Safety last: A Houston Chronicle probe into the Texas oil and gas industry reveals that the recent fracking boom has been a terrible bust from a worker safety standpoint. More than 250 people have died on the job in oil field-related injuries since 2007, and many more were crushed, lost limbs, suffered burns, or broke bones. The investigation also found that on-shore drilling is miles behind off-shore drilling when it comes to safety (which is doubly shocking considering that whole Deepwater Horizon thing). Associated Press, Houston Chronicle
Lunch ladies in peril: Folks in West Virginia continue to have to make tough choices following last month’s leak of a chemical called MCHM (which is used to clean coal) into their water supply. On the one hand, authorities claim the water is safe to drink. On the other, it still smells like licorice—which might not be so back if that wasn’t an indication that MCHM is present. Several schools had shut down earlier this month when their classrooms smelled of the chemical. A teacher fainted, a student was sent to the hospital, and a lunch lady developed a rash from the water. Charleston Gazette
The agony of coal ash: You remember Duke Energy, the company responsible for coating 70 miles of North Carolina’s Dan River with toxic coal ash sludge? (Yeah, those guys.) Well, would you believe that one of Duke Energy’s coal ash storage ponds in neighboring South Carolina is also leaking? (Head desk.) And it’s not like the company and state officials haven’t known about this problem for awhile: the Environmental Protection Agency wrote a report classifying the ponds as a “significant hazard”—back in 2010. The State
Drought by numbers: By now you know that California is in the grips of one of the worst droughts on record. But unless you live in the Golden State, it might not seem like your problem (especially if you’re on the East Coast and basically swimming to work this week in melting snow). Well, consider this: a lot of what we eat comes from California, and all of our produce requires water. One head of lettuce? Requires 3.5 gallons of water per growing season. One head of broccoli? 5.4 gallons. One itty bitty walnut? A whopping 4.9 gallons of water. And if concern for tomatoes and pistachios doesn’t make you fret, you should know that California’s brewers fear the drought will harm the taste of their beer. Nooooooo!!! Mother Jones, NPR
Guessing game: Canada’s largest oil pipeline company is in the news again, and not for anything good. There’s a discrepancy about how many times one of Enbridge’s pipelines running across Ontario has leaked. The National Energy Board, which is responsible for regulating pipelines in Canada, says it has recorded seven spills. Enbridge itself copped to 13. But a Canadian TV station’s investigation revealed there had actually been upwards of 35 crude oil spills. C’mon guys, you’re clearly not even trying. Toronto Star
The art of snow: It’s about this time every year when winter becomes public enemy number one. No longer do we care about a white Christmas, or the way snow-angels look in the backyard. Mud, soot, and salt have turned most of the snow banks into dirty heaps of eyesore, and all any of us can wonder is how much longer until we can say, “Spring has sprung!” But before you check out completely from the cold, you’ll want to watch this lovely time-lapse video of snowflakes forming. It’ll warm your cold, winter-hating heart—if only just for one minute and 59 seconds. Colossal
If The World Had a Giant Thermostat, Who Would Control the Weather? Al Jazeera America
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