April 24, 2012
The House Majority recently introduced HR 4402 a bill called the National Strategic and Critical Minerals Production Act of 2012. The authors cleverly spell out the purported purpose in a series of whereas clauses that form the bill’s preamble. Ostensibly, the problem wants to solve is a dearth of domestic production of so-called rare earth or critical minerals. These minerals consist mainly of those elements in the bottom two rows of the periodic table and have varied applications in electronics, hybrid technology, renewable energy, and defense industries.
By Bruce Baizel
April 20, 2012
After delay and behind the scenes discussions, the EPA issued the final New Source Performance Standards and New Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants regulations for the oil and gas sector. These federal rules – the first to cover oil and gas exploration and production, including fracking – were the result of a lawsuit by environmental groups.
Generally, the rules will lead to a greater transparency from this industry through required accounting for the numerous sources of emissions that are currently ‘invisible’ due to the lack of regulation. The rules will also provide health benefits to those who live close to the thousands of gas facilities covered by these rules.
Strong enforcement efforts, in combination with this much-needed first step, should better protect the health of families that showed the need for the new rules in the first place.
By Payal Sampat
April 16, 2012
Today is a red-letter day for grassroots mining activists around the world: Fr. Edwin Gariguez is awarded the 2012 Goldman Environmental Prize for his work to stop irresponsible mining development on Mindoro Island in the Philippines. I’m looking forward to seeing Fr. Edwin receive his award at the San Francisco Opera House this evening, along with 5 other amazing Prize recipients from around the world. (By the way, if you can’t be there, make sure you watch this video clip about Fr. Edwin, narrated by Robert Redford.)
Fr. Edu, as he is affectionately known, is being recognized by the Goldman Prize for working to defend the Indigenous communities and biological diversity of Mindoro from a giant nickel mine proposed by Intex, a Norwegian mining company. The mine would be built in two key biodiversity areas, and within one of Mindoro’s major watersheds, which provides drinking and irrigation water to many lowland communities. If developed, the nickel mine would destroy vast swaths of tropical forests, and would produce several million tons of toxic waste. Mindoro’s Mangyan Indigenous communities would also be hurt by the mine, as the proposed mining area is within their ancestral land. As Fr. Edu has said, “For the indigenous Mangyan people living on Mindoro Island, the struggle to protect our threatened ecology is a matter of survival.”
April 5, 2012
Last week, Senator James Inhofe (R-OK) introduced S.2268 the Fracturing Regulations are Effective in State Hands Act (FRESH Act). The bill would remove all authority from the federal government to regulate hydraulic fracturing. Even on Federal lands. Instead, states will enjoy the sole province of fracking regulation. Honestly, we should have seen this coming. For months now, many members of Congress have touted the benefits of local fracking regulation and complained about federal government overreach. A number of states with prevalent hydraulic fracturing industries have regulated resource extraction for generations. Texas, Wyoming, and Colorado, for example, contain resource rich lands and populations very familiar with oil and gas development. Along with the extensive experience some regions have in this arena, many state and Congressional officials argue that differences in geology, geography, and hydrology suggest that the more local the regulator- the better.
By Nick Magel
April 5, 2012
Last month Ecuador did something it had never done before. It signed contracts for the first large-scale mining project in the history of the country. Prior to President Rafael Correa's championing of mega-mines in Ecuador, Ecuador was the last Andean country without a large-scale mine. It was also the last Andean country to not have to deal with major water contamination from cyanide run-off. It was the last Andean country to not have to deal with the millions of tons of toxic mine tailings each mine site must dispose of, often in water sources. That's all changed now.
Despite growing protests because of Correa's decision to open up the country to multi-national mining corporations, the President has remained defiant and steadfast in his decision. Even as thousands of people poured into the streets last month for a two week march in defense of water and in opposition to large-scale mining, Correa proclaimed: "We will not be beggars sitting on a sack of gold.";