For most of us, cleaning up after oneself is a basic guideline for living and working with others. Taking responsibility for the environmental costs of products is an emerging business concept. Then there’s the oil and gas industry—which prefers a “you deal with it instead” approach to waste management. The result? Tainted rivers downstream from wastewater treatment plants, earthquakes near injection wells, and radioactive drill cuttings in landfills. And then there are the giant pits where operators store millions of gallons of waste at a time.
Today, Judge Holland of the U.S. District Court tossed out the Pebble Limited Partnership’s lawsuit against the EPA. Pebble sought to stop the EPA from using its authority under Section 404(c) of the Clean Water Act to restrict mine waste dumping from the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska’s Bristol Bay watershed. Read the court decision here.
The judge ruled that the lawsuit was premature because the EPA hasn’t issued a final decision yet. The EPA initiated the 404(c) process after Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen petitioned the agency in 2010 to step in to protect the Bristol Bay fishery, which is central to the culture and regional economy. The EPA has announced that it will make a final decision by February 2015. Earthworks submitted an amicus brief in support of the EPA, urging the Judge to dismiss the case. Read the press release here.
In the meantime, there is enormous local, state and national support for the EPA to issue a final decision and protect the Bristol Bay watershed from the Pebble Mine. The public comment period on the EPA’s plans for limiting mine waste disposal into the Bristol Bay watershed closed last week (Sept. 19th), with a flood of public comments supporting the EPA’s proposal.
Altogether, the EPA has received roughly 1.5 million comments on behalf of protecting the Bristol Bay fishery – demonstrating the overwhelming public support for protecting the largest wild salmon fishery on Earth.
With the arrival of chilly nights in the Northeast, an annual debate begins over potential spikes in natural gas prices. It’s the season for operators to push pipeline expansion projects and to compare weather predictions with gas supply estimates.
Typically absent from the discussion are the impacts on residents who live near gas facilities—or in the case of gas storage, right on top of them. As Angel and Wayne Smith of Bedford County PA know all too well, this is a glaring and very troubling omission.
On the day of the harvest moon, Colorado Governor Hickenlooper late yesterday evening released the names and the general mandate for his “blue ribbon” commission on oil and gas drilling. Formed to avoid ballot issues this fall that would have allowed communities to determine if, and how, they would host oil and gas operations, the commission is formally tasked with addressing the siting of oil and gas facilities so as “to ensure that Colorado’s economy and environment remain healthy and robust.” Hardly a mandate to inspire, it represents the continuation of the state and fossil fuel industry collaboration that has brought us to the current state of political affairs.
It took a reporter’s tenacious investigation, a public outcry, and continual requests by Earthworks, our partners, and many others, but the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has finally revealed the magic number. Late last week, the agency released a list of 248 cases of private water well contamination confirmed to be the result of oil and gas drilling since 2007. Pat Klotz from Bradford County isn’t on the list. But as Earthworks’ latest case study reveals, there’s reason to think she should have been.