Imposing mines through trade agreements?

By Scott Cardiff

April 6, 2011

A number of mining companies have been filing for arbitration in international tribunals under trade and investment agreements to seek compensation for mines that governments decided should not go forward. That's correct: the elected government says "no" to a mine (due to community opposition, expected impacts, regulations, or other reasons), and the company then sues for compensation in the World Bank's International Center for Investment Disputes (ICSID).

One such case was dismissed and another filed just in the last month. The hearing for a third -- the case of Pacific Rim vs. El Salvador -- has recently been delayed. These are the latest in an apparent series of cases of mining companies seeking to make money in international tribunals or impose their bad projects on countries that don't want them.

In a decision last week, the ICSID ruled that Milwaukee-based Commerce Group could not bring its case before ICSID under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) because the company had not halted ongoing court proceedings in El Salvador. The company had been seeking damages exceeding $100 million. The technicality spared El Salvador further proceedings for those claims, but the government of El Salvador is still required to pay massive legal fees.

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Urge Governor Schweitzer: Veto the repeal of the cyanide mining ban!

By Bonnie Gestring

April 4, 2011

Last week, the legislature passed SB 306, which would effectively repeal Montana s ban on cyanide leach mining. SB 306 was introduced by Sen. Murphy at the request of the Montana Mining Association.

The bill is now headed to the Governor s desk. Governor Schweitzer needs to hear from you!

The repeal is against the will of the voters

In 1998, Montanans voted to approve I-137, a ban on new open-pit cyanide leach mines by 52% to 48%, and then reaffirmed the cyanide ban in 2004 (I-147) with an even stronger vote of 57%.

Montana s record of cyanide leach mining is abysmal

Every major cyanide leach mine in the state has caused severe water pollution contaminating important drinking water supplies, trout streams, and agricultural lands!

Taxpayers paying millions to clean up cyanide mines

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President Obama: first prove gas development is safe, THEN encourage development

By Alan Septoff

April 1, 2011

This week, President Obama laid out a plan for decreasing our dependence on foreign oil.

Unfortunately, part of that plan is an increased use of natural gas.

While President Obama did emphasize the need to make sure that natural gas is produced safely , he tasked Energy Secretary Chu with the job.

While the Department of Energy has many roles, regulating the extraction of natural gas in order to protect water and public health isn t one of them.

Lisa Jackson, Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, is the figure that President Obama should have tasked with leading the effort to ensure the safety of the natural gas production process. The very mission of the EPA is to protect human health and the environment. The Energy Department s is not.

And, the EPA is already studying the impacts of hydraulic fracturing on drinking water.

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Pennsylvania Memogate: regulatory agency shifts power to the top

By Nadia Steinzor

April 1, 2011

That Pennsylvania s DEP stands for Department of Everything Permitted as opposed to Environmental Protection has long been a joke among gas drilling activists. But now the agency itself has brought the image a step closer to being reality.

According to a new directive, DEP inspectors must now secure pre-approval from the Secretary before being able to issue gas company violations or taking related actions. Leaked from the agency to the media, the memos are short and informal. But they pack a punch straight into the gut of efforts to protect public health and the environment from the mad rush to drill in the Marcellus Shale.

On a practical level and in combination with continued budget cuts to the agency the action spells additional paperwork, delays, and backlog. More broadly, it takes influence over enforcement away from trained civil servants working in the field and puts even more in the hands of the Secretary, a political appointee chosen by avowedly pro-drilling (and gas industry bankrolled) Governor Tom Corbett.

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Newmont planning to advance Akyem mine project in Ghana Forest Reserve

By Scott Cardiff

March 24, 2011

Colorado-based Newmont Mining announced today that they have approved funding to develop the Akyem gold mine project in Eastern Ghana. This destructive mine project would create an open-pit in a Forest Reserve, threaten water sources, and displace around nine thousand people from their homes, lands, or livelihoods.

Communities in Ghana have expressed great concern about the Akyem project, and their concerns have already stalled the mine project several times. WACAM and other community groups have protested over the company's plan to mine in a Forest Reserve, potential impacts on water supply, loss of access to land, and inadequate compensation plans for displaced communities. Newmont has already displaced some community members. In total, over a thousand people would lose their lands and homes, and thousands more would lose their agricultural lands. The mine would destroy approximately 340 acres (140 ha) of tropical forest and a quarter of the forest left in the Ajenjua Bepo Forest Reserve. In 2009, the project gained notoriety when it caused Newmont to receive the Public Eye Award for irresponsible practices.

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