A recently published investigative report by Peruvian investigative news site OjoPúblico traced some of the dirtiest gold — illegally extracted, mercury processed gold from the Amazon — to large American and European companies — including two certified by the Responsible Jewelry Council, a controversial, industry-exclusive gold and diamonds certification system.
This week the House Natural Resources Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources met to hear HR 1937: the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2015. Under this bill, anything pulled from the ground is a strategic and critical mineral and none of it receives adequate environmental review.
The mining industry has set its sights on a new frontier – the deep sea. Seabed or deep-sea mining involves extracting minerals from hydrothermal vents, manganese nodules and cobalt crusts on the ocean’s floor. In just the past five years, the number of seabed mining permits granted by the International Seabed Authority has tripled, to a total of 26 – and counting. But while permits are granted at a rapid clip, we still have too little understanding of deep-sea mining’s ultimate impacts.
Despite technological advances and increasing use of techniques like hydraulic fracturing in the past few decades, the oil and gas industry is subject to regulations enacted in the 1980’s. In March, 2015, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released a much-needed complement to the existing rules, which have not been updated since 1988. In response to growing public concern about the use of hydraulic fracturing, the BLM’s final rule, Oil and Gas; Hydraulic Fracturing on Federal and Indian Lands, provides minimum standards for all states to follow, including: best practice requirements in construction of wells, protecting water supplies, managing flow back in environmentally responsible ways, and providing public disclosure of the chemicals used in the processes.
There is a misconception in the United States, that for Latinos in our country, and people in Latin America, environmental issues are not a priority. Latinos care deeply about the environment, and what impact our actions have on our Mother Earth. This point was never as clear to me as on my recent trip to Argentina.
For several years, New York made headlines by continuing to delay (and delay…) the decision whether to allow shale gas development. Then the state made history last December by saying no because the risks to health and the environment were too great.
Yet it’s impossible to escape the reach of the national shale gas and oil boom. Even with a prohibition on production, New York has to wrestle with a growing stream of waste coming across state borders (as well as an expanding spider web of infrastructure and oil trains).