Fracking program at Case
Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland is holding a free symposium, open to the public, on Friday, Nov. 16, to address hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, of shale deposits.
The symposium, which also will be webcast, runs from 9 a.m. to 4:15 p.m. in the Moot Courtroom at Case Western School of Law.
The program is The Law and Policy of Hydraulic Fracturing: Addressing the Issues of the Natural Gas Boom.
The discussion will cover:
• The division of authority to regulate fracking among federal, state and local governments.
• Practical and legal effects from environmental issues
• The debate over conditional use zoning and permitted use zoning
• The impact of fracking on the energy economy.
For more information and to watch via webcast, go to http://law.case.edu/lectures.
Beacon settles retirees’ lawsuit
The Akron Beacon Journal has settled a class-action lawsuit by a group of its retirees.
About 55 retired workers, who had been employees in the newsroom and composing room, had alleged the Beacon Journal violated a contractual obligation to provide lifetime health care, including prescription drug benefits, at a minimal cost.
The retirees said they were contractually guaranteed lifetime employment and exchanged it for an early-retirement incentive program that included supplemental health-care benefits for themselves and their spouses.
The incentives were honored until the newspaper was purchased by Canadian publisher David Black in 2006, the suit alleged. At that time, the retirees say they received a letter stating their prescription co-pays would be increased.
Both sides agreed there will be enrollment in either health care and/or prescription drug plans that will be as good or in some cases better than what they were allegedly promised at retirement, said Beacon Journal attorney Brett Bacon. The settlement, which was approved by U.S. District Court Judge David Dowd on Friday, also offers a one-time payment of $2,500 if retirees opt out of insurance and a fund to reimburse class members for denied benefits they had to pay out of pocket.
“The retirees of the Beacon Journal are deeply appreciative to the Beacon Journal and its publisher for recommitting to the well-being of these retirees,” said retiree attorney Subodh Chandra.
Said Bacon: “It was a good result for all sides. This was never about losing coverage. It was always about what kind of coverage met their expectations when they retired.”
U.S. limits shale development
The Interior Department approved a plan that would reduce by more than half the amount of U.S. land the government will make available in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming for development of oil shale and tar sands.
The Bureau of Land Management proposal would set aside 700,000 acres in the three states for research and testing of oil-shale production, and 130,000 acres in Utah for tar sands activities.
The bureau said that it also approved two leases, including a proposal from Exxon Mobil Corp., to research and develop oil shale on an 160-acre parcel in Colorado.
The decision on land availability reverses plans issued in the waning days of President George W. Bush’s administration that would have opened more than 2 million acres for exploration of oil shale and tar sands.
Coal company to lay off 163
Murray Energy Corp., the largest closely held coal company in the United States, is laying off 163 workers at three subsidiaries, citing a “War on Coal” by the Obama administration.
Murray laid off 54 employees at the American Coal Co., based in Galatia, Ill., 102 workers at Utah American Energy Inc., in East Carbon, Utah, and seven workers at Kanawha Transportation Center Inc., in Wheeling, W.Va.
Coal production declines
Coal production in the United States fell 8.3 percent in October from a year earlier on lower consumption from utilities. Output totaled 86.7 million tons in October, down from 94.6 million a year ago, the Energy Department said. Production for the first 10 months of the year is 853.1 million tons, down 6 percent from a year earlier.
Fraud compensation planned
MoneyGram agreed to set up a $100 million compensation fund as part of a settlement of government allegations of fraud through money-transfer scams from 2003 to 2009.
Compiled from staff and wire reports