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Friday Finds: The Phantom Dust Menace

Republican dust up over phantom environmental regulation
Republican dust up over phantom environmental regulation
Conservative Republicans are so intent on eliminating “unnecessary” environmental regulations that they recently set their sights on eliminating a rule that doesn’t even exist, reports the Washington Post. The so-called “dust rule” regulates farm dust, which is mixed with things like dirt and dried cornstalk bits and is technically considered pollution by the U.S. EPA. The agency does limit how much of this particle pollution can be in the air, but just two states—Arizona and California—require farmers to take some dust control measures. Though EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has said that she’s unlikely bring on stricter dust rules, regulation-wary Republicans aren’t taking any chances and have already proposed three new bills to prevent a rule that does not (and probably will never) exist. Unfortunately, the zealousness with which Republicans have attacked this rule is just the latest in a spate of attempts to cut the EPA off at its knees for trying to regulate environmental health hazards like coal ash, power plant pollution, and mountaintop removal mining.
Exxon punts financial responsibility on Valdez spill
While the oil continues to linger on the shore of Alaska’s Prince William Sound—twenty some years since the Exxon Valdez oil spill—the company who caused this mess is quietly trying to get out of paying to clean it up, reports Mother Jones. To date, Exxon has paid about $900 million over 10 years for cleanup costs, but when the government asked for an additional $92 million in 2006 to address existing problems, Exxon said no way, arguing that it is only responsible for “restoration projects” and not costs associated with cleanup. Of course, none of this matters to the people affected by the spill, who are too busy trying to move on with their lives to argue over semantics.
Cracker Barrel cracks open the car charging market
Hungry Tennesseans in the mood for some down home cooking can now charge their electric cars while filling up on fried chicken, mashed potatoes and other comfort foods, reports Mother Nature Network. Recently, the restaurant chain Cracker Barrel announced that it will install quick chargers in 24 of its interstate-based stores along the Tennessee triangle, which includes Nashville, Knoxville and Chattanooga. These so-called fast chargers can charge a battery-powered vehicle up to 80 percent in about a half hour, which is not nearly as quick as filling up the gas tank, but a whole lot cheaper since most public chargers are free (for now.) No word yet on the whether the program will expand past Tennessee, but in the meantime Tennesseans can combine two favorite pastimes enjoyed by all Americans—filling up on cheap “gas” and eating.