Wonkbook: What went wrong with the police in Ferguson and how to fix it

August 15

Welcome to Wonkbook, Wonkblog’s morning policy news primer by Puneet Kollipara (@pkollipara). To subscribe by e-mail, click here. Send comments, criticism or ideas to Wonkbook at Washpost dot com. To read more by the Wonkblog team, click here. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

The response by law enforcement to protesters in Ferguson, Mo., is being criticized for its level of force and use of military-style equipment. We've labeled the weapons and gear being used by police in these photos from Ferguson. (Tom LeGro and Thomas Gibbons-Neff/The Washington Post)

Wonkbook’s Number of the Day: Zero percent. That's how much the eurozone economy grew last quarter, raising fears about broader global impacts.

Wonkbook’s Chart of the Day: This chart shows how Americans are still way behind on paying back their student loans.

Wonkbook's Top 4 Stories: (1) Police problems and solutions in Ferguson; (2) Ebola crisis worse than thought?; (3) global economic woes may become ours; and (4) natural gas's potential environmental impacts in focus.

1. Top story: As tensions fade in Ferguson, what went wrong with the police and how to fix it

A sweeping series of changes by authorities in Ferguson. "Federal and state officials unveiled a sweeping response Thursday to violent clashes between police and protesters over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, with Missouri taking over security operations from local police and authorities agreeing to accept Justice Department help in handling protests....Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. then announced a series of steps his department is taking, including a meeting held Thursday with civic leaders to calm tensions and an escalating civil rights probe in which federal investigators have already interviewed witnesses to the shooting." Wesley Lowery, Jerry Markon and Mark Berman in The Washington Post.

Primary source: The full text of President Obama's remarks. The Washington Post.

@morningmoneyben: 1) It's not obvious that Obama's physical presence in #Ferguson would help. 2.) He's very rarely fiery in these kinds of statements.

Timeline: The Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Mo. USA Today.

Mo. Gov. Nixon's decision to switch police forces appeared to pay off. "The decision by Governor Jay Nixon to place the Missouri State Highway Patrol in command in Ferguson appeared to have paid off. Nixon put Capt. Ron Johnson, a Ferguson native an African American, in charge on Thursday afternoon and said authorities would be taking a softer tone. About two hours later, Johnson was marching with a group of pastors and black youth. 'I am a black man with black sons,' Johnson told the marchers before they set off for a looted QuikTrip about a half mile away that had become a gathering point for protestors. He said his own son had been harassed by police." Rachel Lippmann and Tim Lloyd in St. Louis Public Radio.

Interactive: Where minority communities still have overwhelmingly white police. Emily Badger, Dan Keating and Kennedy Elliott in The Washington Post.

@WesleyLowery: Cpt. Johnson of Highway Patrol hugging residents as they pass during march. "I grew up here!" he notes. #ferguson

@ryanjreilly: Last night v. tonight in #Ferguson pic.twitter.com/CKp87niWjw

@JamilSmith: Capt. Ron Johnson of the Missouri Highway Patrol walks along with the Ferguson march. Compare this to Wednesday. pic.twitter.com/Vtezu4MuHk

The Late Show with Missouri Governor Jay Nixon. "The governor’s spokesman stressed that Nixon has been deeply involved in responding to the restlessness in Ferguson in a variety of capacities all week....But in politics, nothing beats being there. The coverage in recent days has been dominated by images of heavily armed police complete with tanks, protesters dodging billowing smoke and tear gas and reports of journalists being arrested. There have been few counterbalancing images of a governor taking visible action to bring the situation under control. Other pols have also learned the lesson the hard way." Katie Glueck in Politico.

Fancy weapons, 9/11 and fear of crime turned local forces into small armies. "The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) may be an obscure agency within the Department of Defense, but through the 1033 program, which it oversees, it's one of the core enablers of American policing's excessive militarization. Beginning in 1990, Congress authorized the Pentagon to transfer its surplus property free of charge to federal, state, and local police departments to wage the war on drugs. In 1997, Congress expanded the purpose of the program to include counterterrorism in section 1033 of the defense authorization bill. In one single page of a 450-page law, Congress helped sow the seeds of today's warrior cops." Matthew Harwood in Mother Jones.

