A new investigation in the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times has shed more light on Wal-Mart's "Love, Earth" jewelry line, and it's not looking so Lovely. In fact, the jewelry's looking rather like dirty gold: it comes at a great cost to jewelry factory workers and to the environment and communities around the mines.
The turn of a year signals new plans and possibilities. But as 2011 kicks off, elected officials are wondering how in the face of steep federal and state deficits they'll ever have the funds to realize policy goals.
In the Marcellus Shale region, it s been tempting to plug budget holes with the quick bucks that come from issuing permits and leasing state land for gas drilling. But this stop-gap measure can also mean an increase in drilling, and with it the need for even more revenue to pay the steep costs of gas development (like road damage, toxic clean up, and health problems). Tackling those impacts requires steps many politicians are loath to take, like long-term planning, bold regulatory change and taxing industry.
Pennsylvania and New York are the only oil- and gas-producing states without a severance tax to make companies pay for the resources they sever from the land forever. Resource extraction taxes can offset the financial burden placed on public coffers and, when used appropriately, mitigate damage to drilled communities and the environment. Severance taxes vary widely in basis (value or volume), rate, and exemptions, but don't appear to deter industry from seeking the resources from which they so greatly profit.