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Daily Archives: May 4, 2014

Fitch – Fracking Water Supply Risk Would Fall On US Utilities

Fitch Ratings-New York-02 May 2014: “Despite more stringent state laws, water and sewer utilities must comply with EPA water regulations and would bear much of the financial burden if hydrofracking (fracking) operations lead to contamination of a water supply, Fitch Ratings says. This week the state of Michigan joined a growing list of states that require disclosure of the chemicals injected into the ground during fracking processes. State regulations require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals used for fracking. However the utilities are subject to federal disclosure laws that allow companies to claim trade-secrets exemption. Even if the chemicals used for fracking are disclosed, they may not be on the EPA’s list of regulated contaminants. As water utilities are ultimately responsible for complying with EPA regulations for monitoring, treating and delivering water that is safe for public consumption, they would bear much of the financial, operational and regulatory burden of safeguarding water that could potentially be contaminated by fracking operations. In this scenario, Fitch would expect a serious blow to a utility’s revenues, with losses concurrent with other growing direct and indirect costs. This would lead to debt service coverage reductions, liquidity strains and possibly the need for additional leverage. In the coming days we will release a report entitled “Fracking: Possible Implications to Water & Sewer Credits” that will provide more detail on this possible scenario and illuminate the risks for bondholders.”

Commentary Argues for Expanded Transparency via FOIA Releases Online

Lauren Harper [snipped]: “The US was the first country to enact a modern Freedom of Information Act, and was the model other countries looked towards when crafting their own FOI laws. Now, however, the US lags behind the world’s transparency leaders, and, if the US hopes to catch up, it must embrace the technology mandates… Continue Reading

The State of the U.S. Labor Market: Pre-May 2014 Jobs Release

Michael Madowitz and Matt Markezich | May 1, 2014: “Since the end of the Great Recession, the economy has added 8.3 million jobs, and the unemployment rate has fallen from 10 percent to 6.7 percent. But beneath these top-line numbers, the labor market is still quite fragile. In March, the Federal Reserve tacitly acknowledged the widening gap between the… Continue Reading

50 Facts About U.S. Nuclear Weapons Today

“Their number and role in U.S. security have been reduced, but nuclear weapons still provide important security benefits to the United States and its allies. While the prospects for moving to lower levels than those in New START now appear limited, the Arms Control and Non-Proliferation Initiative at Brookings put together an updated list of 50 Facts… Continue Reading

Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere

Etling, Bruce and Roberts, Hal and Faris, Robert, Blogs as an Alternative Public Sphere: The Role of Blogs, Mainstream Media, and TV in Russia’s Media Ecology (April 22, 2014). Berkman Center Research Publication No. 2014-8. Available at SSRN: or “Applying a combination of quantitative and qualitative methods, we investigate whether Russian blogs represent an alternative public… Continue Reading

WHO commits to open access by joining Europe PubMed Central

News release: “WHO supports open access to the published output of its activities as a fundamental part of its mission and a public benefit to be encouraged wherever possible. The new WHO policy on open access applies to all articles or chapters published in non-WHO publications that are authored or co-authored by WHO staff or produced… Continue Reading

Restatement of Place

Kuykendall, Mae, Restatement of Place (May 2, 2014). Brooklyn Law Review, Vol. 79, 2014; MSU Legal Studies Research Paper No. 12-09. Available at SSRN: “Images and intuitions of place are ubiquitous in human thought. Dominion over place is one of the first anchors of the conception of law, providing a rationale for sovereign control over… Continue Reading

The USPTO Trademark Assignment Dataset: Descriptions, Lessons, and Insights

Graham, Stuart J. H. and Marco, Alan C. and Myers, Amanda F., The USPTO Trademark Assignment Dataset: Descriptions, Lessons, and Insights (April 1, 2014). USPTO Working Paper No. 2014-2. Available at SSRN: “Attention to the asset value of intellectual property (IP) has traditionally concentrated on high-value patent sales and licenses. This narrow focus neglects non-patent… Continue Reading