Primary source: Want an armored personnel carrier for your police force? Just fill out this one-page form. Christopher Ingraham in The Washington Post.

Explainer: 5 things you need to know about police militarization. Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai in Mashable.

Don't count on Congress to end the program anytime soon. "Rep. John Conyers, the House Judiciary Committee's top Democrat, and two of his Democratic colleagues are asking committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte to convene hearings on the militarization of police forces. And Democratic Rep. Hank Johnson of Georgia said Thursday he will introduce a bill that would limit the kinds of military equipment local police forces can acquire....Libertarian-leaning Republicans are joining the chorus as well....The response from congressional Republican leadership, however, has been measured or nonexistent....And the program...has well-placed defenders in Congess." Daniel Newhauser in National Journal.

Were police tactics over the top? Military veterans say yes. "For veterans of the wars that the Ferguson protests so closely resemble, the police response has appeared to be not only heavy-handed but out of step with the most effective ways for both law enforcement and military personnel to respond to demonstrations. 'You see the police are standing online with bulletproof vests and rifles pointed at peoples chests,' said Jason Fritz, a former Army officer and an international policing operations analyst. 'That’s not controlling the crowd, that’s intimidating them.'" Thomas Gibbons-Neff in The Washington Post.

Storify: Veterans on Ferguson. Kelsey D. Atherton in Popular Science.

Long read: After Ferguson, how should police respond to protests? Radley Balko in The Washington Post.

Why there wasn't police accountability — who was actually in charge? "You can't understand the police actions in Ferguson — and the size of the change Nixon's announcement represents — without understanding this: for the first several days of protests in Ferguson, there were several different agencies on the ground. And none of them were in charge. Prior to Thursday morning, there were at least four different police departments on the ground in Ferguson at any given time: the Ferguson police themselves, the St. Louis County police (where Ferguson is located), police from the City of St. Louis, and police from the Missouri Highway Patrol." Dara Lind in Vox.

@CBSAndrew: Breaking: @ACLU files first lawsuit in Michael Brown case, under Missouri's Sunshine Law, seeking police records. http://www.scribd.com/doc/236822966/2014-08-14-Sunshine-Petition

Rubber bullets, used in Ferguson, are unsafe, according to science. "The small body of research that has looked at the injuries they cause has routinely found a high number of serious injuries and a small number of deaths....The most recent research on rubber bullet injuries was published in 2010. In the journal Injury, French researchers examined six patients who were treated for rubber bullet related trauma since 2000 (rubber bullet guns are marketed to European Union citizens as self-defense weapons). The five patients lived, but all had 'severe facial injuries necessitating long-term hospitalization and two-to-three step surgical treatments.'" Sarah Kliff in Vox.

Interview: Tear gas is banned in international warfare — and in use in Ferguson, MO. Sarah Kliff in Vox.

Video: TV news crew tear-gassed in Ferguson. Alex Chancey in The Daily Beast.

Read this reporter's account of how police treated her and a colleague. "I had never witnessed police treat journalists like this in the four years I worked as a crime reporter in South Florida. Some officers have tried to keep me away from crime scenes, but never stopped me from covering a story altogether. It was also the first time I had ever felt afraid of a police officer. Flores and I felt far more afraid of them than we did of any protesters. What the Ferguson police have done to journalists and demonstrators brings up First Amendment issues, said John Watson, a lawyer and a media law professor at American University in Washington." Alexia Campbell and Reena Flores in National Journal.

Explainer: Here's a list of potentially unconstitutional things the police have done in Ferguson. Max Ehrenfreund in The Washington Post.

Social media didn't just report on the protests. It altered them. "People in Ferguson, Mo., didn't wait for news conferences, petitions or legal action to bring national attention to their streets after a police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teen. They snapped a photo. They used a hashtag. And, in the span of five days, their growing, stinging social media cloud of real-time updates shaped a raw public discourse about the teen, Michael Brown, race relations and police force in the USA. 'Because of social media, the police don't have control of this story,' said David Karpf, assistant professor of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University." Lindsay Deutsch and Jolie Lee in USA Today.

Charts: Watch Twitter explode, along with Ferguson. Brian Fung in The Washington Post.

