Thursday, October 2, 2014

Oil Pump in Heritage and Flare in Witt Farm Cause Still Stink

Despite repeated comments by the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality that neither oil pumps nor the flare on Witt Farm should smell as this would indicate that something is not working properly, operations just go on as normal, and without any demands or repercussions for Savoy Energy - neither from the Michigan DEQ nor the EPA.

This confirms what I thought all along: There are no legal instruments to regulate this industry - they can basically do as they please.

Unfortunately, oil and gas operations are not the only effectively unregulated industries. The same is true for water pollution e.g. of the River Raisin. In 2008, the EPA found that most of the South Branch River Raisin has highly elevated coliform bacteria levels - way above the standards for safe partial body exposure (as in walking the river in protective waders). The law only required the river to be "flagged" for this dangerous condition - without anybody needing to come up with a solution or any steps towards fixing the problem.
Guess what? The problem does NOT vanish on its own with mega diary CAFO farms upstream and broken sewage systems everywhere. With my students I repeatedly measured more than 70,000 colony-forming-units of coliform bacteria two years in a row. That is more than 100x the safe levels for partial body exposure. Again, there are no legal instruments to pinpoint the culprits and fix the issue. Let us just wait until some flesh-eating strain of E. coli appear and somebody gets killed...

Does it really take that for people to wake up and realize that there is nobody to take care of you and rescue you if you do not take matters into your own hand??? It should be different - there should be laws protecting our health before commercial interest - but there aren't any - unless people demand them!

We would not have an EPA, a Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act today if there had not been massive protest in the 1970s. Since then, people went asleep - thinking all is fine now. Unfortunately, the EPA became an almost broken and powerless institution and the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act were watered down and many exemptions were created. We are slowly in more need of a massive protest movement than in the 1970s but it seems people became more oblivious and delusional and it will probably take more than burning rivers and lakes to get them away from the latest sitcoms and newest sport scores and realize what happens every day. For heaven's sake, if not even the breakdown of Toledo's drinking water supply for several days due to agricultural wastes wakes up the masses - what does it take to wake people from this slumber?