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EPA May Scrap Limit on How Much Mercury Coal Plants Can Spew

By: Eric Levitz, Source: New York Magazine, Originally Published: 4.19.17

In 2012, the Environmental Protection Agency passed a rule limiting the amount of heavy metals that coal-fired power plants could spew into the air. The agency’s research suggested that the rule would prevent 11,000 deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks every year. These findings meant that, for every dollar spent on enforcing the new regulation, the public would enjoy up to $9 in avoided medical costs.

But the Obama administration’s coastal elites failed to understand that the forgotten men and women of America’s heartland actually want their children exposed to dangerous levels of mercury — if that’s what it takes to maximize energy companies’ profit margins. And so, many red states stood up for their constituents’ inalienable right to die from preventable asthma attacks, and sued the federal government over the EPA’s rule.

A question of care

By: Kirk Brown, Source: Independent Mail, Originally Published: March 2017

A review of 205 inspection reports, 63 lawsuits and 105 police reports dating to 2011 found that the quality of nursing homes in Anderson, Greenville, Oconee and Pickens counties varies widely. Although nursing homes here have, on average, fewer deficiencies than those around the nation, care is inconsistent, and when quality suffers patients can be put in danger. We found cases where residents were left outside in scorching summer heat, where drugs were left out without supervision and where care workers refused to perform basic duties such as changing adult diapers. We also discovered that the Upstate’s largest nursing home care provider was among those with the most deficiencies. All of these factors can make even more difficult what already are tough questions for those seeking nursing home care for elderly or infirm relatives.

EPA Chief Overrules Own Scientists, Declines to Ban Pesticide Linked to Fetal Damage

By: Eric Levitz, Source: New York Magazine, Originally Published: 3.30.17

In 2015, scientists at the Environmental Protection Agency advised the Obama administration to ban one of the nation’s most popular pesticides, chlorpyrifos, after concluding that the chemical impaired fetal brain and nervous-system development. Specifically, the children of farm workers exposed to heavy doses of the product appeared to suffer aberrantly high rates of learning, memory, and behavioral problems. The chemical had already been banned for indoor use, in 2001, due to similar concerns.

But Dow Chemical, which makes chlorpyrifos, wasn’t convinced. Nor were many farm groups that rely on the pesticide. And they began lobbying the Obama administration to reject the environmentalists’ supposed alarmism.

This Is How Neil Gorsuch Thinks

By: Roger Parloff, Source: NY Magazine, Originally Published: 3.14.17

“A trucker was stranded on the side of the road, late at night, in cold weather, and his trailer brakes were stuck,” wrote appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, last August, in a dissenting opinion that is apt to come up at his confirmation hearings next week for the open seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“He called his company for help and someone there gave him two options,” Gorsuch continued. “He could drag the trailer carrying the company’s goods to its destination (an illegal and maybe sarcastically offered option). Or, he could sit and wait for help to arrive (a legal if unpleasant option). The trucker chose None of the Above, deciding instead to unhook the trailer and drive his truck to a gas station.”

About a week later, in January 2009, the employer, TransAm Trucking, fired the driver for insubordination. In January 2013, an administrative law judge ruled that the trucker’s termination had been illegal, under a federal law that protects employees who “refuse to operate” vehicles under unsafe conditions. In November 2014 that ruling was unanimously upheld by a three-member administrative review board of the U.S. Department of Labor and then, last August, by Gorsuch’s two colleagues on a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit.

$1.85 million settlement in nursing home neglect case

By: Phillip Bantz, Source: SC Lawyers Weekly, Originally Published: 2.6.17

A wrongful death suit against a nursing home in Aiken has settled for $1.85 million – which is believed to be the highest pretrial settlement in this type of case in South Carolina history, according to an attorney for the plaintiff, Gary Poliakoff.

For the full story, read the attachment here:

$1.85M settlement in nursing home neglect case -Poliakoff Associates

SCDOT unveils safety plan for 'deadliest roads'

By: Nickelle Smith, Source: WSPA, Originally Published: 1.19.17

GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – There’s a new plan to cut the death toll on rural roads in South Carolina.

Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall says the state has the deadliest roads in the nation and unveiled a plan Thursday to tackle the issue.

“South Carolina has the deadliest roads in the nation. Nearly 30% of our rural fatal and serious injury crashes take place on just 5% of our highway system outside of our urban areas,”  Hall said. “Our Interstate highways and US primary routes in our rural areas are the deadliest roads in the state.”

Bernard Brown said he’s no stranger to seeing wrecks along the Upstate’s roads.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad accidents and been in a lot of traffic jams,” he said.

Kinder Morgan kicks off earnings season with $170 million profit

Pipeline giant posts a profit in a sign of an industry rebound

 

Houston pipeline giant Kinder Morgan kicked off earnings season for energy companies Wednesday, swinging to a profit from a steep loss a year earlier.

While the $170 million earned by Kinder Morgan in the fourth quarter fell short of Wall Street expectations, it was a sign that an industry recovery is slowly taking shape after several quarters of dire earnings and red ink reported by a wide range of energy companies. It was also far better than the third quarter of 2016, when the company lost $227 million, and the fourth quarter of 2015, when the company lost $72 million.

The company’s quarterly revenue still slipped 7 percent to $3.39 billion, compared with $3.64 billion during the last quarter of 2015, showing that the energy rebound isn’t in full swing by any means after a two-year bust.

Executive chairman and co-founder Rich Kinder emphasized that the company has tightened its budgeting and will reward investors more in due time. Kinder Morgan took a big hit on Wall Street at the end of 2015 when it decided to slash its dividend payments to shareholders by 75 percent in order to cut costs and better survive during the downturn.

In October, the company said it would maintain its reduced dividend of 12.5 cents per share each quarter, from 51 cents as recently as 2015. Kinder on Wednesday reiterated plans to “substantially” drive that dividend back up in 2018.

U.S. regulator to probe Kinder Morgan natural gas pipeline rates

U.S. federal energy regulators said Thursday they would investigate rates charged by two natural gas pipelines operated by Kinder Morgan Inc to determine if they may be over-recovering costs, resulting in unjust and unreasonable rates.

The U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) said it reviewed cost and revenue information provided by the Natural Gas Co of America (NGPL) and the Wyoming Interstate Co pipelines in their publicly available annual reports for 2014 and 2015.

In response to the FERC investigation, Tom Martin, president of Kinder Morgan Natural Gas Pipelines, said in a statement, “The FERC has chosen to interject itself in an unwarranted and unfair manner in the productive relationships between the companies and their customers.”

“FERC is launching this effort based on stale data in a rapidly evolving environment, and without a full understanding of the facts and the changing market conditions faced by the pipelines that could have been gained through engagement with the companies prior to taking any action,” Martin said.