@NiemanLab: Events in Ferguson underscore the importance of access to a free Internet http://nie.mn/VpE1Ef

Explainer: How Anonymous got it right and wrong in Ferguson. Andrea Peterson in The Washington Post.

Not only can you record the police. Maybe the police should record themselves. "Courts have held that, as a general rule, individuals have a right to record law enforcement officers carrying out their duties in public spaces....Many police stations have long recorded at least some of their officers' interactions with the public, most frequently through dashboard cameras that capture traffic stops....But there's also a growing movement in the United States to have on-duty officers use body cameras to record their interactions with the public." Andrea Peterson in The Washington Post.

Other legal reads:

Sentencing panel to weigh economic crime penalties. Associated Press.

NCAA says athletic departments must not interfere with sexual assault cases. Renee Schoof in McClatchy Newspapers.

PAUL: We must demilitarize the police. "Washington has incentivized the militarization of local police precincts by using federal dollars to help municipal governments build what are essentially small armies....When you couple this militarization of law enforcement with an erosion of civil liberties and due process that allows the police to become judge and jury...we begin to have a very serious problem on our hands. Given these developments, it is almost impossible for many Americans not to feel like their government is targeting them. Given the racial disparities in our criminal justice system, it is impossible for African-Americans not to feel like their government is particularly targeting them." Rand Paul in Time Magazine.

GREEN: Ferguson, Mo., is destroying public faith in government. "The biggest failure in this regard belongs to Missouri’s governor, Jay Nixon, whose inexplicable absence from Ferguson and neglect of this mounting national crisis in his own backyard became so acute on Wednesday night that Twitter (TWTR) turned into a social media version of Where’s Waldo? directed at locating him. Nixon’s failure to take clear steps to ease the escalating tensions is a danger to everyone on the scene in Ferguson. But it’s also doing a great deal to drain what little public faith remains in government." Joshua Green in Bloomberg Businessweek.

KLEIN: America's criminal justice system is racist. "There was a time when crime drove American politics. It was a top issue in 1984, and 1988, and 1992. The infamous Willie Horton ad was about race, but it was also about crime. The crack epidemic was ongoing, and murders were rising, and people were afraid. Washington's answer was cops, prisons and harsher sentencing rules. Today, the crack epidemic is over, the murder rate has fallen, and Americans feel much safer. But cops, prisons and sentencing rules are coming back as an issue. This time, though, they're not seen as the answer. This time they're the problem. There is no reason to be subtle on this point: the American criminal justice system is racist." Ezra Klein in Vox.

MacGILLIS: The disturbing trend toward secrecy in American policing. "I suspect two separate dynamics are at play. One is related to the same self-aggrandizement that has led local law enforcement agencies to load up on military-style heavy weaponry and armor—the more that local police view themselves as engaged in the grand project of “homeland security,” the more they feel justified in mimicking the national security state’s penchant for secrecy. The other dynamic is the withering of local journalism. The fewer reporters there are engaged in routine coverage of the cop beat, the more likely police are to start viewing requests for information as a rare and nettlesome importunity" Alec MacGillis in The New Republic.

GERSON: Ferguson and the paradox of American diversity. "The Brown killing, as part of a grim series of similar tragedies, has quickly become symbolic. As usual, the incident confirms people’s existing ideological narratives. It shows a racism deeply rooted in U.S. legal structures. Or it demonstrates the opportunism of the media and the grievance industry. It is evidence of structural rot or of anti-police bias. It indicts the militarization of police forces or reveals the well-armed challenges they face. But many people I know who differ on these matters shared the same immediate, emotional reaction: The images of tear gas, rubber bullets and sniper rifles from Ferguson don’t look like America." Michael Gerson in The Washington Post.

Top opinion

KRUGMAN: The forever slump. "Recovery is far from complete, and the wrong policies could still turn economic weakness into a more or less permanent depression. In fact, that’s what seems to be happening in Europe as we speak. And the rest of us should learn from Europe’s experience....The good news is that things don’t look that dire in America....But all it would take is a few bad shocks and/or policy missteps to send us down the same path. The good news is that Janet Yellen, the Fed chairwoman, understands the danger; she has made it clear that she would rather take the chance of a temporary rise in the inflation rate than risk hitting the brakes too soon, the way the E.C.B. did in 2011." Paul Krugman in The New York Times.

