Multinational Monitor

OCT 2003
VOL 24 No. 10


Subsidizing Sprawl: How Economic Development Programs Are Going Awry
by Greg LeRoy

Welcome to Wal-World: Wal-Mart’s Inexhaustible March to Conquer the Globe
by Andy Rowell

The Collapse at Cancun: A Frontline Report on the Failed WTO Negotiations
by Martin Khor


The Political Economy of Sprawl in the Developing World
an interview with Anna Tibaijuka

Out of Bounds: The Sprawling Metropolis and Its Discontents
an interview with Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk


Behind the Lines

The Business of Sprawl

The Front
The Politics of Chemistry - Nike’s Come-From-Behind Win

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Names In the News

No Crime in the Coal Mine

There will be no criminal prosecution in connection with the July 2002 coal mine accident that trapped nine miners, Pennsylvania Attorney General Mike Fisher said in September.

Fisher said that, after an exhaustive investigation, a grand jury concluded that under current Pennsylvania criminal law, there was inadequate evidence to criminally charge any individual or corporation involved in the events that led to the accident.

On July 24, 2002, at 3:00 p.m., a crew of nine coal miners began their work shift in the One Left section of the Quecreek Mine. Just before 9:00 p.m., the miners accidentally cut into a portion of the abandoned Saxman Mine. Within hours, millions of gallons of water from the Saxman Mine flooded into the Quecreek Mine and trapped all nine miners. Three days later, the miners escaped from the Quecreek Mine after a massive rescue effort. At the time of the accident, the Quecreek Mine permit maps erroneously indicated that the One Left section was nearly 300 feet from the boundary of the Saxman Mine.

Fisher noted that the grand jury made no determination as to whether negligent conduct existed with respect to the mine accident since negligence is not actionable under relevant criminal statutes.

Fisher said that although the Quecreek Mine accident was not the result of criminal conduct, the grand jury found that the current system of regulating underground coal mines in Pennsylvania is inadequate, antiquated and in need of significant changes.

Southern Revolving Door

A week after the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in late August issued a final rule gutting a key Clean Air Act provision, a high-level EPA air official decided to take a job at Southern Co., a major polluter that lobbied heavily for the rule.

John Pemberton, chief of staff to EPA's assistant administrator for air and radiation, Jeff Holmstead, will join the company as a senior executive.

"Industry bought and paid for the Bush administration's assault on our clean air protections, so it's fitting that one of the nation's biggest polluters should reward this EPA official by putting him on its payroll," says John Walke, director of the Natural Resource Defense Council's (NRDC's) Clean Air Project.

"Unfortunately, it's the American people who will pay with more asthma, respiratory disease, poisoned lakes and smoggy cities."

In August, EPA announced a final rule that will effectively repeal the Clean Air Act's "new source review" provision, which requires companies to install modern pollution control technologies in new plants and in old plants when they make modifications that significantly increase pollution.

The new final rule will allow facilities to avoid installing pollution controls when they replace equipment -- even if the upgrade increases pollution -- as long as the cost of the replacement does not exceed 20 percent of the cost of major polluting equipment at their plants.

Southern Co. is a defendant in eight of 51 federal clean air enforcement cases prosecuting new source review violations. If the new "20 percent rule" had been in place previously, Southern Co.'s violations would have been legal.

Southern Co., which owns coal-fired power plants in the U.S. Southeast, lobbied intensively to cripple these clean air protections, enlisting the help of top Republican lobbyist Haley Barbour.

Last year, NRDC uncovered a March 2001 email from an in-house Southern Co. lobbyist requesting that Vice President Cheney's energy plan recommend significantly weakening the new source review provision. The lobbyist also urged the Bush administration to reverse its position in ongoing enforcement cases against Southern and other utility company defendants.

"This is par for the course in the shameless world of Bush administration environmental policy," says Greg Wetstone, advocacy director at NRDC. "A timber lobbyist runs the Forest Service, a mining company lobbyist is deputy secretary of interior, and EPA officials take dictation from major polluters and then brazenly cash-in."

Military Overcharges

Northrop Grumman Corporation agreed in August to pay $80 million to resolve two separate allegations of overcharging the government and selling the Navy defective military equipment.

The two actions against the company were brought under the False Claims Act.

In one action, the government alleged that, from 1994 to 1999, Northrop Grumman subsidiary Newport News Shipbuilding, mischarged as Independent Research and Development its costs for the design and development of double-hulled tankers that the shipbuilder had contracts to build for commercial customers.

Newport News will pay $60 million to settle the allegation.

In a second action, Northrop Grumman agreed to pay $20 million to resolve allegations that the company knowingly sold the Navy unmanned aerial vehicles, known as Target drones, that contained defective parts.

Meanwhile, the largest U.S. military contractor, Lockheed, has agreed to pay more than $37 million to resolve allegations that it inflated the cost of performing several Air Force contracts.

-- Russell Mokhiber


Mailing List


Editor's Blog

Archived Issues

Subscribe Online

Donate Online


Send Letter to the Editor

Writers' Guidelines