Celebrated naturalist and filmmaker Sir David Attenborough speaks at COP26 Climate Summit. Watch:
Corporations are not people, contrary to popular belief. They are legal constructs designed to bundle up real and intangible property and the responsibilities that go with ownership of the bundle. This allows you and me to own a share of General Motors and not be responsible for its debts and liabilities if the enterprise fails.
But what happens if someone games the system? The limitations on liability and the opportunity to escape from responsibility provide an opportunity that has value. Let’s say you own a fleet of taxi cabs. Insurance is expensive, and your drivers, good as they are, can’t avoid accidents with personal injury claims. So you incorporate each of your cabs, buy the minimum insurance that’s allowed, and if there’s an accident? Well, that cab is the only thing of value in the corporation after the insurance pays its limit. The corporate veil protects you as the shareowner.
Now suppose a bunch of wealthy oil barons are worried about future liabilities of their depleted oil wells. Read this.
Diversified Energy Co. buys up oil wells that other companies no longer want any part of, holding 61,100 wells as of the end of 2020, the most in the country and considerably more than oil majors like Exxon Mobil (36,900 wells) and Chevron (25,800 wells). The rate at which the company is buying up wells is worrying regulators and industry groups because states require a company to plug a well with cement after it runs dry, and some think the rate that Diversified is paying out dividends and buying up wells means that it won’t have the funds to hold up its side of the bargain once bills come. That could leave states like Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia on the hook to clean up a mess that could cost billions. Many wells have methane leaks, a ton of which causes 80 times the warming over the next 20 years that a ton of carbon dioxide would.Zachary R. Mider and Rachel Adams-Heard, Bloomberg
Fracking waste contaminated water harms foals.Scan107
Citing unfavorable business climate and COVID-19 Elcon has withdrawn its application for a toxic wastewater facility on the banks of the Delaware. Many of us voiced out protests repeatedly at hearings and public meetings. The siting of the facility was seriously flawed and the the application had many serious deficiencies.
We should remember that the permitting process exists to allow things to be done that are generally not allowed. Often private interests seek permits that are clearly not in public interest, and which, if granted, would degrade the quality of life and impose risks to the environment. We celebrate the decision to withdraw, it was an ill conceived project from its inception.
My family has deep roots in the original Chautauqua — my wife calls it summer camp for grownups. For many decades people have pilgrimaged to this small community for intellectual, spiritual, and physical renewal. Alas, COVID-19 forced cancellation of the program on Chautauqua Lake near Jamestown, New York.
But be of good cheer, it’s free and you can participate from home starting Monday.
|Don’t miss the Chautauqua Lecture Series …Climate Change: Prioritizing Our Global and Local ResponseHow we talk about climate change is rapidly shifting. But amid the ongoing political debates, how are we — and should we be — responding? All events are at 10:45 a.m. unless noted.Monday, June 29: Christine Todd Whitman, former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, on “Government, Economics and Climate”Tuesday, June 30: Janis Searles Jones of Ocean Conservancy on “The Ocean and the Climate: How to Save Both”Wednesday, July 1: Katharine Wilkinson of Project Drawdown on “How to Reduce Greenhouse Gases”Thursday, July 2: Former UN official Amb. Christiana Figueres on “The State of Global Environmental Action”Please note a special start time of 11:30 a.m. for this programFriday, July 3: Geoffrey Kemp and Amb. Barbara K. Bodine discussing “The Geopolitics of Climate Change and the Environment”|
Conversation over lunch or coffee is a big part of the Chautauqua Experience. At Pennswood, the community where I live, we are organizing Zoom/Conference Call discussion groups for those interested. If you want to participate in one of these, please use the contact form to let me know.
You probably saw the news that air pollution increases the risk of fatal outcomes with COVID-19. We have all experienced the surprising improvement in air quality with the shutdown of industrial operations and the reduced automobile traffic. In china it was dramatic.
It’s a wakup call. Fossil energy needs to be phased out and fracking’s cheap fuels are the economic enemy of renewables because they kill the market for innovative technology. Despite the adverse market effects both wind and solar have become competitive.
I’m pleased that journalists are picking up on the obvious.
Opinion | Coronavirus May Kill Our Fracking Fever DreamAmerica’s energy independence was an illusion created by cheap debt. All that’s left to tally is the damage.
Living in these areas of the US raises your risk of death from coronavirus, study saysCNN’s Jake Tapper reports.
Pollution made COVID-19 worse. Now, lockdowns are clearing the air.Even before the coronavirus, air pollution killed seven million people a year. Will today’s cleaner air inspire us to do better?
When a government agency grants a permit, it is usually allowing something that is potentially or actually harmful or dangerous. Permits for the construction of public utilities are supposed to weigh the convenience and necessity of the greater public against the harm done to individuals.
Pipelines require a clear right-of-way for their construction and the government delegates its sovereign power to take land by eminent domain to corporations. Takings are supposed to be compensated to make those affected whole. But it’s rare that the compensation is satisfactory or sufficient for the loss of quiet enjoyment of one’s home or business property.
The Mariner East Pipeline is in the news again because people allege construction is harming them. And what public interest justifies this? Who needs the products it carries? Not the US public. It’s for off-shore producers of plastics and other fossil fuel products.
Thanks to big dollar lobbying by the industry, our legislators are not representing us the public. And the permits to do harm get issued for no good public purpose.
Rural landowners are often deceived into thinking that the sale of the extraction rights to the shale gas under their property will provide effortless bounty and security. There are some nasty consequences of selling those subsurface rights. The article below is not news to anyone who has browsed this site. But if you need to be reminded, read on.
Here is yet another example of how our representative government is failing to protect the common good and serve the interests of We the People:
The Falls Township supervisors did the right thing despite the prospect of being sued by Elcon. They voted unanimously to deny Elcon’s application.
Any applicant has the right to seek relief from the courts, and Elcon is no exception. Their decision to do so will be based on a number of considerations:
- The cost in time and money.
- The prospect of prevailing.
- Collateral decisions by PA DEP.
- The costs of complying with construction codes and a hostile enforcement body.
- Ongoing citizen opposition.
Environmental organizations should now prepare to put their money behind Falls should there be litigation. It’s not just the Elcon matter. At issue is the constitutional right of townships to act to protect the environment. Prevailing in a litigation will discourage those who wish to dismiss locals who oppose such things as pipelines, fracking, and other dangerous uses of land.Elcon