Eagle Ford Shale: The Dark Side of the Boom tour

By Sharon Wilson

June 14, 2011

Despite my dislike of predawn hours, I met Calvin Tillman, former mayor of Dish, TX, in the parking lot Friday morning and we were loaded and rolling by 6:30 AM, south bound, on the "Dark Side of the Boom" Eagle Ford Shale (EFS) tour. Unfortunately, Tim Ruggiero had to cancel at the last minute.

Just south of Waco the air seemed clearer and air flowed in and out my nose for a change. But that feeling didn't last long. We saw the first man-camps and flares just south of San Antonio and the familiar layer of ground level ozone obscured the far horizon.

Dozens of man-camps dot the sides of the roads. Many of the man-camps use of the same type FEMA trailers that were used after Katrina. What's a little formaldehyde to roughnecks who work with dangerous chemicals all day long?

We rolled into Laredo about 2:30 PM and thanks to Trisha Cortez, Safe Fracking Coalition, found a wonderful place to eat some fresh Tex-Mex. I can't remember the name but the restaurant sits right on the intersection after you take exit 2. It's a fast food place but they make everything fresh including the corn tortillas right there. YUM!

The Town Hall meeting was held at the beautiful UTHSC-SA Laredo extension campus. Featured speakers were Robert Mace, Deputy Executive Administrator, Texas Water Development Board; Gil Bujano, Assistant Director, Railroad Commission of Texas, Calvin Tillman, former Mayor of Dish, and me.

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Tagged with: fracking, hydraulic fracturing, texas, eagle ford shale

What could Humala s election mean for mining in Peru?

By Nick Magel

June 14, 2011


Last weekend, Peru elected a new president. Ollanta  Humala, a left-leaning former military officer, edged out conservative Keiko Fujimori. The election of Humala means many things for Peru and the entire continent of South America. However, I m most interested in whether his position on Peru s booming mining industry could position Peru as a global leader in responsible mining - with full community consultation and inclusion of environmental and labor safeguards.

Recently, Peru has cemented its place as one of the world s largest minerals exporters. The 2009 USGS numbers place Peru as the 3rd largest exporter of copper and tin, 6th largest in gold, and 1st in silver in the world. These rankings may very well increase given the increase in new mining investments made in Peru.  In 2009, we saw a 65% increase from 2008 investments, spiking from $1.7 billon to $2.8 billion. In total, Peru s Energy & Mines Ministry has lined up a staggering $41 billion in mining investment through 2017.

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Tagged with: mining, peru, newmont, indigenous, latin america, usgs, cerro quilish

Gold Campaigner wins The Observer Ethical Award for Global Campaigner

By Lucy Pearce

June 13, 2011

Greg Valerio, champion for traceability, transparency and ecological standards in gold sourcing, has been awarded The Observer Ethical Award for Global Campaigner.

As Greg himself says Maverick, pain in the arse, social entrepreneur, out of the box, radical, passionate, emotional, unmanageable, direct, to the point, breath of fresh air, rebel, visionary, scruffy, non-conformist and dangerous bastard have all been used to describe Greg and his commitment to human rights, ecological responsibility and fair trade in the jewellery sector.

Greg has been a great ally to the UK presence of the campaign to protect Bristol Bay - the world's greatest wild salmon fishery - from the Anglo American proposed open-pit gold and copper mine. His organisation Fair Jewellery Action co-sponsored a screening of the film RedGold in November 2010, he has helped network the issues to other jewellers, organised for ethical jewellers CRED to work in partnership with the campaign with their customers, and most recently attended the Anglo American AGM to question the Board about the proposed Pebble Mine .

Livia Firth presented Greg with the award. Livia is another ally in the effort to protect Bristol Bay and recently signed the Bristol Bay Protection Pledge.

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Tagged with: bristol bay, gold mining, bristol bay pledge, fairtrade

Indigenous communities fight to save Lake Titicaca from silver mine.

By Nick Magel

June 1, 2011


UPDATE 2: The Government of Peru announced today that Bear Creek's proposed Santa Ana silver mine, 40 km from the shores of Lake Titicaca, will be postponed for 1 year. This serves as a promising development for the communities fighting the mine. However, the postponement falls far short of their demands for a complete cancellation of the mine.

UPDATE: Yesterday communities in and around Puno have agreed to a truce, lifting blockades, in order to allow Presidential voting in the region. Peruvians are heading to the polls this Sunday to vote in a run-off election between Keiko Fujimori and Ollanta Humala. The Puno region is seen as a Humala stronghold. The pause in the strike is set to expire Tuesday June 7th. Thereafter, according to leader of the protests Walter Aduviri, farmers associations from Cusco and Arequipa regions will be joining in the call for a permanent end to mining in the fragile region.

Reports of over 10,000 people taking to the streets of Puno chanting "Mina no, agro si", as Indigenous communities block the Peru-Bolivia boarder, has caught the international media s attention today. For weeks protests, led by Aymara communities, have grown in fierce opposition to a newly approved silver mine near Lake Titicaca. The mining company, Bear Creek of Canada, is poised to begin construction of a silver mine near the shores of Lake Titicaca within months. Local communities say the silver mine threatens their farms, their children, and their water. With Peru s history of mining pollution the concerns are no doubt substantiated. 

Lake Titicaca, the largest lake in South America, is a booming tourist region that has developed into a prime example of community-supported tourism. The region is a model for developing a sustainable economy rather than a temporary economy promised by oil and mining projects. Puno s main industry is tourism. A silver mine in the backyard of this community, and on the shores of one of Peru s natural wonders, is sure to be a blow to the region s tourism economy. It sounds eerily familiar to a proposed uranium mine outside of the Grand Canyon, and paints a grim picture to mining companies inability to respect nature and communities alike.

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Tagged with: mining, peru, indigenous, protest, latin america, silver

Frac Out of Focus: Industry and the slippery slope of voluntary disclosure

By Gwen Lachelt

May 26, 2011

The oil and gas industry s latest attempt to dodge the disclosure bullet is through a website named Frac Focus. The website, launched last month, states that already 42 companies are participating in an effort to provide the public with objective information on hydraulic fracturing, the chemicals used, the purposes they serve and the means by which groundwater is protected. While there is plenty of information on fracturing, the website falls short on the very issue of disclosure, of all things.

Frac Focus is voluntary, not mandatory, and simply maintains the status quo: companies can hide the chemicals used in their proprietary blends or secret fracking recipes under Trade Secret provisions.

In December 2003, a few months before the first, and highly controversial, EPA study on fracking was released, three companies signed a voluntary agreement with the EPA to stop using diesel fuel in coalbed methane gas wells. A Congressional investigation released this February has revealed that 32 million gallons of diesel fuel were used to frack wells in 19 states between 2005 and 2009.

That voluntary agreement was simply an attempt to throw the public a bone before the 2004 EPA study was released stating that fracking posed little to no risk to the environment. Today, we get a new version of an old trick. Frac Focus is another attempt to sidestep full disclosure and thwart passage of the federal FRAC Act which proposes to repeal the exemption of hydraulic fracturing from the Safe Drinking Water Act and require the full public disclosure of the chemical constituents used drilling operations.

Full disclosure, no exemptions.

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Tagged with: fracking, drilling, natural gas, disclosure, clean water not dirty drilling

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