine portal and waterways." The bright orange wave cascaded down into Cement Creek, which empties into the Animas River (an early tributary of the Colorado River).

Green religion meets Roman Catholic religion, establishes prayer day

pope crowdIt's only natural for one religion to join another in saving Gaia. From The Guardian (H/T Raining Sky):

Pope Francis has established an annual day of global prayer “for the Care of Creation” to boost support for the environment, the Vatican said on Monday.

The first day of prayer next month coincides with the build-up to a global conference to roll back the peril of climate change.

“I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation’ which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September,” the pope said in a letter released by the Vatican.

Should oil companies regulate pollution producing activities of the EPA?

animas before & afterBy any standard, the catastrophe produced by the EPA on the Animas River is tremendous.

...since Wednesday, the Animas has been grievously polluted with toxic water spilled from one of the many abandoned mines that pockmark the region — a spill for which the Environmental Protection Agency has claimed responsibility, saying it accidentally breached a store of chemical-laced water.

On Sunday, anger over the spill boiled over after the agency announced that the amount of toxic water released was three times what was previously stated — more than three million gallons rather than one million — and that officials were still unsure if there was a health threat to humans or animals.

"Unsure"? Of "chemical-laced water" probably filled with heavy metals? I'm sure!

EPA Causes Environmental Disaster in Colorado

spillThe Environmental Protection Agency often justifies its own existence by noting that corporations, who see profit as their goal rather than environmental protection, are ill-equipped (or at least, ill-prioritized) to care for America’s natural resources.

It turns out that, perhaps, the EPA might also be ill-equipped to handle toxic waste when it comes to preventing large-scale pollution of our nation’s waterways. In fact, they may have caused, on its own, one of our nation’s greatest environmental disasters. EPA crews trying to collect and contain waste water in the Gold King mine in Durango, Colorado, loosed 1.1 million gallons of “acidic, yellowish” discharge, causing the pollution – which includes levels of arsenic, lead, cadmium, aluminum and copper – to flow into the Animas River (an early tributary of the Colorado) at a rate of 1200 gallons per minute.

Australia pledges 26% emissions cut by 2030

abbottAustralia plans to reduce carbon emissions by 26 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced Tuesday, a target critics say falls well short of its fair share globally.

Abbott, however, said his conservative government's target was "fairly in the middle" of those made by other economies which will be taken to an upcoming global climate conference in Paris.

"We have come to the position our 2030 emissions reduction target will be in the range of 26 to 28 percent," Abbott told reporters in Canberra.