Colombia town outlaws open-pit mining, bucks displacement attempts from Gran Colombia Gold

January 26, 2012 • Nick Magel

Colombia is in the middle of a mining bonanza. The national geology and mining regulation body, Ingeominas, reports that between 2008-2010 over 15,000 applications for mining operations were submitted. According to the new report “Mining in Colombia: at What Cost?” (PDF) nearly 40% of Colombia lands are under extraction and exploration licenses. Over 8.4 million hectares have been leased solely for mining, or just about 4x the size of New Jersey.

In the Colombia highlands mining is not a new way of livelihood. Artisanal mining has been a cornerstone of community sufficiency for generations, as is the case in Marmato. Marmato is a small village, in the department of Caldas, with a 500-year history of small-scale artisanal mining. In many ways the community of Marmato embodies the growing struggles of communities that sit on Colombia’s resource rich lands. In this case it’s gold. Marmato sits on “Montana de Oro”, or Mountain of Gold, so it is no surprise that large multi-national mining companies are anxious to tap into the area’s known deposits.

Gov. McDonnell Embraces Uranium Mining Moratorium

January 25, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

Deep underground the rolling foothills of Appalachia in Southwest Virginia lies a trove of uranium deposits.  These deposits have remained untouched for a few billion years, but high metal prices and high unemployment rates have renewed interest in the possibility of mining the uranium for use in area nuclear power plants.  The Commonwealth of Virginia has had a moratorium on uranium mining for 30 years.  But in 2007, two families living near Virginia’s only economically viable uranium deposit in Coles Hill formed Virginia Uranium, Inc. to begin exploring the possibility of exploiting this resource.

The moratorium has left a dearth of hard rock mining technical expertise in the Commonwealth.  For this reason, Virginia called in the National Research Council to report on scientific, environmental, public health, and regulatory aspects of uranium mining to help inform the Virginia legislature. 

A Day of Action + Many Voices = Fracking Changes

January 24, 2012 • Nadia Steinzor

They say that numbers don’t lie—which sure is the truth when it comes to the growing movement against industrial shale gas drilling and hydraulic fracturing. Yesterday in Albany, more than 800 New Yorkers from across the state were out in force for a Hydrofracking Day of Action, a few hundred more than for the event in 2011.

Risking Our Environment and Health to Burn a Few More Years of Natural Gas

January 24, 2012 • Jennifer Krill

The big number to remember in natural gas in the U.S. is that we consumed 24 trillion cubic feet of it in 2010. That’s a lot of hydrocarbons. Today, entire sectors are making decisions about future energy choices based on how much natural gas we have left to burn. And with the Energy Information Administration's new Annual Energy Outlook, it appears we have been making those choices on false assumptions.

The report, released yesterday, issues new estimates of recoverable natural gas in the Marcellus Shale, a vast formation more than a mile below 8 eastern states, including New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Ohio.

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Serial fracking polluter Range Resources vows to strike again

January 23, 2012 • Sharon Wilson

It is "abundantly clear" that Range Resources knew about the “angular and nonconforming and unpredictable geology” in Parker County Texas, yet they cut corners and polluted Texas drinking water anyway. Now, Matt Pitzarella, Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs has vowed they will strike again.

The Fracking Industry’s Black Swan

January 20, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

Part of Skip’s presentation described what companies call the Black Swan for the industry.  Unlike the Natalie Portman film, a Black Swan, in economic jargon, is a low probability, high-impact event.  These include political instability, severe regulatory constraint, and broad systemic risks.  In short, the kind of thing that could devastate an industry, even if the chances are remote.  Among the systemic risks, Skip tells us, are seismic activity and detrimental public health effects. To alleviate investor concerns, both Skip and fellow panelist Regina Hopper, President & CEO of America’s Natural Gas Alliance, insist that to avoid these risks, the industry must rely on sound science.  


Vote Freeport McMoRan for 2012’s worst corporation on earth

January 19, 2012 • Nick Magel

If communities in West Papua, Indonesia had anything to say about it Freeport-McMoRan would certainly be named the worst corporation in the world. Now you can help get Freeport-McMoRan listed as 2012’s worst corporation in the world.

Every year the Public Eye Award is given to the world worst corporation on earth. Previous winners include; Chevron, for their oil disaster in Ecuador; Newmont for their irresponsible mining and pollution in Ghana and Peru; AngloGold Ashanti, for it’s contamination of land and poisoning of people with its gold mining in Ghana. This year Freeport-McMoRan joins this shameful company as a finalist for the “award”.

Welcome back, now kill the bill!

January 18, 2012 • Nadia Steinzor

Yesterday, Pennsylvania state legislators returned to Harrisburg after a long winter break—and were given a resounding welcome from nearly 200 residents and representatives of environmental and citizens organizations. The rally in the Capitol Rotunda sent a loud and clear message to kick off the 2012 legislative session: Kill the Bill that would allow gas operators to do what they please in communities—local rights and protections for people and property be damned.