MATS: The Means to a Healthier Environment and More Profitable Farming Industry

The rule to control the emission of toxic acid gases and heavy metals, a mandate that has met the resistance of power plant owners and operators for about two decades, will finally be upheld, leading to the possible prevention of asthma and heart attack each year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was firm in its decision in 2012 in enforcing the Mercury and Air Toxics Standards, or MATS, a new regulation that will strictly limit the emission of hazardous substances, like mercury, hydrochloric acid, arsenic and other deadly pollutants. The EPA orders various power plants to abide by its stipulation by 2017.

Presently, about 53 tons of mercury emanates from US-coal-fired power plants annually; the full implementation of MATS in 2017 will eliminate as much as 90% of this. Burning of municipal garbage and medical waste also contributed about the same amounts of heavy-metal smog twenty years ago. Since these acts were checked, however, the bulk of mercury emission has been blamed on leaving power plants.

With the new rule, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expects to save about 130,000 individuals from asthma attacks, around 4,700 people from having heart attacks and about 11,000 US residents from suffering early deaths.

Though it is true that upgrade of equipment to meet MATS standard may be costly, amounting to about $10 billion every year, this amount can easily be dislodged by profit, which can reach up to $90 billion annually, due to reduction in crop damages as well as improvement in health.

The Most Common On-Campus Drugs

When many people realize the freedom that moving away from home for the first time affords them, they may be a bit overzealous to take advantage of it. Lots of students try drugs for the first time within their first years in school.

The most commonly abused drug is alcohol. Because alcohol is legal, it doesn’t have the stigma attached to it that illegal drugs do, making more students willing to try it. Of course, underage consumption of alcohol is illegal, but students believe their newly acquired independence makes them mature enough to drink.

Marijuana is the most widely-used illegal drug. A 2003 report from the Office of National Drug Control Policy showed that as many as half of all college students have tried marijuana at least once in their lifetime, with nearly one in five having used it within the last month. Because of its prevalence, many students develop a lax attitude about pot and forget that it is an illegal, mind altering substance. Frequent use of marijuana can have a serious effect on your studies. As a matter of fact, students who have a D average are four times as likely to have smoked weed in the past year than those who have an A average.

Other drugs that are frequently used by college students include:

  • Cocaine
  • Psychedelics (such as LSD and¬†psilocybin mushrooms)
  • MDMA and Ecstacy
  • Opiates (such as Xanax and Ketamine)

Because drug use carries the risk being kicked out of school, injuring yourself,  or being arrested, it is important that students seriously weigh their personal decision of whether or not to use drugs against their goals for their futures.

Community College Student Announces Shooting Online before Firing

An 18-year-old New River Community College student turned himself in to police after firing a shotgun at the school’s mall campus Friday, killing no one, but injuring two women.

The most bizarre part of this story, besides the obvious derangement a person has to have to believe shooting their colleagues is a good idea, is that the gunman posted his intentions online just moments before carrying them out. A post on online anonymous image forum 4chan allegedly made by the shooter states his name, the type of gun he planned to use (a “Stevens 320 shotgun”), and even linked to his student profile page. It also included a photograph of the school’s entrance.

Moments after the post went online, shots broke out at the mall. When officers arrived, the gunman put down his weapon and surrendered. So far, his motive remains unknown.

The shooting took place ten miles from Virginia Tech, the site where one of the worst college shootings in history occurred almost exactly six years prior. The Virginia Tech shooter killed 32 and injured 17 more before turning a gun on himself. In his internet post, yesterday’s shooter said he had no intention of killing himself unless the situation got really far out of control.

It’s important for college students to remain on the lookout for suspicious behaviors and report them to the authorities to help fight the influx of shooting rampages that seems to have risen in recent years.

Staying Safe from Sexual Assault on Campus

Moving to a college campus for the first time is an undoubtedly exciting experience. For many students, it’s the first time they have a real taste of independence. The freedom they feel is so boundless that some students become comfortable with the idea of committing crimes. No college is free from crime, but there are ways to protect yourself from becoming a victim.

Sexual assault is one of the most prevalent crimes on college campuses. Online investigative journalist magazine Investigate West estimates that one in five women on college campuses experiences some kind of sexual assault, most commonly date rape. There is a number of things you should do to prevent being a victim of date rape. For starters, never go out without a friend you trust, and make it a priority to stay together throughout the night. If you are drinking, do not accept a drink that you did not see poured. Better yet, always pour your own drink and open cans and bottles yourself. This way you can ensure that they have not been tampered with.

When walking on campus, especially at night, try to stay on more crowded and well-lit pathways. Many schools have emergency stations, usually marked by blue lights, that can be used to speak with or summon help if you feel as though you are in danger. Be aware of your surroundings and stay away from suspicious individuals. It may seem cold, but your safety is important. If you are walking around at night, it’s always good to have a friend with you. There is safety in numbers, and not being alone is a deterrent to potential sexual assaulters.

The point is not to live in a constant state of fear, but to rather have the knowledge that sexual assaults can, and unfortunately do, happen. Arming yourself with this information can prove useful in helping reduce your risk of being a target. If you happen to be a victim of an on-campus sexual assault remember that you are not alone and that there are a lot of people who are willing to help you.

Decreasing Drunk Driving on College Campuses

Drunk driving is an incredibly serious problem on college campuses across the United States, as colleges provide an environment in which under-age individuals can get relatively easy access to alcohol and in far too many instances, binge drinking is common, if not encouraged.

Drunk driving places everyone on the road in harm’s way, and can have devastating effects on unsuspecting, law-abiding motorists. Fortunately, many university administrators are taking action to try and reduce drunk driving incidents on and around their campuses. Some steps that university administrators have taken in recent years have included:

Initiating Safe Ride Programs: Safe ride programs can be run either by campus officials, or as a volunteer organization that students themselves participate in. With these programs, individuals who find themselves intoxicated off campus can call a number and receive a free ride back to their dorm or apartment. This discourages drunk driving, and helps to create a safer environment on roadways near a university, and helps students avoid criminal charges like DUI, DWI, OWI (in places like Wisconsin), or DWII (in places like Oregon). In most states, speaking with a DUI or DWI lawyer could help you alleviate the stress when issued a drunk driving ticket.

Cutting Out Student Courts: Many universities have student courts or disciplinary councils that establish penalties for students accused of crimes or violating school policy. However, in order to discourage more serious crimes, like drunk driving, many schools have decided that crimes of this nature will not be handled on campus, and instead, those charged with drunk driving will have to hire a drunk driving lawyer and defend themselves in the legal system, not on campus.

College Students Drinking

Creating Zero-Tolerance Policies: One incredibly effective deterrent that some schools have put in place is a zero-tolerance policy for drunk driving arrests. These policies basically state that if a student is convicted of drunk driving, they will be kicked out of school, even if it is a first offense.

Through these and other policies, school officials are hoping to limit the number of drunk driving incidents that occur on and near college campuses, and in doing so, keep their students, faculty, and staff safe.


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Larry Benneth+