PA Politics: Bargaining away community protections

By Nadia Steinzor

October 29, 2011

It’s often said that getting anything done in government requires compromise. But in their continued give-and-take over Senate Bill 1100, Pennsylvania legislators are poised to go too far and sell out communities.

Amendments were made to the bill this week that could result in some much-needed improvements to the state's outdated Oil and Gas Act, but it still rests on a faulty and unjust premise: forcing cash-strapped municipalities to give up their zoning rights in exchange for revenues from an “impact fee” charged to gas drillers. And linking these two issues now makes any legislator who wants to improve protections from damaging drilling party to the gutting of local control.

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Tagged with: natural gas, marcellus shale, pennsylvania, mpact fee

Another step towards Grand Canyon protection

By Lauren Pagel

October 26, 2011

Today, the Obama administration took another important step towards protecting the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review, and the Obama administration once again reiterated its support for a withdrawal of the full 1 million acres. This action initiates a 30-day review period after which the Secretary of Interior can make and issue a final decision.

The Grand Canyon is currently threatened by over 1000 uranium mining claims near its borders.

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Tagged with: 1872 mining law, uranium mining, grand canyon, arizona, obama, department of interior, secretary salazar

US Court: Communities can sue Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes

By Nick Magel

October 26, 2011

Yesterday, communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) received big news from the US Appeals Court. The court released a decision that will allow PNG communities to sue mining giant Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes becasue of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to reverse a lower courts dismissal, that was in favor of Rio Tinto.

This development comes only months after the company had publicly expressed intent to reopen the controversial mine.

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Tagged with: human rights, international, rio tinto, lawsuit, papua new guinea, bougainville, genocide

Industry Slowly Backpedals from Opposing Fracking Disclosure Requirements

By Aaron Mintzes

October 21, 2011

What’s interesting is watching the industry’s about-face on the issue of public disclosure of fracking chemicals. As many states have passed their own disclosure laws, industry opposition has not just lessened, but actually morphed in to something of a modest embrace. Make no mistake; Halliburton continues to do everything it can to make sure the details of the harmful chemicals they are injecting never see the light of day.

By contrast, a representative from Apache Corporation intimated at yesterday’s subcommittee hearing that industry initially opposed disclosure because of a natural, almost instinctual, resistance to all regulations. Not, of course, because of a genuine need to maintain a competitive advantage, but rather a knee-jerk reaction opposing government efforts to address public health concerns.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, frac act, disclosure, halliburton, energy and natural resources committee

Debate over Fracking Regulation Looms Large in the US Senate

By Aaron Mintzes

October 21, 2011

Recently, I attended a hearing of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources committee on the issue of fracking.The Department of Energy's scientific advisory board wanted to share with the senators their impressions from their initial report describing the need for more regulation of the industry. The distinguished panel of witnesses ultimately concluded that much more measurement is needed to assess what we need to know about how fracking affects drinking water quality.

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Tagged with: fracking, epa, hydraulic fracturing, regulation, energy and natural resources, doe

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