Troubled Waters – and no bridge to cross them

February 28, 2012 • Payal Sampat

The 313 million people who live in the United States send about 120 million tonnes of trash to landfills every year. That’s a lot of trash  - just think of all the photos you’ve seen of landfills overflowing with mountains of discarded refuse.

But that number pales in comparison with the amount of waste that mining corporations dump into oceans, rivers, and lakes around the world each year, which tops 180 million tonnes. These wastes can contain arsenic, lead, mercury, cyanide and over thirty other dangerous chemicals.

The staff at Earthworks and MiningWatch Canada have spent the past year investigating this egregious - and outdated – practice; we report our findings in a new study, Troubled Waters: How Mine Waste Dumping is Poisoning Our Ocean, Rivers and Lakes.

Apple’s Supply Chain: Sacrificing Fair Labor Practices to Build Your Fancy iPhone

February 24, 2012 • EARTHWORKS

Apple is known for creating state-of-the-art electronic products that become the most wanted items of the day. Products such as the iPhone, iPod, iPad, and MacBook have revolutionized the electronics industry and made Apple one of the most successful companies in the world.

However, recent incidents have exposed the unfair labor practices at Foxconn and Wintek, Apple’s suppliers in China. The mental and physical health of workers at their facilities are overlooked as they are constantly under great pressure and overworked. Many workers live in crowded dorms and work longer hours than what Apple has suggested – Apple claims there is a maximum 60-hour workweek except in unusual circumstances.

Introducing *In Their Own Words*, Post #1: fracking biocides are just bleach

February 23, 2012 • Lisa Sumi

Today Earthworks is launching In Their Own Words a series of recordings from a much ballyhooed industry PR conference in Houston where Texas Sharon recorded industry talking about transparency. Despite their constant use of the word "transparent" these recordings will show an industry that is anything but. 

In this first post, we hear Anadarko Petroleum discuss/dismiss the use of fracking biocides.

SRBC Considers Taking Water from the Susquehanna River for Fracking

February 17, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

Yesterday I attended a public comment hearing before the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC).  The SRBC is an interstate agency responsible for making important water resource decisions affecting the Susquehanna River basin.  Comprised of appointees from Pennsylvania, New York, Maryland, and the Army Corps of Engineers, the SRBC met to receive comments on a series of proposed permit applications for water withdrawals intended for use in hydraulic fracturing operations.

This was a do-over meeting.  The first one, held December 15 in Wilkes-Barre, abruptly and improperly ended when a number of protesters shouted down the Commissioners as they moved for unilateral approval of all the permit applications without allowing for public comment.  The protests clearly rattled the SRBC commissioners.  Not used to such public outrage, the SRBC was left with no ability to neither conduct their business nor provide an opportunity for other advocates to speak.
 

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Abandoned mine testimony highlights need for funding

February 17, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Today I testified in front of the Energy and Mineral Subcommittee of the House Natural Resources Committee on HR 785, a bill that would allow states and tribes who have not cleaned up all of their abandoned coal mining sites to use coal abandoned mine land funds to clean up hardrock mining sites. This legislation essentially lets the coal mining industry pay to clean up the metal mining industries messes -- a situation we have been forced into due to the inability to reform the 1872 Mining Law

President Obama Drops FY 2013 Budget

February 14, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

Yesterday, President Obama released his proposed FY 2013 budget.  Once again Earthworks would like to thank the President for continuing to take on the hardrock mining industry from receiving a free ride on taxpayers while continuing to evade paying for over $50 billion in pollution from unreclaimed mine sites. 

Macy’s told to dump dirty gold this Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012 • Nick Magel

Today, activists from the No Dirty Gold campaign left Macy’s a message at its downtown Washington D.C. storefront.  The activists decorated the Macy’s front entrance with a giant balloon banner reading: “Macy’s, Don’t Break our Hearts. Dump Dirty Gold!” - referring to Macy’s failure to sign on to the No Dirty Gold campaign’s “Golden Rules” for responsible metals’ sourcing.

The activists showed up at Macy’s the day before Valentine’s Day to let shoppers know that Macy’s has thus far taken no action to help rid the jewelry industry of dirty gold: gold that may have been produced at the cost of human rights abuses, labor violations, and environmental destruction, among others.

Valentine’s Day is one of Macy’s busiest shopping seasons in the year, with the jewelry departments full of shoppers looking to buy gold jewelry for their special someone. Some of these prospective shoppers in Washington DC were greeted today by the large banner, held by over 3 dozen helium balloons, floating over the store’s main entrance informing shoppers about Macy’s dirty secret.

Sacred site in Arizona still threatened by land exchange, copper mine

February 10, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on legislation that would transfer 2,400+ acres of land to foreign mining companies to facilitate a huge copper mine in Arizona. If built, the mine 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.