BLM Weakens Proposed Rule for Hydraulic Fracturing

May 31, 2013 • Aaron Mintzes

On May 16, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released another draft of their proposed rule on hydraulic fracturing for oil and gas on public lands. BLM manages over 700 million acres of the public’s subsurface minerals mostly in the West and Mountain West states. 57 million of them lie below private land. The problem with this new draft rule is that the stuff we didn’t like in their initial draft is still in there. And parts of it got worse. It appears that BLM have made drilling easier without granting any additional environmental protections. Among this latest version’s shortcomings are expedited permit reviews and broader permit variances.

Jewelers Risk Tarnishing their Jewelry with ‘Responsible’ Jewellery Council certification

May 31, 2013 • Shreema Mehta

This weekend, jewelers from around the world will gather in Las Vegas for the Jewelry Circular Keystone (JCK) conference, where they will attend jewelry exhibits, discuss the latest industry trends and even see Maroon 5 live.

What does this have to do with us -- and with you?

EPA extends comment period on Bristol Bay study

May 31, 2013 • Bonnie Gestring

Yesterday, the EPA announced that it is extending the comment period another 30 days, until June 30, 2013, on its study of the impacts to Alaska' Bristol Bay wild salmon fishery from the proposed Pebble Mine. 

Additional delays in the process can't change the overarching problem - this is the wrong mine in the wrong place. 

Alaska's Bristol Bay is the last stronghold for wild salmon in these numbers. Millions upon millions of wild salmon return to the rivers and streams that feed Bristol Bay every year, like no other place on earth. It's an irreplaceable, renewable resource. It can continue to supply 14,000 jobs a year, and provide nearly half of the world's supply of sockeye salmon as long as salmon habitat is protected.

Don’t Frack Birding Island in Idaho’s Payette River

May 30, 2013 • Blair Koch

The  Idaho Legislature's changes to the state's ballot initiative process will make it harder to change laws from the grassroots up has stymied efforts to launch a statewide hydraulic fracturing and waste injection ballot initiative.

This year Gem State lawmakers passed SB 1108, making it more difficult to gather enough signatures to push successful petition campaigns.

Currently, petitioners are required to collect six percent of registered voters' signatures statewide. Under the new law, taking effect July 1, petitioners must collect six percent of registered voters' signatures from a minimum of 18 of the state's 35 legislative districts.

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House Committee Moves Mining Bill That Limits Community Consent

May 28, 2013 • Aaron Mintzes

On May 15, the House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee passed HR 761, the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2013. Earthworks opposes this bill because it effectively ends the traditional process for gathering community input and performing environmental reviews for mining projects.

The Rubber Hits the Road on US EITI

May 24, 2013 • Aaron Mintzes

The Extraction Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is catching on. When President Obama announced the United States would join EITI in September of 2011, many hoped the United States would inspire more nations to join. Last week, the President of France, Francois Hollande, and UK Prime Minister David Cameron said they want in just as representatives from nearly 100 nations meet in Sydney over the weekend to discuss the new EITI standard.

Fracking impacted families speak truth to power at the People’s Forum

May 23, 2013 • Alan Septoff

The Stop the Frack Attack network (of which Earthworks is a part) held a People's Forum yesterday.

As the Bureau of Land Management weakened fracking regulations at the oil and gas industry's request, as the Senate Energy committee held a forum without a single impacted citizen, sixteen people living with the negative impacts of the fracking boom stood up and told their stories.

Montana Governor Vetos Bad Mining Bill

May 13, 2013 • Bonnie Gestring

A heartfelt thank you to Montana's Governor Bullock, who recently took the hatchet to SB 347, a terrible bill that would have allowed mining companies to divert unlimited amounts of water from Montana rivers and streams. 

The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Chas Vincent (R-Libby), was a gift, wrapped in a big red bow, for the mining industry -- particularly underground mines.  To keep the underground tunnels dry during mining, the mines pump out groundwater, and lower the water table. This eliminates water from the overlying streams and rivers that rely on that groundwater for flows through the year.