Archive | Courts & Litigation

Stephen Baldwin Sues Kevin Costner over BP Oil Machine

Stephen Baldwin is suing fellow actor Kevin Costner over their investments in a machine that BP used to separate oil from water.

Baldwin reportedly owned 10 percent of the Costner-backed company that made oil-separating centrifuges. A federal lawsuit filed in New Orleans, Louisiana Wednesday alleges that Costner and his business partners “schemed” to get Baldwin to sell back his shares of an $18 million deal for BP to purchase the devices in the wake of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Costner’s representatives declined to comment, AP reported.

The suit seeks unspecified damages.

Posted in Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Environmental Disasters, Oil & Petroleum0 Comments

EPA Takes Over Texas Carbon Emission Permits

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced its plans to take over carbon dioxide permitting of any new power plants and refineries in Texas, citing the state’s refusal to comply with emissions regulations going into effect Jan. 2.

Texas industries have openly opposed the Obama administration’s Clean Air Act, a program designed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. They claim that the cuts will threaten productivity, and that the economy, in turn, will take a hit.

The EPA said Thursday that it was reassuming the state’s Clean Air Act Permits because “officials in Texas have made clear . . . they have no intention of implementing this portion of the federal air permitting program,” The Associated Press reported.

“EPA prefers that the state of Texas and all states remain the permitting authority for (greenhouse gas) sources,” the agency said in a statement. “In the same way that EPA has worked with other states and local agencies, the agency stands ready to do the same with (Texas).”

The EPA constructed a framework for carbon emissions regulations in seven other states: Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Idaho, Kansas, Oregon and Wyoming.

The agency also devised a timetable for establishing the cuts for all U.S. facilities and power plants. It plans to propose performance standards for greenhouse gas emissions beginning in July for powerplants and for oil refineries by December. The standards will be finalized in May 2012 for powerplants and November 2012 for refineries.

Gov. Rick Perry spokeswoman spoke out against the EPA’s decision to directly issue air permits in Texas.

“The EPA’s misguided plan paints a huge target on the backs of Texas agriculture and energy producers by implementing unnecessary, burdensome mandates on our state’s energy sector, threatening hundreds of thousands of Texas jobs and imposing increased living costs on Texas families,” Cesinger said, according to the San Antonio Express.

An estimated 167 new or expanding projects would be subject to the EPA takeover. Texas lays claim to more oil refineries, chemical plants, and coal-fired power plants than any other state and produces the most greenhouse gas emissions and industrial pollution in the country, AP reports.

The new carbon emissions standards were adopted after a 2007 Supreme Court ruled that greenhouse gases should be classified as pollutants under the Clean Air Act and EPA research in 2009 revealed that the gases have a harmful effect on human health.

Posted in Air Pollutants, Air Pollution, Coal, Courts & Litigation, Drilling for Oil, Energy Industry, Global Warming, Laws & Regulations, Oil & Petroleum, Ozone, Policies, Pollution Prevention0 Comments

“No More Wilderness” Policy is No More

The Obama administration plans to repeal a Bush-era policy that prevented undeveloped acres of land from being recommended for federal wilderness protection.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced Thursday that his agency will undo the “No More Wilderness” policy, which was enacted under former Interior Secretary Gale Norton in 2003.

Congress remains the only governmental body capable of designating new “Wilderness Areas,” but the order will allow U.S. Bureau of Land Management field members to protect areas with “wilderness characteristics,” MSNBC reported.

“Americans love the wild places where they hunt, fish, hike, and get away from it all, and they expect these lands to be protected wisely on their behalf,” Salazar said in a statement.

The 2003 policy was adopted in an out-of-court deal between Norton and then-Utah Gov. Michael Leavitt to remove federal protections for 2.6 million acres in the Rocky Mountain region. The move allowed oil and gas drilling, mining, and other commercial development on land under consideration as wilderness areas.

“I am proud to sign a secretarial order that restores protections for the wild lands that the Bureau of Land Management oversees on behalf of the American people,” Salazar said Thursday in Denver, according to MSNBC.

The policy shift creates a new management category called “Wild Lands,” which will be determined through a public process.

“Because the ‘Wild Lands’ designation can be made and later modified through a public administrative process, it differs from ‘Wilderness Areas,’ which are designated by Congress and cannot be modified except by legislation, and ‘Wilderness Study Areas,’ which BLM typically must manage to protect wilderness characteristics until Congress determines whether to permanently protect them as Wilderness Areas or modify their management,” Salazar explained.

Congress will still make the final call on whether areas of land receive permanent wilderness protection. The BLM has six months to submit new criteria for wilderness evaluations.

Posted in Conservation, Courts & Litigation, Parks by Region, Policies, Politics & Politicians0 Comments

McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Faces Class Action over Happy Meals

McDonald’s Corp. is facing a class action lawsuit that claims the fast-food giant baits young children into buying nutritionally poor meals.

California mother of two Monet Parham says she filed the lawsuit in conjunction with The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) Wednesday in San Francisco. She believes the chain restaurant violates several consumer policy laws by marketing Happy Meals directly to young children.

“What kids see as a fun toy, I now realize is a sophisticated, high-tech marketing scheme that’s designed to put McDonald’s between me and my daughters,” Parham said, according to The Associated Press. “For the sake of other parents and their children, I want McDonald’s to stop interfering with my family.”

The suit doesn’t seek damages, but aims to convince the court to stop McDonald’s from advertising meals that contain toys to California children.

McDonald’s says it is ready to fight the suit.

“We are proud of our Happy Meals and intend to vigorously defend our brand, our reputation and our food,” company spokesperson Bridget Coffing said in a statement. “We are confident that parents understand and appreciate that Happy Meals are a fun treat, with quality, right-sized food choices for their children that can fit into a balanced diet.”

San Francisco recently barred the burger chain from including toys in meals with more than 600 calories or more than 35 of their calories from fat.

“I am concerned about the health of my children and feel that McDonald’s should be a very limited part of their diet and their childhood experience,” Parham said.

Steve Gardner, litigation director for the CSPI, says that a typical Happy Meal containing a cheeseburger, fries and a Sprite has 640 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat and nine teaspoons of sugar.

Posted in Children’s Health & Parenting, Courts & Litigation, Food & Nutrition0 Comments


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