Chanute Air Force Base – the Air Force’s Legacy of Lies in the Heartland

US Geological Survey photograph of the former Chanute Air Force Base, 2008

RANTOUL, IL – Chanute Air Force Base, closed for more than two decades, remains an environmental threat to the health and safety of hundreds of thousands of Illinois residents. It is a case study of how the Air Force and Pentagon use their national security clout to break agreements that can break local communities.

Chanute’s History

The United States Army decided in 1917 that East Central Illinois was the ideal location for its third training airfield to support the World War I effort. It intended Chanute Field (later renamed Chanute Air Force Base) to be a temporary installation. But like so many other government installations, it survived and grew, largely because it served a practical function. It was centrally located and had superior training officers and distinguished alumni. The temporary barracks of the 1930s became permanent during World War II. Continue reading Chanute Air Force Base – the Air Force’s Legacy of Lies in the Heartland

Supreme Court Refuses to Hear EPA Coal Case

Mingo Logan

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court refused on Monday to hear the Mingo Logan case, which revolves around whether the Environmental Protection Agency may veto a dumping permit already granted by the Army Corps of Engineers. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

At issue is whether the EPA may stop Arch Coal from building a huge mountaintop mine in Logan County, W.Va.  St. Louis-based Arch Coal, one of the world’s largest producers of coal, according to its website, is the parent company of Mingo Logan Coal Co.

Arch Coal’s Spruce No. 1 mine is located in south western West Virginia, an area of Appalachia that has been ravaged by mountaintop mining. In this controversial method of extracting coal, miners dynamite hundreds of vertical feet of mountaintop to expose the coal beneath. Continue reading Supreme Court Refuses to Hear EPA Coal Case

CIA Cover Story Gives Birth to Deep Ocean Mining

K-129, surfaced-Azorian (top); Polymetallic Nodules (bottom, USGS)

Resting deep on the seabed of the Pacific are two symbols of oceanic politics, one decaying as time ticks by; the other slowly growing at a pace measured in millions of years.

The first symbol is the salvage site of Soviet submarine K-129. Once it prowled the seas with three nuclear missiles, but suddenly she and her crew were lost to the depths. After sinking mysteriously in 1968, the diesel-powered submarine became the object of an expensive and elaborate operation of the Cold War. The Central Intelligence Agency and Howard Hughes devised a cover story about deep-sea mining to recover it secretly. The operation, run by former CIA Director William Colby, was trying to determine the state of Soviet nuclear weapons prowess. After a string of near mishaps, the mission recovered only part of the sub.

The other symbol is a widespread deposit of potato-sized rocks rich in manganese and other minerals. Called polymetallic nodules, these rocks were the original fictitious prey of the CIA’s cover story. Continue reading CIA Cover Story Gives Birth to Deep Ocean Mining

Geologist Says Feds Made “Incredible Error” Ignoring Huge N.Y. Salt Cavern Roof Collapse

The salt and storage wells of the Watkins Glen brine field lie 2,000 feet below the network of small roads just north of the US Salt plant on Seneca Lake in New York. The Village of Watkins Glen is just outside the picture to the south.

In the 1960s, a 400,000-ton block of rock fell from the roof of an old salt cavern in the Finger Lakes region of New York — a cavity that new owners now want to reopen and use to store highly pressurized natural gas.

The Midwestern energy company that seeks a federal permit for the storage project has denied knowing the roof failure ever happened. And the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which is poised to rule on the company’s permit application, has never publicly acknowledged the event.

But a Houston geologist hired by lawyers for opponents of the project characterized the omission by Arlington Storage Co. and FERC as “an incredible error” that heightens safety concerns about the project next to Seneca Lake, less than three miles from the Village of Watkins Glen, population 1,860.

“Clearly, Arlington’s application and FERC’s conclusions are compromised by this error,” H.C. Clark wrote in a Jan. 15 letter that is now part of FERC’s public record in the case. Continue reading Geologist Says Feds Made “Incredible Error” Ignoring Huge N.Y. Salt Cavern Roof Collapse