Dirty Gold Videos: customers start to send in video messages to Costco

October 31, 2011 • Nick Magel

Costco has tried to avoid any controversy when it comes to their gold products, but their customers won't let them. They refused to answer the over 1000 customer posts on their Facebook page. Then, when customers called the company directly, Costco failed to return a single call. Costco executives turned off their phones and sent customers directly to voicemails.

Costco is making two things clear: they do not feel accountable to their customers (many who make up the over 25,000 calling on Costco), and they are not moved by the thought of human rights abuses, environmental destruction, and unfair labor being associated with the gold they sell to you at their stores.

Bill that would destroy sacred sites, campground, passes House of Representatives

October 31, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Last week, the House passed HR 1904, the Southeastern Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, by a vote of 235 to 186. The bill would take a campground and sites sacred to area tribes out of public hands and turn it over foreign-owned mining companies.

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona. Because the proposed mine would most likely destroy the area in question, the company, called Resolution Copper, is pushing for legislation to privatize the Oak Flat Campground, which has been withdrawn from mining since the 1950’s, and surrounding public lands in the Tonto National Forest.

PA Politics: Bargaining away community protections

October 29, 2011 • Nadia Steinzor

It’s often said that getting anything done in government requires compromise. But in their continued give-and-take over Senate Bill 1100, Pennsylvania legislators are poised to go too far and sell out communities.

Amendments were made to the bill this week that could result in some much-needed improvements to the state's outdated Oil and Gas Act, but it still rests on a faulty and unjust premise: forcing cash-strapped municipalities to give up their zoning rights in exchange for revenues from an “impact fee” charged to gas drillers. And linking these two issues now makes any legislator who wants to improve protections from damaging drilling party to the gutting of local control.

Another step towards Grand Canyon protection

October 26, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, the Obama administration took another important step towards protecting the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review, and the Obama administration once again reiterated its support for a withdrawal of the full 1 million acres. This action initiates a 30-day review period after which the Secretary of Interior can make and issue a final decision.

The Grand Canyon is currently threatened by over 1000 uranium mining claims near its borders.

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US Court: Communities can sue Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes

October 26, 2011 • Nick Magel

Yesterday, communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) received big news from the US Appeals Court. The court released a decision that will allow PNG communities to sue mining giant Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes becasue of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to reverse a lower courts dismissal, that was in favor of Rio Tinto.

This development comes only months after the company had publicly expressed intent to reopen the controversial mine.

Industry Slowly Backpedals from Opposing Fracking Disclosure Requirements

October 21, 2011 • Aaron Mintzes

What’s interesting is watching the industry’s about-face on the issue of public disclosure of fracking chemicals. As many states have passed their own disclosure laws, industry opposition has not just lessened, but actually morphed in to something of a modest embrace. Make no mistake; Halliburton continues to do everything it can to make sure the details of the harmful chemicals they are injecting never see the light of day.

By contrast, a representative from Apache Corporation intimated at yesterday’s subcommittee hearing that industry initially opposed disclosure because of a natural, almost instinctual, resistance to all regulations. Not, of course, because of a genuine need to maintain a competitive advantage, but rather a knee-jerk reaction opposing government efforts to address public health concerns.

Debate over Fracking Regulation Looms Large in the US Senate

October 21, 2011 • Aaron Mintzes

Recently, I attended a hearing of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources committee on the issue of fracking.The Department of Energy's scientific advisory board wanted to share with the senators their impressions from their initial report describing the need for more regulation of the industry. The distinguished panel of witnesses ultimately concluded that much more measurement is needed to assess what we need to know about how fracking affects drinking water quality.

Mining Reforms, Ending Extraction Subsidies Key to Deficit Reduction

October 13, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, the Ranking Members of a variety of House Committees submitted their recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee. The Super Committee is charged with finding $1 trillion in deficit reducing measures this fall, and these recommendations outline key steps that the Committee can take to reach that goal.

Reforming the antiquated Mining Law of 1872, creating a dedicated fund to clean up abandoned mines and reducing subsidies for the oil and gas industry are just a few of the money saving measures suggested by Congressman Ed Markey, the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. In addition to reducing our deficit and saving taxpayers money, these provisions provide important benefits to communities, public health, and the environment.