Thursday 22 February 2018

Press Statements (61)

Disaster on the Kanahwa River in West Virginia is another example of a rail system not able to handle highly volatile Bakken crude oil transport. On Monday afternoon, a train hauling Bakken crude oil derailed along the Kanawha River in Fayette County, West Virginia. Twenty of the cars caught fire and a home was destroyed. There are reports that cars continued to burn yesterday and an unknown volume of oil has leaked into the Kanawha River. West Virginia Headwaters Waterkeeper Angie Rosser is responding to the disaster, with support from Waterkeeper Alliance. “Our thoughts are with the residents of Fayette County and the first responders as they deal with this explosion and toxic oil spill. While one home was damaged, many people evacuated and drinking water supplies impacted, thankfully no one was seriously injured,” said Betsy Nicholas, Executive Director of Waterkeepers Chesapeake. “Incidents like this one are yet another warning that our entire region is at risk. Our rail systems, suffering from years of delayed maintenance, were not made for this highly volatile cargo.” According to CSX, the train consisted of two locomotives and 107 rail cars and was traveling from North Dakota to Yorktown, VA, the same rail line that runs through Lynchburg, Virginia.  All of the oil cars were the CPC 1232 models, the presumably upgraded tanker cars that are “safer” than the outdated, inadequate DOT-111 cars. These newer CPC 1232 also derailed and exploded on the James River at Lynchburg in April 2014. “This dangerous event could have…
NEW LEGISLATION WOULD IMPROVE OVERSIGHT AND CLOSE LOOPHOLES IN PUBLIC INFORMATION ACT LAW Senator Raskin, Delegate Cullison Propose First Major Update to Law in 45 Years (Annapolis, MD) - Good government organizations, public health groups, environmental organizations, consumer advocates and social justice organizations applauded the introduction of new legislation to update the Maryland Public Information Act of 1970. The legislation would update the Maryland Public Information Act and remove obstacles to public access to public records by limiting and standardizing fees, improving oversight and closing exemption loopholes. The bill, SB695 is sponsored by Senator Jamie Raskin (District 20) and will be cross-filed in the House of Delegates by Delegate Bonnie Cullison (District 19). “Democracy is built on transparency, and Marylanders need total access to our own government,” said Senator Jamie Raskin. “We’re always striving to do better in Maryland,” said Delegate Bonnie Cullison. “In this digital age when limitless information is only a click away, there is no excuse to keep Marylanders in the dark.” The legislation would address three key components of Maryland’s existing laws regarding transparency and open government. The bill would: Limit and standardize fees that local governments charge for Public Information Act (PIA) requests. Advocates say that inconsistent fees across state agencies are sometimes so high they deter reasonable requests. Improve oversight by requiring faster PIA responses and designating a citizen Public Information Act Compliance Board to hear appeals. Close loopholes in its exemptions by making public all official documents from entities that receive tax credits or…
Maryland Legislators Introduce Fracking Moratorium Bill Over 100 Md. Health Professionals Support Moratorium, Citing Serious Health Risks; New National Poll Shows Majority of Americans Opposed to Fracking Annapolis, Md. – Maryland Delegate David Fraser-Hidalgo, Senator Karen Montgomery, and 46 other General Assembly members today introduced the Protect Our Health and Communities Act, a bill to enact a long-term statewide moratorium on fracking. At the same time, a new statewide group of doctors, nurses, and other health professionals, Concerned Health Professionals of Maryland (CHP-Md), released a letter to General Assembly leadership, signed by more than 100 Maryland health professionals, supporting the moratorium bill. The letter highlighted a recent analysis that found 96 percent of peer-reviewed studies evaluating health impacts from fracking show serious health risks or actual adverse outcomes related to the drilling method.  As scientific evidence of fracking’s health threats mounts, Americans are increasingly turning against the controversial drilling method. A Jan. 29th Pew Research Center poll found that a majority of Americans now oppose increased fracking. Furthermore, opposition to fracking within America’s scientific community is even greater, with 66 percent of all scientists and 73 percent of biological and medical scientists opposed. Fracking is a controversial natural gas extraction method that involves blasting millions of gallons of water, sand and toxic chemicals underground at extreme pressure to break up rock and release the gas. Hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies have identified numerous human health risks, air and water pollution, increased earthquake activity, and social problems linked to drilling and fracking…