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EPA Plans to Allow Unlimited Dumping of Fracking Wastewater in the Gulf of Mexico

Mike Ludwig, Truthout
Waking Times

Environmentalists are warning the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that its draft plan to continue allowing oil and gas companies to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and wastewater directly into the Gulf of Mexico is in violation of federal law.

In a letter sent to EPA officials, attorneys for the Center for Biological Diversity warned that the agency’s draft permit for water pollution discharges in the Gulf fails to properly consider how dumping wastewater containing chemicals from fracking and acidizing operations would impact water quality and marine wildlife.

The attorneys claim that regulators do not fully understand how the chemicals used in offshore fracking and other well treatments — some of which are toxic and dangerous to human and marine life — can impact marine environments, and crucial parts of the draft permit are based on severely outdated data. Finalizing the draft permit as it stands would be a violation of the Clean Water Act, they argue.

The EPA is endangering an entire ecosystem by allowing the oil industry to dump unlimited amounts of fracking chemicals and drilling waste fluid into the Gulf of Mexico,” said Center attorney Kristen Monsell. “This appalling plan from the agency that’s supposed to protect our water violates federal law, and shows a disturbing disregard for offshore fracking’s toxic threats to sea turtles and other Gulf wildlife.”

The Center has a history of using legal action to stop polluters and challenge the government to enforce environmental regulations, so the letter could be seen as a warning shot over the EPA’s bow. Earlier this year, lawsuits filed by the Center and another group won a temporary moratorium on offshore fracking in the Pacific Ocean, and the groups are currently preparing to challenge fracking in the Santa Barbara Channel under the Endangered Species Act.

Offshore fracking involves pumping water, chemicals and sand at extremely high pressure into undersea wells to break up rock and sand formations and clear pathways for oil and gas. Offshore drillers also treat wells with corrosive acids, such as hydrochloric acid, in a process known as “acidizing.”

The technologies have been used hundreds of times to enhance oil and gas production at hundreds of Gulf wells in recent years, and environmentalists say use of the technology could increase in the future as the industry seeks to maximize production in aging offshore fields. Still, little was publicly known about these “well treatments” until Truthout and environmental groups began filing information requests with federal regulators.

Regulators and the fossil fuel industry say offshore fracking operations have a good safety record and tend to be smaller in size compared to onshore operations, but environmentalists continue to worry about the chemicals used in the process because many of them are known to harm marine wildlife. Plus, dolphins and other species in the Gulf are still suffering from the lingering effects of the 2010 BP oil spill.

Under the EPA’s current and draft permits, offshore drillers are allowed to dump an unlimited amount of fracking and acidizing chemicals overboard as long as they are mixed with the wastewater that returns from undersea wells. Oil and gas platforms dumped more than 75 billion gallons of these “produced waters” directly into the Gulf of Mexico in 2014 alone, according to the Center’s analysis of EPA records.

These large volumes of wastewater cannot contain oil and must meet toxicity standards, but oil and gas operators are only required to test the waste stream a few times a year. Monsell said these tests could easily be conducted at times when few or no fracking chemicals are present in the wastewater.

The EPA expects these chemicals to have little impact on the environment because the large volumes of wastewater and the ocean dilute them, but the Center points out that much of the EPA’s data on the subject comes from studies prepared in the 1980s and 1990s. Offshore production technology has advanced since then and hundreds of frack jobs have occurred in the Gulf in the past five years alone.

“All they have to do is ask the Interior Department for this information, because they just compiled it all for us,” said Monsell, referring to the thousands of documents recently released to Truthout and the Center under the Freedom of Information Act.

These documents, released under a legal settlement between the Interior Department and the Center, show that regulators approved more than 1,500 frack jobs at over 600 Gulf wells between 2010 and 2014 with permit modifications that were exempted from comprehensive environmental reviews.

Monsell said the EPA’s permit is just another example of a federal agency “rubber-stamping” permits for offshore fracking without taking a hard look at how the technology impacts the environment. The EPA, she argues, should prohibit the dumping of hazardous fracking chemicals and other wastes directly into ocean altogether.

“It’s the EPA’s job to protect water quality from offshore fracking, not rubber-stamp the dumping of the wastewater from this dangerous, disgusting practice,” Monsell said.

The draft permit does prohibit the dumping of oil in the Gulf and proposes a new rule that would require oil and gas operators to keep an inventory of the fracking and acidizing chemicals kept on board. This inventory must be made available to regulators upon request. The government’s most up-to-date list of offshore fracking chemicals is now 15 years old, and the Interior Department regulators are currently working to update it.

Monsell worries, however, that these inventories would not track how much of the chemicals are dumped overboard, and the public will not be able to access them unless the EPA or Interior Department requests copies first. Even then, watchdogs may have to wait on the government to process more information requests in order to make those inventories public.

