Sunday, January 25, 2015

Sunday Morning Coming Down -- January 25, 2015; And "Purt-Near" Ain't Enough ... Unless

Active rigs:

Active Rigs157187190204161

Well, this is interesting, The Williston Herald is reporting:
“During this period there are trace amounts of hydrocarbons in the water that are producing an odor,” said Public Works Director David Tuan. “It is still small enough that it is safe to consume. People may not want to consume it, which is understandable because it tastes bad and smells bad, but it is safe to consume.”
The city is not sure if the higher amount of hydrocarbons is because of the spill in Glendive, or coming from another source. The EPA says "not."
When Glendive, Montana’s plant was shut down early last week, it was receiving a 15 parts per billion (ppb) reading coming from the Glendive Water Treatment Plant. The highest it has been in Williston is 3.39 ppb, which is still below the state mandate of 5 ppb. The amount of hydrocarbons in the water have been dropping since the highest 3.39 reading was measured.
“Water quality has nothing to do with the smell, color and odor. Those are subjective things we try to meet. We try to meet these so we can put out the highest quality product because people are paying for it,” Tuan said. “Your water could be yellow, blue or smelly and still be safe. In the spring, water can have a musty smell during the runoff period.”
Water takes around two days to get from the water treatment plant to a tap, he said, which could explain the odor coming days after the spill affected Glendive.
“It could be a lag effect to get through the system,” Tuan said, adding they may never find out where the higher amount of hydrocarbon is coming from.
He said it is easy to make the assumption it is a result of the Glendive spill, but because the EPA is telling them no oil has come into North Dakota, they cannot make that assumption.
Even though my yellow, blue or smelly water could be safe, I prefer colorless, odorless, and generally tasteless water.

A Note To The Granddaughters

Our older granddaughter's water polo team will be participating in a tournament later today. They must have had the best record this season because they were the only team to have been given a first-round bye. If they win their first game, they are guaranteed a first or second place finish. Just like NASCAR, points earned during the season are very, very important, apparently in North Texas water polo.

Speaking of NASCAR, I drove by the Texas Motor Speedway about 8:30 this morning. I was taking drinks and snacks to the aforementioned water polo tournament. The tournament starts early this morning and lasts all day. Our granddaughter's first game is later this afternoon. NASCAR was quiet; the only folks speeding were SUVs on I-35E going north and the Texas Highway Patrol was out in full force, stopping many speeders.

I don't know why anyone would want to go so fast on such a beautiful morning. It was absolutely gorgeous (and still is). The highlight of the day this time of year in Texas is to see the new calves alongside the yearlings. I also saw a couple of oil well pads; they were not new, but I always forget they are there. So, a beautiful day: Texas Motor Speedway; cattle ranches; and, oil wells in North Texas.

With gasoline so "cheap," it seems driving distances are much shorter. I normally don't look forward to long drives just to do an errand, but with gasoline so inexpensive (and the day so beautiful), it was a great drive. I'm even "trying" out a new Starbucks. When I arrived, it was purt-near empty but now it's filling up.

Purt Near, Randy Rieman
Two stories of note coming out Vermont, one story is very old but pertains to the new story. First, the old story, as reported by
The Supreme Court yesterday struck down a Vermont law barring the sale of prescription drug records for marketing purposes, potentially derailing an effort by Massachusetts lawmakers to enact a similar patient privacy law.
The court, in a 6-to-3 ruling, said Vermont violated the free speech rights of drug manufacturers by forbidding pharmacies from selling doctors’ prescription information to them yet allowing the data to be sold for other purposes, such as research.
The ruling was a victory for pharmaceutical companies, which buy the data to uncover prescription patterns so they can better market their drugs to doctors. But it dampens the hope of physician groups, consumer health advocacy organizations, and some Massachusetts legislators of passing the state’s own prescription privacy bill.
“I’m not so sure that a Massachusetts law would have much viability now,’’ said Dr. Lynda Young, president of the Massachusetts Medical Society. “We consider the sale of prescription data commercial activity, not free speech. It is an intrusion into the physician-patient relationship.’’
The second story, as reported by Modern Health Care:
Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin stunned the healthcare policy world last week when he announced the state was scrapping plans to create a single-payer system. The state said the economics didn't work, but not everyone is convinced.

Shumlin has long advocated for a publicly funded healthcare system and even embraced it as part of his first gubernatorial win in 2010. When the state ratified the law establishing a single-payer-like system in 2011, many viewed Vermont as an incubator of whether it could succeed in the U.S. But until recently, officials didn't really explain the major question that was on everyone's minds: How exactly would the state pay for this system?

Vermont's plan was supposed to work like this: All Vermont businesses would be subject to an 11.5% payroll tax, similar to how the federal government taxes them to support Medicare. For companies that currently offer private health insurance to their employees, the payroll tax would replace those private expenses. State residents would also pay a sliding-scale income tax. The income tax would be capped at 9.5%, and no Vermont resident would pay more than $27,500 per year toward the healthcare system. In exchange, all 626,000 Vermonters would have insurance policies that cover 94% of their healthcare costs.
So, what we have here:
  • businesses would pay 11.5% payroll tax for this health care program
  • state residents would see an income tax of 9.5% (and I've seldom seen an income tax that did not rise over time)
  • state residents would still be subject to as much as $27,500/year in health care premiums, deductibles, and co-pays
And even with all that, a Vermonter would not see "free health care." All of this would cover 94% of their health care costs. 

In a Boston Globe story today (requires a subscription), it was said that the proposed (now scrapped) Vermont health care plan would have cost $4.9 billion /year. To put that in perspective, Vermont's annual budget is $4.8 billion.   

Forbes analysis was even more stark.

No comments:

Post a Comment