By Alan Septoff
March 18, 2011
The drilling industry is really trying to give Texas communities, the environment, and property rights (!) the shaft (please pardon mixing my extraction metaphors).
Last week State Senator Tony Fraser introduced SB 875 which would exempt drilling permit holders from state nuisance law. In a nutshell: if this bill became law, it would turn a permit into a "get out of jail free" card, allowing permit holders to pollute private property -- giving property owners no recourse to sue irresponsible drillers under state nuisance law.
THIS week the drilling industry, under the auspices of the Texas Railroad Commission, is taking another shot at Texans' property rights.
A proposed change to something known as "rule 37" would widen an already iffy circumstance that allows drillers to take a property owner's mineral rights -- without prior notice, without compensation, and without recourse.
Sounds like a horror story, right? The Star-Telegram calls it "eminent domain by another name". That'd be a good way to describe it, if eminent domain were at the discretion of corporations instead of elected government.
March 17, 2011
Risk is often defined as a product of two factors: probability and impact. Yet when it comes to the endless quest for fossil fuel energy, it s become all too easy to minimize the latter.
An oil spill on the scale of what happened last year in the Gulf of Mexico was considered so unlikely that BP s drilling operations in the region were exempted from full environmental review. But now there s enough concern about the lasting impacts of what happened that the National Institutes of Health recently launched a major new study to track how residents who assisted with the clean up are faring.
Building nuclear power plants along the coast in a seismically active part of the world may have seemed like a risk worth taking to satisfy Japan s energy needs. Now that the plants are nearing meltdown after a major earthquake and tsunami, this calculation is questionable perhaps particularly from the perspective of the 140,000 people ordered not to go outdoors because of radiation and the plant workers whose lives hang in the balance as they try to prevent further disaster.
By Lucy Pearce
March 17, 2011
Five weeks ahead of Anglo American plc's Annual General Meeting in London, MPs from Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, and Green parties have together co-sponsored an Early Day Motion (EDM 1606). The EDM notes MPs' concern about the proposed 'Pebble Mine' in Bristol Bay, Alaska, and calls on the Government Department for Business, Innovation and Skills to meet Anglo American plc to discuss these concerns.
Following a meeting between Alaska Natives and Martin Horwood MP (Lib Dem) in his role as Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group for Tribal Peoples (APPG) in November 2010, he has now tabled the EDM, co-sponsored by fellow APPG members Peter Bottomley (Cons), Jeremy Corbyn (Lab), and Caroline Lucas (Green), plus Mark Durkan (Social Democratic and Labour Party).
March 14, 2011
The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) closed its comments period over a week ago on rules that would require companies to disclose their use of possible Blood Gold from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). Many jeweler comments are now posted online. Even as controversy continues to grow over recent DRC gold shipments smuggled through Kenya and possibly South Africa to Dubai, the comments reveal that several large jewelry associations pushed for loopholes that could allow gold mining to continue to finance conflict in DRC.
The loopholes that these trade groups -- Jewelers of America, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, the American Gem Society, and the Fashion Jewelry and Accessories Trade Association -- are calling for include: delaying implementation of the SEC rules for two or three years, furnishing disclosure on special reports (rather than "filing" in annual reports), broad exemptions on scrap metals, exemptions for retailers that contract for or have partial control over manufacturing, and allowing companies to just say they are "unable to determine" the relation of their gold to DRC conflict.
March 9, 2011
Yesterday was the deadline for comments on the rules of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would require companies to disclose their use of probable "Blood Gold" from the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Additional rules stemming from last year's Dodd-Frank Act will also require mining, oil, and gas companies to report on their payments to governments, and require mining companies to report on health and safety violations in annual reports.
Earthworks has requested the SEC to fully implement the law passed by Congress last year and finalize strong rules on these topics. A broad array of groups are supporting efforts to ensure that the rules are up to the task. These include Earthworks, the Electronics Take Back Coalition, the Extractive Industries Working Group, Global Witness, the Enough Project, Catholic Relief Services, the Publish What You Pay Coalition, World Resources Institute, the United Mine Workers, Calvert Asset Management and other investor groups, George Soros, and many others. A number of jewelers like the Ethical Metalsmiths, Fair Jewelry Action, and Toby Pomeroy weighed in in favor of strong rules on "Blood Gold" as well.
Meanwhile, dozens of companies and industry associations are weighing in to push for various loopholes in the rules. These range from mining companies (Anglogold Ashanti, Barrick Gold, Freeport McMoran, Newmont, Rio Tinto, and Vale) to gold miner associations (the National Mining Association and the World Gold Council), from oil companies (Anadarko, Chevron, Exxon Mobil, BP, Shell) and associations (American Petroleum Institute) to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.