By Nick Magel
July 5, 2011
A few weeks ago I blogged about Aymara communities ongoing struggle to stop a major silver mine near Lake Titicaca (map of site). These communities had been protesting the permitting of this major silver mine from the Canadian mining company Bear Creek for months. Fearing the continued pollution of their water sources and the threat of contamination of the sacred Andean lake, the protests were escalated in mid-May when 10,000 s of people converged in Puno. These protestors proceeded to blockade the major transportation and trade route to Bolivia to highlight communities' demands and illustrate their determination to protect their right to self-determination and the environment.
The protests were lifted to enable the presidential runoff election to take place in the region in early June. This suspension was no doubt a smart strategic move, because Humala the eventual winner of the election was a popular choice in the community because of his voiced commitment to prioritize healthy communities over irresponsible mining.
By Gwen Lachelt
July 1, 2011
Your vehicle may run on diesel fuel, but would you put it in your drinking water?
Thanks to Lisa Sumi, our crackerjack science and research advisor, we submitted hard-hitting comments to the EPA this week as part of the agency s process to develop permitting requirements for companies that use diesel in hydraulic fracturing ( fracking ) operations.
In 2005, Congress exempted fracking operations from regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act unless fracking fluids contain diesel. Companies are supposed to receive authorization from the EPA if they plan to use diesel in fracturing fluids. But, guess what? Even though a Congressional investigation revealed that companies are using diesel in at least 19 states, no company has ever sought permission to use diesel. They just do it.
What s so bad about diesel fuel? Diesel contains benzene and other cancer-causing chemicals. In some cases, companies are fracking directly into underground sources of drinking water (USDWs). Using industry data, the EPA reports that even in cases where the smallest amounts of diesel were injected, the benzene levels exceeded water quality standards.
Bottom line? EPA must require full disclosure of chemicals used in fracturing operations, prohibit injection of diesel fuels into USDWs and refuse to permit any fracking where benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene and xylenes (BTEXs) exceed drinking water standards.
July 1, 2011
Thank you to Blue Nile!
It s that time of the year when the wild salmon are making their annual epic journey from the ocean up into the headwaters of Alaska s Bristol Bay to spawn. It s an amazing force of nature on average some 40 million salmon strong! And, it s the economic engine for the region - supplying some 50% of the world s commercial supply of wild sockeye salmon!
No wonder there s so much support for protecting this sustainable salmon fishery, and the communities and hardworking commercial fishermen who rely on it, against the proposed Pebble mine. The Pebble gold and copper mine, proposed by UK-based Anglo American, would dispose of up to 10 billion tons of toxic mine waste in the Bristol Bay Fishery Reserve.
Responsible jewelers across the company have lined up in support of Bristol Bay protection, pledging not to source gold from the Pebble mine, should it be developed. The most recent signatory is on-line jeweler Blue Nile Inc. It joins over 50 other jewelers in making this commitment towards responsible gold sourcing. Check out the full list of jewelers at http://www.ourbristolbay.com/pledge-signee.html
We thank them for it. And, 40 million salmon do too!
By Gwen Lachelt
July 1, 2011
Earthworks Oil & Gas Accountability Project (OGAP) cheers the activists who spoke out yesterday challenging the STRONGER review of Colorado s hydraulic fracturing rules. Citizen engagement of all types will only improve the process.
STRONGER (State Review of Oil and Gas Environmental Regulations) was created by federal agencies to review and validate state regulations as a means to fill the void left by oil & gas industry-won loopholes in federal environmental law. It should not exist. For decades, we have worked to close the loopholes that created it. And, in the absence of strong federal oversight, we continue to work diligently at state and local levels to enact strong safeguards because federal regulations continue to fall short.
Earthworks participates Wilma Subra, our board member and Bruce Baizel, our senior staff attorney in STRONGER because we work through all available avenues to protect communities and the environment from the destructive impacts of mining, digging and drilling. STRONGER is an imperfect process in need of improvement. But it will exist with our participation or not. Without our presence, communities would have little or no voice at all.
Earthworks OGAP believes that hydraulic fracturing should only be permitted if it can be done safely. Whether that is possible remains an open question and will remain so as long as industry and its allies stonewall those who wish to answer it.
For more information:
By Nick Magel
June 30, 2011
Costco's public face on Facebook is taking a beating this week. Customers are fed up with Costco's inability to sign on to the No Dirty Gold Campaign s Golden Rules .
Why isn't Costco supporting clean gold? We don't know. We assume it isn't because they don't care about children working in mines or cyanide spills poisoning communities' drinking water. Maybe it is because they think their customers don't care. Well they are showing them this week that that is the furthest from the truth.