June 7, 2012
Yesterday, I attended a hearing of the House Energy and Power subcommittee of the Energy and Commerce Committee entitled “EPA Enforcement Priorities and Practices”. It really should have been called “The Crucifixion of Al Armendariz”. Except, Dr. Al wisely chose not to attend. This hearing has followed a basic narrative pushed by the House Majority best articulated by the subcommittee’s ranking member Rep. Bobby Rush (D-IL). Instead of calling it the Environmental Protection Agency, we should rename it the Every Problem in America agency. That’s because the House Majority loves to hold hearings where they blame the lagging job market, gas prices, and over dependence on foreign energy on the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Safe Drinking Water Act, and so on. The argument presumably goes: but for those pesky environmental protections, we’d have full employment and free gasoline.
Al Armendariz was, until very recently, the head of EPA Region 6 that includes major energy producing states like Texas and Oklahoma. He’s not a politician- more like a scientist, college professor type. But Dr. Al ruffled some feathers on December 7, 2010, when Region 6 issued an emergency order against Range Resources amid reports of possible water contamination from Range’s fracking operations. In March of this year, EPA and Range settled the case agreeing to lift the emergency order and continue with a testing and monitoring program. But by this point, Range, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Texas Railroad Commission (TX RRC) were furious that the federal government had so impugned Texas sovereignty. Their message: Don’t mess with Texas.
By Gwen Lachelt
May 19, 2012
For the last five days our attorney and experts and I sat in a hearing room in Santa Fe because the oil and gas industry wants to gut New Mexico’s common sense Pit Rule.
The Pit Rule was developed with extensive input from oil and gas industry representatives, ranchers and conservation organizations in 2007 to protect New Mexico’s water, soil and public health from toxic drilling and fracking wastes.
Governor Martinez vowed to repeal the Pit Rule during her campaign and now the New Mexico Oil & Gas Association thinks it has the votes on the oil commission to do the deal.
May 18, 2012
The science is out! The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released its watershed assessment today on the risks of large-scale mining to Alaska's Bristol Bay watershed. There can be no doubt that this the salmon fishery is of global significance, and an economic power house. Here are just a few bullet points from the study:
- The Bristol Bay watershed supports the largest sockeye salmon fishery in the world.
- The Kvichak River produces more sockeye salmon than any other river in the world.
- Bristol Bay’s wild salmon fishery and other ecological resources provide at least 14,000 full and part-time jobs and is valued at about $480 million annually.
- The average annual run of sockeye salmon is about 37.5 million fish.
More importantly, the study concludes that large-scale mining is a threat to the long-term productivity and sustainability of the salmon fishery. The report concludes that at a minimum, large-scale mining would:
- cause the loss of spawning and rearing habitat, the direct loss of 87.5 -141 kilometers of streams,
- cause the loss of 10-17 square kilometers of wetlands,
- significantly diminish habitat quality to an additional 2-10 km of streams as a result of water withdrawals.
- result in significant impacts on fish populations in streams surrounding the mine site, as a result of development and routine operations.
At the heart of the debate is the proposed Pebble Mine, which UK-based Anglo American and canadian junior Northern Dynasty are proposing to develop at the headwaters of the watershed.
The EPA has the authority under 404c of the Clean Water Act to prohibit the disposal of mine waste into Bristol Bay's waterways. Alaska Native Tribes and commercial fishermen have petitioned the EPA to use its authority to protect the fishery, and we support them in this.
Please join us in sending a message to the EPA in support of Bristol Bay protection.
By Hilary Lewis
May 17, 2012
Thanks to our friends at Smock Paper we are now the sole beneficiaries of a new Change the World greeting card. Not only is it a beautiful card for any occasion, but 100% of the funds from your purchase go towards our campaign against fracking.
Think this is great news?
It gets better. When you purchase this set of six hand pressed cards you will also receive a "Gas and Water Don't Mix" temporary tattoo!
By Gwen Lachelt
May 17, 2012
Over the last four days, the oil and gas industry (New Mexico Oil & Gas Association) has presented experts to prove to the state of New Mexico that the Pit Rule is unnecessary.
One expert blathered on yesterday for 8 hours without presenting technical information or modeling demonstrating that pits do or don’t pollute. But when a member of the public presented his testimony on why New Mexico needs to keep the Pit Rule to ensure responsible development, he was cut off when a buzzer rang. Testimony from members of the public is limited to a mere 5 minutes.
I have been asked to summarize the oil and gas industry’s expert testimony since Monday so here goes:
“Toxic drilling pits just don’t pollute (even with torn liners), just trust us on that, so give us a green light to bury our drilling and fracking wastes anywhere we want.”