Here is a depressing report from the National Employment Law Project: States Made Unprecedented Cuts to Unemployment Insurance in 2011
NELP’s new analysis shows that in 2011, six states cut the maximum number of weeks that jobless workers can receive unemployment insurance to less than 26 weeks—a threshold that had served as a standard for all 50 states for more than half a century, until this year. Michigan, Missouri, and South Carolina cut their available weeks down to 20; Arkansas and Illinois cut down to 25; and Florida cut to between 12 and 23 weeks, depending on the state’s unemployment rate. Double-digit unemployment in Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida did not discourage lawmakers there from making the cuts.
… Indiana changed the formula it uses to calculate weekly benefit amounts so that the average unemployment check will drop from $283 to $220 a week.Ouch.
We should have learned from decades of lying by tobacco companies, but we don’t. Oil and gas companies have been lying about the “safety” of hydraulic fracturing, “fracking”, of oil and gas wells. From the The New York Times:
“There have been over a million wells hydraulically fractured in the history of the industry, and there is not one, not one, reported case of a freshwater aquifer having ever been contaminated from hydraulic fracturing. Not one,” Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of ExxonMobil, said last year at a Congressional hearing on drilling.
It is a refrain that not only drilling proponents, but also state and federal lawmakers, even past and present Environmental Protection Agency directors, have repeated often.
But there is in fact a documented case, and the E.P.A. report that discussed it suggests there may be more. Researchers, however, were unable to investigate many suspected cases because their details were sealed from the public when energy companies settled lawsuits with landowners.
Current and former E.P.A. officials say this practice continues to prevent them from fully assessing the risks of certain types of gas drilling.
“I still don’t understand why industry should be allowed to hide problems when public safety is at stake,” said Carla Greathouse, the author of the E.P.A. report that documents a case of drinking water contamination from fracking. “If it’s so safe, let the public review all the cases.”
This is another example of how very large corporations, with very deep pockets, can use lawyers, lawsuits, the courts and regulators to their advantage and our disadvantage.