Many people have asked me: “Jhon, why did you choose the career you are in? Why do you do what you do?”
I have often wondered the same thing. Environmentalists are not famous. We don’t make a lot of money. And we often find ourselves on the losing end of long battles against powerful companies with endless amounts of resources. It is not rare to get a phone call or email informing us of some terrible accident that has just spilled millions of gallons of oil into a pristine ecosystem, or to hear that an indigenous community is being pushed out of their ancestral home because a mining consortium wants to extract minerals under their feet.
That people are willing to work hard to save the places they know and love has long been a pillar of the conservation movement. So it’s no wonder that this principle also applies to efforts to prevent the damage caused by oil and gas development—and one of this year’s winners of the venerable Goldman Environmental Prize, attorney Helen Holden Slottje, has been saying it since the Marcellus shale boom began.
This week, Newmont Mining Co. held its annual shareholders’ meeting.
As it has done for the past several years, the event took place at the Hotel DuPont in Wilmington, Delaware, more than a thousand miles from its headquarters in Colorado, and far from the protesters and media attention that typified its meetings when they were held in downtown Denver.
But despite keeping its shareholder meeting under wraps, Newmont has not escaped either controversy or protesters.
Does fracking cause earthquakes? California regulators won’t answer the question. The subject is currently not studied in the Golden State, and for years, the Division of Oil, Gas, and Geothermal Resources (DOGGR), has refused to look into it.
Fortunately, other states, scientists , and organizations have studied this.
Here's some good news: Colombia recently announced the quadrupling in size of a protected wilderness area, the Santurban Regional National Park. The expansion is intended to protect the unique high-altitude páramo ecosystem from large-scale mining and other extractive development. Home to both the Amazon and the páramos, Colombia is a country rich in biodiversity.
Today, I’m in London to thank the British mining giant, Rio Tinto, for its recent decision to pull out of the Pebble Mine.
In another major blow to what would be (if built) North America’s largest mine built on top of the world’s largest wild sockeye salmon fishery, Rio Tinto announced last week it was divesting from the project and donating its shares to two Alaska charities. The company held 19.1% of Northern Dynasty - the sole owner of the Pebble Project.
If Alaskan Governor Sean Parnell gets his way, an industrial road through Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve is in our future. Parnell has called for “Roads to Resources” in his efforts to subsidize corporate development in Alaska. These mega-projects have recently been shown to be fiscally irresponsible in the third edition of Easy to Start: Impossible to Finish by Lois Epstein with The Wilderness Society. Rural villages in the region have spoken out against the road with six individual communities and the Tanana Chief’s Conference passing resolutions opposing the Road to Ambler over the past year.