For the mining industry, technological advances have made the world’s oceans the new frontier. Both companies and governments have started exploration and even tout deep-sea mining as a safer alternative to the problems caused by mineral extraction. But they do so in the absence of any scientific consensus on the long-term impacts of deep-sea mining.
This week, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Henrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced The Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015. This is rapid response legislation. The bill ensures that those who suffered losses from the August 5 Gold King mine toxic waste spill quickly receive the compensation they deserve.
Last month the Environmental Protection Agency proposed new rules to cut air pollution from oil and gas development -- including fracking.
The proposal will limit toxic air pollution like benzene, and the climate air pollutant methane. It initially applies to modified and new facilities.
Yesterday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held the first of four scheduled Congressional hearings pointing blame at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Gold King mine disaster. According to media reports, on August 5, EPA contractors attempting to relieve water levels and remove debris from the Gold King mine, accidently sprang a leak releasing 3 million gallons of sulfuric acid laden water in to a tributary of the Animas River near Durango, Colorado. In fact, for years leading up to the August 5 disaster, Gold King continuously released roughly the same amount of acid mine drainage each week. To help alleviate this problem, in 2009, Colorado state regulators used the mine owner’s forfeiture bond to install a flume to divert the discharge. This band aid-like patch served mainly as a temporary “fix” to delay the inevitable. According to EPA’s own internal investigation, a disaster like this was waiting to happen.
Last August, Earthworks purchased a FLIR Gasfinder camera to make invisible air pollution from the oil and gas industry visible. Since then, we’ve traveled the country exposing the pollution and demanding action from industry and regulators.
There are many ways to measure success: families helped, air cleaned, industries fined, but this week we found yet another -- FLIR cameras purchased.
This week, President Obama traveled to Bristol Bay, Alaska, where he was welcomed with broad smiles and loud cheers by the small community of Dillingham. Despite the rainy weather, the President went out on the beach with commercial and subsistence fishermen to experience the remarkable fishery. And, the salmon obliged.
After an epic year of more than 50 million wild salmon, a few salmon were still passing through. As local leaders explained the significant of the fishery and expressed deep appreciation for his past actions in protecting it, their message was clear. The job isn’t done.