Photos That Make the Rude Pundit Take a Deep, Relatively Clean Breath

That's a photo from 2012 in Tioga County, New York. The owner of that little bit of green mountain paradise really, really wanted to allow gas companies to come in and fuck the ground with hydraulic fracking equipment to get at the shale gas buried beneath it. But his dream won't be coming true, and the bald eagles and bobcats will be safe to soar over and roam the land because Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally made up his mind and banned fracking in New York State. The economy of the region on the border with Pennsylvania still sucks - the Southern Tier citizens were hoping to make money on fracking the way that their greedy, shortsighted neighbors across the state line have - but at least they won't have to worry about chemicals poisoning their water and drilling that causes earthquakes. Life is a series of trade-offs.

It's been a pretty good week for environmentalists in the United States, one of the better ones in a while. President Obama chose the fishermen and women over the oil industry by permanently protecting Bristol Bay, Alaska, from oil and gas exploration and drilling. His order covers 52,000 square miles, and it's groovy, but not that brave an act, considering that Bristol Bay is the center of the lucrative salmon industry and that petroleum companies had little interest in the area (although, you know, if they could have, you know they would have drilled that Bay with all the vigor and intensity of a gay porn veteran on a fresh, young anus).

Down in West Virginia, U.S. Attorney Booth Goodwin "filed criminal charges against six former Freedom Industries officials, and the company itself, for their roles in last January’s chemical leak that contaminated the Kanawha Valley’s drinking water." That was the leak that caused 300,000 people to lose their water privileges for weeks, including much of the city of Charleston. You talk to people down there and they'll say that, even now, they'll drink only bottled water.

Goodwin said, "Metal tanks don’t simply corrode overnight. Containment walls don’t simply disintegrate in a matter of days. These things take time and those matters have to be dealt with" before kicking the company in the balls. Attorney General Eric Holder followed up with a from-behind kick to the taint, saying, "They put an entire population needlessly at risk. Such conduct cannot, and will not, be tolerated. These law enforcement actions send an unambiguous message that compliance with environmental safety standards is an obligation, not a choice." And four of the executives face the possibility of real jail time, with the former chief operating officer looking at up to 68 years behind bars.

Hell, with a federal grand jury indicting former Massey Energy CEO Donald "Greasy 'Stache" Blanknship on four criminal counts related to the Upper Big Branch coal mine disaster of 2010 just last month, it's almost as if rich white polluters might not be getting away with all the evil shit they do. Too bad they don't work on Wall Street, huh? Well, it's a start.

Every once in a while, it's okay to climb up a particularly beautiful hill, pause, breathe in deeply, and say, "Yes, a few good things can happen amidst the unending barrage of mayhem and hatred." Then you walk back down, into the smog, and get back to work.