Hundreds of complaints that drilling activity may have contaminated drinking water have emanated from states where fracking is in use, with state regulators confirming that contamination has occurred in some instances, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.
After requesting data from state regulators in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and West Virginia, AP found major discrepancies between states in how complaint and contamination cases were registered and recorded. There was also pushback from some state officials over the release of the data in states like Pennsylvania, while in others, such as Texas, regulators did not hesitate to provide the requested information.
The report shows confirmed cases of well-water contamination in Pennsylvania and Ohio, although Ohio regulators insist that this is unrelated to fracking. In West Virginia and Texas, regulators have not confirmed aquifer contamination, but numerous complaints of possible contamination were received there. In West Virginia, regulators have received 122 recorded complaints in the past four years, while the Texas tally topped 2,000.
Although AP is quick to note that the number of complaints registered in each state make up only a small fraction of the total wells fracked, the report nevertheless suggests that state regulators, overall, appear wary of releasing data related to fracking, a stance that environmental advocates in particular have found troubling.
The news comes at the same time that energy analysts say the federal government is unlikely to step up its oversight of fracking ahead of the 2014 midterm elections.
Reuters reports that the Environmental Protection Agency may be easing off efforts to enforce penalties against drillers for possible contamination due to the fact that fracking has brought about major economic growth across the U.S.
The Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management is working to create fracking regulations that would require drillers to fully disclose all of the chemicals used in drilling operations, but the rule has not been finalized. EPA, meanwhile, has tended to defer to state regulators in issues involving allegations of groundwater contamination, likely because the agency is unwilling to ruffle feathers when fracking is seen as one of the few bright spots in the economy.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."