LEVIN AND SALAM: The immigration middle ground. "The essential components of the recurring elite proposal are a path to citizenship for unauthorized immigrants; more immigration by the highly skilled; and a guest-worker program, combined with other significant increases in immigration by less-skilled workers, to help employers hold down wages. In return, this proposal offers little more than the promise of finally enforcing laws that already exist regarding border security, visa controls, and employment-status verification....While populist critics deserve credit for opposing ideas that a growing number of Americans reject, their own failure to offer a compelling alternative is a key part of why we find ourselves at an impasse." Yuval Levin and Reihan Salam in National Review.

VINIK: Obama's executive authority isn't what he thinks it is. "President Obama has talked about his authority in similar terms, which suggests that he and his advisors are thinking along the same lines. But the concept of prosecutorial discretion is a lot more complicated — and its implications a lot less clear — than Obama and his allies make it sound. The president’s power to set priorities over law enforcement has real limits. The further he stretches his authority, the louder conservatives will yell about his lawlessness, and the greater chance that they’re correct." Danny Vinik in The New Republic.

BLINDER: The supply-side case for government redistribution. "Research by me and others decades ago found that, contrary to the common assumption, more inequality does not lead to less spending; and history has since given that finding an acid test. Regardless of how you measure it, income inequality has surged since about 1979. If rising inequality reduced spending, American consumers as a group would now be spending less of their aggregate income than they did then. In fact, they are spending more. In thinking about the effects of inequality on growth, we should look more at the supply side than the demand side." Alan S. Blinder in The Wall Street Journal.

FRIEDERSDORF: An opening for libertarians to be a serious force. "I'd make a more modest claim: that the abject failure of Democrats and Republicans...as well as the ambivalence people like them display to grave, widespread civil liberties violations, lawbreaking by government officials, and the power of the national-security state — has created an opening for libertarian-leaning independents to make gains with the public, if they can transcend the cult of personality that surrounds Ron Paul; avoid picking misguided, counterproductive battles like the one over raising the debt ceiling; and embrace a conception of liberty that isn't so narrowly focused on tax rates and property." Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic.

RODRIK: The perils of economic consensus. "Disagreements among economists are healthy. They reflect the fact that their discipline comprises a diverse collection of models, and that matching reality to model is an imperfect science with a lot of room for error. It is better for the public to be exposed to this uncertainty than for it to be lulled into a false sense of security based on the appearance of certain knowledge." Dani Rodrik in Project Syndicate.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge interlude: Watch Conan O'Brien take the challenge.

2. Is Africa's Ebola crisis worse than we thought?

WHO: Ebola threat in Africa far worse than thought. "While the WHO has said 1,069 people have died of 1,975 infected by the virus, 'staff at the outbreak sites see evidence that the number of reported cases and deaths vastly underestimate the magnitude of the outbreak,' the agency said....'WHO is coordinating a massive scaling up of the international response, marshaling support from individual countries, disease control agencies, agencies within the United Nations system, and others,' the agency said....Aids groups such as Doctors Without Borders...have criticized the WHO and governments including the U.S. for failing to recognize the devastation being caused." Caroline Chen and Andrew Pollack in Bloomberg.

Desperate times yield desperate measures. "Governments there have revived a disease-fighting tactic not used in nearly a century: the 'cordon sanitaire,' in which a line is drawn around the infected area and no one is allowed out. Cordons, common in the medieval era of the Black Death, have not been seen since the border between Poland and Russia was closed in 1918 to stop typhus from spreading west. They have the potential to become brutal and inhumane. Centuries ago, in their most extreme form, everyone within the boundaries was left to die or survive, until the outbreak ended." Donald G. McNeil Jr. in The New York Times.

Health officials try to quell fears of Ebola spreading by air travel. But... " The World Health Organization on Thursday swiftly sought to quell fears that international air travel could become a conduit...emphasizing that such a risk was low....But in another sign of spreading international concern, the State Department announced that it had ordered family members of staff members at the United States Embassy in Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, to leave the country. Marie Harf, a State Department spokeswoman, said it had taken the step at the recommendation of the department’s medical office 'out of an abundance of caution.'" Nick Cumming-Bruce in The New York Times.

