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Abandoned mine cleanup: yes, but not if the cure is worse than the disease.

By Lauren Pagel

July 14, 2011

Today, I testified before the House Natural Resources' Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals.

The hearing title: Abandoned Mined Lands: Innovative Solutions for Restoring the Environment, Improving Safety and Creating Jobs.

In this case, "restoring the environment, improving safety and creating jobs" are issues all stakeholders can agree are desirable, at least in the abstract.  What counts as "innovative", however, is at issue. 

We can see where some very limited exemptions from Clean Water Act liability would encourage abandoned mine cleanup.  Some in industry, and their advocates in Congress, apparently want to use abandoned mine cleanup as an excuse for wholesale exemptions to environmental liability of any sort. 

Our fear is that, with broader liability exemptions, major mining companies will replace one problem (an old abandoned mine) with an even bigger one (a modern open-pit mine).

An excerpt of my testimony is below.  You can read my full testimony here.  All testimony, and eventually video of the hearing, are available on the Subcommittee website.

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Protecting our forests, public lands from drilling

By Lauren Pagel

July 11, 2011

Today, a joint subcommittee oversight hearing entitled "Challenges facing Domestic Oil and Gas Development: Review of Bureau of Land Management/U.S. Forest Service Ban on Horizontal Drilling on Federal Lands" was held in the House of Representatives. Republican members challenged a proposed draft management plan for the George Washington National Forest to ban horizontal oil and gas drilling, as well as Bureau of Land Management efforts to regulate drilling on public lands. 

A recent study by the Forest Service details the serious impact that drilling can have forests including the destruction of trees and other fauna.  The report concludes: "Unexpected impacts, however, were perhaps more important, and because they could not be carefully controlled or planned for, are less likely to be mitigated successfully. It is obvious that unexpected, unpredicted events will occur during such activities, and therefore land managers should consider a wide range of possible effects when analyzing impacts on natural resources."

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Tagged with: oil and gas, natural gas, public lands, george washington national forest, house natural resources committee, virginia


Traffic cops wanted for a new beat: New York issues recommendations for drilling

By Nadia Steinzor

July 8, 2011

Usually when news and reports are issued just before a holiday weekend, they escape close scrutiny and media cycles. But a glaring exception to this rule occurred last week in Albany, NY, when the Department of Environmental Conservation made public highlights of the revised draft of its recommendations on addressing the environmental impacts of hydraulic fracturing for natural gas. (Officially known as the tongue-twisting Preliminary Revised Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement, or SGEIS.)

Cries of surprise and dismay echoed across the state as citizens and advocates realized that the DEC had just moved one big step closer to issuing permits for high-volume, horizontal fracking. For months, citizens and advocates had hoped that the DEC would defer its July 1 deadline and take more time to tackle the many thorny issues involved. But thanks to apparent pressure from Governor Cuomo and other forces, New York became just another state among many to extend a welcoming hand to industry.    

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, marcellus shale, new york, state oil and gas regulations


No Dirty Gold activists hammer Costco s Facebook page

By Nick Magel

July 7, 2011

Costco

On May 16, Change.org, in support of EARTHWORKS No Dirty Gold Campaign, released a multipronged social media action against Costco. Change.org redeveloped an online petition calling for Costco to sign onto the Golden Rules principles that has since garnered over 27,000 signatures. Accompanying the morning s petition blitz was a creative bomb of Costco s Facebook page, where responsible gold mining activists changed their profile pictures in order to spell out No Dirty Gold on Costco s Facebook homepage.

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Tagged with: gold, dirty gold, golden rules, costco


Water: Fracking sucks more than you think!

By Sharon Wilson

July 7, 2011


Photo: Car Lust

When I was sixteen, I announced my intention to buy a new VW Beetle for a monthly payment of only $125. That s when I first learned about associated costs. It was several years before I could finally afford a new, red, VW Beetle and all the associated costs.

Did you think that industry was telling you the whole story about the amount of water they use to frack a natural gas well?

In the Barnett Shale, estimated frack water usage ranges between 2.5 to 9 million gallons per frack. The Eagle Ford Shale average, according to the Texas Water Development Board, is 7.5 million gallons per frack. We don t know exactly how much water they use because most of the estimates come from industry. We do have the little dab of information from the Upper Trinity Groundwater Conservation District that revealed industry used 1,146,598,272.73 gallons of groundwater in 2009. But that only considers the metered sources. There were many cases where industry took water from unmetered sources with no enforcement action or fines.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, texas, water usage, sand mining


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