Americas

Americas

Fracking study spurs call for rules to leakproof US gas wells

A study that blamed natural gas drilling for water pollution in two states has spurred calls for stricter regulations to keep wells from leaking methane into aquifers. The study backed the oil and gas industry in one respect: It discounted hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, as the source for harmful methane in water. Some environmentalists contend that by blasting rock with a mixture of water, chemicals and sand, producers can force the gas into drinking water near the surface.

Americas

California fatal pipeline explosion brings more scandal for PG&E

A deadly pipeline explosion that shattered a California town four years ago continues to rip through the state agency weighing a record penalty for the disaster. The president of the California Public Utilities Commission asked his chief of staff to resign and stepped down himself from the case after “inappropriate e-mail exchanges” with utility PG&E Corp. raised questions about the agency’s bias, according to a statement from the commission yesterday. The CPUC may decide within weeks whether to levy a proposed $1.4billion penalty -- the biggest safety fine in the state’s history -- against PG&E for the 2010 explosion of its natural gas pipeline that killed eight people in San Bruno, California. Commission President Michael Peevey, who has been accused by San Bruno officials and consumer advocates of being too close to the utility, said in the statement he was recusing himself from the probe to eliminate any appearance of impropriety. The move is a step toward regaining credibility for the CPUC after two years of political infighting has created an ongoing climate of scandal.

Americas

BP uses innovative tactic to tackle obesity

o fight rising medical costs, oil company BP Plc last year offered Cory Slagle -- a 260-pound former football lineman -- an unusual way to trim $1,200 from his annual insurance bill. One option was to wear a fitness-tracking bracelet from Fitbit Inc. to earn points toward cheaper health insurance. With the gadget, the 51-year-old walked more than 1 million steps over several months, wirelessly logging the activity on the device. Twelve months later, Slagle has added to his new exercise regimen by trading burgers for salads and soda for water, dropping 70 pounds (31.8 kilograms) and 10 pant sizes in the process.