Citizens United: Enviros Target the Oil-agarchy

August 31, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

We all know the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission already has and will continue to have a dramatic effect on our elections. Even if we don’t follow politics but live in any swing state, we know the effect well: more political ads, more vitriol, more mud and negativity, less disclosure, accountability, and honesty. Citizens United tells us that corporations are people and money is speech.

The Public’s Role Under Attack in New Mexico

August 29, 2012 • Gwen Lachelt

In what can only be defined as industry’s fear of the truth coming to light – that pits have contaminated water and soil in New Mexico and that their proposed rollbacks will lead to further contamination – industry attorneys and Jami Bailey, OCC Chairperson - fought tooth and nail yesterday to prevent OGAP’s expert witness from testifying.

Don’t Frack New York

August 23, 2012 • Hilary Lewis

Just a month after our huge success at Stop the Frack Attack we, fractivists, have been called into action again.

On July 28 we started a national movement in Washington, DC to tell the Administration we've had enough, it is time to put communities and the environment before companies that pump money into our political system. Now we are going to New York.

Since Stop the Frack Attack a number of states have called on us to take action. In Colorado, Colorado Frack Attack crashed the Colorado Oil and Gas Association's "Energy Revolution" party. In September we will return to Philadelphia for another Shale Gas Outrage.

Alaska’s Controversial Pebble Mine: Piling on the Risk for Anglo American

August 20, 2012 • Bonnie Gestring

Anglo American CEO Cynthia Carroll is getting flack these days from some of the company's shareholders, who are calling on the CEO to quit, in response to reduced earnings and disagreements over strategy. Her strategy, which has focused on four big mining projects in Chile and Brazil, has been hampered by legal challenges to licenses, delays to projects and downturn in global commodity prices, according to a recent story in the London Telegraph.

According to the CEO, "We are sequencing investment by prioritizing capital to commodities with the most attractive market dynamics and projects with the lowest execution risks."

If that's the case, than it would appear that Anglo American's 50:50 joint venture with Northern Dynasty in the controversial Pebble Mine would be a good project to drop altogether.  After all, nothing about Pebble lends itself to a project with the lowest execution risk.

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Taxing and Bonding: The Strange Bedfellows

August 17, 2012 • Aaron Mintzes

Politics makes strange bedfellows. In policy circles, a lawmaker who opposes you on one issue may become your ally on the next. Usually though, this does not happen on the same issue. The issue here is who should pay to clean up toxic pollution from mines. On the one hand, we could have taxpayers pick up the tab. Or we could make polluters pay. I prefer the latter. And for the most part, I’d tend to think that members of Congress concerned about government spending, deficits, and American’s tax burden would too. Currently, there is no independent funding stream dedicated strictly to clean up of abandoned hardrock mine lands (AML). Instead, we have the coal-mining industry subsidizing the hardrock mining industry. The Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977 (SMCRA) imposes a per ton fee on coal mining divided among the states for AML clean up. Clearly not the ideal solution, but it’s better than nothing.

Arizona Mining: University Professors Weigh in with Concerns for Communities, Water and Wildlife

August 17, 2012 • Bonnie Gestring

Large mines use large volumes of water. Really large volumes. That's a pressing issue in Arizona, where the state is experiencing severe to extreme drought conditions across much of its landscape.

A recent letter by University of Arizona Regents Professor Elizabeth Bernays and over a hundred other University Professors and scientists expresses concern over the potential impacts of water consumption and contamination from proposed mining activities on communities and ecosystems in southeast Arizona.

The letter highlights the proposed Rosemont copper mine in the Santa Rita mountains near Tucson, Arizona (see map), which has been permitted by the Arizona Department of Water Resources to pump up to 6,000 acres feet of water per year - over a trillion gallons.

Sunshine for the Dodd-Frank Act?

August 16, 2012 • Hilary Lewis

On August 22, 2012, over a year after the deadline given by Congress, the Securities and Exchange Commissions (SEC) will have a meeting to discuss the implementation of Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act of 2010. The Sunshine Act Meeting is open to public and will, amongst other things, finalize controversial rules regulating the responsibility companies have to consumers to disclose whether or not their products contain conflict minerals.

Conflict minerals, in terms of the Dodd-Frank Act, are gold, tin, tantalum and tungsten, elements that are commonly used in the production of electronics, jewelry, and automobiles. They are called conflict minerals because revenues and trade in these minerals have also financed wars, armed conflict, and human rights violations in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

Science Panel Reviews Alaska’s Pebble Mine

August 14, 2012 • Bonnie Gestring

A panel of twelve independent scientists met in Anchorage last week to review the EPA's draft Bristol Bay watershed assessment. They've been assigned the task of reviewing the science behind the EPA study, which found that the mine footprint alone would result in the likely loss of up to 87 miles of streams and thousands of acres of wetlands. 

The three day event included a lengthy public comment period on the first day in which top scientists, Alaska native leaders, commercial fishermen, conservation organizations and others weighed in.  Earthwork's staff testified in support of the watershed assessment and presented the findings of a recent report we've compiled on the record of pipeline spills, uncontrolled seepage and tailings dam failures at operating copper porphyry mines in the U.S.  If developed, Pebble will be the largest copper porphyry mine in the U.S.