Interview: Patient advocate Jeanine Thomas on what U.S. health care learn from the Ebola outbreak. Marshall Allen in ProPublica.

U.S. agencies are pumping money into drug development, manufacture. "Governments and drugmakers are scrambling to develop new treatments for the Ebola virus now that the World Health Organization (WHO) has eased restrictions on untested vaccines. The United States government is putting cash into experimental treatments, and on Tuesday, gave $4.1 million to the drugmaker BioCryst to advance its Ebola drug BCX4430, the company announced Wednesday. The North Carolina pharmaceutical company in 2013 had received a five-year, $22 million contract from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to develop the drug but is now being given extra funding to speed up trials." Ferdous Al-Faruque in The Hill.

Explainer: Scientists race to test Ebola vaccines in humans. Matthew Perrone and Lauran Neergaard in the Associated Press.

Here come the Ebola scammers, FDA warns. "The FDA is warning consumers today to be aware of supplements and other products sold online that are fraudulently marketed to treat or prevent Ebola virus infection. We currently have no agents — drug, dietary supplement, herbal supplement — that can either prevent Ebolavirus infection or shorten the course of the infection once it occurs. Of course, this hasn’t stopped internet retailers from claiming that their products can be used against Ebola." David Kroll in Forbes.

How Liberian officials let Ebola spread to Nigeria. "42-year-old Patrick Sawyer was traveling to an economic conference as a representative of the Liberian Ministry of Finance even though the Liberian Ministry of Heath had instructed him not to travel because he might be infected with Ebola....Ministry of Health protocols called for Sawyer to be to be monitored daily for 21 days. But as an official with the Ministry of Finance, Sawyer went ahead with plans to attend an economic development conference in Nigeria. The man who authorized the trip, then-Deputy Minister for the Budget Sebastian Muah, at first said he had authorized the trip and excused the decision by pleading a lack of medical expertise." Michael Daly in The Daily Beast.

Ebola striking women more than men. "The rate of infection among women is outpacing that among men because women are the caregivers, nurses and cross-border traders, health officials report. Outbreaks are thought to originate through contact with infected forest animals, often making men who hunt for bushmeat or handle the meat the first targets of infection. But as an outbreak progresses, women tend to be disproportionately affected. Women account for 55 to 60 percent of the deceased in the current epidemic in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, according to UNICEF." Caelainn Hogan in The Washington Post.

Ebola survivors face stigma, and long recovery. "'Many of our neighbors won’t come to our house now,' said Fudia Sesay, 49, of Sierra Leone, who was released from a treatment center last month. 'My friends don’t visit, thinking that if they come near our house, they’ll catch the virus.' The few who do talk to her, she said, are 'in denial,' believing Ebola doesn’t exist....While only a few researchers have studied survivors from past outbreaks, their findings suggest that side effects ranging from lingering joint pain to eye swelling can continue for years...Along with possible physical ailments, survivors also face psychological after-effects" Silas Gbandia and Caroline Chen in Bloomberg.

Other health care reads:

Death of Robin Williams prompts grassroots conversation about mental health. Elahe Izadi in The Washington Post.

Health law spurs paperwork crunch as thousands who signed up must prove they're in U.S. legally. Louise Radnofsky in The Wall Street Journal.

Hospitals seek to help customers with Obamacare premiums. Julie Appleby in Kaiser Health News.

Long read: How agents hunt for fraud in troves of Medicare data. Christopher S. Stewart in The Wall Street Journal.

How to relax interlude: With a cat massage.

3. The world's economic woes could become ours again

Europe's Greater Depression. "It's been six-and-a-half years, and eurozone GDP is still 1.9 percent lower than it was before the Great Recession began. It 'only' took the U.S. economy seven years to get back to where it'd been before the Great Depression hit. But it's a little misleading to just call this a depression. It's worse than that. Europe is turning Japanese. The combination of zombie banks, a rapidly aging population and, most importantly, too-tight money have pushed it into a 'lowflationary' trap that makes it hard to grow, and is even harder to escape from. That's what happened to Japan in the 1990s, and now, 20 years later, its nominal GDP is actually smaller than it was then. Now, Europe isn't that far gone, but it's getting there." Matt O'Brien in The Washington Post.

