Obama tightens regulations on fracking chemicals disclosure – sort of

The Obama administration said Friday it is requiring companies that drill for oil and natural gas on federal lands to disclose chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing operations.

A rule to take effect in June also updates requirements for well construction and disposal of water and other fluids used in fracking, a drilling method that has prompted an ongoing boom in natural gas production.

The rule has been under consideration for more than three years, drawing criticism from the oil and gas industry and environmental groups. The industry fears the regulation could hinder the drilling boom, while some environmental groups worry that it could allow unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater.

What crap writing/editing. It’s the absence of regulations that allows unsafe drilling techniques to pollute groundwater.

The final rule hews closely to a draft that has lingered since the Obama administration proposed it in May 2013. The rule relies on an online database used by at least 16 states to track the chemicals used in fracking operations. The website, FracFocus.org, was formed by industry and intergovernmental groups in 2011 and allows users to gather well-specific data on tens of thousands of drilling sites across the country.

Companies will have to disclose the chemicals they use within 30 days of the fracking operation.

While the new rule only applies to federal land – which makes up just one-tenth of natural gas drilling in the United States – the Obama administration is hoping the rule will serve as a model and set a new standard for hydraulic fracturing that states and other regulators will follow.

Brian Deese, a senior adviser to President Barack Obama, said…“Ultimately, this is an issue that is going to be decided in state capitals and localities as well as with the industry,” he said…

Thomas Pyle, president of the pro-industry Institute for Energy Research, said blah, blah, blah.

The League of Conservation Voters called the bill an important step forward to regulate fracking.

Even so, the group was disappointed with the continued reliance on FracFocus, which a spokeswoman described as an industry-run website.

Participation in FracFocus is voluntarily. So, the creeps using deleterious chemicals simply don’t participate.

FracFocus, right now, displays info on fewer than 95,000 oil and gas wells. The industry admits to approximately 441,000 fracked gas wells alone.

After three years of introspection, investigation and time-wasting the White House proposes tightening of regulations based on info from a single voluntary website. No requirements for compliance. And the regulations only apply to federal lands.

Window dressing.

The rest is left in the hands of state legislatures who will use their God-given states rights – and motivational handouts from oil and gas lobbyists – to do absolutely nothing.

Are doctors ready for body cams?


Google Glass makes it into the surveillance society

Maybe you remember the famous video by Simons and Chabris. Two groups of students, one in white shirts and the other in black shirts, are passing a basketball around. You are asked to watch the video and count the number of passes made by one of the teams. You proudly count 13 (the actual number is 18). But what you didn’t notice, during all of your counting, was that midway through the video, a gorilla walked straight through the middle of the scene. Indeed about half of individuals tested in the original study missed the gorilla.

A red trauma victim is brought into the ED trauma bay by EMS. The lead paramedic provides details about the crash scene, the patient’s health status, and gives a point-by-point report about the prehospital care. Too bad that only 36% of the key information was accurately remembered by the receiving ED group.

What’s happening here?

These two examples highlight how medical care can be perceived differently, and maybe even contradicted, by doctors and patients. We aren’t aware of something we have missed — like the gorilla. You only see things you are focusing attention on. Have you ever had a patient complain “the doctor didn’t even examine my stomach” when you have performed, and documented, several serial exams? How many times have you been asked by a patient “When am I going to see the doctor?” when you’ve already had several conversations and introduced yourself as THE DOCTOR. Or, are perplexed by a family display of great disbelief when informed that their loved one is sliding towards the end of life.

We think we perceive and remember more of the world than we actually do, and different people experience the same inputs differently. We don’t see, hear, and remember alike. Hearing is passive, but listening requires concentration and focus to understand the meaning of another’s words.

Jeremy Brown has identified lots of examples where a med-cam can provide an objective view of medical reality — a sort of enhanced photojournalism — where the picture tells the truth. But we need to be ready to have our own behaviors and communications on display. After all, what’s good for the patient should be good for the doctor, too.

Questions of what’s private and what isn’t used to be decided essentially by what’s public and what isn’t. Starting with the obvious – like body cams for coppers – I can see where record-keeping is going. Not only for accurate answers to recurrent questions in an ER; but, the lawyers on retainer for the hospital are going to want this kind of recorded observation to keep a handle on liability.

The feeling changes. Your relationship with your employer changes. Doctors especially feel they’re part of the management team – even in large-economy-size urban hospital complexes. That feeling will change under observation. As much as useful qualities like those described in this article may be – in our society it’s easy to worry about office politics, petty jealousy becoming equally important to some administrator you consider to be an ignorant ass.

Guns with history

Overdue. And the gun nutballs, the NRA, the folks who absolve themselves of any responsibility about gun safety – are crapping their tidy whities.

The folks who produced this PSA had a representative of the NYPD on the scene for the whole production, they used prop guns. They also told the truth about gun deaths that could have been prevented if paranoids didn’t have a lobby big enough to scare admittedly chicken-hearted politicians.

Speaking as someone who has been a gun owner for 60 years – Go get ’em, folks! Gun sense starts with gun safety, human safety – not rightwing paranoia.

Autoimmune diseases rising in 9/11 workers

The list of ailments afflicting the World Trade Center first responders has grown to include systemic autoimmune diseases…

The conditional odds ratio for autoimmune diseases rose by 13% for each month individuals spent working at the site…according to Mayris P. Webber, DPH, Montefiore Medical Center in New York City, and colleagues.

And for those who spent 10 months working at the site the risk tripled the researchers reported…

“The terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center buildings and the subsequent building collapses and fires exposed rescue/recovery workers to aerosolized WTC dust, an amalgam of pulverized cement, glass fibers, silica, asbestos, lead, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polychlorinated biphenyls, and polychlorinated furans and dioxins,” they noted.

The result has been the development of various respiratory and other diseases including asthma, gastroesophageal reflux, and cancer in up to 70% of the exposed New York City fire department members, but the entire range of potential health effects is not yet known and may take decades to fully manifest.

Autoimmune diseases have been linked with multiple environmental exposures, including silica, hydrocarbons, and particulates.

These autoimmune conditions include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), dermatomyositis, vasculitis, and Sjogren’s syndrome, and most often have been reported after many years of exposure and predominantly among women.

The finding of an increase in autoimmune disease among WTC responders was “unexpected and highlights the need for increased clinician awareness of the possibility of these and perhaps other autoimmune disorders in their WTC-exposed male patients…”

The authors concluded that workers and residents should be closely monitored for these conditions. “The stakes are high because enhanced surveillance can lead to early detection and treatment, which has been shown to improve quality of life and reduce or delay organ damage including erosive joint destruction, kidney failure, pulmonary fibrosis, and hypertension.”

And so it goes. Disease and disability caused by industrial material and chemical can surface many years later. I hope, in this case, our government, the powers that have responsibility for support in unusual circumstances will respond with more pace and thought than they did to the ailments incurred by first responders.