April 1, 2011
That Pennsylvania s DEP stands for Department of Everything Permitted as opposed to Environmental Protection has long been a joke among gas drilling activists. But now the agency itself has brought the image a step closer to being reality.
According to a new directive, DEP inspectors must now secure pre-approval from the Secretary before being able to issue gas company violations or taking related actions. Leaked from the agency to the media, the memos are short and informal. But they pack a punch straight into the gut of efforts to protect public health and the environment from the mad rush to drill in the Marcellus Shale.
On a practical level and in combination with continued budget cuts to the agency the action spells additional paperwork, delays, and backlog. More broadly, it takes influence over enforcement away from trained civil servants working in the field and puts even more in the hands of the Secretary, a political appointee chosen by avowedly pro-drilling (and gas industry bankrolled) Governor Tom Corbett.
March 24, 2011
Colorado-based Newmont Mining announced today that they have approved funding to develop the Akyem gold mine project in Eastern Ghana. This destructive mine project would create an open-pit in a Forest Reserve, threaten water sources, and displace around nine thousand people from their homes, lands, or livelihoods.
Communities in Ghana have expressed great concern about the Akyem project, and their concerns have already stalled the mine project several times. WACAM and other community groups have protested over the company's plan to mine in a Forest Reserve, potential impacts on water supply, loss of access to land, and inadequate compensation plans for displaced communities. Newmont has already displaced some community members. In total, over a thousand people would lose their lands and homes, and thousands more would lose their agricultural lands. The mine would destroy approximately 340 acres (140 ha) of tropical forest and a quarter of the forest left in the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve. In 2009, the project gained notoriety when it caused Newmont to receive the Public Eye Award for irresponsible practices.
By Payal Sampat
March 24, 2011
In recent months, tens of thousands of activists from Change.org, the world's fastest growing platform for social change, have lent their voices to the No Dirty Gold campaign's efforts to clean up irresponsible mining and are calling on jewelry retailers to provide alternatives to dirty gold.
Here s what Ben Rattray, Founder and CEO of Change.org had to say about US mega retailer Target s decision to sign on to the Golden Rules:
It's been incredible working with Earthworks, Target, and the over 20,000 Change.org members who have supported this commitment to responsible gold. This victory speaks to the power of collective consumer demand for ethically-produced goods. We expect this grassroots momentum to continue to other jewelry retailers who will pledge to follow the 'Golden Rules'.
All of us at the No Dirty Gold campaign extend our thanks to Change.org members for supporting our efforts and we re looking forward to continuing to collaborate in the months to come.
For more information:
- Change.org: Victory! Target Joins "No Dirty Gold" Campaign, Pledges to Offer Ethically-Sourced Jewelry
- EARTHblog: Target says NO to dirty gold
March 24, 2011
In the world of dirty energy, things often go awry. In just the last few weeks, there s been ongoing news of the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, yet another in a never-ending series of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and natural gas-related fires in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.
And what do many policymakers choose to do about such problems? Attack the very regulatory systems designed to protect people and the environment, for example through anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bills and calls for less federal meddling in the gas industry.
March 24, 2011
State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland, chair of the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources, last week introduced a bill to require limited disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells. Since Texas currently has no disclosure requirements, we d like to be able to say HB 3328 is a step forward but we can t.
Why? Because, as Jim Hightower says, The water won t clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek.
The hogs in this instance are the oil and gas industry, which helped write the bill. Unsurprisingly, it does little to protect Texans right to know about chemicals that may contaminate their drinking water, but bends over backwards to protect the industry s interest in keeping its fracking formulas secret. The bill appears to be written largely from the perspective of industry and without much consideration for the landowners whose problems it is ostensibly trying to solve.