Viewpoint: Time for an economic plan B in Europe. Desmond Lachman in AEIdeas.

Explainer: 5 things to know about the global economy right now. Daniel Altman in Foreign Policy.

Europe's woes could weigh on U.S. economy — again. "Troubles in the global economy have dogged the American economy since early in the recovery, with the Eurozone debt crisis, the so-called Arab Spring in the Middle East and the Japanese tsunami all swiping momentum from U.S. growth....Now warning signs are flashing again....The latest batch of disappointing news from East to West reinforces the view that global growth will be sluggish this year, and it increases the risk that economic problems overseas could weigh on the U.S. recovery. Foreign trade is expected to be a drag on U.S. growth — and things could get worse if geopolitical tensions in Ukraine and the Middle East deepen. At best, it looks as if the American economy will have to go it alone." Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times.

Russia sanctions haven't even started to bite Europe yet. "The zero growth reported by statistics agency Eurostat on Thursday was cause for alarm throughout the 18-nation region, which is already bracing for the impact of sanctions imposed on and by Russia over Ukraine." Michelle Martin and Martin Santa in Reuters.

Americans are borrowing for cars, but not for homes. "Total outstanding household debt...sank $18 billion between April and June to $11.63 trillion, according to a report...by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. It marked the first decline after three quarters of increase....Student-loan balances increased $7 billion, bringing the nation's student-loan tab to $1.12 trillion. Credit-card debt outstanding rose by $10 billion to $669 billion, slightly below year-ago levels. The trends suggest Americans continue to recover from the recession by paring existing debt and taking on new loans judiciously. Defaults are generally at low levels, with the share of Americans' debt that was seriously overdue falling to 4.5%, the lowest level since the start of 2008." Alan Zibel in The Wall Street Journal.

Other economic/financial reads:

Jobless claims up, but trend favors strong labor market. Lucia Mutikani in Reuters.

The lending program that bypasses the bankers. William D. Cohan in National Journal.

Lawmakers at odds over Export-Import Bank. James R. Carroll in The Courier-Journal.

Science interlude: In honor of Shark Week, why don't sharks have bones?

4. Natural gas faces new concerns about environmental impact

EPA comments renew industry debate on methane flaring. "Methane emissions from oil wells, as well as other parts of the oil and gas sector, are being considered by U.S. EPA for potential regulations under the Clean Air Act. The agency released a set of five white papers in April exploring equipment and processes where the industry could tighten nuts and bolts to tamp down on emissions....Companies including TransCanada Corp., Pioneer Natural Resources Co. and XTO Energy Inc. came out swinging against EPA's white papers in comments released last week. The papers were a key first step for the agency, which has been tasked by President Obama to explore regulating the sector to address climate change." Gayathri Vaidyanathan in ClimateWire.

A lot we don't know a lot about the effects on wildlife. "A decade into America's oil and gas boom, and scientists still know very little about how hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and shale development affect wildlife, according to a recent scientific study. The knowledge gap is particularly glaring when it comes to the ecosystem impacts of fracking fluid and wastewater spills. Scientists cannot yet begin to draw simple conclusions about drilling's effects on animals, plants and habitats because 'basic data is missing' on issues such as fracking fluid chemistry, and because of limited access to well sites, said Sara Souther, the study's lead author." Lisa Song in InsideClimate News.

Speaking of fracking-fluid chemistry... "As the U.S. fracking boom continues to expand...scientists, regulators and even the industry itself still do not know much about fracking’s impact on human health or the environment. Study after study has highlighted the lack of toxicity information available on fracking fluid....Now a new study, presented Wednesday at the national meeting of the American Chemical Society, says that out of 190 commonly used compounds, hardly any toxicity information is available for a whopping one-third of them. In addition, another eight fracking fluid compounds, the researchers found, are proved to be toxic to mammals." Zoë Schlanger in Newsweek.

Did drillers illegally use diesel fuels in fracturing activities? Group alleges it. "The report, published this week by the Environmental Integrity Project, found that between 2010 and July 2014 at least 351 wells were fracked by 33 different companies using diesel fuels without a permit. The Integrity Project, an environmental organization based in Washington, D.C., said it used the industry-backed database, FracFocus, to identify violations and to determine the records had been retroactively amended by the companies to erase the evidence....Energy In Depth, the communications and research arm of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, published a lengthy response." Naveena Sadasivam in ProPublica.

