As soon as this Friday, the United States House of Representatives will vote on an oil spill response bill to reform offshore drilling practices. H.R. 3534, the Consolidated Land, Energy and Aquatic Resources (CLEAR) Act, also contains a two new protections for onshore oil and gas drilling.
The disaster in the Gulf has shown that oil and gas operators need stringent regulations to ensure the environment is protected. The CLEAR Act addresses these problems by creating new safety standards, higher liability limits, and by closing the revolving door between government and the oil and gas industry.
Senator Harry Reid unfolded a narrow energy proposal today in the U.S. Senate. It includes modest reforms in the Nation s offshore drilling program, but creates new incentives for drilling on land -- without addressing any of the needed reforms to the onshore or land-based program.
Drilling for natural gas is spreading out across the country, and the new areas of gas development are seeing new health impacts, polluted air and polluted water. Despite these impacts, Congress acted several years ago to exempt natural gas drilling practices from provisions of the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, which protect our water supplies from pollution.
One of the many lessons learned during the Gulf oil disaster is that we cannot trust the industry to protect our environment during drilling.
We also know that we have as many problems with the drilling program onshore as we do offshore. For example, the state of Colorado documented over 1,000 spills reported to the state over a two and a half year period.
Congress cannot turn a blind eye to the damage we are creating with natural gas production.
A balanced approach to our energy policy is needed, which recognizes that the impacts of natural gas production must be considered before more taxpayer subsidies are provided to the industry.
One of the "Golden Rules" principles says mining companies should not operate in protected areas, fragile ecosystems, or other areas of high conservation or ecological value. Infinito Gold clearly did not get the message. They are trying to impose an open-pit gold mine on communities in the Agua y Paz (Water and Peace) Biosphere Reserve in Costa Rica.
Last week, the House Natural Resources Committee approved the CLEAR Act, a bill that would vastly improve our current energy policies affecting federal lands and ocean areas.
Congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act yesterday with some important provisions for the effort to clean up mining. This includes provisions we pushed that should help allow consumers to know if their gold jewelry is tainted with human rights violations and atrocities in the Congo basin.
One might think that while reviewing some of its environmental and social safeguard policies, the World Bank might hesitate to approve support for controversial mining projects that civil society groups express tremendous concern about. Well, guess again. Just yesterday, the Bank approved a guarantee for a new destructive mining project in Indonesia.
The World Bank's Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) is considering providing a guarantee for support of a nickel mine in Indonesia that would destroy vast areas of tropical rain forest in the buffer zone of a National Park -- in an area that was previously nominated to be part of the National Park. And it would pollute rivers with large quantities of sediment and probably toxic waste drainage. And dump the processing waste water into the ocean at only 15m below the surface. In an area with coral reefs.
Earlier this week, Congressman Waxman, Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sent letters to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Department of State Keystone XL Project Manager Elizabeth Orlando opposing the approval of the proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. The State Department is charged with determining whether the pipeline is in the national interest and will issue, or not issue, a permit accordingly.
If built, the pipeline will transport tar sands oil from the Canadian tar sands in Alberta to oil refineries in the Gulf Coast. Tar sands oil is one of the dirtiest fuels out there -- emitting high volumes of greenhouse gases during development, which contribute to global warming.
In his letters to the State Department, Chairman Waxman stated that permitting the Keystone XL pipeline would be a step in the wrong direction , undermining President Obama s efforts to move this country away from oil and towards a clean energy economy. We applaud Chairman Waxman for his strong stance against increasing our reliance on dirty fuels and hope that other politicians will join him in opposing the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.