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Regulation

Big Tech: Knowledge And Information Gatekeepers

At the end of July, Microsoft and Google’s parent company, Alphabet, presented their latest and relatively disappointing economic results blaming it on the macroeconomic distress. What may have gone unnoticed is that both companies referred to their clouds as the main engines of growth. The cloud was also responsible for Amazon’s better-than-expected quarterly results. The cloud refers to computing services, including software, hardware, and platforms offered as services through the Internet instead of running locally on individual computers. By 2025, 45% of the world’s data storage will be on the cloud. We are constantly storing information and accessing online applications through the cloud. Moving operations to the cloud is also crucial for companies.

A Climate Wake-Up Call For The Chemical Industry

In 2017, the Trump administration sided with industry lobbyists and rescinded safety rules governing thousands of chemical plants across America. Five years later — after multiple chemical plant explosions in the Houston area — government investigators are telling lawmakers that a lack of federal regulation is heightening the risk of chemical disasters during climate change-related extreme weather events at thousands of facilities nationwide. President Joe Biden’s administration is considering issuing a new rule regulating such facilities — but not until next summer. Chemical companies and industry groups have already sicced their lobbyists on the EPA to stop the new rules, arguing that, despite all evidence to the contrary, their members are well-prepared for disasters and will only be made more vulnerable by new regulations.

New Reports Allege Texas Oil And Gas Regulator’s Lax Enforcement

When a Canadian company started drilling for oil and gas near Jim and Sue Franklin’s ranch in a small Permian Basin town called Verhalen, Texas, it didn’t bother the couple too much at first. But Sue suspects that it was the third well that started causing problems. “They put up these big signs that said, ‘H2S gas, danger, keep out, blah blah blah,’” she says. The well was being drilled in what’s called a sour-gas field, an oil field that naturally has a high concentration of a deadly gas called hydrogen sulfide (H2S). The company promised the Franklins that the gas — which can cause headaches, irritate respiratory systems, and even be fatal in high concentrations — would never get into their home, despite the fact that it was barely a mile away.

Supreme Court Case On Farmworker Protections Could Harm All Regulation

The legacy of Cesar Chavez has been getting another look in recent months. In January, President Joe Biden placed a bust of the 20th-century labor leader in the Oval Office, giving journalists the opportunity to reexamine how Chavez fought for farmworkers, while commentators on social media noted that Chavez’s treatment of undocumented immigrants, at certain points during his life, complicates his image as a tireless champion of migrant laborers. But a sinister reexamination of Chavez’s legacy is also happening. A California labor regulation that resulted from his campaigning is under threat from the Supreme Court at the urging of dark money-funded right-wing think tanks.

Oil Industry Exploits Pandemic As Excuse To Dodge Federal Regulations, Fees

In an act of appalling hubris, the oil and gas industry is asking the federal government to loosen enforcement of federal regulations on public lands in response to the coronavirus pandemic. Kathleen Sgamma of the Western Energy Alliance, one of the petroleum industry’s primary lobbying groups, was quoted in EnergyWire as seeking one-year extensions for two-year drilling permits and 10-year federal mineral leases, a change that would allow them to hold onto unused leases they are stockpiling. Sgamma also referenced changes to compliance requirements and “royalty and fee waivers” for the world’s wealthiest industry. Robert McEntyre of the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association is quoted in the same story as seeking “commonsense flexibilities” when it comes to complying with federal regulations.

Regulators Finally Crack Down On Wells Fargo

It took three years but a leading U.S. regulator finally got tough with probably the most lawless large U.S. financial institution. The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, an arm of the Treasury Department, recently took action against a former chief executive of Wells Fargo. The action was in connection with the scandal in which the bank pressured employees to create bogus accounts to extract millions in fees from unsuspecting customers.

Group Wins Landmark Case Against Super PACs In Alaska

Today, in a historic ruling, the non-profit group Equal Citizens obtained a judicial ruling that, for the first time since Citizens United, could restore limits on donations to Super PACs and independent groups. The case was brought by a cross-partisan group of three Alaska citizens—Donna Patrick and Pat Lambert of Fairbanks, and James Barnett of Anchorage—who jointly challenged Alaska’s 2012 decision to abandon enforcement of strict limits on donations to independent political groups.

