Tuesday, January 14, 2014

What for ORSANCO?

If that title didn't lose you, ponder this.  The incident in West Virginia has to be one of the most underplayed news items of the last year.  A great portion of the American population is going to eventually be impacted by the meandering morass resulting from the chemical spill into West Virginia's Elk River a few days ago. See the Wall Street Journal's graphic: Moving Mass.

The New Yorker pokes at a basic question of who was responsible for preventing this type of thing. See: No One’s Job: West Virginia’s Forbidden Waters

Yet the article there does not even mention the one public agency that does have cognizance under the circumstances.  We had an interesting little discussion of this here several years ago... but why so little mention these days of the Ohio River Valley Water and Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO)? They are the folks at least tracking the spill. But except for the most passing of references, they don't seem to be players. If this is not their show, then what is?

Here in Pennsylvania, or at least the other side of Pennsylvania, the Delaware River Basin Commission is much more empowered, so much so that industry has been trying to eviscerate it for years, especially since it impeded much of the shale development that otherwise would have happened in Eastern Pennsylvania.  Might be worth looking back at that whole debate again.

How the politics of this all plays out in WV is complicated.  Reading between the lines it is a trap of sorts.  This current incident results from coal processing, something you might expect the shale forces would want to play up.  Yet any environmental backlash is not going to favor one industry more than the other, so it's too tricky to wade into.  For Pennsylvania, there are going to be some big debates going forward over how the shale-inspired pipeline infrastructure gets developed across the state, and then this new issue of barging of frackwater... much of it underway on the Ohio River and its tributaries. So again it all comes back to the water.


Blogger Duquesne Whistle said...

My suspicion is that most extraction industries are at this point fundamentally unable to be regulated. The incentives are all wrong for anyone with the proper amount of *care* to be in the right place at the right time to stop shenanigans.

More here: http://duquesnewhistle.blogspot.com/2014/01/not-drop-to-drink.html

Tuesday, January 21, 2014 7:42:00 PM  

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