Category: Uncategorized

Colorado Oil and Gas Operations Emit Far More Pollutants Than Expected

Winter air pollution in Denver, on Colorado's front range

Winter air pollution in Denver, on Colorado’s front range

Scientists affiliated with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have determined that oil and gas operations on Colorado’s front range are pumping almost three times more methane and seven times more benzene into the air than previously believed.

Benzene is a regulated air toxic that causes cancer, and methane is a potent greenhouse gas that is about 20-25 times more effective than carbon dioxide at trapping heat in Earth’s atmosphere.

For the study, researchers collected air samples from an airplane over two days in May, 2012. Prior studies measured air samples at ground-level, or from a 985-foot tall tower. This is the first study to measure airborne contaminants from an airplane.

Researchers found that the 24,000 active oil and gas wells that were operating in Weld County in May, 2012 were emitting a total of 19.3 tons of methane each hour, or about triple the amount the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated would come from industry-reported emissions. The wells emitted benzene at a rate of 380 pounds each hour, or about eight times more than the 50 pounds an hour the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment had estimated based on industry-reported data.

Holy Water Found to be Contaminated with Fecal Bacteria

Down you go!

Down you go!

study published in the Journal of Water and Health found that holy water in 86% of churches and hospital chapels tested was contaminated with high levels of fecal bacteria including Campylobacter, e-coli and enterococci. Researchers concluded that holy water should be considered a prime source of infection. Holy water is regularly used in baptism ceremonies and to wet the lips of church congregants. The study found a direct relationship between the levels of contamination in the water and how busy the church is. One of the researchers, Dr. Alexander Kirschner, a microbiologist, said “We need to warn people against drinking from these sources.” Kirchner expressed particular concern that these contaminated water sources are found in hospitals, near high concentrations of people with weakened immune systems. For the study, researchers tested the water from 18 holy water fonts in Vienna and 21 holy springs in Austria. The study was done by researchers at the Medical University of Vienna (Austria), Institute of Hygiene and Applied Immunology.

Source:  ABC News, September 14, 2013


Pope Francis Recognizes the Value of Atheists

Pope Francis

Pope Francis

In a startling departure from the previous Pope’s line of belief, Pope Francis in his morning homily said that atheists should be viewed as good people if they do good, explaining that goodness is determined by people’s acts, not their faith or lack thereof.  “We all have a duty to do good,” Francis said, “Just do good, and we’ll find a meeting point” with atheists, the Pope urged. Francis further urged the church to “come out of herself” saying intolerance will not benefit the Church. “Instead, this ‘closing off’ that imagines that those outside, everyone, cannot do good is a wall that leads to war, and also to what some people throughout history have conceived of: killing in the name of God. And that, simply, is blasphemy. To say that you can kill in the name of God is blasphemy.” The Pope’s comments come at a time when religiosity is increasingly creeping into lawmaking bodies, for example over the issue of reproductive health law, and the Supreme Court case about the constitutionality of town councils persistently hosting Christian prayers.

In the Land of Abortions and Hypocrisy

A guest post by Attorney Richard Console. 


Many pro-lifers feel it is their duty to protect the interests of unborn children. (Photo credit: Flickr.)

Life begins at conception. At least that is what the Catholic Church and other pro-life entities have always maintained. They may tout this belief, but when it comes to their alleged role in the death of a fetus they are quick to drop the classification of an unborn child as a human in favor of a greater cause: their wallets.

This was made clear when in a recent wrongful death lawsuit in Colorado, a Catholic hospital defended the suit on the basis that the fetus in question was, in fact, not a human being. This convenient defense shields them from liability in this matter. This begs the question, just how deep-seated is this belief if the Catholic establishment is willing to alter their stance so readily?

The interesting thing here is that the Catholic Church is one of the loudest voices in the pro-life, pro-choice debate, yet this hospital’s pro-life stance did an about-face when it was to their financial detriment. As a Catholic establishment, aren’t they expected to follow the beliefs of the Catholic Church?

Medical Debt Collectors Target Sick People Entering Emergency Rooms

MN Attorney General Lori Swanson

A recent lawsuit filed by Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson reveals that medical debt collection companies are stationing debt collectors in emergency rooms where they confront patients about their existing medical bills as they enter the ER for treatment.  Medical debt collectors are also visiting patients in their hospital rooms to pressure them over their bills while they are still recovering from surgery.  Illinois-based Accretive Health uses these pushy tactics while advertising that they deliver “end-to-end revenue cycle execution” on behalf of medical providers. Accretive health often disguises its debt collectors as hospital employees who confront patients with confidential health information lifted from their medical files without notice or permission, which Minnesota AG Lori Swanson charges is a potential violation of federal privacy laws. Swanson also found that Accretive sought out pregnant women in delivery as easy collection targets, saying they “were most vulnerable in getting a pre-blanace paid.”

Source: Washington Post, April 25, 2012

Who Really Benefits from Voluntary Corporate Codes of Conduct?

Corporations, and even entire industries, publicly claim that they adopt voluntary codes of conduct out of caring and concern for the health and welfare of people and the environment, but in reality, these codes confer far greater benefits upon the companies than they do upon the public, and can range from deceptive to fraudulent. Corporations use these codes as a crisis management strategy to stave off government regulation, improve their image, boost their credibility with legislators and regulators, and thus preserve their seat at the table in any regulatory discussions. Voluntary codes also give political cover to legislators who favor industry by giving the legislators something they can point to to calm public demands to rein in harmful corporate behavior. You can read my full article on voluntary corporate codes here.  (Published in 2008 in CounterPunch)

Welcome to the Blog of Anne Landman

This is the blog of Anne Landman, tobacco document researcher and former managing editor for the Center for Media and Democracy. I will be posting news items of interest, as well as my own thoughts and commentary in this blog. I hope you enjoy it! Fee free to comment and/or circulate posts.