Earthworks comments at EPA’s fracking air pollution public hearing in Denver

September 28, 2011 • Bruce Baizel

NOTE: these comments were submitted before the EPA public hearing on hydraulic fracturing air pollution regulation in Denver on September 28th

My name is Bruce Baizel. I am Staff Attorney for Earthworks, a nonprofit organization that works with communities to reduce the impacts from mining and energy extraction. Our organization has worked on oil and gas issues for more than two decades and specifically on the issue of hydraulic fracturing for more than a decade.

I appreciate the opportunity to provide oral comment to you this morning. We have thousands of members throughout the Rocky Mountain states, in Texas and in the Marcellus shale region.

Many of our members are impacted by the currently unregulated emissions from oil and gas operations throughout those states.

So this proposed regulation providing a new source performance standard for Volatile Organic Compounds; a new source performance standard for sulfur dioxide; an air toxics standard for oil and natural gas production; and an air toxics standard for natural gas transmission and storage is of great importance to our members.

Overall, we strongly support the draft rule as a significant first step in addressing emissions from upstream oil and gas operations.

The Texas Tribune inadvertently demonstrates the importance of the 1st amendment

September 26, 2011 • Sharon Wilson

This past weekend,  The Texas Tribune, the nonprofit news site that enjoys a higher profile in the journalism world (than it would otherwise) thanks to its partnership with The New York Times, held a lecture-and-networking event on the University of Texas campus in Austin.

I was invited to appear on a panel after the showing of the documentary Haynesville: A Nation’s Hunt for an Energy Future.

I knew the film depicted natural gas drilling in the Haynesville Shale as an economic miracle for folks in north Louisiana and East Texas, with barely a mention of environmental health risks. I said yes, received an enthusiastic confirmation letter requesting my bio, which I sent in, a request to sign the “Talent Agreement,” and a list of the panel members.

Not so rare after all: Lynas Corporation’s rare earth refinery in Malaysia

September 23, 2011 • Hilary Lewis


View Lynas in a larger map

We use rare earths in a wide range of modern conveniences, from consumer electronics to hybrid car batteries. 

Recently, rare earths have been in the news thanks to skyrocketing prices. High prices are a result of increased demand due to new technologies and artificially limited supply – artificially limited by China, which currently controls more than 90% of global rare earth mineral production, but less than 40% of known deposits.

Rare earth minerals are expensive and dangerous to mine, not to mention the environmental impacts common to all mining, in addition to radioactive waste concerns.

Congressman Grijalva and Senator Tom Udall ask GAO to tell us how much mineral extraction is worth

September 22, 2011 • Aaron Mintzes

Today, I attended a press conference held by one of the best guys on Capitol Hill, Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-AZ). Representative Grijalva announced that he and Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) (another friend of EARTHWORKS) are asking the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to tell us how much the minerals extracted from public lands and the Outer Continental Shelf are worth.

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Banned by Apple: new iPhone app exposing the dark side of electronics

September 20, 2011 • Nick Magel


Photo: "Phone Story"

Last week Italian developer Molleindustria released a new iPhone app called “Phone Story”.

Why was this app different than the other 425,000 apps?
This app was a satirical game that allowed you to play through the entire supply chain of an iPhone. 

Why did Apple ban this app?
Likely because it exposes the nastiest parts of what it takes to make our electronics. 

The game starts in Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Here you are in charge of mining for coltan, a critical element in smart phones. The kicker is, that many coltan mines in the eastern DRC have horrific histories of child labor, military and rebel violence, human rights abuses, and disastrous environmental impacts. 

The game’s point is to highlight all the above, and judging by Apple’s reaction it highlighted it well. Within hours of the game’s release Apple had banned the app and removed it from its store

Mining reform versus jobs: A false choice

September 16, 2011 • Lauren Pagel


While corporate mining fat cats are rolling in dough thanks
to record high gold prices, the hardrock mining industry
pays exactly zero in royalties to American taxpayers for
publicly-owned minerals. Royalties that could fund mine
cleanup jobs.  Photo: Flaming Zombie Monkeys

This week, the House Natural Resources Committee held the third installment in their continuing series focused on American jobs and the energy and extraction industries. The premise of the hearing – that reasonable mining regulations to protect taxpayers and water resources always come at a cost to jobs and the economy – sets up a false choice for Americans.

We do not have to sacrifice our public lands to solve our nation’s economic crisis. Responsible management of our resources can both help bolster our economy while protecting our waters and national treasures for future generations.

Real and meaningful reform of the 1872 Mining Law would do just that.

At the hearing, entitled “Creating American Jobs by Harnessing Our Resources: Domestic Mining Opportunities and Hurdles,” Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) announced plans to introduce 1872 Mining Law reform legislation this fall.

Senator Cantwell does right by wild salmon. Let’s send her some thanks.

September 16, 2011 • Alan Septoff

Say thanks to Senator Cantwell for her support of Alaska’s Bristol Bay


Salmon spawing in the Bristol Bay watershed.
Photo: Nick Hall

This week Senator Cantwell (WA) sent a letter to the EPA urging the agency to protect Alaska’s Bristol Bay – home to our nation’s largest wild salmon fishery.

10 billion tons of toxic mine waste

The Bristol Bay watershed is at risk from the proposed Pebble Mine, which would dispose of up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste at its headwaters.

EPA protection Needed

The Senator has asked the EPA to use its authority under section 404c of the Clean Water Act. This provision gives it authority to prohibit or restrict the disposal of mine waste into rivers, streams or wetlands, if science shows it will harm the fishery.

Eagle Ford Shale: Trust me, I’m a doctor

September 16, 2011 • Sharon Wilson

When I choose a banker, I want one with enough savvy that he would never say the following:

“Call me naïve, but I’m inclined to trust the industry to be good stewards of this land until they prove me otherwise.”

Naïve? Nah, that’s a profound lack of judgment and ignorance of the historical abuses of the oil and gas industry.