California fights on

May 30, 2014 • Jhon Arbelaez

On May 29, the California Senate voted against advancing a bill to place a moratorium on fracking in the state. The bill, SB1132, co-authored by Senators Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), would have placed a temporary moratorium on fracking and acidizing until an environmental impact study on these practices is completed.

Although disappointing, this turn of events is not surprising. The industry spent huge amounts of money to defeat this bill, even after the recent downgrade of the Monterey Shale by the Energy Information Agency – a whopping 96% of original estimates of recoverable oil. With the promise of millions of jobs, and billions of dollars in tax revenue vanishing in an instant, the industry and supporters continued to push on the promise that continued fracking would bring about jobs.

Urge California senators to support the fracking moratorium bill – SB1132

May 29, 2014 • Jhon Arbelaez

Senate Bill 1132, by Senators Mitchell and Leno, is up for reconsideration today in the California Senate.

The bill needs 3 more votes to pass.

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US companies to come clean on minerals sourcing

May 28, 2014 • Shreema Mehta

Next week marks a significant milestone in the effort to eliminate the brutal conflict minerals trade in the Democratic Republic of Congo, which has funded armed insurgents responsible for mass murder and rape for the past twenty years.June 2 is the deadline for companies to comply with the Dodd-Frank conflict minerals legislation, and file reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) disclosing whether the tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold they have purchased have fueled conflict in the region.

An opportunity for the future

May 22, 2014 • Jhon Arbelaez

This week the U.S. Energy Information Administration downgraded by 96% its estimate of recoverable oil in California’s Monterey Shales. Instead of 13.7 billion barrels, now EIA says 0.6 billion.

So, what next?

Californians, Governor Brown first and foremost, must face facts: the promised economic bonanza from shale oil is not coming to California. And it never was. We have reason to believe that the 13.7 billion overestimate occurred when EIA credulously internalized into its projections an oil company’s dog and pony show for investors. 

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Health and Safety Concerns Put Jobs in Question

May 20, 2014 • Hilary Lewis

Oil and gas companies love to wax lyrical about all the jobs they create while calling environmentalists 'anti-jobs', but recent studies have called the quality of oil and gas jobs into question.

To be clear, Earthworks is for jobs.

We are for sustainable (safe, well paying, community sourced) jobs.

Can’t anybody here play this game?

May 13, 2014 • Jennifer Krill

“Can’t anybody here play this game?” baseball manager Casey Stengel said about his 1962 New York Mets, renowned as the worst team of all time.

Stengel’s famous line comes to mind with the recent publication of a report by the Government Accountability Office, Congress’ investigative arm, showing that the federal Bureau of Land Management, the leading regulator of oil and gas drilling on federal land, wasn’t even inspecting more than 2,100 of 3,702 wells drilled between fiscal years 2009 and 2012 that the bureau, itself, had designated as high risks for water pollution or other environmental harm.

Moms Lead the Charge Against Dirty Gold Mining

May 9, 2014 • Payal Sampat

It’s almost Mother’s Day! Whatever your feelings about manufactured holidays, it’s always a good idea to give thanks to mom. So call her, take her out to lunch, send her (fair trade) flowers, or have your kids make her a handmade card.

But think twice before buying her a shiny piece of gold bling. Mother’s Day is the second largest gold-jewelry buying day of the year in the United States. But many of us buying jewelry for our moms may unknowingly be hurting mothers and children who live in places where the gold is mined. Producing enough gold for a 0.3 ounce gold band generates 20 tons of mine waste — much of which is contaminated with chemicals such as cyanide or mercury. Massive pollution, huge open pits, devastating community health effects, worker dangers and, in many cases, human rights abuses have become hallmarks of gold and metals mining in countries such as Peru, Indonesia, Ghana, Guatemala and parts of the United States.

US Court Backs Preserving the Grand Canyon from Uranium Mining

May 8, 2014 • Aaron Mintzes

In a piece of good news from Arizona, the United States Court of Federal Claims ruled on Tuesday to save the Grand Canyon from the threat of uranium mining. The suit came about because the US Department of Interior (DOI) chose to protect over 1,000,000 acres of public lands surrounding the Grand Canyon from mining. The power to withdraw public lands from mining for up to twenty years comes from the Federal Land Policy Management Act (FLPMA). Vane Minerals PLC (Vane), a Flagstaff-based mining company, has 678 claims on that land they can no longer mine.