Has energy industry cleaned up its act? Let’s go to the videotape
In his Jan. 20 Viewpoint, Russ Wege recounts the slipshod attention to waste and pollution that the energy industry has historically practiced, but then happily proclaims, “Those hectic days are long gone.”
Well, here are some recent examples of oil and gas industry conscientiousness, all reported in the Gazette:
Pipeline operator Enbridge Inc. knew in 2005 that a heavy crude line in Michigan was cracked and corroded, but didn’t get to it until 2010 — after it had ruptured and caused the largest onshore oil spill in U.S. history. They found out about the rupture 17 hours after it happened, when an employee of another company let them know. Before that, they kept pumping oil into the line, which then flowed into a river.
In April 2010, British Petroleum’s time-saving, cost-cutting decisions produced the largest offshore oil spill in U.S. history, the Deepwater Horizon drilling disaster. BP’s timely response to the emergency included lying to Congress about the amount of oil that was spewing into the Gulf of Mexico. Two years later they pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice and 11 felony counts of misconduct.
In a two-year span, oil platform operator Black Elk Energy racked up 315 federal safety violations. Did they take these violations as a signal to make improvements? Apparently not: The two-year span culminated last November with a Gulf of Mexico explosion that killed three of their workers.
But surely, the natural gas fracking industry that Mr. Wege fervently welcomes is a noble and clean exception to all this, right? Well, let’s skim Pennsylvania’s daily papers:
Chesapeake Energy, identified on its website as “the most active driller of new wells in the United States,” pleaded guilty last October to violating the federal Clean Water Act by dumping 60 tons of stone and gravel, left over from access road construction, into a stream. Three separate times.
In 2011, the same Chesapeake Energy, “America’s Champion of Natural Gas” with a “Commitment to Environmental Excellence,” was charged with the highest fine in Pennsylvania history for using improper well casings and allowing natural gas to contaminate the drinking water supplies of 16 families spread over five townships.
And for the past five years, violations of state environmental regulations at Marcellus Shale gas drilling sites have averaged over 600 per year.
“Long gone”? If fracking spreads to New York, the “hectic” days are just beginning.
Women in combat are the next logical step
Re Jan. 24 AP article, “Combat ban for women to end”: Lifting the ban on women serving in combat is just a way to have more uses for our women in the service.
Since servicemen are spread so thin, this is a way to build up our forces. Our women have come out into the workforce, they appear to be doing everything everywhere.
Have you noticed lately that they seem to be showing up in the obituaries a lot more, too.
Walter “Neal” Brazell
If you absolutely must use a leg-hold trap...
I agree with Martha Winsten’s Jan. 19 letter that leg-hold traps cause great suffering to non-target animals such as the dog near the Wilton Wildlife Preserve. They should in fact be banned.
I think it is also important to point out that the more commonly used rat traps are extremely unsafe and cruel as well, to both people and animals. Last fall, I witnessed a skunk whose neck had been caught in one of these traps. This animal was clearly in distress and pain. It had insects swarming it, probably due to an open wound from the trap, and most likely had been suffering like this since the night before.
The skunk had made its way to an area where young children and a dog were playing. This potentially put them in a very hazardous situation. Further, it created circumstances where we, as witnesses, suddenly had the responsibility of dealing with something that should have been the responsibility of whoever set the trap. It took over four hours to find a solution.
Although I believe these types of traps are highly inhumane to every living creature, unfortunately they are legal. Therefore, I am asking that if anyone decides to set one, please make sure the trap is secured to a fixed object. This obviously doesn’t protect toddlers and neighborhood pets from possibly getting into the trap and coming into contact with a potentially rabid animal that has been caught, but it does reduce the likelihood.
It also allows the person who is trapping to take responsibility for the animal once it is caught, instead of passing that responsibility on to others. Thank you.
Murder less serious a crime than marijuana?
In the Jan. 23 paper, you reported that a woman was facing 40 years for marijuana conspiracy.
On Jan. 24, you reported that a man got 20 years for a fatal stabbing.
Something is out of whack here.