July 8th, 2010
08:38 AM ET

Thursday's intriguing people

Josh Fox

On Thursday in Fort Worth, Texas, the Environmental Protection Agency will hold the first in a series of four public meetings on the controversial issue of "hydraulic fracturing" (aka "fracking"), a method of extracting natural gas from deep within rock formations. Fox has learned firsthand about the process.

He is the filmmaker of "Gasland," a documentary that was prompted in 2008 when a gas company offered Fox $100,000 to lease his family's land in Milanville, Pennsylvania, to extract gas from the land. At the time, he did not know what hydraulic fracturing was and what leasing his land for fracking would mean.

He visited people living near sites in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Colorado and Texas. The film shows what it says are the consequences of fracking: pools of toxic water; fouled air and water; sickness in plants, animals and people; and fires, including tap water that ignites.

The documentary airs on HBO this summer. HBO and CNN are owned by Time Warner.

The Nation: An interview with 'Gasland' director Josh Fox

HBO: 'Gasland'

Arnold Hirsch and Peter F. Burns

When New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu delivers his first state-of-the-city address Thursday - titled "Eyes Wide Open" - Hirsch, a University of New Orleans historian of that city, says Landrieu will be sitting in the proverbial catbird seat.

"The size of his victory [66 percent of the vote] means that nobody can come to him and say, 'You owe me your election,' " Hirsch said in Newsweek.

Burns, a historian at Loyola University, said Landrieu has a chance to improve on the city's sometimes sordid politics.

"He can do less politics than normal, but I don't think he can eliminate it," Burns told Newsweek.

Newsweek: Springtime in New Orleans

Paul Root Wolpe

The director of the Emory University Center for Ethics is part of an all-star lineup of panelists as the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues meets for the first time Thursday and Friday in Washington.

President Obama in May asked the newly formed commission to study "the emerging field of cellular and genetic research known as synthetic biology ... consider the potential medical, environmental, security, and other benefits of this field of research, as well as any potential health, security or other risks."

Wolpe, the son and brother of prominent rabbis, holds multiple titles at Emory: the Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Bioethics, the Raymond F. Schinazi Distinguished Research Chair in Jewish Bioethics, a professor in the departments of medicine, pediatrics and sociology, and director of the Center for Ethics at Emory University. Along with that mouthful, Wolpe also serves as the first bioethicist for NASA.

Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues

Emory Center for Ethics: Paul Root Wolpe

Richard Pumphrey

His bust of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin at the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Virginia, has people red-faced.

Veterans groups are angry that the leader of the communist empire that killed millions of its own citizens is enshrined with Franklin D. Roosevelt and others.

Pumphrey, an art professor at Lynchburg College, also created busts of six other World War II Allied leaders. Ironically, a statue of Stalin recently was removed in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where Stalin was born.

Pumphrey said he was not concerned about whether his work would engender protest.

"The sculpture of Stalin does not honor Stalin. Rather, it's a sculpture that tells about his nature," the artist said in The Chronicle of Higher Education. "You don't do a portrait because of just what a person looks like. You do it to emphasize what the subject matter is about."

The Chronicle of Higher Education: Sculpting an inconvenient truth

The Washington Times: Opposition grows to Stalin bust at D-Day Memorial

Missy Wall

As director of Dallas' Teen CONTACT, which does education and outreach for middle and high school students, Wall said she is worried about what she calls an appalling trend: teen biting. Yes, teens "marking" their beloved with bites on arms, chests and necks.

Wall told The 33 News (KDAF-TV in Dallas), "What I've seen, too, is on the cheek or on some of the body parts that are visible, almost like you would think of a hickey."

Wall said the teens are bombarded (think "Twighlight" and "True Blood") with vampire books, television shows and movies where you bite the one you love.

"It becomes a contest of who has the bite mark, and then that means somebody cares about you or you're in a relationship or you've been chosen, which is very similar to the movies," she said in an interview with The 33 News.

She said she views the bites as a form of mutilation.

The 33 News: 'Twilight' effect? Teenagers biting each other to mark affection

Filed under: Most Intriguing People
soundoff (48 Responses)
  1. worried

    Hitman did you ever go to the site and test the water and air before drilling and after or was you just a puppet and did what you was told with out ever seeing the after effects? Enjoying your big checks right now? Hope the people who are effected by this is enjoying their lies just as much.

    May 3,2010

    Yesterday and today, the Shreveport Times featured articles on the aftermath of the recent leak at an Exco well that caused the evacuation of 135 families from their homes in south Caddo Parish, LA and the residents' frustration in returning home. The well that caused the damage is being cemented and abandoned, but the problems have not yet been fully resolved.

    The situation is still unresolved and is nothing compared to the horrible oil spill that keeps growing by the day in the Gulf of Mexico, but it points out the dangers of living with mineral extraction operations nearby (not that people needed a reminder). I found it interesting that the drilling team hit the gas pockets that caused the problems between 1,200 feet and 1,500 feet, not that far below the aquifer. I also found it interesting that methane in the water is not an uncommon occurrence in the region. The Carrizo-Wilcox aquifer has lignite coal beds running through a portion of the aquifer.

