News Service: Group Says Coal Isn’t A Cash Cow for KY

Photo: Codrington, Stephen. Planet Geography 3rd Edition (2005)
Photo: Codrington, Stephen. Planet Geography 3rd Edition (2005)
Some argue in favor of the coal industry in Kentucky because it offers well-paying jobs in a number of areas where residents may not have them otherwise, but one group says there are costs associated with coal that few stop to think about.

Jason Bailey, research and policy director with the Mountain Association for Community Economic Development, says a study his group did on the issue examined areas where the state has to spend money because of the industry.

He said damage to roads and bridges associated with hauling millions of tons of coal each year are a really substantial cost to consider. He also points out that the huge regulatory system that is require to protect workers’ safety and health, public health, the environment, etc… is extremely costly.

He questions whether it makes sense to continue to focus state subsidies on an energy source that is both declining and also has some negative impacts.

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AP: Natural Gas Drilling: 80 Chemicals Possibly Contaminating Water Systems

Photo: Hey Paul
Photo: Hey Paul
More than two years after the start of a natural gas drilling boom, Pennsylvania is making public a complete list of the chemicals used to extract the gas from deep underground amid rising public fears of potential water contamination and increased scrutiny of the fast-growing industry.

It counts more than 80 chemicals being used by the industry in a process called hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” as it pursues the gas in the mile-deep shale. The mixture of chemicals breaks up the shale some 5,000 to 8,000 feet down and props open the cracks to allow the gas trapped inside to flow up the well to the surface.

Some of the chemicals being used are associated with neurological problems, cancer and other serious health effects, although state and industry officials say there is no evidence that the activity is polluting drinking water.

Environmental advocates, however, worry the chemicals are poisoning underground drinking water sources.

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WaPo: Apparent suicide by fishing boat captain underlines oil spill’s emotional toll

Around the gulf, social service providers are dealing with a rising tide of mental health crises. Groups of Baptists are deploying extra chaplains in parishes along the coast. In southern Louisiana, where the impact was felt first, about 1,500 people have received counseling services from Catholic Charities.

From past disasters, such as the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1989, health experts say they expect subtle problems to appear as people absorb the spill’s impact on their lives: depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and domestic issues.

“We’re seeing already an increase in suspiciousness, arguing, domestic violence. . . . We’re already having reports of increased drinking, anxiety, anger and avoidance,” Howard J. Osofsky of the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center in New Orleans said during a two-day hearing this week on the physical and emotional impact of the spill.

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News Service: Scientists: Dispersant Health Impacts a “Failure of Chemicals Policy”

More than one million gallons of chemicals called dispersants have been sprayed into the Gulf of Mexico in an attempt to break up the plume emanating from the B.P. oil spill, but some of the ingredients were kept secret until this week.

The dispersant manufacturer said it preferred to keep the ingredients secret because they consider the formula proprietary.

The ingredients were finally revealed, however, following a public outcry over health problems experienced by some clean-up workers. Louisiana chemist and activist Wilma Subra says, until the full ingredients was released Wednesday, many of the health care professionals treating possible dispersant-linked health problems weren’t sure what to do.

One of the ingredients – 2-butoxy ethanol – is designated a chronic and acute health hazard and was linked to health problems experienced by cleanup workers following the Exxon Valdez spill in 1989.

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