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Planet Earth

Volcanologists discover “domed magma uplift” in the Yellowstone caldera

© twitter.com

The last time a major eruption of Yellowstone occurred 640 thousand years ago. The supervolcano is currently under close scrutiny by scientists who are trying to recognize the slightest signs of a possible future catastrophe. 

According to some experts, the eruption is unlikely to happen again, since the volcano is quite “old”, while others are sure that it will definitely happen again, the question is only in time.

Volcanologist Robert Smith of the University of Utah made an amazing breakthrough in understanding the Yellowstone system when he noticed a change in water levels in a local lake. The study focused on looking for signs of deformation in its caldera, which could indicate an impending eruption, Express reports.

“He recognized some of these signs, especially in the changes in the level of Yellowstone Lake, and saw that his basin was tilting, which caused the water level to rise at one end of the lake and fall at the other,” geologist Robert Christiansen said.

According to the data received, over the past 50 years, the caldera has risen by about two-thirds of a meter. This was later found to be normal for Yellowstone, as scientists observed periods of upswing followed by declines.

The experts explained that this is a rather impressive “domed uplift”, which indicates magmatic activity. 

“Either the magma invaded the crust or it heated the hydrothermal system, causing it to expand and lift the crust,” Christiansen said. 

Later it was found that the periods of rise last for about ten years, then a period of stability begins – about a year, after which the water level falls.

It is currently at a low point. The results were based on an analysis of volcanic deposits scattered tens of thousands of miles across the region.

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Planet Earth

Piraha – people who live for the day and are considered the happiest on Earth

In the wilds of the Brazilian jungle, the people of Piraha live, which is difficult to understand for a modern person. They do not know the past and the future, consider prolonged sleep dangerous and have no idea what stress is. The missionary who came to the piraha to teach them life, came to the conclusion that these people are the happiest on Earth. And years later, he completely realized that he needed to learn from them, and not vice versa.

We are publishing rare pictures of these mysterious people and also tell the most shocking facts about Pirah people, who see the world absolutely differently from most people on the planet.. And we can also tell the most shocking facts about the people of Pirah, who see the world absolutely differently from most people on the planet.

Live here and now

The essence of the Pirah culture is explained very simply: “Live here and now” In their language there is only the present tense, because, according to the people, the only important thing that is worth communicating to others is what is experienced at that very moment.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  bad.planet / Instagram

Piraha believe that sleep is harmful 

They were shocked when they found out that someone was sleeping for 8 hours. The people are sure that if you fall asleep for a long time, you can wake up as a different person. However, there is also an opinion that such a regime was formed due to the fact that the area where the people live is teeming with snakes. Therefore, they sleep in fits and starts for half an hour and no more than two hours a night.

They only distinguish between dark and light colors. Red and yellow confuse people, as well as green and blue.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

The number of Pirah is only 800 people

Usually, representatives of primitive tribes would rather take their own lives than lose their honor and respect. But not a feast. They basically don’t understand what anger or despair is . “If Haaiohaaa dropped the fish into the water, that’s bad. No fish, no dinner. But what does Haaiohaaa have to do with it? ” – they just think.

The concepts of “century”, “time” and “history” are empty phrases for pirah, and almost none of them remember their grandparents. When asked what was the tribe before they laconic answer: “Everything is the same’.

Mothers don’t tell their children bedtime stories. In addition, here, in principle, no one remembers any stories: collective memory is built only on the personal experience of the oldest living member of the tribe.

Also, the piraha do not know what guilt and shame are. A husband can easily leave his wife if she is no longer young and pretty. Moreover, the woman will not be angry with him and will simply say something in the spirit:

“It happened because it happened, that’s all. So, we need to look for a new man.”

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  Smithsonian Channel Smithsonian Channel / YouTube

In their language there are no words for the left and right sides, and the people do not understand why this is necessary.

Piraha mothers do not know how many children they have

But they distinguish them by their faces. The point is that this nation cannot count. Piraha do not even perceive the word “one”. However, they have concepts of “several” and “many”. That is, they can say that they have several children, but they cannot give the exact number.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

Piraha show no interest in the achievements of modern civilization. Moreover, they completely do not understand the way of life of modern people. “ How can you sleep and eat so much? “- this is how the people think about white people. However, they began to wear clothes, and also used aluminum utensils, threads, matches and fishing tackle.

This culture lacks religion and the concept of God. Although belief in the otherworld is common in most cultures, piraha is useless.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet
©  Smithsonian Channel Smithsonian Channel / YouTube

Every few years, the inhabitants of the people take a new name for themselves, which corresponds to the next period of their life.

Due to the peculiar perception of time, this unusual people do not see the need to store food for future use. What’s more, they don’t treat food as significant at all. If you could not find something for lunch, then  you can skip lunch and eat the next day.