    I haven't seen as much of a reaction from the anti-fracking crowd as I expected. Perhaps they are focused on the larger crisis in the Gulf. It will be interesting to see if this recent incident leads to new safety and environmental rules from the LA DNR. This is a very sensitive time, and an incident like this only worsens perceptions of gas drilling.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • worried

      That all started around April 19. But we are all full of BS right?

      July 8, 2010 at 12:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. CaptDorkoftheWeeniePatrol

    Fracking (that's the official term) is dangerous on many levels and must be carefully implemented. It can cause sink holes and local earthquakes as well as contamination of the water table and top soil.

    Nuclear energy can be safe only if it is super-regulated to offset the irresponsible greedy BP types.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
  3. hellhas2wait

    Sadly enough in a round about way everybody is right because everybody is going on the information they have at this time. Now what needs to happen is for everyone to be given all the facts- TRANSPARENCY! Some guy running for President used a similar word for how our government was going to be with this kind information.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  4. hellhas2wait

    Not full of BS just sick of Bp

    July 8, 2010 at 12:24 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Jimmy

    The level of ignorance here is shocking. If you like electricity, you like Natural Gas. Wind and Solar, the green favorites, AND nuclear, the quasi-green one, can only provide baseline power. Nat Gas drives turbines that make up the need for spikes in demand during the day, when the most electricity is consumed. If you don't fill the spikes, the whole grid crashes.

    As far as water pollution goes, it's easily fixed ex ante. Get your state to regulate plugging at the water table and ban fracing horizons near the table. Most gas wells are about a mile below the groundwater, so it's usually not a problem. But it does happen sometimes. Anyway, like other posters have said, methane isn't toxic in small amounts–it's fart gas. It is annoying though, so if you're considering signing a gas lease you should get more information. Caveat emptor.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Vet

    Whatever....if we want all the conveniences we enjoy in our lives today, we are going to have to pay the price. So, we need to either go back to living as we did 200 years ago or accept the fact that we are going to create health hazards and create environmental problems.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • NEPA Specialist

      Vet–you're right. Not that anybody's going to listen. 😛

      I've been doing government assessment of projects for 9 years. Some have bad environmental consequences. Others–not so much. But sometimes it's awfully hard to tell what's going to happen in advance. We are making reasonable guesses based on the best evidence available. Fracing may work in some locations, but not others. It may contaminate water resources some places, but be fine in others. That's why it's always important to pay attention to those rare, natural resources in the vicinity and take a "hard look" at what might happen to them. In some places–it's just not appropriate and we need to suck it up and use less.

      July 8, 2010 at 11:02 pm | Report abuse |
  7. BMac

    RIght on Jimmy! Bush and Cheney caused the BP explosion but not to worry.......the current Pres is going to make BP pay everybody affected for everything. HA!

    July 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Report abuse |
  8. BMac

    Just like Gore invented the internet............oh wait........Prince said the internet is over.

    July 8, 2010 at 12:43 pm | Report abuse |

    Our economy is in big trouble & we are are partly to blame. With our extensive use of our autos,electric consumption, a/c, heating, etc. has made us energy dependent on those countries that don't like us. The rest of the world is laughing at us because we do not use the massive resources below us, instead we make other countries richer There are those that complain about us endangering our environment with hydraulic fracturing but don't understand all the science that makes it a safe choice. If we do not allow responsible drilling on our soil we are sending all our wealth to other countries including Russia, Venezuela & Islamic countries. These so called environmentalist groups concerned about water for NYC keep talking about the NYC water shed area & where it is located, just tells our enemies how easy it would be to poison millions of Americans (very smart) & for those that don't know it we have a Islamic community/cell in the water shed area, so keep worrying about fracturing & wait for something really big to happen with funding from overseas terrorist from our own money.
    There is a bill in the senate to promote the use of natural gas in gov. vehicles & eighteen wheelers (natural gas act HR1835 & S1408) we should all support this & reject the ones that try to stop us from becoming prosperous once again. It will eliminate a significant amount of imported oil keeping billions of dollars at home & would also help create many new jobs in the natural gas industry & others.
    We all need to pull together & make this work. NY DEC IS finishing the SGEIS That they have been working on for over two years now. This will set the standard for the rest of the country & is something we should all be proud of. Lets start to work together instead of shooting ourselves in the foot.

    July 10, 2010 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Howard Surdin

    I am amazed that we have had the ability to create hydrogen as a fuel for decades and we have unlimited supplies on both coasts. It might cost more but then again it will not pollute. UCLA developed a car to run on hydrogen in 1965. It is like waiting for the well to go dry before we try something else. We have buses here in the California Desert area of Palm Springs that run on hydrogen. If they can get buses to run on it then why not cars? Forget oil and natural gas hydrogen is the future and hurts no one. If the oil companies can't convert to a hydrogen program then have government use subsidies to help us get us converted.

    July 11, 2010 at 1:57 am | Report abuse |
  11. dwest

    Why won't Rick Sanchez get all spun up about this...today, jokingly, he said if you can't see it, it's not there. Don't expect CNN to report hydraulic fracturing the way they covered the BP....it's all about relationships.

    When our water supply is ruined, maybe Rick Sanchez will be interested.

    July 27, 2010 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  12. emm

    If fracking is safe why don't oil and gas companies have to disclose what chemicals are being pumped into the ground?

    September 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
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