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West Virginia considers shale gas drilling regulation

By Alan Septoff

January 14, 2011

From our friends at the West Virginia Surface Owners' Rights Association:

Interim Committee Advances Marcellus Shale Legislation

Earlier this week, Subcommittee A of the Joint Judiciary Committee advanced a bill establishing a new regulatory program for gas wells utilizing horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing.  Although the committee advanced the bill without a recommendation for passage by the full legislature, this keeps the bill alive. (You can read more here, here and here.) It also means the legislature will have two comprehensive bills to consider. The DEP has finalized its legislation and acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin has signed off on the package (although it will not be a governor's bill and Tomblin did not mention it in the State of the State address).

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Tagged with: west virginia, state legislation, surface owner rights, wvsoro


Range Resources tries to wish its pollution away

By Sharon Wilson

January 5, 2011

Range Resources lives in an alternate universe where saying something makes it true no matter the facts. Range wrote a letter where they claim the EPA met with them and agreed that they were not responsible for the garden hose turned flamethrower in Parker County. Okay, I ll play: if saying something makes it true, then I m a ballerina.

The EPA was clear when they gave Texans an early Christmas present by issuing an emergency order to protect families in southern Parker County, Texas, west of Fort Worth in the Barnett Shale gas field. The EPA would not take this action lightly, especially in Texas. Their investigation was thorough and included isotopic fingerprinting and a detailed timeline where the finger points directly at Range Resources.

After four months of investigating, the Texas Railroad Commission couldn t say how the gas got in the well water. It took the EPA two months of investigating to determine Range was responsible. But Gene Powell an industry apologist who writes the Powell Barnett Newsletter that even industry calls pro-industry did a quickie investigation and figured it all out in just five days!

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Tagged with: epa, barnett shale, range resources


"Love, Earth" Wal-Mart jewelry -- not so Loving

By Scott Cardiff

January 5, 2011

A new investigation in the Broward-Palm Beach and Miami New Times has shed more light on Wal-Mart's "Love, Earth" jewelry line, and it's not looking so Lovely. In fact, the jewelry's looking rather like dirty gold: it comes at a great cost to jewelry factory workers and to the environment and communities around the mines.

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Tagged with: gold, dirty gold, newmont, rio tinto, mercury, bingham canyon, love earth, walmart, labor, greenwashing


Tax-free damage: Marcellus states should make polluters pay

By Nadia Steinzor

January 5, 2011

The turn of a year signals new plans and possibilities. But as 2011 kicks off, elected officials are wondering how in the face of steep federal and state deficits they'll ever have the funds to realize policy goals.

In the Marcellus Shale region, it s been tempting to plug budget holes with the quick bucks that come from issuing permits and leasing state land for gas drilling. But this stop-gap measure can also mean an increase in drilling, and with it the need for even more revenue to pay the steep costs of gas development (like road damage, toxic clean up, and health problems). Tackling those impacts requires steps many politicians are loath to take, like long-term planning, bold regulatory change and taxing industry.

Pennsylvania and New York are the only oil- and gas-producing states without a severance tax to make companies pay for the resources they sever from the land forever. Resource extraction taxes can offset the financial burden placed on public coffers and, when used appropriately, mitigate damage to drilled communities and the environment. Severance taxes vary widely in basis (value or volume), rate, and exemptions, but don't appear to deter industry from seeking the resources from which they so greatly profit.

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Tagged with: drilling, marcellus shale, shale gas, severance tax


Oak Flat/Apache Leap dodge a final bullet: protected from mining until next year.

By Alan Septoff

December 23, 2010

I wrote earlier this week that Oak Flat and Apache Leap had been successfully defended from a land swap that would have seen this publicly-owned special place (places, really) transferred into the hands of the Resolution Copper partnership so that it could be mined. 

Resolution Copper is a partnership of two of the largest mining companies in the world:  BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto -- a pair that doesn't need any special favors.

Well, that wasn't the end of the story.

The land swap was resurrected when Senator Reid put it on the unanimous consent calendar packaged with a bunch of other public land initiatives.  [You might be thinking: "but nothing in the Senate gets unanimous consent!?"  Well, you'd be wrong -- there's actually bunches of things  passed by "UC".]

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Tagged with: oak flat, rio tinto, apache leap, resolution copper, bhp billiton, john mccain, john kyl


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