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GAO report supports Earthworks’ fracking enforcement findings

By Alan Septoff

October 12, 2012

Last month the Government Accountability Office issued a new report Unconventional Oil and Gas Development: Key environmental and public health requirements.

Regarding obstacles to enforcement, GAO’s findings – which they drew from interviews with pertinent federal and state agencies – corroborate several of Earthworks’ findings in our recent report, Breaking All the Rules: The crisis in oil & gas regulatory enforcement. Although the GAO report is more federally focused, the findings highlight themes common across state and federal regulatory agencies. Including:

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Water and Shale Gas: Increased demand and decreased availability

By Bruce Baizel

October 12, 2012

Increased demand and decreased availability are pushing water quantity to the forefront of public discussion.

The main variable for the volume of water used in fracking is the geology of the basin being fracked. 

What do we know about actual volumes of water used in different states to frack the shale formations?  Very little, until recently, when a number of states began requiring that water volumes used in hydraulic fracturing operations be reported on the FracFocus website.  Colleagues of mine just recently collected the data reported there.

 

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Senate Appears Eager to Pass Comprehensive Critical Minerals Legislation

By Aaron Mintzes

October 11, 2012

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee is in recess this month. About a third of its members are either running for re-election or looking forward to retirement. One piece of their remaining business is to create an effective strategic and critical minerals policy. Prized for their electrical and chemical properties, these minerals are essential for many high-tech, military, and clean energy applications. And China, which produces some 90% of our domestic needs, has squeezed their production output creating an antsy marketplace for investors and a squabble in international trade circles. What are they looking for? The bill under consideration is the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2012 (S. 1113/HR 4402). Earthworks opposes this bill because it burdens community groups seeking to add their voice to the permit review process. Section 115 spells this out with great specificity. This provision directs the Interior Department to meticulously examine every step in the mining permitting process. What are they looking for? Time intervals.

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Prescription for the gas patch: protect first, drill later

By Nadia Steinzor

October 5, 2012

No matter how much our world changes, one saying reminds every generation about what matters: “If you have your health, you have everything.” Which is why for so many people living in the nation’s oil and gas patches, so much is at stake when air and water quality decline and a mix of symptoms set in.

Reports of health problems from these communities keep increasing—alongside the wells drilled, impoundment pits, and equipment like compressor stations. There’s a big timing mismatch underway, with the pace of oil and gas activities far outstripping the science, regulations, and policies needed to safeguard communities and the environment.
 

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Protecting America’s Richest Fishery: Alaska’s Bristol Bay

By Bonnie Gestring

October 4, 2012

The rivers and streams of Bristol Bay, Alaska support the largest wild sockeye salmon fishery in the world, and supply nearly 50% of the world’s commercial sockeye salmon.

Every year, millions of wild salmon make the epic journey from the ocean to the rivers and streams that feed Bristol Bay to reproduce -- supplying the world with healthy seafood, a feast for hungry bears, eagles and beluga whales, and roughly 14,000 jobs along the way.

Now, plans for a massive open pit, copper and gold mine, known as the Pebble Mine, put the future of the fishery in question. If developed, the Pebble Mine would be the largest open pit mine in North America, straddling the headwaters of two of the most important salmon spawning rivers.

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