03 July 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Shaun Mullen tries to figure out what’s wrong with General Motors. He thinks it may be a cultural thing. A nugget:

In a blistering report last month prompted by the deadly Chevy Cobalt ignition switch problem that only scratched the surface of the GM culture, former federal prosecutor Anton Valukas described what he called the “GM nod.” That’s when managers nod in agreement about a course of action but then do nothing. Then there is the “GM salute.” That’s when managers, arms folded and pointed outward, indicate that the problem at hand is someone else’s responsibility.

I have a GMC Sonoma pick-up; I got a truck so I could pull my boat back when I had a boat. It has been a fine vehicle; it still has almost all of its original components, except for the battery and the radiator. After over 100,000 miles, I can’t complain. Stuff does, after all, wear out.

I also once had a Chevette, which I purchased used in a hurry because I had to have a car right then. It lasted till 138,000 miles; by the time it finally died, the floorboards had rusted out (I replaced them with cookie sheets because I couldn’t afford to get a different car), the fuel gauge could no longer be relied on, and it had gone through three clutches (one of which my mechanic replaced under warranty after telling his supplier, “Look, this guy’s driven a shift for 20 years and he’s been my customer for 10–I know he didn’t mistreat your damned clutch”).

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21 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Two retirees from the Pennsylvania Department of Health say its employees were silenced on the issue of Marcellus Shale drilling.

One veteran employee says she was instructed not to return phone calls from residents who expressed health concerns about natural gas development.

“We were absolutely not allowed to talk to them,” said Tammi Stuck, who worked as a community health nurse in Fayette County for nearly 36 years.

Another retired employee, Marshall P. Deasy III, confirmed that.

Deasy, a former program specialist with the Bureau of Epidemiology, said the department also began requiring field staff to get permission to attend any meetings outside the department. This happened, he said, after an agency consultant made comments about drilling at a community meeting.

In the more than 20 years he worked for the department, Deasy said, “community health wasn’t told to be silent on any other topic that I can think of.

No doubt this was because there is no chance that pumping large quantities of secret, likely toxic, liquids into the earth with enough pressure to break rock deep under the ground is as safe as a pillow fight at a elementary-school sleepover.

Also, pigs, wings.

Much, much more at the link.

Via C&L.

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18 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Much more here.

Via Informed Comment.

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14 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

. . . even if they just say no.

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10 June 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Facing South reports:

Independent scientists who have reviewed a water analysis conducted by state authorities of a Texas resident’s drinking well say the chemical signatures found in the water may provide “the nation’s first conclusive link” between fracking operations and aquifer contamination.

Though a state investigation — conducted by the Texas Railroad Commission in response to an official complaint filed by landowner and Parker County resident Steve Lipsky — said it found the chemical analysis of the water inconclusive, experts shown the results say the commission was simply wrong. “And not just by a little,” reports local ABC-affiliate WFAA News who shared the results with several scientists, “but by a lot.”

Do read the rest, then answer this essay question:

Why did the official scientists get it wrong?

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20 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

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Lately, there has been quite kerfuffle in my local rag about the coal dust that covers much of the western part of Norfolk.

Indeed, it has reached the point that a muckety-muck from the Norfolk Southern wrote an op-ed disparaging folks who don’t like waking up to find coal dust on their properties and vehicles. According to the muckety-muck, the Norfolk Southern wasn’t there, didn’t do it, didn’t see a thing, there’s nothing to see here, move along folks.

I’ve driven past the Norfolk Southern’s coal piles–huge mountains of powdered coal waiting to be loaded on ships bound for China. If you haven’t seen them, you would have trouble believing them.

Turns out, they are grandfathered in.

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09 May 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

There’s nothing like an informed consumer.

Airlines want to keep it that way.

Airlines tried and failed to block a federal rule making them tell passengers up front the full cost of airfare, including government taxes and fees. So they’re trying another route, asking Congress to do what the Obama administration and the courts refused to do: roll back the law.

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13 April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

I’m beginning to think that humans are to the Earth as termites are to a home: heedlessly destroying it from within because their nature compels them to.

Geologists in Ohio have for the first time linked earthquakes in a geologic formation deep under the Appalachians to hydraulic fracturing, leading the state to issue new permit conditions Friday in certain areas that are among the nation’s strictest.

Termites, though, can move to the next house.

Much more at the link.

