New York Times blows open story of natural gas’s toxic wastes

February 27, 2011 • Gwen Lachelt

Ian Urbina with the New York Times has written a groundbreaking series exposing the pollution caused by natural gas drilling.

This from the first article in a three-part series:

More than 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater was produced by Pennsylvania wells over the past three years, far more than has been previously disclosed. Most of this water enough to cover Manhattan in three inches was sent to treatment plants not equipped to remove many of the toxic materials in drilling waste. Ian Urbina, New York Times, February 26, 2011

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/27/us/27gas.html?ref=us

Walmart should drop “Love, Earth” jewelry label — it’s dirty gold

February 26, 2011 • Scott Cardiff

A coalition of civil society groups today called on Walmart to suspend its "Love, Earth" jewelry label following further revelations that the line of jewelry is harmful greenwash.

An investigation in the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times showed that Walmart's "Love, Earth" jewelry line comes at the cost of workers' rights, health, and safety, and at the cost of communities and the environment around the mines. The jewelry line claims to be from responsible sources but is made under oppressive labor conditions and with gold and silver from polluting mines in Nevada and Utah.

The Western Shoshone Defense Project and Great Basin Resource Watch joined EARTHWORKS in sending a letter to Walmart. The letter calls on Walmart to drop the Love, Earth label until the jewelry line has independent, third party verification that it complies with the Golden Rules for responsible sourcing, and has properly consulted with affected communities and civil society about responsible sourcing.

A temporary reprieve for New Mexico’s common sense drilling rules

February 25, 2011 • Gwen Lachelt

New Mexico s Pit Rule got a reprieve yesterday as State District Court Judge Barbara Vigil is considering sending industry s appeal up to the State Court of Appeals. Due to substantial public interest in the Pit Rule (the importance of oil and gas to New Mexico s economy, the Oil Conservation Commission considering extensive technical evidence and hundreds of hours of conservation, legal and industry time committed and expended in the process of developing the Pit Rule) sending the case to the higher court may be a logical next step because of the statewide importance of oil and gas.

PBS reminds us: the price of hydraulic fracturing [VIDEO]

February 23, 2011 • Alan Septoff

PBS updates the report they published last year with ProPublica:

Watch the full episode. See more Need To Know.

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Hollywood comes to Washington to talk fracking

February 18, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, Oscar nominees Josh Fox and Mark Ruffalo were on Capitol Hill to talk to members of Congress about the destructive impacts of natural gas drilling.

Mark Ruffalo, Josh Fox, Maurice Hinchey speaking before the Capitol dome

Both live in the Catskills region of New York/Pennsylvania, where gas drilling in the Marcellus shale has sparked a huge controversy and left some communities, like Dimock, PA, permanently scarred.

First ever federal oversight of mercury air pollution from gold mining

February 18, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

Today, at long last, the first ever federal regulations go into effect that create emission limits for mercury air pollution from gold mining.

Bass FishingWe became aware of the need for these regulations thanks to the Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory, which requires large polluters to publicly and annually report their pollution.

When the issue was initially identified in 1998, gold mining was the 2nd largest mercury air polluter after coal power plants. (Metal mining was and still is the largest total mercury polluter -- by far -- when you count land and water releases in addition to air.)

This is an important issue because mercury air pollution is very toxic. Children of women exposed to relatively high levels of methylmercury during pregnancy show delayed onset of walking and talking, reduced neurological test scores, and delays and deficits in learning ability.

Obama administration aims to end sweetheart deal for mining industry

February 15, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Released today, the FY 2012 Obama administration budget endeavors to end the taxpayer boondoggle known as federal hardrock mining policy. On behalf of Earthworks and all of the communities we work with in hardrock mining country, I d like to thank the President Obama for taking on this industry that has taken advantage of the antiquated 1872 Mining Law for far too long. The 1872 Mining Law, which lacks both royalties and protections for communities and precious western water resources, has left this country with at least $50 billion dollars in unreclaimed mine sites with no industry contribution to help deal with the problem.

The Obama administration proposes two things that would change the way that mining operates on public lands. Both of these changes would move us a step closer to cleaning up the mess that has been created by the current mining law.

First, the administration proposes a reclamation fee on the production of hardrock minerals based on the volume of material mined. This money would then be distributed through a competitive grant program to states where remediation is needed. This $200 million a year would go a long way in addressing the serious safety and water quality issues at many abandoned mine sites throughout the West.

Certified “Fairtrade” gold — what is it really?

February 12, 2011 • Scott Cardiff

On Wednesday, UK jewelers announced the launch of "Fairtrade" gold jewelry.  Some jewelers have already been using gold from these same Alliance for Responsible Mining (ARM) mines, but two of the mines have recently been certified "Fairtrade."  What are these mines, and what does "Fairtrade gold" mean?

The mines, one in Colombia and one in Bolivia, demonstrate both the potential benefits and the problems of the Alliance for Responsible Mining/Fairtrade Labeling Organization certification standards for "Fairtrade" and "Fairmined."  The mining and certification may well benefit the communities on the short-term, and the Colombian Oro Verde mine does not use mercury or cyanide. On the other hand, reclamation and restoration standards are poorly defined at both mines, and the Bolivian mine allows mercury use and is located in a National Park. The Colombian mine is in the Choc , a department that has experienced significant armed conflict.