Anyone who saw the river turn orange will remember it for the rest of their lives. One year ago over 3 million gallons of toxic waste from the inactive Gold King mine cascaded into Colorado’s Animas River.
Arsenic. Lead. A variety of other cancer-causing pollutants. Together they made the Animas River one of the West’s most contaminated places, nominated for Superfund designation. And since we lack the necessary rules to hold mining companies accountable for the pollution they create, American taxpayers like you and me are the ones who will pay the tens of millions of dollars to clean it up.
Last week, watchdog group NC WARN accused the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of vastly underreporting the amount of methane leaking from gas wells across the US. Methane, a greenhouse gas 87 times more potent than carbon dioxide over the short term, is the primary component of natural gas.
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.
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.
“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.
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.