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Another big fat nothing for New Mexico

By Gwen Lachelt

February 10, 2012

The oil and gas industry's amazing power of persuasion resulted in Representative Antonio "Moe" Maestas voting in favor of tabling House Bill 187 - "Disclose Fracturing Fluid Composition" - "in order to give the new state disclosure rule a chance to work."

A chance to work?

Remember that rule? The rule that Governor Martinez's Oil Conservation Commission voted to put in place that requires nothing more than what companies are already required to disclose on Material Safety Data Sheets?

These requirements are supposedly in place to protect industry workers who handle toxic fracking chemicals and additives. Problem is, companies are only required  to disclose about HALF of the chemicals they actually use in fracking operations.

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Tagged with: new mexico, regulations, disclosure, hb 187, industry influence


Fish deformities linked to selenium from mining operation on Wyoming, Idaho border

By Bonnie Gestring

February 9, 2012

A research team hired by the J.R. Simplot Co. has linked selenium discharged from the company's phosphate mine near the Wyoming border to high rates of deformities in trout, including cases of brown trout fry with two heads, missing fins and cranial deformities. 

Yes, you read that right. 

And, still these phosphate mines are not required to report their releases to the EPA's Toxic Release Inventory - a publicly available database so communities can have information on the amount of pollution released in and near their homes.

And, what's worse, the company is asking for an exemption from water quality standards for two selenium polluted streams near Simplots Smoky Canyon Mine in Idaho.

The "phosphate patch" in this region is notorious for the number of livestock deaths associated with selenium pollution.

For more information, read this great piece.  And, to read our comments to the EPA to require phosphate mines to report its toxic discharges to the TRI, read here.

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Tagged with: epa, phosphate mining, idaho, selenium, simplot, toxicity


A case study in how industry influence squelches the science of gas drilling impacts

By Judy Jordan

February 9, 2012

Garfield County, Colorado was one of the country’s first publicized cases of water contamination resulting from oil and gas activities.

The files I read seemed to suggest there had been some debates over the purpose of a study of the issue, which was carefully worded along the lines of seeking an understanding of the “conditions” there, yet not explicitly stating the obvious question:

Did EnCana cause contamination that had not been fully defined, and were oil and gas development practices likely to cause more contamination?

Clearly, we were walking a fine political line, trying to ameliorate the tensions between the industry and neighbors affected by their activities without alienating the industry.

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Tagged with: colorado, garfield county, science, judy jordan, mamm creek, industry pressure


Another big gas giveaway: PA legislature guts zoning rights

By Nadia Steinzor

February 8, 2012

There are many tragic and terrible things happening in America’s gas patches. Often residents say that elected officials—ostensibly charged with protecting the public interest—seem to care more about gas industry campaign contributions than the lives of their constituents. Sadly, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett, 101 State Representatives, and 31 State Senators just declared them right.

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Tagged with: marcellus shale, pennsylvania, community impacts, municipalities, zoning, governor corbett, hb1950


Attacking the Messenger: House Committee Accuses the EPA of Playing Politics

By Aaron Mintzes

February 2, 2012

The Associated Press today printed a story today entitled “Reps scrutinize EPA fracking link in Wyo.”  The article describes yesterday’s compelling hearing where the House majority called in to question the scientific credibility of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  In December, the EPA issued a draft report linking the contamination of drinking water near Pavillion, WY to hydraulic fracturing activities by EnCana Inc.  Since this is the first time a federal agency has acknowledged the dangers fracking poses to drinking water quality, drilling proponents needed to quickly circle the wagons.

Attack the Messenger

The EPA drilled monitoring wells in Pavillion and took measurements for benzene, a known carcinogen.  Listening to the committee, we heard the House majority claim only that a second test at the monitoring wells revealed benzene levels half of what was discovered six months before.  I guess the implication is that additional testing might reveal even lower levels.  It took the minority to point out that the second test, though revealing benzene levels half the initial result from the first- still found benzene at 25 times its safe level.

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Tagged with: fracking, epa, hydraulic fracturing, pavillion


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