Victory! Court Upholds Conflict Minerals Rule

July 29, 2013 • Shreema Mehta

If you believe corporate accountability for human rights violations is a good thing, you'll love this news: Industry interest groups looking to tie up the Dodd Frank conflict minerals rule in court lost. This week, a federal court upheld the SEC rule that requires corporations to publicly disclose whether the minerals they source have helped finance armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo.


The New Culture War: How Politics Trumps Science in EPA’s Investigations of Fracking

July 26, 2013 • Aaron Mintzes

Back in 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) took the extraordinary step of issuing an Emergency Administrative Order under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) against Range Resources after the Lipsky family of Parker County, TX reported they could light their water on fire. The EPA immediately began an investigation. They commissioned a well-respected scientist, Dr. Geoffrey Thyne, to conduct an independent analysis of the water to determine whether Range’s wells might have been the source of the methane contaminating the Lipsky’s water supply. The Thyne report revealed that Range could indeed have caused the methane.

Troubled Waters in Papua New Guinea

July 23, 2013 • Shreema Mehta

In our Troubled Waters report, we detailed the egregious but routine practice of mining companies dumping mine waste in rivers, lakes and other water bodies, particularly in the developing world. Mining companies are dumping more than 180 million tonnes of hazardous mine waste each year into rivers, lakes, and oceans worldwide, threatening vital bodies of water with toxic heavy metals and other chemicals poisonous to humans and wildlife.

Truth in numbers?

July 23, 2013 • Nadia Steinzor

Because of such divergent opinions on issues like gas development, it can be useful to remember the saying “numbers don’t lie.” But there’s also the follow on, “but liars use numbers.” For now, I’ll give the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) the benefit of the doubt that they’re trying to catch up to the truth.

In a recent meeting with Earthworks and several partner organizations, agency representatives confirmed that gas development has caused many cases of water contamination. They seem to be going with the number 161, which an impressive investigation by the Scranton Times Tribune revealed in May.

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One fracking test does not safety make

July 19, 2013 • Alan Septoff

The AP today reports that a “landmark” study of one fracked well shows that, over a year’s time, it did not contaminate groundwater.

We’re very glad this is the case, especially for the neighboring community.

But the fact that one well didn’t contaminate groundwater doesn’t prove that fracking is safe.  No one has ever claimed that every instance of fracking pollutes groundwater.  As any statistician worth their salt will tell you, a sample size of one does not a valid study make.

Hitting the ground running: an introduction to Arizona’s copper belt

July 16, 2013 • Pete Dronkers

“We’re going underground now,” Mark said as the truck neared a landmark on a hillside.  It marked the beginning of what might eventually be a waste rock dump at least 600 feet tall from the proposed Rosemont open pit copper mine in southeastern Arizona’s Santa Rita Mountains. The visual was striking; I could imagine the expanse of this behemoth mine, with its dump stretching miles from one side to the other, covering the mountainside and its foothills, and the habitat of everything that had ever lived there. Included in the fallout zone was a once-productive ranch house, with corrals, water tanks, and trees – the ingredients for a sustainable, renewable economy.  I was told that Augusta Resources – the Canadian junior mining company behind the idea – had already bought out the ranch, and now it was broken, lifeless.

Gasland 2: The Problem and the Solution

July 15, 2013 • Jennifer Krill

Josh Fox performed a rare feat in cinema – he brought the problem together with the solution – all in one frame.

The scene I’m talking about comes about 2/3 into the new HBO film Gasland 2, when Chris Paine, the filmmaker of Who Killed the Electric Car and Revenge of the Electric Car enters the movie. In addition to making great movies, Chris also lives in Culver City; one of his neighbors is the giant Inglewood oil field. Comprising more than 1000 acres, the oil field and other oil wells around town make Los Angeles home to the largest urban oil and gas field in the country.

More flammable water near Range Resources’ Parker County fracking well

July 12, 2013 • Sharon Wilson

I know you will be shocked, Dear Readers, but according to a new report by WFAA’s Brett Shipp (see video below), the Texas Railroad Commission did not apply its own Statewide Rule 13 in the Range Resources water contamination case in Parker County. They also ignored in their court hearing a violation they issued to Range.

For some background on this case, see. “…I told you so.” Also, the Court of Appeals recently sent the SLAPP suit Range filed against the Lipskys back for “abatement” but industry trade groups continue to ignore this new ruling linking instead to the district court rulings by the now disgraced Judge Trey Loftin.