Posts Tagged ‘air’


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Once again, we find ourselves in the midst of an orgy of worries and pronouncements about how to raise the rate of economic growth.

And yet, from the Industrial Revolution down to the present, it’s that same growth—capitalist growth—that has robbed us of the ability to breathe clean air.

Consider the report filed by Anu Anand [ht: ja] on the effects of capitalist growth on the air in Delhi:

Saharan dust, traffic fumes and smog from Europe may be clogging up London’s air at present – and causing alarm in the newspapers – but in the world’s most polluted city London’s air would be considered unusually refreshing. That city is Delhi, the Indian capital, where air quality reports now make essential reading for anxious residents.

In London last week, the most dangerous particles – PM 2.5 – hit a high of 57 – that’s nearly six times recommended limits.

Here in Delhi, we can only dream of such clean air.

Our reading for these minute, carcinogenic particles, which penetrate the lungs, entering straight into the blood stream – is a staggering 215 – 21 times recommended limits. And that’s better than it’s been all winter.

Until a few weeks ago, PM 2.5 levels rarely dipped below 300, which some here have described as an “air-pocalypse”.

Like the rest of the world, those of us in Delhi believed for years that Beijing was the world’s most polluted city.

But last May, the World Health Organization announced that our own air is nearly twice as toxic.

The result, we’re told, is permanent lung damage, and 1.3 million deaths annually. That makes air pollution, after heart disease, India’s second biggest killer.

And yet, it’s only in the past two months as India’s newspapers and television stations have begun to report the situation in detail that we’ve been gripped, like many others, with a sense of acute panic.

It’s a little bit like being told you’re living next to an active volcano that might erupt at any moment.

The residents of Gustave Doré’s London would have easily recognized that environmental volcano.

Only in America

Posted: 25 February 2014 in Uncategorized
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Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, has been SCREWED.

As Rebecca Leber [ht: sm] reports,

As ExxonMobil’s CEO, it’s Rex Tillerson’s job to promote the hydraulic fracturing enabling the recent oil and gas boom, and fight regulatory oversight. The oil company is the biggest natural gas producer in the U.S., relying on the controversial drilling technology to extract it.

The exception is when Tillerson’s $5 million property value might be harmed. Tillerson has joined a lawsuit that cites fracking’s consequences in order to block the construction of a 160-foot water tower next to his and his wife’s Texas home.

Meanwhile, Lisa Song, Jim Morris, and David Hasemyer report that air emissions from oil and gas development in Texas, especially in the Eagle Ford Shale area, are creating a natural and human disaster. Among their findings:

  • Texas’ air monitoring system is so flawed that the state knows almost nothing about the extent of the pollution in the Eagle Ford. Only five permanent air monitors are installed in the 20,000-square-mile region, and all are at the fringes of the shale play, far from the heavy drilling areas where emissions are highest.
  • Thousands of oil and gas facilities, including six of the nine production sites near the Buehrings’ house, are allowed to self-audit their emissions without reporting them to the state. The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), which regulates most air emissions, doesn’t even know some of these facilities exist. An internal agency document acknowledges that the rule allowing this practice “[c]annot be proven to be protective.”
  • Companies that break the law are rarely fined. Of the 284 oil and gas industry-related complaints filed with the TCEQ by Eagle Ford residents between Jan. 1, 2010, and Nov. 19, 2013, only two resulted in fines despite 164 documented violations. The largest was just $14,250. (Pending enforcement actions could lead to six more fines).
  • The Texas legislature has cut the TCEQ’s budget by a third since the Eagle Ford boom began, from $555 million in 2008 to $372 million in 2014. At the same time, the amount allocated for air monitoring equipment dropped from $1.2 million to $579,000.
  • The Eagle Ford boom is feeding an ominous trend: A 100 percent statewide increase in unplanned, toxic air releases associated with oil and gas production since 2009. Known as emission events, these releases are usually caused by human error or faulty equipment.
  • Residents of the mostly rural Eagle Ford counties are at a disadvantage even in Texas, because they haven’t been given air quality protections, such as more permanent monitors, provided to the wealthier, more suburban Barnett Shale region near Dallas-Fort Worth.