Natural Resources Defense Council

December 19, 2013

Facing Suit, City Agrees to Remove Mold in Public Housing More Quickly

Source: The New York Times, December 17, 2013
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The New York City Housing Authority will deal more quickly and more thoroughly with mold in its apartments as part of an agreement by the Bloomberg administration to settle a federal lawsuit by people living in housing projects and coping with asthma.

Lawyers for the residents accused the agency of violating the Americans With Disabilities Act by allowing mold to persist, exacerbating the respiratory ailments of residents. Since Hurricane Sandy, mold has become more common in public housing. But even before the storm, tenants had long complained that maintenance workers failed to identify the leaks and other sources of moisture that cause the mold. Instead, the workers clean off walls and ceilings and repaint, and the mold often returns.

Since notifying the city of their intent to file a class-action suit, lawyers for the tenants have been negotiating a settlement. The agreement is expected to be filed in federal court in Manhattan on Tuesday, shortly after the lawsuit is filed. The settlement will require the authority not only to remove the mold but also to fix leaks, insulate pipes and address other sources of moisture. The agency will be required, in most cases, to fix the problem within seven to 15 days following a work order.

The agreement covers all of the more 400,000 tenants in public housing. But it requires housing officials to recognize asthma as a disability and to make accommodations for tenants with the condition. For example, the authority could be expected to relocate a person with asthma and his or her family to another apartment, or to use low-toxicity fungicides or to allow extra air-conditioning units in apartments.…

November 13, 2013

New pollution controls spark complaints in S.C.

Source: The State (SC), November 2, 2013
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State Attorney General Alan Wilson has revived criticism in South Carolina against new controls on greenhouse gas pollution, but his remarks this week drew a sharp response from one of the nation’s leading environmental groups.

John Walke, who tracks air issues for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said Friday that Wilson is misleading the public in suggesting that businesses will have an undue burden complying with the greenhouse gas requirements. Walke said the rules will not affect most businesses, but a relatively small number of large factories and power plants — and only if they plan to expand.

This week, Wilson told a Gannett news reporter in Washington that the new federal rules “make it unbearable for businesses to grow their facilities because of the onerous regulations imposed by the” U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. He was not available Friday for further comment, but a spokesman said Wilson stands by his comments.

Walke, a South Carolina native, said the attorney general is trying to score political points.

“This is ideological grandstanding to blow this case up into something more than it is,” Walke said. “I’m from South Carolina so I recognize politicians’ (motivations).”

Wilson is among a handful of state attorneys general who have joined a lawsuit challenging the rules that would regulate greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide.…

April 24, 2013

Fracking for Natural Gas Fuels Health Worries

Source:, April 22, 2013
By: Molly M. Ginty

The boom in hydraulic fracturing for natural gas raises medical worries for a number of female health activists and researchers. “We need comprehensive studies to assess long-term problems,” says public health professor Madelon Finkel.

Creeping over the darkened hills of Concord Township, Ohio, past oak and maple trees and through an open window, the intruder entered Kari Matsko’s home without a sound.

“It was only when I woke the next morning that I realized something had changed,” says Matsko. “I had unexplained muscle spasms and terrible neck pain. I saw three doctors, and spent four months recovering. Then a neighbor told me about the 3 a.m. hydrogen sulfide gas leak from a nearby fracking operation that sent her whole family to the emergency room with aches and pains the same day I got sick in 2006.”

Now heading a grassroots group called The People’s Oil and Gas Collaborative of Ohio, Matsko is among the growing number of women who are fighting health problems associated with hydraulic fracturing or “fracking,” a drilling process that harvests natural gas from rock.

“When I found out why I fell ill, I thought ‘How could residents not be notified there was fracking nearby? How could this even be legal?'” says Matsko. “Because oversight is lax and studies are sparse, I’m still asking the same questions today.”…

April 17, 2013

Hydraulic Fracturing in the West

Read here about increasing hydraulic fracturing activities in Colorado.


April 10, 2013

Fracking Rush Seen in IL

Read here about a fracking rush that is being seen in the southern counties of Illinois.


