An Open Letter to President Obama on Mining

By Jennifer Krill

November 7, 2012

Dear Mr President -

Congratulations on your reelection.

Now that the fluff and the fury of the campaign is past, it’s time to buckle down and make the real decisions that are going to determine whether our country moves forward to a more sustainable future.  Don’t despair though, Mr. President.  We are here to help.  

Sustainability -- making decisions today that leave us as at least as well off tomorrow -- is inextricably intertwined with how we use (or don’t use) our natural resources.  And that means energy, and mining.  I’ll cover mining today, and energy tomorrow.

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Dancing with the data in the Pennsylvania gas patch

By Bruce Baizel

November 5, 2012

A string of recent reports and papers have brought to the forefront the value of having publicly accessible, complete and accurate information about gas development. 

First, there was the Duke University team that found apparent migration of substantial amounts of methane from gas wells to private water wells as far out as 1000m in the Marcellus play in Pennsylvania.


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Extractive Industries Fail to See Their Way through Transparency

By Aaron Mintzes

November 2, 2012

The Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) is an international effort to provide a robust yet flexible standard for disclosing revenues paid to governments from oil, gas, and mining companies for the people’s valuable minerals. What’s unique about EITI is the process. Rather than some international institution or government ordaining regulations, EITI establishes a collaborative process involving representatives from industry, government, and regular folks who through consensus develop the right transparency rules to fit the society.

Follow The Money

The EITI road is a two way street. Industry publishes the taxes, royalties, and other payments they make to governments. And governments disclose the money they receive. This transparency is especially critical in developing regions of the world where riches under the ground have led to enormous conflict, corruption, and strife. For wealthier nations, the transparency standards create greater certainty and reassurance for investors and stronger accountability for elected officials. Right now, the United States is vetting nominees to serve on our own EITI working group.

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Six out of Seven Exemptions Ain’t Bad

By Aaron Mintzes

October 24, 2012

The debate over disclosure of the harmful chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing has come a long way in the last 12-18 months or so. Back then, the question was: Will companies disclose their special sauce? Industry has mightily attempted to shield from the public which poisons they use to extract methane from deep shale formations. It’s proprietary information, according to their lawyers. Their lawyers still continue to make that argument in a case currently pending in Wyoming. But for the most part the policy debate has shifted. Now, the question is: What should the companies disclose? And what form should the disclosure take? Led by our friends at the Environmental Integrity Project, Earthworks and a number of other organizations are asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to add the oil and gas industry to the list of sectors required to disclose the toxic chemicals associated with fracking. Section 313(b)(1)(B) of the Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) confers upon private citizens the right to petition the EPA to add additional industries to EPCRA.

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Gas Patch Guinea Pigs

By Nadia Steinzor

October 18, 2012

When Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project started working in Pennsylvania, we heard reports from people who said they got sick after gas drilling came to town or had problems that became worse. About children getting nosebleeds every night. Adults in the prime of life who were constantly fatigued. Rural residents surrounded by chemical odors and fumes. Tap water that foams and dizzy spells after showering.

And we heard a lot of frustration and anger that, despite how widespread these problems have become, the gas industry, regulators, and elected officials dismiss them as isolated “personal stories” and “anecdotes.” In other words, nothing that would warrant less drilling, better oversight and enforcement, or tougher regulations.  

Today OGAP (in association with ShaleTest) released Gas Patch Roulette, a report showing that decisionmakers with this attitude are gambling with public health and treating people like guinea pigs in a big (and rapidly expanding) laboratory known as shale gas development.

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