U.S. Authorities Probing Whether Chevron Intentionally Tried to Deceive Air Quality Regulators

Chevron refinery in Northern California is the target of a federal criminal investigation. Authorities say the company for four years used a pipe inside its Richmond, Calif., refinery to bypass emissions monitoring equipment and then burned off the diverted gases. It’s not known how much air pollution exposure was endured by thousands living downwind from the plant. Federal investigators are trying to determine who at Chevron was aware of the bypass pipe and whether the company used it to intentionally deceive regulators. Chevron says its use was inadvertent and that it estimates the released sulfur dioxide was minimal. The probe is not related to an Aug. 6 fire that destroyed part of the refinery. San Francisco Chronicle

Recession worsens problem of abandoned, polluted “brownfields” sites. In Wisconsin, officials estimate there are 10,000 brownfields, with a disproportionate number in poor and rural neighborhoods — the places least likely to have the resources to clean them up. And now, after making progress in working down the backlog in the past two decades, the situation may be worsening. A “startling” number of plant closings during the recent recession  has created “an entirely new generation of brownfields,” state officials said in an application for federal funding. The state has an initiative to deal with newly closing plants but, nevertheless, an official says it will take decades to clean up all of the brownfields. Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism

Internet companies’ data centers wasting vast amounts of energy. The waste is sharply at odds with the industry’s image of sleek efficiency and environmental friendliness. Online companies typically run their operations at maximum capacity around the clock, whatever the demand. As a result, data centers — filled with computer servers that store and process information  to support the explosion of digital information — can waste 90 percent or more of the electricity they pull off the grid. To guard against a power failure, they further rely on banks of generators that emit diesel exhaust. The pollution from data centers has increasingly been cited by the authorities for violating clean air regulations. The New York Times

More college campuses allow students to carry guns. Following pushes by gun-rights advocates in the courts and state legislatures, students now can carry firearms on public campuses in five states, four more than two years ago. Also, by one count, 24 states leave gun policy to individual universities, although most still forbid firearms. The movement to ease restrictions gained momentum after the 2007 shooting spree at Virginia Tech, with advocates arguing that students, if armed, would have been able to stop the assailant who left 32 people dead. But one policy expert opposing the trend said bringing guns to college campuses creates a danger, given the widespread alcohol and drug abuse among college students. The Wall Street Journal

Royal Dutch Shell accused of failing to clean up two large oil spills in Nigeria. Shell has vowed to remedy the spills, which occurred in 2008 in the Niger delta. An assessment by a law firm representing 11,000 villagers found only small pilot projects and concluded that the most contaminated areas remain untouched. People in impoverished fishing and farming communities say they still cannot return to work and have received no compensation. They accuse Shell of applying different standards to the clean-up in Nigeria than the company would elsewhere. Shell said it is committed to clean up all spills, but blamed “continual criminal activity,” including sabotage, for the “vast majority” of the oil spilled. The Guardian

Recalls: Trader Joe’s Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter, Fresh Express Leafy Green Romaine Salad, Boots & Barkley beef pet treats

Compiled by Stuart Silverstein

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