Кто такие пираха — люди, которые живут одним днем и считаются самыми счастливыми на планете

In the Pirah, everyone is equal 

There is no social hierarchy. Perhaps that is why researchers note the amazing vitality of these people. In their tribe there is no envy, anger, theft, conspiracies and intrigues.

They don’t say thank you, sorry and please. In other words, they don’t have any courtesies. Piraha are perplexed why all this is needed, because they all treat each other so warmly without any formalities.

Who are Piraha - people who live one day and are considered the happiest on the planet

Missionary and linguist Daniel Everett wanted to teach Pirah all the benefits of civilization and lived for many years among these unhurried, constantly laughing and knowing no sins people. During this time, he suddenly became an atheist and changed his worldview. After all, the Pirahaha absolutely did not understand why to believe in someone whom no one saw, and why this someone influences the happiness and life of an individual.

Piraha do not suffer from mental disorders and depression. According to Everett, this nation has a phenomenal degree of life satisfaction, and without banned substances and antidepressants.

Piraha are sometimes called the happiest people on the planet.

 According to some experts, while some people remember the past or spend time studying the features of other cultures, this people simply lives their own lives, smiles, laughs and knows no troubles.

Do you think a person from a civilized society cannot understand the inhabitants of the jungle? Or is there something attractive in their principles of life?

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Planet Earth

How to create a “heaven on earth” for all mankind?

We ask ourselves this question and tried to answer it. Of course, by “paradise” we do not mean “paradise booths” somewhere in the mythical nooks of the past, but a very real place – our home called planet Earth.

Moreover, this is our only home at the moment, since the prospects for the colonization of other planets of the solar system for us are still rather dreams, and very far from being realized.

Two main problems for humanity

Do you know what we like about people? The fact that even being in difficult living conditions, they do not limit their interests only to how to earn a living for themselves – no, they are interested in more global issues: political, social, philosophical or scientific in nature. But what worries them the most?

In our opinion, most people on our planet are preoccupied with two main problems:

1) Security (in every sense of the word, including economic)

2) Happiness (in the broadest sense of the word)

While these problems may seem very different at first glance, they actually boil down to caring for your own well-being.

In this context, it is quite easy to understand why humans do not live in paradise on Earth.

There are many problems that are prevalent all over the world today, such as wars and crime (with all the associated problems), as well as various health problems, both physical and mental.

It seems obvious that no one wants to live in a world where they are constantly under the threat of violent crimes, wars or other disasters, and it is also clear that many people want to find love and happiness not only, and not so much for themselves, but rather for those who are very dear to them.

Hence, the most obvious way to create a paradise on earth would be to increase safety for all people and increase the possibilities for human relationships.

When it comes to security, there are a number of obvious things that can be done. For example, many people are concerned about pollution and environmental degradation, as well as related issues such as global warming and overpopulation.

There is an obvious solution to this in the form of cleaner energy sources (such as solar energy) and more efficient modes of transportation (including space travel). This would help reduce fears about climate change at least partially.

Another issue that is widely discussed is the possibility of a nuclear war between large countries. This could potentially lead to the extinction of all of humanity, if it happened at the moment, given the advances in technology and weapons compared to previous generations.

In addition to these issues, there are a number of other issues that seem to be at least somewhat predominant, such as privacy, economic insecurity and social inequality.

What we can do?

If we digress from philosophical reasoning and look at the real situation that has developed in the world over the past ten years, we can see that the world has ceased to live by the rules.

If earlier, there were official and unofficial rules of “behavior of states in international relations”, now these “gentlemen’s agreements” are completely ignored.

One possible solution to this could be the creation of a “world government” that would control all aspects of human life (including economy and technology). However, this will almost certainly have some negative consequences.

World government: pros and cons

Pros : One government of all human civilization, by definition, will save us from wars, economic inequality, social inequality and the likelihood of global destruction in the event of a nuclear war. In fact, on planet Earth, there will be one huge country in which the entire population of the planet will live.

Cons : There is a risk that people will come to power who will turn the good goal of “heaven on earth” into the possibility of establishing a dictatorship in which all the disadvantages of the previous type of government will remain, when “everyone was for himself”, but already without the opportunity to defend their interests as it was when there was a system of scattered but sovereign states.

How, then, to create a paradise on earth for everyone?

1) Develop future technologies that will help us save the planet and stop global climate change.

2) To develop medicine in the direction of increasing the life expectancy of a person, which will entail an increase in the quality of life, and an increase in “happiness” for each individual citizen.

3) To achieve maximum protection of people from any threats . The safety of citizens in all spheres of life should become a priority for the state.

4) Revive the system of “international rules”, which must be observed by all countries, without exception.

5) Limit the proliferation of nuclear weapons in order to increase the overall level of the sense of security of all mankind, and save it even from hypothetically possible mutual destruction in the event of a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons.

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