Are we going to sit back and wait for the next mine waste disaster?

December 22, 2015 • Jennifer Krill

“If the dam had collapsed at night, everyone would have died”.

These chilling words came from Duarte Junior, a mayor of a city downstream from Samarco mine waste dam that failed last month in Minas Gerais, a state in southwestern Brazil.

Porter Ranch methane leak doesn’t bode well for climate

December 21, 2015 • Hilary Lewis

Have you ever seen methane? What about benzene? Or the chemical the gas company adds to make your stovetop gas stink, mercaptan? I asked residents at a Save Porter Ranch meeting in northwest Los Angeles if they had seen the pollution they knew was in their community, pouring down from the SoCal Gas storage facility on the hill behind town.

No one responded.

Fracking, Methane and Paris

December 20, 2015 • Jennifer Krill

The newly-minted Paris climate agreement calls for limiting global temperature increase to 2°C, and leaves in the preamble the more aspirational goal shared by many countries of 1.5°C. It’s clear to observers around the world that meeting this goal is going to require steep cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and leaving most of the world’s remaining fossil fuels in the ground.

And that includes natural gas, particularly fracked natural gas.

A crude way to treat the planet

December 18, 2015 • Jennifer Krill

Talk about a bitter pill – in exchange for a 5-year extension on the tax credit for renewable energy, Congress has PERMANENTLY lifted the forty-year old crude oil export ban.

This deal lines the pockets of the oil industry at the expense of the global climate. Crude oil from shale regions like the Bakken in North Dakota and the Eagle Ford in Texas can now be shipped to overseas markets; it’s not even likely to be a good deal for consumers.

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Fiscal Fiasco in Pennsylvania

December 15, 2015 • Nadia Steinzor

The Pennsylvania General Assembly is being downright subversive. Not in the sense of resisting injustice or speaking truth to power, but by subverting the democratic process. 

Late last week, the Senate voted 48-2 to pass the latest version of the fiscal code, the bill that implements the state budget. The House could vote to pass the same bill this week. Legislators have packed the fiscal code with provisions that would never survive as stand-alone bills, avoiding debate and public scrutiny. While the tactic isn’t new, it’s a blatant example of “backdoor” governance and an attempt to usurp the authority of government agencies. It may even be unconstitutional. 

House Committee Grills Secretary Jewell on Gold King Mine Spill

December 14, 2015 • Aaron Mintzes

On Wednesday, Congress held its fifth hearing on the August 5 spill of 3 million gallons of toxic mine drainage in to Colorado’s Animas River. On this occasion, the House Natural Resources Committee invited Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell to testify about her agency’s technical report on the causes of the spill.

Sage Grouse to Gain from Mineral Withdrawal

December 9, 2015 • Bonnie Gestring

The greater sage grouse is an umbrella species, emblematic of the health of the sagebrush habitat it shares with more than 350 other kinds of wildlife, including world-class populations of mule deer, elk, pronghorn, and golden eagles.

Sage grouse once occupied nearly half a million square miles and numbered in the millions. Now, this iconic Western bird, with its flamboyant dance, occupies a little more than half of its historic range, and its numbers have declined to several hundred thousand.