California Illegal Pot Seizures Top $1.5 Billion In Value

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Authorities seized more than $1.5 billion worth of illegally grown marijuana plants in California this year — an amount an industry expert said is roughly equal to the state’s entire legal market — as part of an annual eradication program, officials said Monday. The raids netted more than 950,000 plants from nearly 350 growing operation sites this year through the Campaign Against Marijuana Planting program, an effort known as CAMP that dates to 1983 and is considered the nation’s largest illegal marijuana eradication program.

DC Court Of Appeals Requires Environmental Review For Implementation Of 5G

A federal appeals court has vacated and remanded the “arbitrary and capricious” Federal Communications Commission’s decision to allow AT&T Inc., Verizon, and other wireless carriers, cell phone facilities owners and operators to bypass historic preservation and environmental reviews for 5G networks. On August 9, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit unanimously denied the FCC order that would have exempted 800,000 or more small cell construction (cell antenna facilities) from historic-preservation review under the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA)...

After Second Deadly Crash, Regulators Say Trucks Leaking Fracked Gas Cargo Are Fine

Last Friday, October 11, a “Virtual Pipeline” truck carrying compressed natural gas crashed on a highway in Orange, Massachusetts, killing the driver, leaking the potent greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, and leading local authorities to evacuate nearby residents. “Let me put this in perspective, if one of these trucks blew up in the right conditions, it could destroy a neighborhood,” said Bill Huston, director of a research and advocacy program called Terra Vigilate, and one of a small group of advocates raising awareness about the extreme risks of fire and explosion of Virtual Pipeline trucks.

Did North Dakota Regulators Hide An Oil And Gas Industry Spill Larger Than Exxon Valdez?

In July 2015 workers at the Garden Creek I Gas Processing Plant, in Watford City, North Dakota, noticed a leak in a pipeline and reported a spill to the North Dakota Department of Health that remains officially listed as 10 gallons, the size of two bottled water delivery jugs. But a whistle-blower has revealed to DeSmog the incident is actually on par with the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska, which released roughly 11 million gallons of thick crude.

Exposed: State Department Official Posted In Nazi Charlottesville Chats

Washington, DC – Today, an investigation by reporter Michael Hayden for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)’s Hatewatch revealed that US State Department official Matthew Q. Gebert has been active in the neo-nazi movement over the last several years. Leaked Discord chat logs obtained by Unicorn Riot also prove that Gebert’s username was posting in racist groups throughout 2017 and indicate he may have attended the deadly Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville.

A Rogue Regulator Worth Reading

If that unequivocal statement by former Nuclear Regulatory Commission chair Greg Jaczko were the only “confession” he made, it would be powerful enough. But in his recently published book, Confessions of a Rogue Nuclear Regulator, Jaczko rips away the secrecy from the inner workings of the NRC as he experienced it first-hand. This ultimate nuclear insider provides a clear picture of the failings of the captured nuclear agency, the corrosive day-to-day political battles with other commissioners, and the unfolding terror when Fukushima’s nuclear reactors were first shaken, then swamped – and no one could predict what was going to happen next.

80,000 Chileans March To Legalize Medical Marijuana, Regulate Recreational Use

Thousands of Chileans demonstrated Saturday in the center of Santiago to demand immediate changes to the way medical and recreational cannabis is regulated and accessed. The fifteenth "Cultivate Your Rights" march brought some 80,000 people together, according to organizers at the Daya Foundation, Mama Cultiva and Movimental, entities that have been working for years to legalize the use of medical marijuana and regulate its use recreationally. The demonstration toured the center of the Chilean capital and passed in front of the Palacio de La Moneda, home of the executive branch, in a festive, carnival atmosphere, with no violence reported.

SC Regulators Slap Down Duke Energy Rate Increase, Call Executives ‘Tone Deaf’

State utility regulators on Wednesday reduced a proposed rate increase that would have affected 591,000 Duke Energy customers in the Upstate, and called executives of the energy company "tone deaf" for the proposal. Duke Energy requested last year to increase its Residential Basic Facilities Rate charge from $8.29 to $28, a spike that annually would've resulted in $236.52 more per customer in energy costs.The company later agreed to lower the charge to either $11.70 or $13.09.  The Public Service Commission is expected to announce a final decision on the rate increase in coming weeks.
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