Saturday, June 23, 2012

". . . the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn't always work."

Externalities are the costs of production that are not reflected in the price of goods because they are passed off by the manufacturer to the community as a whole.  The most common example is pollution.   Milton Friedman, in his classic Capitalism and Freedom called them Neighborhood Effects.  Neighborhood effects, he said, were one of capitalism's failures and a reason for government regulation.   But many of today's capitalists acknowledge no failures and see all regulation as bad.  These aren't really market capitalists, it would appear, rather they are capitalists whose philosophy is based on a need for personal wealth and power, not how economics works.

Here's an example why from Propublica:
No company would be allowed to pour such dangerous chemicals into the rivers or onto the soil. But until recently, scientists and environmental officials have assumed that deep layers of rock beneath the earth would safely entomb the waste for millennia.
There are growing signs they were mistaken.

Records from disparate corners of the United States show that wells drilled to bury this waste deep beneath the ground have repeatedly leaked, sending dangerous chemicals and waste gurgling to the surface or, on occasion, seeping into shallow aquifers that store a significant portion of the nation's drinking water.

In 2010, contaminants from such a well bubbled up in a west Los Angeles dog park. Within the past three years, similar fountains of oil and gas drilling waste have appeared in Oklahoma and Louisiana. In South Florida, 20 of the nation's most stringently regulated disposal wells failed in the early 1990s, releasing partly treated sewage into aquifers that may one day be needed to supply Miami's drinking water.

There are more than 680,000 underground waste and injection wells nationwide, more than 150,000 of which shoot industrial fluids thousands of feet below the surface. Scientists and federal regulators acknowledge they do not know how many of the sites are leaking.

Federal officials and many geologists insist that the risks posed by all this dumping are minimal. Accidents are uncommon, they say, and groundwater reserves - from which most Americans get their drinking water - remain safe and far exceed any plausible threat posed by injecting toxic chemicals into the ground.

But in interviews, several key experts acknowledged that the idea that injection is safe rests on science that has not kept pace with reality, and on oversight that doesn't always work.
 The whole Propublica piece is here.

Short term profit for long term health problems of human beings. 


  1. I can't seem to understand how people who have some level of intelligence can not grasp this, too.

  2. When only profit is the goal of business, we are all the poorer.


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