As the BP oil slick grows in the Gulf of Mexico, and it becomes increasingly likely that the disaster could irreversibly devastate the economy and environment of the Gulf Coast, consider that the oversight of onshore drilling is not appreciably better than offshore if at all.
President Obama has (at least temporarily) reinstated the ban on new offshore drilling. But he needs to protect our waters onshore as well, and support the FRAC Act.
Earlier this week, EPA announced that it will allow the public until June 28th to comment on its proposed rules to reduce toxic mercury emissions from gold mining.
These rules are sorely needed because gold mining is one of the largest polluters of mercury to air -- which ultimately ends up in our rivers and lakes, and the fish we eat. The state of Nevada -- home to the nation's largest concentration of gold mines -- issued its own rules in 1996. But there are no regulations that apply to mines in other states. Under the new regulations, the proposed Donlin Mine in Alaska would be able release up to 3,000 pounds of mercury into the air -- an unacceptably high amount.
EARTHWORKS will soon submit our own comments on EPA's proposed rule. We'll also be sending an action alert asking everyone to comment -- and providing guidance on how best to make your voice heard (although you needn't wait for us).
With all the bad environmental news going on in the Gulf, this is good news. Gold mining mercury air pollution has been a big problem for years. At last EPA is taking concrete steps to do something about it. But the new mercury regulations need to be much more stringent for new mines.
The issue of hydraulic fracturing of oil and gas wells is at the forefront of the Safe Drinking Water Act reauthorization bill, which is being debated in the House Energy and Commerce Committee this morning. EARTHWORKS, along with our partners, is urging members of the Committee to support an amendment that may be offered by Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO) that would require natural gas producers to disclose the chemicals used in during the process of hydraulic fracturing.
Disclosure of chemicals used in this process is the first step on the road to protecting public health and drinking water in the 34 states that are impacted by oil and gas drilling. EARTHWORKS also supports the passage of the FRAC Act (S. 1215 and H.R. 2677), which would close the current loophole that exempts hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act.
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I'm probably not the only one to have been scrambling to figure out what to do for my mother for Mother's Day. You want to give her something nice and ethical -- not jewelry made from gold mining that has poisoned communities and destroyed livelihoods.