Does regulation ever work?

August 31, 2011 • Gwen Lachelt

question markI loved watching Josh Fox's (Gasland filmmaker) presentation on You Tube last week at the New York hearing on hydraulic fracturing. I was cheering him on from my desk in Durango, Colorado, as he challenged the notion that oil and gas regulation is an answer to the impacts caused by reckless oil and gas development across the United States.

Can mining and salmon co-exist? Read this!

August 30, 2011 • Bonnie Gestring

Spawning salmon in Hanson Creek. Photo: Nick Hall
Spawning salmon in Hanson Creek.
Photo: Nick Hall

It s no surprise that there is overwhelming concern over the impact of the proposed Pebble Mine on the Bristol Bay salmon fishery. It s the world s largest wild salmon fishery, and the economic engine for the region.

Anglo American, the UK-based company proposing the mine, says that mining and salmon can co-exist, and they point to the Fraser River as an example of that. 

These two river systems are so different it s an odd comparison. But, more importantly, it completely undermines (no pun intended) their case.

A new paper by two fisheries biologists reports that impaired water quality and human development changes have resulted in the lowest productivity of Fraser River sockeye in over 50 years!

Take Action Today: Call Costco. It’s time for clean gold!

August 29, 2011 • Nick Magel

Intag No MinaWe know you care about human rights, fair labor, and environmental protection.

From Ghana, to Peru, to Romania, to Colombia gold is wreaking havoc on communities, and destroying ecosystems as a new mining blitz on this precious metal takes hold.

It's time for Costco, one of the nation's leading gold retailers, to step up and use their purchasing power to help transform the gold industry.

Right now they are not.

You've swamped Costco's Facebook, now it's time to swamp their phones! We need to make sure Costco not only hears our demands for clean gold practices, but also listens. By signing on to the No Dirty Gold Campaign's Golden Rules, Costco would show their commitment to clean gold.

Unfortunately, Costco is content with its current policies; they don't see a reason to sign on to the Golden Rules. But with your help, we can change their minds.

Wyoming fracking disclosure falls short

August 26, 2011 • Aaron Mintzes

Last week I had the great pleasure of attending a screening of Josh Fox s Oscar nominated documentary Gasland . The film describes the public health problems associated with the controversial process of hydraulic fracturing or fracking and contains powerful images of the spontaneous combustion of household tap water.

The words natural gas belies the hazardous process used to procure it. In fracking, toxic chemicals are injected in to the ground designed to break apart the geological formations and release the gas within. The oil and gas industry is the only industry in America that can inject hazardous materials in to underground drinking water supplies. This is because they benefit from the Halliburton loophole created by former Vice President Cheney s energy task force that exempts fracking from the Safe Drinking Water Act.

A number of states have passed disclosure laws requiring these companies to report which chemicals they use. Wyoming, the first state to require disclosure, appears now to be bowing to industry s desire to keep 146 fracking chemicals secret citing their proprietary interests. According to the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, regulators have granted disclosure exemptions to 11 different companies that frack in Wyoming.

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Big Step: Peru’s Congress passes community consultation law.

August 26, 2011 • Nick Magel

Intag No MinaThere s big news from Peru this week: the Peruvian congress passed a new right to consultation law. Once signed into law by President Humala, who has staed his support of the law, this will require all mining and oil projects to acquire full consent from Indigenous communities that would be impacted by their projects. This puts Peru in compliance with the U.N. convention on Indigenous peoples, which it signed in 1989.

How much natural gas is in the Marcellus Shale? Or, unspinning fracking advocates’ distortion of the new USGS estimate.

August 26, 2011 • Alan Septoff

UPDATE, 08/26: Associated Press corrects itself, acknowledges USGS estimate represents reduction in Marcellus gas resources.

UPDATE 2, 08/26: Washington Post blog indicates that USGS estimate may address a subset of resources estimated by EIA.  If so, it means that Marcellus Shale gas resources are approximately 50% of what they were a week ago (as opposed to 20%).  I'm contacting the EIA study author to get to the bottom of this.

Yesterday, the U.S. Geological Survey updated its 2002 estimate of natural gas resources contained within the Marcellus Shale.

The new estimate:

84 trillion cubic feet of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas and 3.4 billion barrels of undiscovered, technically recoverable natural gas liquids according to a new assessment by the U. S. Geological Survey (USGS). 

These gas estimates are significantly more than the last USGS assessment of the Marcellus Shale in the Appalachian Basin in 2002, which estimated a mean of about 2 trillion cubic feet of gas (TCF) and 0.01 billion barrels of natural gas liquids.

Green Scissors 2011: Trimming the budget while protecting the environment

August 26, 2011 • Aaron Mintzes

Lately, those of us who are news and political junkies have been preoccupied with the debate in Washington, D.C. over raising the debt ceiling.

After all the hue and cry, legislators agreed to raise the debt ceiling in exchange for the creation of a super committee that is tasked with reviewing mandatory and discretionary spending as well as potential revenue sources with an eye toward solving our long term debt and deficit problems.

To this end, our friends at Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Heartland Institute, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen today issued their annual Green Scissors report. Turns out, marrying environmental sustainability and fiscal responsibility is remarkably easy.

I just joined Earthworks a couple weeks ago and I was blown away with all the hand outs, subsidies, tax expenditures, tax breaks, federal loan guarantees, and other mechanisms funded by the public to support polluting industries. Among the worst offenders is the 1872 Mining Law that allows extraction companies to mine our precious metals on public lands for free.

Take Action against Brazil’s Belo Monte dam and mining blitz.

August 20, 2011 • Nick Magel

Intag No Mina

Today, August 20, groups in Brazil are staging a massive day of action against the proposed Belo Monte Dam in over 20 cities across Brazil. Groups such as Amazon Watch and others around the world are coordinating an international solidarity day of action on August 22 outside Brazilian embassies around the world. If built, the Belo Monte dam on the Xingu River would be the 3rd largest dam in the world. The project would flood 668 km2 of forest and arable land, and  displace over 20,000 people. Another, less talked about piece of this project is its connection to massive mining projects in the Amazon region.