Kurt Niland

5296 posts

Kurt Niland has been a professional editor and writer for 15 years. He is the author of four books and a number of articles for trade journals, newspapers, magazines, and web blogs. He attended New Mexico State University, the University of New Mexico, and Auburn University Montgomery, where he graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English. His lifelong interests in geography, anthropology, political science, literature, and religion fuel his writing and inspire him to travel at every opportunity. Originally from Connecticut, Kurt has resided in Montgomery, Alabama since 1991.

New UST law may kill California’s biodiesel business

In a 3-1 vote, California’s State Water Resources Control Board approved legislation that will require motor fuels containing more than 20 percent biodiesel to be stored in above ground tanks. It seems strange that regular petroleum diesel can be stored in underground tanks while “green” fuel must be stored above ground for fear of leakage and possible environmental contamination. But California has a law mandating that underground storage tanks be independently certified as leak proof before they can be used to store  new types of fuel, such as high-grade biodiesels. That testing and certification process can take as long as ... Read More

Teenager’s death leads to multiple FLSA and OSHA fines for Georgia company

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and hour Division has ordered a Suwanee, Georgia-based demolition company to pay a steep penalty for violating child labor laws after a teenage employee died on the work site. The teenager, an employee of Demon Demo Inc., was working on a demolition site at Macy’s in the Gwinnett Place Mall when he fell from the third story of the building. The boy had been tossing debris off the building when he fell. The fine was the first one issued by the Wage and Hour Division under the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008 – ... Read More

NHTSA doubles roof crush standards

After being bogged down by bureaucracy and industry concerns for years, federal automobile roof crush standards finally became tougher. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the new roof strength standards last week. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that the new standards, which are double the current standards for vehicles weighing up to 6,000 pounds, “will significantly strengthen vehicle roof standards and improve rollover crash protection.” Current standards require vehicle roofs to withstand 1.5 times the vehicle’s weight, and not necessarily in a rollover situation but in a static roof crush test which applies a steady force to the ... Read More

Solis works to revamp and empower Wage and Hour Division

The Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division, under which the Fair Labor Standards Act came into existence in 1938 as part of a nationwide effort to protect working class citizens from corporate exploitation and abuse, may be on the mend after an long era of being little more than a bureaucratic entity. In March, Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced her intentions to revamp and empower the Wage and Hour Division, saying that she would increase the Division’s staff size by a third in an effort to “refocus the agency on [its] enforcement responsibilities.” The addition of new field investigators, ... Read More

Pfizer might fund study of Chantix and reduced risk of heart attack

CNN reports that Pfizer is thinking about launching a clinical test to determine if Chantix can help prevent smokers from having heart attacks. Considering all the negative publicity that has surrounded the drug over the last one and a half years, it’s understandable that Pfizer would want to invest a good deal of time and money in finding some benefit … even if they locate just one slightly dubious side effect, such as a reduced risk of heart attack in people who have quit smoking. Such a finding would steer attention away from the host of negative side effects that Chantix ... Read More

Traumatic brain injuries become a priority in U.S. military

Traumatic brain injuries (TBI) are being taken much more seriously in the U.S. armed forces now than ever. Doctors and scientists estimate that as many as twenty percent of troops returning from service in Iraq and Afghanistan have some form and degree of TBI, ranging from blast related concussions to blunt force trauma and penetrating wounds. Because the brain is the human body’s most complex and least understood organ, brain injuries have historically eluded diagnosis and treatment. Fortunately, our understanding of TBI, the “signature injury” of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, is rapidly improving. Members of the Air Force, Army, ... Read More

FDA urges dieters to avoid Hydroxycut products

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a warning today advising consumers to immediately stop using Hydroxycut diet products manufactured by Iovate Health Sciences, Inc. The agency has received 23 reports of serious health problems in people using Hydroxcut products, including varying degrees of liver damage ranging from jaundice to liver failure requiring a transplant, and death. Others reported having seizures, cardiovascular abnormalities, and rhabdomyolysis, a form of muscle damage that often leads to other serious health disorders such as liver failure. Patients reporting liver injuries consumed Hydroxycut in doses recommended on the product packaging. According to the FDA alert, ... Read More

Preemption language must be removed from railroad regulations

The American Association for Justice is calling for a review of Bush administration regulations that it believes compromise the safety and rights of consumers who are injured in railroad accidents. The request was prompted by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee’s nomination hearing of Joseph Szabo as the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) new administrator. Though Szabo’s nomination is not controversial, many lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Congress believe the regulations and policies put forth by the previous administration favor big business at an enormous expense to the consumer. Preemption is the problem. Preemption is the legal premise that federal law ... Read More

Public urgently needs better bus and trucking regulations

After analyzing the events surrounding a 2008 Utah bus rollover in which nine people died and 43 were injured, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) concluded that two situations fundamentally contributed to the deadly accident: driver fatigue and the lack of federal regulations to protect bus passengers. The American Association of Justice (AAJ) responded to the report by calling for a close review – and a possible revision – of federal transportation safety regulations proposed during the Bush Administration and currently pending. The AAJ released a statement saying that it supports opening “new rulemaking proceedings to enhance commercial transportation safety ... Read More

OSHA, Congress mark Workers Memorial Day

Companies throughout the United States need to do a better job of providing safe working environments for their employees … or else. That’s the message the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is sounding this week in honor of Workers Memorial Day today. To mark the occasion, Congress will be spending the day conducting hearings on OSHA’s performance in enforcing the law. Many lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Congress think that OSHA’s enforcement of workplace standards and regulations was too lax under the Bush Administration, allowing corporations to compromise the health and safety of its workers. Safety experts and union members ... Read More