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Sacred site in Arizona still threatened by land exchange, copper mine

By Lauren Pagel

February 10, 2012

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on legislation that would transfer 2,400+ acres of land to foreign mining companies to facilitate a huge copper mine in Arizona. If built, the mine would take a campground and sites sacred to area tribes out of public hands and turn it over foreign-owned mining companies.

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona. Because the proposed mine would most likely destroy the area in question, the company, called Resolution Copper, is pushing for legislation to privatize the Oak Flat Campground, which has been withdrawn from mining since the 1950’s, and surrounding public lands in the Tonto National Forest.

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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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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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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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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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