Court Issues Order to Hold Biggest Polluters Accountable for Cleanup Costs

January 29, 2016 • Bonnie Gestring

It was good news all around today for the millions of families that live near polluted industrial sites, and the American taxpayers who have footed the cleanup bill all too often. Today, the Court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to stop letting polluters off the hook for the contamination they cause.  

For 30 years, the EPA has failed to issue rules under CERCLA, the “Superfund” law, to hold industries accountable, up front, for cleanup costs. As a result, company after company has found a way to pass the cost of environmental disasters on to taxpayers.

Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals issued a decision that will help to fix that.

Proposed methane rule could protect Pennsylvanians’ health and climate

January 21, 2016 • Nadia Steinzor

Pennsylvania officials often boast about having the second highest natural gas producing state in the nation, usually while playing up purported economic benefits and downplaying documented environmental impacts. But this week, the ranking was invoked as the reason to stem pollution caused by oil and gas operations.

Governor Wolf's Administration announced a new plan to o reduce methane pollution from fracking and fracking-related development, including gas wells and processing and transmission facilities. At 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over a 20-year time period, methane—the primary component of natural gas—is a major driver of climate change. In 2014, Pennsylvania’s oil and gas producers reported wasting nearly 100,000 metric tons of methane, or enough natural gas to heat nearly 65,000 homes

Remembering Senator Dale Bumpers

January 20, 2016 • Jennifer Krill

Senator Dale Bumpers (D-Arkansas) passed away on January 1, 2016. He served as Governor of Arkansas from 1971-1975 and as Arkansas Senator from 1975-1998. We at Earthworks will miss him greatly because of his tireless work to protect Americans from the excesses of the hardrock mining industry encouraged by the antiquated 1872 Mining Law.

In 1989, Senator Bumpers introduced the first Senate bill to reform the Mining Law. He was a mining reform champion from then until he retired from the Senate in 1999.

No More Mine Waste Spills in 2016

January 20, 2016 • Shreema Mehta

Last year, some of the world’s largest mining companies failed to control the massive dams in which they store the toxic waste that’s left over when minerals such as gold are extracted from ore. The result was spills that polluted rivers in Canada, Mexico and Brazil. 2016 must be the year that the world responds to the growing threat of toxic tailings dams — a ticking time bomb that has in fact, gone off several times last year.

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Obama Pauses New Coal Leases on Public Lands

January 19, 2016 • Aaron Mintzes

Fresh off his State of the Union promise, the President’s Department of Interior (DOI) announced today a pause on new coal leasing while they make necessary updates to our coal leasing system.

More solar, fewer blue flames, safer communities, better climate

January 13, 2016 • Jennifer Krill

Natural gas is not cleaner than coal.

But thanks to boatloads of advertising and campaign contributions, oil and gas lobbyists has convinced many politicians, including President Obama, that replacing coal with natural gas is a viable way to stave off catastrophic climate change.

What I Saw in Porter Ranch

January 12, 2016 • Pete Dronkers

It’s early December, and I’m siting in a mega-church packed with more than 500 people. They’re here to listen to an update on the efforts to contain an enormous natural gas blowout that occurred more than a month before. Gas from the leak is being blown by prevailing winds right into their community of Porter Ranch, in Los Angeles County, CA. 

People are mad. 

New Transparency Report Reveals How Much Extractive Industries Pay the Government

January 11, 2016 • Aaron Mintzes

Last month, the United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) published its first report. The good news is that the numbers match up well. A multi-stakeholder group (MSG) of industry, government, and civil society representatives decides which revenue streams the report will include. The Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) unilaterally disclosed all 2013 payments received from companies on public lands and waters. Unfortunately, only a disappointing 12% of eligible companies agreed to have their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) corporate income tax payments reconciled.