Energy Regulation
TRAIN Act Aims to Delay Standards under Clean Air Act PDF Print E-mail

The Transparency in Regulatory Analysis of Impacts on the Nation Act, proudly called the TRAIN Act by those who support it, delays standards under the Clean Air Act and makes it harder for the Environmental Protection Agency to enforce those standards.

Don Shelby notes that the Clean Air Act is considered one of the most cost-effective laws ever passed in the United States.  "While costing relatively little, it has saved billions of dollars in health care costs due to respiratory and heart diseases. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) most recent report concludes that by 2020, implementation costs of the act will have reached $65 billion while the benefits in health care savings, not to mention lives saved, will reach $2 trillion."  The Economic Policy Institute estimates that the Clean Air Act saved 160,000 lives in 2010 alone and 1.8 million since 1990. 

Read Shelby's MinnPost article:  Children's health and Republican efforts to lift restrictions on air pollutants.

Clean Energy Costs Go to Employ Workers

The writes that the TRAIN Act is a key element of the conservative assault against government regulations that keep corporations from endangering public health and the planet for the sake of profit. The claim that the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed actions to protect public health would be “job-killing” is contrary to the facts.  Highly polluting coal is in fact more expensive as an energy source than wind.   In addition, far less of the costs paid for coal go to pay workers.

Jobs per MW by Fuel Source

jobs by fuel souce

University of California, Berkeley

Political Pressure Limits Efforts to Police Drilling for Gas PDF Print E-mail

The New York Times reported that for over a quarter-century efforts to increase federal regulation of the oil and gas industry have been undermined by narrowing the scope of Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) studies and leaving out key findings.  In 1987, for example, EPA researchers' conclusion that some of the waste from oil and gas drilling was hazardous and should be tightly controlled was left out of the final report given to Congress.  EPA officials told Carla Greathouse, the author of the study, that her conclusion was changed because of pressure from the Office of Legal Counsel of the Reagan White House.

The EPA studied hydrofracking in 2004, when Congress considered whether the process should be fully regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act.  An early draft report commented on the potentially dangerous levels of contamination in hydrofracking fluids and mentioned possible contamination of an aquifer. The report’s final version left out these points, concluding instead that hydrofracking “poses little or no threat to drinking water.”

In 2005, the Bush/ Cheney Energy Bill exempted natural gas drilling from the Safe Drinking Water Act. Drilling companies are not required to disclose the chemicals used during hydraulic fracturing. The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that is allowed to inject known hazardous materials underground adjacent to drinking water supplies.

Just last year, the EPA was going to call for a moratorium on gas hydrofracking drilling in the New York watershed, but the advice was removed from a public letter sent to the state.  EPA lawyers are debating whether to intervene in Pennsylvania to stop drilling waste from being discharged into rivers and streams with minimal treatment, a practice that some of the lawyers see as a violation of federal law.   EPA scientists are alarmed that the drilling waste is a threat to drinking water in Pennsylvania.

Some EPA scientists are concerned that the scope of the national study of hydrofracking that Congress will use to decide whether drillers will have to operate under stricter rules is also being narrowed.  Many concerns cited by field scientists in earlier documents as high priorities were cut from the later study plan.
Find further details in the New York Times article:

EPA Struggles to Regulate Natural Gas Industry

The U.S. Senate and House will be considering the FRAC (Fracturing Responsibility and Awareness of Chemicals) Act which would require natural gas drillers to observe the Safe Drinking Water Act and to disclose the chemicals it uses.  Listen to the Fracking Song that explains the need for the Frac Act:

what the frack is going on music video

My Water's on Fire Tonight

Shale Gas Subcommittee Recommendations PDF Print E-mail

The Subcommittee for Shale Gas Production recommended that action be taken to reduce the environmental impact accompanying the rapid expansion of shale gas production across the country.  Otherwise  there would be a real risk of serious environmental harm.

Subcommittee Chairman John Deutch, an MIT professor, said: “Industry, working with state and federal regulators and public interest groups, should increase their best field engineering practices and environmental control activities by adopting the objective of continuous improvement, validated by measurement and disclosure of key operating metrics. This is the surest path forward to assure that shale gas is produced in an environmentally sound fashion, and in a way that meets the needs of public trust.”

Deutsch stated that environmental issues need to be addressed now – especially in terms of waste water, air quality, and community impact.  The subcommittee's report noted that joint federal and state efforts to ensure water quality were not working smoothly, and called on the EPA to improve oversight as it studies the potential effects of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.  It called for the monitoring of air emissions and water quality, setting regulations by the Environmental Protection Agency and state agencies, establishing industry best practices, and training workers.  A copy of the report can be downloaded at the Shale Gas Subcommittee's website.

Environmental organizations wrote a letter to President Obama asking him to issue an executive order directing agencies in his administration to adopt the subcommittee's recommendations that apply to federal agencies without delay.  See their letter to President Obama.




MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

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How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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