Drillers fracturing rock closer to water formations than thought — but unclear whether water pollution actually resulted. "Energy companies are fracking for oil and gas at far shallower depths than widely believed, sometimes through underground sources of drinking water, according to research released Tuesday by Stanford University scientists. Though researchers cautioned their study of hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, employed at two Wyoming geological formations showed no direct evidence of water-supply contamination, their work is certain to roil the public health debate over the risks of the controversial oil and gas production process." Neela Banerjee in the Los Angeles Times.

Background reading: What the EPA really said about Wyoming's fracking pollution. Mike Soraghan in Greenwire.

Other energy/environmental reads:

Sawash in coal, U.S. imports even more. John W. Miller and Cassandra Sweet in The Wall Street Journal.

Rail oil tankers, victim of U.S. safety rules, also unwanted in Canada. Patrick Rucker and Nia Williams in Reuters.

Feds upend LNG export review plan. Jennifer A. Dlouhy in the Houston Chronicle.

Why opponents don't like EPA's carbon-emissions math. Zack Colman in the Washington Examiner.

A carbon levy to stop tax inversions? Eric Roston in Bloomberg.

Surprise interlude: Son surprises Mom with her dream car.

Wonkblog roundup

Europe’s Greater Depression is worse than the 1930s. Matt O'Brien.

Here’s a list of potentially unconstitutional things that police in Ferguson are doing. Max Ehrenfreund.

Wal-Mart wants to be your doctor. Jason Millman.

Want an armored personnel carrier for your police force? Just fill out this one-page form. Christopher Ingraham.

The Pentagon gave nearly half a billion dollars of military gear to local law enforcement last year. Christopher Ingraham.

Where minority communities still have overwhelmingly white police. Emily Badger, Dan Keating and Kennedy Elliott.

The data on white Americans’ anxiety over Hispanic migration. Scott Clement.

Atlantic City is going bust if it can’t break the gambling habit. Max Ehrenfreund.

Et Cetera

The court, not Congress, is President Obama's biggest obstacle. Ronald Brownstein in National Journal.

In rush to stem border crisis, some of America's refugees are facing big cuts in support. Tina Griego in The Washington Post.

Shoddy U.S. bridges and roads take toll on U.S. economy. Don Lee in the Los Angeles Times.

50 senators call for moratorium on Post Office closures. Humberto Sanchez in Roll Call.

Shrinking revenue spurs gas-tax alternatives. Elaine S. Povich in Pew Stateline.

Smaller banks see regulatory relief after elections. Emily Stephenson in Reuters.

Got tips, additions, or comments? E-mail us.

Wonkbook is produced with help from Michelle Williams and Ryan McCarthy.

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UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
Comments
SECTION: {section=business, subsection=null}!!!
INITIAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!!

UGC FROM ARTICLE: !!!

FINAL commentConfig: {includereply=true, canvas_permalink_id=washpost.com/8bvh5zpd9k, allow_comments=true, commentmaxlength=2000, includeshare=true, display_comments=true, canvas_permalink_app_instance=m6yzjj840m, display_more=true, moderationrequired=false, includefeaturenotification=true, defaultsort=reverseChronological, canvas_allcomments_id=washpost.com/km4ey0dajm, comments_period=14, includevoteofftopic=false, allow_videos=false, includesorts=true, markerdisplay=post_commenter:Post Commenter|staff:Post Writer|top_commenter:Post Forum|top_local:Washingtologist|top_sports:SuperFan|fact_checker:Fact Checker|post_recommended:Post Recommended|world_watcher:World Watcher|cultuer_connoisseur:Culture Connoisseur|weather_watcher:Capital Weather Watcher|post_contributor:Post Contributor, childrenitemsperpage=3, includeheader=true, includeverifiedcommenters=true, defaulttab=all, includerecommend=true, includereport=true, maxitemstop=2, source=washpost.com, allow_photos=false, maxitems=7, display_ugc_photos=false, includepause=true, canvas_allcomments_app_instance=6634zxcgfd, includepermalink=false}!!
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