“Extraordinary investigative work turned up over 20,000 incidences of Clean Water Act violations by three coal companies. Now will they finally be held accountable?
“Clean water advocates and concerned citizens across the nation will be monitoring a blockbuster Kentucky court case today, which will ultimately determine whether citizens can intervene in a state’s gross mishandling of indisputable acts of contempt and egregious Clean Water Act violations by two coal companies.
“According to many observers, the sheer number of fraudulent acts and mind-boggling oversights could turn this case into Big Coal’s Watergate–or Clean Watergate.
“Thanks to the extraordinary investigative work of clean water advocates, Kentucky subsidiaries of International Coal Group and Frasure Creek Mining were singled out in an intent to sue notice last October of “over 20,000 incidences of these three companies either exceeding permit pollution limits, failing to submit reports, or falsifying the required monitoring data. These violations could result in fines that may exceed 740 million dollars.””
Read more: AlterNet
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If the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico is causing us to reconsider deep-sea drilling, then last week’s oil disaster in Michigan should give us pause about constructing new oil pipelines. And taken together, the spills spotlight what’s wrong with our nation’s energy direction.
Patrick D. Daniel, chief executive of Enbridge Inc., apologized last week for “the mess we made.” He was referring to the pipeline rupture that dumped about a million gallons of crude oil into Michigan’s Kalamazoo River. Though we’re sure that Daniel genuinely regrets that it was his company’s turn to advertise the obvious dangers of continuing our nation’s dependence on oil, this time, sorry’s not good enough.
The immediate consequences of this particular “mess” are bad enough. Thirty miles of the Kalamazoo River were fouled. Birds, fish and other wildlife were killed or oiled. People had to be evacuated from their homes because of high levels of benzene in the air. When the heavy crude passed through the city of Battle Creek, the Kellogg Co. even had to stop making Corn Flakes.
The Kalamazoo empties directly into Lake Michigan. If oil had reached that lake, it would have been, in the words of Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm, “a tragedy of historic proportions.” Although the Kalamazoo has come a long way from the days when it was the site for paper mills that dumped chemical waste directly into the river, a stretch of the river is still a Superfund site, and scientists warn that the spilled oil could release pollutants buried in the river’s sediment, unleashing even more toxins.
Read More: LA Times