US Court: Communities can sue Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes

By Nick Magel

October 26, 2011

Yesterday, communities in Papua New Guinea (PNG) received big news from the US Appeals Court. The court released a decision that will allow PNG communities to sue mining giant Rio Tinto for genocide and war crimes becasue of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals' decision to reverse a lower courts dismissal, that was in favor of Rio Tinto.

This development comes only months after the company had publicly expressed intent to reopen the controversial mine.

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Tagged with: human rights, international, rio tinto, lawsuit, papua new guinea, bougainville, genocide

Industry Slowly Backpedals from Opposing Fracking Disclosure Requirements

By Aaron Mintzes

October 21, 2011

What’s interesting is watching the industry’s about-face on the issue of public disclosure of fracking chemicals. As many states have passed their own disclosure laws, industry opposition has not just lessened, but actually morphed in to something of a modest embrace. Make no mistake; Halliburton continues to do everything it can to make sure the details of the harmful chemicals they are injecting never see the light of day.

By contrast, a representative from Apache Corporation intimated at yesterday’s subcommittee hearing that industry initially opposed disclosure because of a natural, almost instinctual, resistance to all regulations. Not, of course, because of a genuine need to maintain a competitive advantage, but rather a knee-jerk reaction opposing government efforts to address public health concerns.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, frac act, disclosure, halliburton, energy and natural resources committee

Debate over Fracking Regulation Looms Large in the US Senate

By Aaron Mintzes

October 21, 2011

Recently, I attended a hearing of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources committee on the issue of fracking.The Department of Energy's scientific advisory board wanted to share with the senators their impressions from their initial report describing the need for more regulation of the industry. The distinguished panel of witnesses ultimately concluded that much more measurement is needed to assess what we need to know about how fracking affects drinking water quality.

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Tagged with: fracking, epa, hydraulic fracturing, regulation, energy and natural resources, doe

Mining Reforms, Ending Extraction Subsidies Key to Deficit Reduction

By Lauren Pagel

October 13, 2011

Today, the Ranking Members of a variety of House Committees submitted their recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee. The Super Committee is charged with finding $1 trillion in deficit reducing measures this fall, and these recommendations outline key steps that the Committee can take to reach that goal.

Reforming the antiquated Mining Law of 1872, creating a dedicated fund to clean up abandoned mines and reducing subsidies for the oil and gas industry are just a few of the money saving measures suggested by Congressman Ed Markey, the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. In addition to reducing our deficit and saving taxpayers money, these provisions provide important benefits to communities, public health, and the environment.

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Tagged with: 1872 mining law, abandoned mines, mining reform, subsidies, oil and gas subsidies, joint select committee on deficit reduction, super committee, deficit reduction

New legislation threatens Grand Canyon

By Lauren Pagel

October 12, 2011

Members of the House and Senate from Utah and Arizona introduced legislation today in an attempt to stop the Obama administration from withdrawing 1 million acres of national forests around the Grand Canyon from mining. Without the withdrawal, the lands around the Canyon are under threat from 30 uranium mines. The withdrawal is widely supported, with 300,000 members of the public commenting in support of the ban.

Uranium mining is governed by a patchwork of federal and state laws, including partial regulation under the 1872 Mining Law, an archaic statute that considers mining to be the highest and best use of the federal land. Uranium mines pose threats to public health and water from radioactive wastes, and can have serious impacts on sensitive ecosystems. Given the importance of the Colorado River and the drinking water it provides to millions, uranium mining in the area is too much of a risk.

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Tagged with: 1872 mining law, uranium mining, grand canyon, arizona

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