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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Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance

By Bonnie Gestring

March 22, 2011

New York A conference on gold that will examine all aspects of the metal from jewelry design to mining is scheduled to take place at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York on April 8 and 9.

Organized by Initiatives in Art and Culture, a New York-based organization dedicated to educating diverse audiences about fine, decorative and visual arts, the Friday-Saturday conference, called Gold: Substance, Symbol and Significance, will feature a number of key jewelry industry players and executives.

Those scheduled to speak include Victor van der Kwast , head of jewelry for ABN AMRO bank, Bonnie Gestring from Earthworks, Bill Williams of Barrick Gold Corporation, Jewelers of America s Robert Headley, David Lamb, managing director of jewelry for the World Gold Council, and jewelry designers such as Temple St. Clair and Marilyn Cooperman.

During the two-day event, the panelists will address topics including fluctuating gold prices and investment, modern mining and sustainable mining, the impact of the recent conflict minerals legislation and the history and development of gold coins and gold jewelry.

In addition to the speakers, the two-day event will include an evening reception at the Aaron Faber Gallery and a screening of the documentary Red Gold, which details the fight over construction of the proposed Pebble mine along Alaska s Bristol Bay watershed.

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Drilling industry attacks Texans' property rights on multiple fronts

By Alan Septoff

March 18, 2011

The drilling industry is really trying to give Texas communities, the environment, and property rights (!) the shaft (please pardon mixing my extraction metaphors).

Last week State Senator Tony Fraser introduced SB 875 which would exempt drilling permit holders from state nuisance law.  In a nutshell: if this bill became law, it would turn a permit into a "get out of jail free" card, allowing permit holders to pollute private property -- giving property owners no recourse to sue irresponsible drillers under state nuisance law. 

Learn more about SB 875 and tell the Texas state Senate it's a bad idea.

THIS week the drilling industry, under the auspices of the Texas Railroad Commission, is taking another shot at Texans' property rights.

A proposed change to something known as "rule 37" would widen an already iffy circumstance that allows drillers to take a property owner's mineral rights -- without prior notice, without compensation, and without recourse. 

Sounds like a horror story, right?  The Star-Telegram calls it "eminent domain by another name".  That'd be a good way to describe it, if eminent domain were at the discretion of corporations instead of elected government.

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