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Regulations for life

By Nadia Steinzor

March 24, 2011

In the world of dirty energy, things often go awry. In just the last few weeks, there s been ongoing news of the nuclear power plant disaster in Japan, yet another in a never-ending series of oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, and natural gas-related fires in Pennsylvania and Minnesota.

And what do many policymakers choose to do about such problems? Attack the very regulatory systems designed to protect people and the environment, for example through anti-Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) bills and calls for less federal meddling in the gas industry.

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Texas hydraulic fracturing disclosure bill is inadequate

By Sharon Wilson

March 24, 2011

State Rep. Jim Keffer of Eastland, chair of the Texas House Committee on Energy Resources, last week introduced a bill to require limited disclosure of the chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing of natural gas wells. Since Texas currently has no disclosure requirements, we d like to be able to say HB 3328 is a step forward but we can t.

Why? Because, as Jim Hightower says, The water won t clear up until we get the hogs out of the creek.

The hogs in this instance are the oil and gas industry, which helped write the bill. Unsurprisingly, it does little to protect Texans right to know about chemicals that may contaminate their drinking water, but bends over backwards to protect the industry s interest in keeping its fracking formulas secret. The bill appears to be written largely from the perspective of industry and without much consideration for the landowners whose problems it is ostensibly trying to solve.

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Target says NO to dirty gold

By Alan Septoff

March 24, 2011

The third-largest retail chain in the US, Target, has signed on to the No Dirty Gold campaign s "Golden Rules" for more responsible metals mining.

In doing so, Target send a clear message to its consumers and suppliers that it wants nothing to do with dirty gold.

Target is proud to be part of the No Dirty Gold campaign, said Tim Mantel, president, Target Sourcing Services.

Target is one the top 10 retailers of jewelry in the country, and its support could provide a huge boost in the effort to clean up gold mining. More than 70 other jewelry retailers with combined US sales of more than $13.5 billion - nearly a quarter of the US market - have signed on to the campaign thus far.

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Companies skeptical about Taseko's "Prosperity"

By Scott Cardiff

March 23, 2011

A few politicians in British Columbia may still be pushing for the mine that would destroy Little Fish Lake and threaten Fish Lake with contamination without the consent of First Nations. But some companies have doubts and concerns about Taseko Mines and its "Prosperity" project.

Credit Suisse downgraded their investment rating for Taseko Mines this week based in part on the prospects for "Prosperity." The bank noted that the "project is likely to require extensive review and consultation prior to environmental approval, and we believe this could take several years." Credit Suisse downgraded Taseko Mines from "Neutral" to "Underperform."

Earlier this month, groups also called on Credit Suisse to decline any Taseko financing requests for the mine at Fish Lake. Earthworks joined MiningWatch Canada in presenting the concerns of the Tsilhqot'in and others about the mine project. The groups wrote to Credit Suisse to explain that financing of the mine would cause unacceptable reputational risk for the bank.

Credit Suisse is not the only company taking a critical look at Prosperity. Rideau, a Canadian maker of gold medals, is "publically opposing the Prosperity mine" and wrote to Canadian officials to express the company's concerns and objections to the project.

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While Japan struggles to avert catastrophe, don't forget nuclear power's hidden costs

By Alan Septoff

March 22, 2011

Given recent events in Japan, it's impossible to remain ignorant of the potential catastrophe associated with nuclear power.

And many have rushed to condemn nuclear power because of the public health and safety risks associated with a catastrophe.

What's been almost lost in this rush:  the less obvious costs of nuclear power.  Costs that, in a truly free market, the nuclear power industry not the public would cover. 

Instead these hidden costs which in some cases are potentially so high as to be incalculable -- are borne by taxpayers, communities and the environment.

Most directly connected to the situation in Japan: private insurers will not cover nuclear power plants.  One catastrophe, and the costs could wipe out an insurance company and its reinsurer.

Unfortunately, rather than allow nuclear power to be priced out of the market as too risky and too expensive, the U.S. government has stepped in with the Price Anderson act. Essentially, Price Anderson makes U.S taxpayers the insurers of the 104 nuclear power plants around the country. Taxpayers for Common Sense recently wrote on the subject in their March 18, 2011 newsletter:

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