All the news, views, and filtered excellence fit to consume during your morning grumpy.
1. Each week, Alan and I make a few podcasts with Brad Riter on TrendingBuffalo.com. If you enjoy our writing style and you like meta things about the Internet, pop culture, and politics, you’ll dig it. Yesterday, we discussed expectations of privacy in the era of social media. I think it was pretty great, I hope you do as well. The entire discussion centers around some criticism of an article that Brad published on TrendingBuffalo which can be found here.
2. Natural gas companies are frothing at the pipes to begin hydraulic fracturing (aka “fracking”) operations in New York’s Marcellus Shale formations, thought to be amongst the most profitable zones for drilling in North America. However, before they begin drilling operations, Governor Cuomo requested that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation study the issue and provide a report on drilling safety. You see, Governor Cuomo is probably running for President in 2016 and he’d love the economic boomlet that will ensue from fracking, but he also can’t have an environmental disaster on his record. Surprisingly, the NYDEC is ready to report that fracking would not be a danger to public health in New York state so long as proper safeguards were put into place. So, now that political cover is in place, let’s get started!
Potential hazards could be avoided by implementing precautions the state has identified, according to a February 2012 preliminary assessment from the New York State Department of Health that became widely reported in the media on Thursday.
“Significant adverse impacts on human health are not expected from routine HVHF,” or high volume hydraulic fracturing, the document concluded.
Well, that sounds good!
The precautions the health department document proposed for the state to put into place were of varying specificity. For example, the transport of drilling water that flows back out of wells after fracking should be subject to similar requirements to the treatment of medical waste.
The document’s safety recommendations were less detailed when it came to quantitative health risks posed by individual fracking chemicals at different drilling sites, due to the overwhelming number of variables at play.
Oh, lots of variables. I see. Well, lets not worry about that, drilling jobs for everyone!
3. In other related fracking news…
In early August, a “frack-out” occurred in Louisiana’s Assumption Parish, where an underground cavern used to produce raw material for the petrochemical industry collapsed, freeing oil and gas from underground wells. Geologists can only compare the resulting disaster to the drilling technique known as fracking: vast quantities of subterranean liquid forced its way to the surface, cracking apart underground rock and causing the earth to open up under the Bayou Corne, where a delicate swamp forest was swallowed up by a giant toxic sinkhole.
4. So, Republicans see raising the debt ceiling (authorizing the U.S. Treasury to pay for programs and legislation already approved by Congress) as a political football to lobby for government spending cuts. Essentially, they’re again willing to trade the full faith and credit of the nation for a short term political hit against the President.
“We’re in for another round of brinkmanship and uncertainty,” said Mark Zandi, the chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, who predicted weeks of “angst, discussion and hand-wringing” in Washington. “I don’t think the economy can really find its footing and jump to a higher level of growth until we get to the other side of this.”
Joel Prakken, senior managing director of Macroeconomic Advisers, an economics forecasting firm, said bluntly, “This is kind of a mess.”
Amazing how the Republican leadership has suddenly found religion on this issue, when they’ve never balked at increasing the debt limit in previous years.
May 2003: Congress approves a $900 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $7.384 trillion. All four approve.
March 2006: Congress approves a $781 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $8.965 trillion. All four approve.
September 2007: Congress approves an $850 billion increase, raising the debt limit to $9.815 trillion. All four approve.
So, there’s that.
5. Instead of quickly acting on legislation to help the people whose lives were destroyed by Hurricane Sandy or re-authorizing the landmark Violence Against Women Act or convening hearings about mass shootings, House Republicans (for the 34th time) filed a bill to repeal Obamacare on their first day in session.
According to a report by CBS News in July, the then-33 unsuccessful attempts by House Republicans to repeal the law had used up around 80 hours of time in Congress, or two full work weeks, at a cost of around $48 million.
So, we have that going for us, which is nice.
Fact Of The Day: Just a reminder, the Vatican helped Nazis escape Europe after WWII
Quote Of The Day: “Two possibilities exist: either we are alone in the Universe or we are not. Both are equally terrifying.” ― Arthur C. Clarke
Video Of The Day: Old Jews Telling Jokes
Song Of The Day: “Ain’t Messin’ Round” – Gary Clark, Jr.
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