March 11, 2013

IL Fracking Laws Could be Most Stringent

Read here about new fracking rules that, if approved, could be the counties most strict.


March 1, 2013

Can Illinois Legislation Establish Fracking Regulations?

Source:, February 24, 2013
By: Jim Pierobon

Illiimage002nois is on track to go where no push for hydraulic fracturing has gone before in the U.S.: a consensus on how to regulate the controversial practice of injecting chemicals and large amounts of water deep underground to flush out large quantities of natural gas and crude oil.

As states such as New York and Maryland struggle over similar rules before giving industry permission to start drilling, an impressive array of industry representatives, environmentalists, regulators and lawmakers have worked up until this week behind closed doors with Attorney General Lisa Madigan to forge the “Hydraulic Fracturing Regulatory Act” in the Illinois General Assembly.

Apologies for the low-resolution image but it at least outlines the Illinois and New Albany basins coveted by industry for shale natural gas and oil. CREDIT: Cropped from

According to numerous accounts from the parties involved HB 2615, as drafted,would require oil and gas companies to test water before, during and after drilling. It would hold them liable if contamination was found after drilling began. It also would require companies to disclose the chemicals used in the process and control air pollution.…

March 1, 2013

IL Fracking Bill Being Negotiated

Read here about a regulatory bill in Illinois that is being negotiated to address ground rules for the hydraulic fracturing industry.


January 17, 2013

Illinois' 'fracking' future fractured

Source: Chicago Tribune, January 13, 2013
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Thousands of landowners downstate have sold their rights to drill for oil and natural gas for upfront fees ranging from $50 to $350 per acre, plus a cut of the profits.

Others are fighting to prevent the drilling out of fear that they could be exposed to drinking water contamination, earthquakes, toxic gases and industrialization.

In the middle of this battle are Illinois legislators who have yet to pass laws to deal with horizontal hydraulic fracturing, better known as fracking. The issue is expected to be taken up again this year.

Horizontal hydraulic fracturing has opened up vast reserves of natural gas deposits in the U.S. that until now were impossible to tap. The drilling technique uses pressurized sand, water and chemicals to crack open layers of rock that trap such fuels hundreds or thousands of feet below ground.

The stampede to unleash such fuels has been compared to the Gold Rush of the 1840s. And in addition to the money being made by landowners in selling drilling rights, the fracking rush has brought jobs to other parts of the country.

“Other states have found the way to find the sweet spot to protect the environment and bring jobs; we should not miss that boat,” said Tom Wolf, executive director of the Energy Council at the Illinois Chamber of Commerce.

For people desperate for jobs, a shale gas boom downstate can’t come soon enough. Many counties are dealing with unemployment rates that top 10 percent.

Proponents of fracking hope to inject new life into areas of the state where a once-vibrant coal industry has declined precipitously. At the same time, there’s a fear drilling will never begin unless the companies that want to extract the gas know what regulatory risks they face.…

January 15, 2013

Supreme Court Ruling Leaves Los Angeles With Polluted Stormwater

Source: Environment News Service, January 9, 2013

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the Los Angeles County’s Flood Control District can side-step responsibility for the high levels of polluted stormwater found in the Los Angeles and San Gabriel Rivers, but only temporarily.

In a lawsuit initiated in 2008 by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Santa Monica Baykeeper (now Los Angeles Waterkeeper), the groups sought to hold the county responsible for the mix of mercury, arsenic, cyanide, lead and fecal bacteria found in billions of gallons of stormwater that runs from concrete-lined stretches of the two rivers into lower, unlined portions of the same rivers.

The Supreme Court addressed the narrow question – does the flow of water out of a concrete channel within a river rank as a “discharge of a pollutant” under the Clean Water Act?

Los Angeles RiverA concrete-lined section of the Los Angeles River at the Fourth Street Bridge, October 2012 (Photo by Jacob Dickinson)

Before the Supreme Court, all the parties as well as the government of the United States agreed that the answer to this question is “no.”…