Oil and gas field residents ask important questions, such as “Are the wells and facilities polluting the air?” and "Is that why I’m sick?” Unfortunately, industry representatives and some elected officials often give dismissive answers, like “Natural gas is clean” and “There’s only anecdotal evidence of health problems.”
Well, hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and much community air testing later, it’s getting harder to hide an essential fact: oil and gas development causes air (and water) pollution and harms health. Increasingly, there’s also visual evidence, thanks to infrared cameras that make pollution invisible to the naked eye, visible to the world.
This week we’re celebrating two momentous wins for environmental justice and human rights in Peru.
First, we’re toasting the victory of Máxima Acuña de Chaupe, a subsistence farmer from the Andean highlands of northern Peru, who has been awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her brave stand against Newmont, the mining company that has tried to evict her from her land to build the giant Conga gold and copper mine.
In February, more than 100 people participated in civil disobedience actions to stop test drilling on the Engebø Mountain, near Førdefjord in Western Norway. Over 80 people were arrested and fined a total 100 000 pounds. The three-week action lasted three weeks was in protest of Nordic Mining’s controversial mining project, which would allow 250 million tons of mining tailings to be disposed of in the fjord.
Oil and gas companies often complain about “overly burdensome” and “redundant” regulations that reduce efficiency and increase costs. In Pennsylvania, drillers are going one big step further—making it clear that they really don’t want to be regulated at all.
Some state legislators are working to derail the adoption of revised regulations for well sites. They’ve tried (though so so far failed) to prohibit rules for conventional drillers by amending the fiscal code. Now they’re pushing for the House and Senate to pass concurrent resolutions disapproving of the regulations, thereby stalling the adoption of Chapter 78, and potentially also of revised rules for unconventional (Marcellus Shale) drilling, known as Chapter 78a. This latest move could come as early as April 12, when the House and Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committees meet.