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.
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.
By Lauren Pagel
February 1, 2012
Today, I attended a hearing of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Science, Space and Technology Committee on the topic of quality science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So, I’ll get in to the substance of the hearing, but clearly the highlight was watching Academy award nominated director and anti-fracking celebrity Josh Fox, handcuffed and escorted out of the hearing room by Capitol Police. House rules don’t allow members of the media to take video during hearings. Josh is filming a sequel to his popular anti-fracking documentary Gasland for HBO due for release this summer. Ranking member Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) twice made formal motions to allow Josh to continue taping arguing that a properly credentialed ABC film crew also requested permission to video tape the hearing. Both attempts were rebuffed.
The hearing considered the efficacy of an EPA report describing water contamination attributed to hydraulic fracturing activities in Pavillion, Wyoming. In reality, this hearing served as another opportunity for the House majority to rail against the EPA. Referring to the EPA’s work as “scientific innuendo” and “regulatory straight jacketing”, the Republicans criticized the report as lacking transparency, peer review, or sufficient consultation with relevant state authorities.
By Lauren Pagel
February 1, 2012
Before the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology's Energy and Environment subcommittee hearing today on Pavillion, WY water contamination, Josh Fox was led away in handcuffs.
The committee made their agenda clear with the hearing's title: Fractured Science – Examining EPA’s Approach to Ground Water Research: The Pavillion Analysis.
Josh was there to film the hearing for his upcoming film Gasland 2.
By Nick Magel
January 26, 2012
Colombia is in the middle of a mining bonanza. The national geology and mining regulation body, Ingeominas, reports that between 2008-2010 over 15,000 applications for mining operations were submitted. According to the new report “Mining in Colombia: at What Cost?” (PDF) nearly 40% of Colombia lands are under extraction and exploration licenses. Over 8.4 million hectares have been leased solely for mining, or just about 4x the size of New Jersey.
In the Colombia highlands mining is not a new way of livelihood. Artisanal mining has been a cornerstone of community sufficiency for generations, as is the case in Marmato. Marmato is a small village, in the department of Caldas, with a 500-year history of small-scale artisanal mining. In many ways the community of Marmato embodies the growing struggles of communities that sit on Colombia’s resource rich lands. In this case it’s gold. Marmato sits on “Montana de Oro”, or Mountain of Gold, so it is no surprise that large multi-national mining companies are anxious to tap into the area’s known deposits.