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Slow The Fracking Down: Seven And A Half Things To Know

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Opponents and supporters of gas-drilling, or fracking, walk into the last of four public hearings on proposed fracking regulations in upstate New York on November 30, 2011 in New York City.
Opponents and supporters of gas-drilling, or fracking, walk into the last of four public hearings on proposed fracking regulations in upstate New York on November 30, 2011 in New York City.

Vikram Pandit's Connecticut house has six and one half bathrooms, which is one less than the number of things you need to know today. Here they are (the things, not the bathrooms):

Thing One: Slow The Frack Down: If you're worried about the environmental impact of all the natural-gas fracking going on these days, you should just stop. After all, it only pollutes three things: our air, water and soil. That's all.

And the Environmental Protection Agency has finally gotten around to doing something about that pollution! Some of it, at least: Namely, the air pollution. According to new EPA rules released Wednesday, energy companies will have to make sure they don't completely pollute the air with their fracking. The new rules say nothing about water pollution, which the EPA is still studying, the Wall Street Journal writes. You know, these things take time.

Oh, and energy companies will also have two years to comply with the air-pollution rules. And thank goodness, because it is very dangerous to mess with these companies, particularly in an election year. After all, these companies warn us, purely out of a sense of charity, that onerous regulation will straight-up murder a natural-gas boom that has cut energy costs for consumers and is helping create jobs in new chemical plants popping up to take advantage of cheap natural gas, the WSJ writes.

Thing Two: Chesapeake Loans: One guy definitely enjoying the natural-gas boom is Chesapeake Energy co-founder Aubrey McClendon. He may be enjoying it a little too much, in fact. He has gotten himself in the bad graces of his shareholders in the past, as when he dumped company stock during the financial crisis, and he is once again under scrutiny, this time for $1.1 billion in personal loans secured by his stake in the company's oil and gas wells, Reuters reports. "The size and nature of the loans raise concerns about whether McClendon's personal financial deals could compromise his fiduciary duty to Chesapeake investors, according to more than a dozen academics, analysts and attorneys who reviewed the loan agreements for Reuters."

Thing Three: Easing Gas Pains:You probably haven't noticed yet, but gasoline futures are down more than 6 percent from their peak last month, the Wall Street Journal notes, a sign that prices at the pump will start to fall, too. "While some analysts say the recent drop in gasoline futures could be little more than a hiatus after a 26% jump in the first quarter, others note there are compelling reasons for the recent decline."

Thing Four: Medicare Saves Money: Also lower are the prices of medical equipment purchased by Medicare beneficiaries in a one-year government experiment that used competitive bidding. Instead of the old system, which apparently involved paying whatever one provider could extort out of you. The program was such a success that it will be adopted more broadly, potentially meaning lower medical costs for taxpayers and patients, The New York Times writes.

Thing Five: Less Pain In Spain: Everything's coming up roses in Europe this morning after Spain and France managed to sell all the bonds they wanted to sell. But they had to pay much higher rates to sell that debt, Reuters notes, meaning the continent's problems are far from over, particularly after the best plan to help Europe is already starting to falter, as the Wall Street Journal notes. And as The Huffington Post's Peter Goodman writes, one big problem for Europe is that the doctors treating it are lunatic quacks.

Thing Six: Making Up With China: Recent steps by China to let its currency gain a little strength are "very significant and very promising," Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner said on Wednesday, reports the Washington Post. This could signal a broader rapprochement, as China very very gradually shifts away from being a producer of cheap goods for American consumers to a consumer of cheap American goods. "China’s steps to revise its currency and other financial policies would mark a significant step in U.S.-China economic ties."

Thing Seven: Facebook, The Em-Biggening: Some day soon Facebook is going to take itself public, and it will be revealed to be massively large. How large? Eventually maybe $104 billion large, Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg told Instagram chief Kevin Systrom, according to Evelyn Rusli of The New York Times. For the record, that is a bigger market cap than McDonald's, Bank of America or Disney. No wonder the Interwebs think Facebook is now "the man," to be hated and feared rather than emulated, as The Huffington Post's Bianca Bosker notes.

Thing Seven And One Half: Rest in peace, Dick Clark. Please see this video for evidence of the kind of thing Dick Clark helped make happen on TV.

Calendar Du Jour:

Economic Data:

8:30 ET | Initial Jobless Claims for the week of 04/14
10:00 ET | Existing Home Sales for March
10:00 ET | Philadelphia Fed index for April
10: 00 ET | Conference Board Leading Economic Indicators for March

Corporate Earnings:

Advanced Micro Devices
Bank of America
Blackstone Group
Capital One
Chipotle Mexican Grill
DuPont
Morgan Stanley
Microsoft
New York Times
Union Pacific
Verizon
...and many more

Heard On The Tweets:

@zerohedge: Did the secret service pay with EBT cards? Or were the hookers just promised payment in the form of student loans?

@crampell: In Rome in the year 14 C.E., senators earned a full 100 times the mean income per capita. http://t.co/EfNXP5pI

@B_D_Silver: @crampell Sure, but the Roman Senators could all speak Latin, and some of our Senators can hardly speak English.

@LaMonicaBuzz: Today's Mr. Obvious award goes to Vikram Pandit. Citi CEO said this in $C release. "There is still much macro uncertainty." No kidding.

@RolfeWinkler: Today's gem via @ReformedBroker @DanPrimack -- What is hedge fund? "A vehicle that turns investor capital into Greenwich real estate."

-- Calendar and tweets rounded up by Khadeeja Safdar.

And you can follow us on Twitter, too: @markgongloff and @byKhadeeja

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