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Speaking of Pigg River, to quote Pogo. “We have met the enemy, and he is us.” Foreign Policy in Focus reports:

But the greatest dangers for the United States do not lurk in terrorist cells in the mountains surrounding Kandahar that are planning on assaults on American targets. Rather, our vulnerabilities are homegrown. The United States plays host to thousands of nuclear weapons, toxic chemical dumps, radioactive waste storage facilities, complex pipelines and refineries, offshore oil rigs, and many other potentially dangerous facilities that require constant maintenance and highly trained and motivated experts to keep them running safely.

The United States currently lacks safety protocols and effective inspection regimes for the dangerous materials it has amassed over the last 60 years. We don’t have enough inspectors and regulators to engage in the work of assessing the safety and security of ports, bridges, pipelines, power plants, and railways. The rapid decline in the financial, educational, and institutional infrastructure of the United States represents the greatest threat to the safety of Americans today.

And it’s getting worse.

More at the link.

Via Asia Times.

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02 April 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

It appears that the price of human lives, as determined by the fee hand of the market, is 57 cents each.

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29 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Just ask it.

As a federal grand jury probes possible criminal activity by Duke Energy, attorneys for the utility have asked a Wake County Superior Court judge to temporarily limit what information it must exchange with state regulators and environmental organizations in a lawsuit.

(snip)

The motion states, “Duke intends to cooperate fully in that investigation so that it may receive a fair and unbiased assessment of its actions.”

To do that, Cooney and other attorneys for the utility contend, materials provided to the grand jury should be withheld, temporarily, from the civil proceedings underway in Wake County Superior Court stemming from DENR’s pollution cleanup enforcement actions against the company.

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27 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Buccaneer Petroleum has learned nothing.

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23 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

When a massive coal ash spill was swept down the Dan River through Danville, the toxic stew smudged this proud mill city’s vision of building a new, diversified economic base.

Once a thriving hub for tobacco and textiles, civic leaders now are left to repeatedly assure residents of this city of 43,000 that the water is safe to drink, forget about persuading businesses to sink roots here. The spill is already being used by competitors to lure business prospects away from Danville, a city official says.

Maybe Duke’s CEO could kick in some of his 2013 $8+ million compensation for his stewardship of the Duke’s ashes to help out little Danville. Oh, never mind.

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22 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Facing South does the math. A nugget:

Estimated gallons of coal ash-contaminated wastewater Duke pumped from the impoundments into a tributary of the Cape Fear River, which provides drinking water for downstream communities including Fort Bragg: 61 million

Factor by which that exceeds the amount of wastewater spilled into the Dan River last month from another Duke Energy coal ash dump due to a broken pipe: 2

Date on which the environmental watchdog Waterkeeper Alliance flew a plane over Duke’s Cape Fear site and spotted pumps at the impoundments, leading it to notify regulators: 3/10/2014

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12 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

The Roanoke Times gives space to a representative of the “everybody must get fracked” crowd. His article is called Fracking Is Earth-Friendly.

His reasoning goes something like this:

Because we build roads, which affect the environment, causing earthquakes and introducing methane into drinking water are good things.

Of course, the argument is all dressed up in its Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes, but that’s pretty much what it amounts to.

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11 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Buccaneer Petroleum tries the “We’re Too Stupid for Words” defense:

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08 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

Being a duke means you can always tax the serfs.

Duke Energy expects its 3.2 million North Carolina customers to pay the costs of closing its ash ponds, CEO Lynn Good said Friday.

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05 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry

The Charlotte Observer observes:

State regulators announced Monday that they were citing Duke Energy for not having certain permits the law requires. State regulators did not announce why they let Duke skate for years without the permits, even though they had known since at least 2011 that Duke did not have them.

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Duke was issued notices of violation late Friday for failing to have storm water permits at six of its N.C. power plants. That came only after a 48-inch storm water pipe without a permit ruptured at Duke’s Eden plant, spilling some 39,000 tons of toxic coal ash into the Dan River.

Getting the permits would have involved inspections that might have cost Duke a few nickels and prevented the coal ash spills, and we couldn’t have that, now could we, because of the fee hand of the market or something.

More observations at the link.

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02 March 2014 · Comments Off · Categories: Titans of Industry, Words Fail Me

The Republican Party, now, as ever, the party of privilege.

All the rest is camouflage.

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