Groups denounce attack on EPA investigation of fracking contamination

By Gwen Lachelt

January 17, 2012

After initial testing in August 2010, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) urged Pavillion-area residents not to drink their water or use it for cooking. The reason: their drinking water wells were contaminated with hazardous chemicals commonly associated with oil and gas development.

In the wake of that testing, the EPA began investigating whether the contamination was actually caused by oil and gas development – that is, they set out to determine if oil and gas development actually was guilty of contaminating people’s drinking water wells.

Last month, the preliminary results of that investigation were released as a draft report: yes, oil and gas development, including hydraulic fracturing, is the culprit.

This is a huge deal.  If these results are confirmed, they will definitively refute the oil and gas industry’s oft-repeated claim that hydraulic fracturing has never contaminated drinking water wells.

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Tagged with: fracking, epa, hydraulic fracturing, drinking water, wyoming, pavillion, water contamination

Maryland Legislature to Debate Gas Drilling

By Aaron Mintzes

January 13, 2012

This week, the 430th legislative session of the Maryland General Assembly (MGA) came to order.  During their 90-day session, lawmakers will consider and debate over 2000 bills including a package of legislation related to natural gas drilling.  Geologists have long known about vast supplies of methane trapped in a formation of shale deep below the Appalachian Basin in portions of Western Maryland.  The development of horizontal drilling techniques and high-volume hydraulic fracturing has rapidly accelerated the pace of natural gas drilling in 34 states around the country.  With Pennsylvania and New York quickly working to put in place a regulatory regime to manage the gas boom, Maryland will not be far behind.

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Tagged with: hydraulic fracturing, marcellus, maryland

Important New York Times Op-Ed: Bring 1872 Mining Law Into 21st Century

By Bonnie Gestring

January 13, 2012

The science is in: the antiquated 1872 Mining Law, “has outlived its purpose and its environmental consequences have been severe.”

In a terrific op-ed in the New York Times, fisheries scientists Carol Ann Woody and Robert Hughes, express their deep concern about the impact mining has had on the nation’s dwindling fisheries and the inadequacy of the 1872 Mining Law to regulate modern mining.

With stunning facts and figures, the two scientists describe the tremendous toll to our nation’s rivers and streams, native fish, and public lands, and highlight the risk to important native fish populations in Oregon's Chetco Wild and Scenic River and Montana's Cabinet Mountains Wilderness.

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Tagged with: 1872 mining law, chetco river, rock creek mine, kensington mine, fisheries scientists, montanore mine, zortman landusky mine

A new day begins for fracking in the Empire State

By Nadia Steinzor

January 12, 2012

It’s meant to be encouraging to say that every night brings a new dawn. But today, officials with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) probably wished they could stay in bed, safely hidden by darkness. Instead, as the public comment period on the guidelines for developing natural gas from Marcellus and Utica shale ended, they awoke to confront an astounding number of letters (early estimate: 40,000) and reams of supporting documentation—all awaiting their review and analysis.

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Tagged with: fracking, marcellus shale, new york, health and toxics, public comments, sgeis

SEC delays conflict mineral rules as human rights abuses continue

By Nick Magel

January 12, 2012

There are varied definitions for conflict minerals. I usually define conflict minerals as minerals that are mined and used to influence and finance armed conflict, human rights abuses, and violence. 

I also like Global Witness’ definition of “conflict resources” as “natural resources whose systematic exploitation and trade in a context of conflict contribute to, benefit from or result in the commission of serious violations of human rights, violations of international humanitarian law or violations amounting to crimes under international law”.

Two years ago this term “conflict minerals” hit the US business community with a thud. See, the 2010 Dodd-Frank Act had a small section, section 1502, that mandated companies fully understand their supply-chain and report whether or not they were using conflict minerals - in this case tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold - from the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The definition used for this law is a specific one and only looks at conflict associated with minerals in the regions of eastern DRC.

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Tagged with: gold, dirty gold, international, conflict minerals, sec, congo, dodd-frank, corporate accountability, drc

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