Gas explosions, the numbers behind King Coal and LA policing

HCN.org news in brief.

 

FATAL EXPLOSION LINKED TO GAS WELL
In April, a home in Firestone, Colorado, a fast-growing community 25 miles north of Denver, erupted in a fiery explosion. The blaze destroyed the house, and two men were killed. In early May, following a two-week investigation, the local fire department linked the blast to a recently restarted gas well, located 178 feet behind the home. Gas from the well, operated by Anadarko Petroleum Corp., entered the house from a cut, abandoned gas flow line still connected to the well. The fatal home explosion reignites the drilling safety debate as the increase in drill rigs, truck traffic and well pads encroaches on suburban communities. For years, activists have pushed to limit drilling near growing suburban communities along Colorado’s Front Range, while the state government and industry leaders have fought tougher restrictions. Following the explosion, Anadarko pledged to cooperate with the oil and gas commission and investigators, and the company shut down 3,000 wells across northeast Colorado. “We hope that doing so also provided some additional reassurance to the community in the wake of this tragic accident,” said Al Walker, Anadarko CEO and president, in a statement.
-Joshua Zaffos

A gas well, seen in the upper left below the bike path, lies less than 200 feet from the Firestone, Colorado, home that exploded in late April, killing two. Investigators say the cause was a “fugitive gas leak” from a well flow line that had been cut but not capped.
RJ Sangosti/The Denver Post via Getty Images

1 in 5: Ratio of residents of Los Angeles’ Boyle Heights neighborhood who are in the U.S. illegally

78: Number of “detainer” requests issued to Los Angeles law enforcement by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement during one week in February.

A day in the life of Los Angeles Police Department Officer Alex Fiallos helps illustrate how the Trump administration’s new immigration policies are playing out in one of the West’s most diverse cities. In Los Angeles, a complicated history of racial conflict and crime impacts the way officers navigate the demands of community policing. In the neighborhood Fiallos patrols, a significant portion of the community is undocumented. But keeping crime rates low depends on gaining their trust. “Some people around the neighborhood say you shouldn’t trust the police because they can turn you over to immigration,” she says. “We have no time for that.”
-Ruxandra Guidi

WHAT'S REALLY KILLING KING COAL?
In April, Energy Secretary Rick Perry called for a review of “regulatory burdens” on the coal-mining industry. Baseload power sources, like coal and nuclear, are dying out not because of regulations, but because the market and new technologies are transforming the electric grid. Policies have encouraged development of sources of alternative energy, but the most significant factor in coal’s demise has arguably been cheaper, abundant supplies of natural gas: Today, the country produces 50 percent more gas than it did a decade ago — and at half the cost.
-Jonathan Thompson

“It’s ridiculous that they would even think about coming into this land — only a quarter of a mile or less away from the Colorado River and the Colorado River Headways Scenic Byway — to try to do oil and gas development.”

—Ken Fosha, owner of a dude ranch near Rocky Mountain National Park that was scheduled to be part of a BLM lease sale but then withdrawn, in an unexpected victory for conservationists. -Elizabeth Shogren  

CANADA'S COAL POLLUTES MONTANA'S STREAMS
The Elk River that straddles Montana’s northern border has been one of the continent’s most fruitful ecosystems for fly-fishing. But the river also happens to drain Canada’s most productive coal country. As the government implements stricter controls on selenium pollution, nearby residents hope U.S. pressure can spur Canadian action, too.
-Celia Talbot Tobin

A fly fishing boat floats the Elk River, which contains high levels of selenium from coal mine runoff.
Celia Talbot Tobin

MAKE YOUR MARCH MATTER
Could the gritty work of revolution be too burdensome to exchange our comfortable lives for the difficult acts of protest required to change the path of government? In an opinion column, Auden Schendler argues that if the citizenry refuses to endure more than “the footsore feeling of a long walk down a wide avenue,” then action on a number of pressing issues will continue to elude us. A possible fix? “If marchers blocked Trump Tower for six months, caused commerce to stop, got arrested, then did it again and again, you might just get somewhere.”
-Auden Schendler/Opinion

You say

Lynn Jackson: “What I find troubling about (the March for Science) is that scientists — real scientists, that is — purposefully stay out of politics. Most of them realize that to do otherwise is to cast their credibility in doubt.”

Charlie Lawton: “Scientists have never, and will never, and do not, purposefully stay out of politics, and we don’t delude ourselves that science is immune to political pressure or doesn’t have political implications.”

Vincent Landau: “It will have no direct impact, as marches generally don’t. However, (marches) act as a catalyst for further action by those who participate, whether it’s considering science when deciding whom to vote for, or contacting representatives.”