Dear Governor Mead,
It was unfortunate you were unable to attend your meeting in Riverton on June 20th; we hope your condition has improved.
After reviewing the State’s plan for addressing the contamination impacts in our community, Pavillion Area Concerned Citizens (PACC) has the following initial comments and questions.
In March, I had the pleasure of meeting Jeff Abbas and Robert Nehman of Allamakee County Protectors at the national Frack Attack summit in Dallas, Texas. This grassroots group of concerned Iowans is leading the fight against frac sand mining in Iowa.
My organization, Earthworks, has a 25-year history of fighting the destructive impacts of mining and the oil and gas industry. After Abbas and Nehman spoke to me about the damage this relatively new mining industry was wreaking in some parts of the country, I wanted to see the impacts for myself. So earlier this month I spent two days on the road in Wisconsin’s Frac Sand Land.
On Tuesday, I travelled to Harrisburg, PA to attend a rally co-sponsored by a number of our friends at Clean Water Action, Delaware Riverkeeper, Berks Gas Truth, Gas Truth of Central PA, PennEnvironment, and Sierra Club PA. Organizers hosted the rally to bring attention to continued lack of resolution of water contamination cases across the state that may well be linked to gas drilling. Underscoring the need for more information and action is the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) recent statement that it has documented of twenty-five cases of water contamination of private water supplies from natural gas development. But a records request by the Times-Tribune revealed the actual number of cases of contaminated water supplies at 161. And of course, with inadequate oversight and enforcement of the gas industry, it could be higher. Time will tell.
Today, Congressmen Markey, Grijalva and Holt introduced important legislation to reform our least favorite outdated law, the 1872 Mining Law.
With just 37 states in our Union at the time, this law was passed to settle the West. Before women had the right to vote, President Ulysses S. Grant signed a law that give miners unprecedented access to our public lands. And that law is still on the books today.
Last month, I blogged about the impending scoping discussions at the US Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (US EITI). US EITI belongs to an international movement that provides credibility to companies and governments where the flows of money between them gets reported and reconciled. Members of a Multi-Stakeholder Group (MSG) comprised of representatives from industry, government, and civil society met last week to begin discussions about which revenue streams belong in the mix. Oil and gas revenues are a no-brainer. Companies that extract oil and gas from public lands pay royalties to the Federal Government. The Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) carefully tracks these payments and conducts regular audits to ensure accuracy. The tricky part is what to do about hardrock minerals (gold, silver, copper, uranium etc.)
There’s nothing like the looming end of a legislative session to focus people’s attention on important issues—and for elected officials to ignore them. Today in Albany, both happened.
Outside the Capitol, thousands gathered to call on the state to reject natural gas development and embrace clean, renewable energy. Speakers eloquently made the case for why New York—now truly at a crossroads in its decision on fracking—should embark on a path paved with sunshine and wind rather than drill rigs and toxic waste.
On Thursday, Lauren testified before the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources. The title: Mining in America: The Administration’s Use of Claim Maintenance Fees and Cleanup of Abandoned Mine Lands. The Members and witnesses discussed a potpourri of topics including: 1872 mining law reform, claim maintenance fees, percentage depletion allowance, abandoned mine lands, Good Samaritan policy, and the recent Grand Canyon mineral withdrawal. Chairman Lamborn (R-CO) began the hearing, "While many of us support reforming the 1872 law, the question of how and what is subject to great debate and is an area where members aren't nearly as far apart as the special interests would make it appear."
Last week, Californians Against Fracking launched with 100 organizations signed on, ranging from grassroots groups on the frontlines of the state's massive oil and gas industry to national organizations working in many states. Earthworks is proud to stand with them.
We have been working to hold the oil and gas industry accountable for its impacts on communities and the environment for 25 years. In that time, we have seen a sea change in the movement; we have gone from isolated community battles to a national movement (see Stop the Frack Attack). And now California is part of that movement.