Fracked Earth Whirl

Protester “chipmunks” obstruct work at Utah tar sands mine.

By Kate Lanier

Mining and local communities: Scenes of conflict

__Pope Francis is at it again, saying there must be a “radical change” in the way mining industries interact with local communities and the environment. “The companies, the governments that are supposed to regulate them, investors and consumers … [of] mined material ‘are called to adopt behaviour inspired by the fact that we are all part of one human family.’”

__Utah “mining regulators have given the go-ahead for the next phase of the nation’s first commercial tar sands operation” in Uintah and Grand Counties. US Oil Sands of Calgary, Alberta, Canada will do the mining. State regulators will rely on the mine to “monitor for potential impacts to groundwater and comply with federal pollution standards.” Confident that’ll work?

__”Mining will never satisfy its appetite,” says San Carlos Apache Tribe Chairman Terry Rambler, whose tribe is in an “epic battle to save Oak Flat, its most revered sacred site.” Democracy Now interviews Wendsler Nosie Sr. of the San Carlos Apache Tribe and his granddaughter, Naelyn Pike, about the McCain-Flake giveaway of the sacred Apache site to Rio Tinto for a huge copper mine. The tribe has made a caravan from Arizona to Washington, DC in protest, with a nice assist from Neil Young.

__Uh-oh. Alaska Supreme Court has ruled that the popular initiative for restricting the Pebble mine project—which is on state land—“seriously impedes a regulatory process set out in state law and is unenforceable.” The proposed gold and copper Pebble mine is in the same area as “headwaters of a world-class salmon fishery.”

__Seems the US Forest Service got “thousands of public comments” so is now “considering a more stringent analysis of a mining proposal near Yellowstone National Park. British Columbia’s Lucky Minerals wants to “search for gold on federal and private land around Emigrant Peak in south-central Montana.”

__Imagine! A mining policy which gives “greater weight to social and environmental factors during the approval process.” That’s what’s been proposed for New South Wales, Australia, “giving hope” to those fighting such projects as Rio Tinto’s Mount Thorley Warkworth Hunter coal mine expansion.

__Meanwhile, Shenhua Watermark, a spectacularly huge open-cut coal mine in New South Wales, Australia, could have an unknown impact on local groundwater and underground aquifers, but there’s no plan showing how Shenhua would manage such a crisis.

__Australia’s Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, apparently is a coal-head, insisting that coal is “good for humanity.” His government’s approving coal mines all over the place. (more…)

Fracking Whirl


“Nature Is Speaking: Edward Norton Is The Soil,” from Conservation International

By Kate Lanier

__2,000+ scientists met in Paris over global warming. Adviser to Germany and Pope Francis, Han Joachim Schellnhuber, argued there must be an “‘induced implosion’ of the fossil fuel industry.” Joseph Stiglitz, US Nobelist economist argued for a “green economy [since] it can promote economic growth.” Schellnhuber again: “We need a global society movement and it is already happening.” Much more.

__In Bolivia, Pope Francis called “for a ‘structural change’ to a global economy.” Capitalism is “the dung of the devil” for all the pain and suffering it causes; “land, lodging, and labor are ’sacred rights’”; true revolution must come from the people—soon. Can’t wait for September when he addresses the US Congress. His Holiness the Dalai Lama lends support to the pope.

__Good news or what? “Denmark’s Wind Energy Output Just Exceeded National Demand.” They’re exporting the extra to Norway, Germany and Sweden.

__As the great Krugman underscores, consumption of green energy (solar and wind power) has taken off, tripling from December 2009 to March 2015. Neat graph.

__US electric power generation comes mainly from natural gas (31%) and coal (30%). Natural gas is “cleaner,” but finite, so shouldn’t we be thinking ahead? On that “thinking ahead (or not)” theme: Republicans in the House have vowed to block a new rule, the Clean Power Plan, “intended to cut earth-warming pollution from power plants by 30 percent by 2030.” Blocking environment-related rules is definitely a trend.

__The US National Park Service planned to “stop selling disposable [plastic] bottles and let visitors refill reusable ones with public drinking water.” But the 200-corporations-strong International Bottled Water Association swung into action and an amendment to stop the NPS’ plan was added to a House budget bill, courtesy of Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA).

__Major drought in British Columbia, with consumers cutting water use. Nestle and other water companies, however, continue bottling British Columbia drinking water at a fraction of what the water costs BC consumers, and selling it for profit. Petition in circulation. h/t Mike Hudema

__Birds are magnificent creatures. US House politicians, however, voted to cut funding for bird protections under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Without the Treaty, BP would have escaped “prosecution for the killing of millions of birds” as a result of their 2010 Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf. More from Audubon.

__King salmon have made a come-back in Anchorage, Alaska. From 330 caught in 2012 to 1300 in 2013, and this year likely even more. Fish & Game installed a $100-million hatchery in 2011. These things can be done.

__While many species are moving northward as global warming continues, there is one exception: the bumblebee. In North America and Europe, bumblebees’ ranges are shrinking, some “completely disappearing.”

__42,000+ people in Millvale, Pennsylvania “received inaccurate and/or delayed water bills for months on end.” Class-action lawsuit now underway to remedy the situation and make the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority more “transparent.” Water is provided by a for-profit French company, Veolia Environment.

__Monsanto “has arranged for an outside scientific review of a World Health Organization finding that the weed killer [Roundup]’s key ingredient probably causes cancer.” They’ve hired Intertek Scientific & Regulatory Consultancy which has “subject-matter experts who can optimize your company’s success and minimize risk.” Hmmmm.

__Australia “has ordered the Clean Energy Finance Corporation” to stop future investments in wind power, and instead focus on ‘emerging technologies’” (solar and “native wood waste”). Heated controversy erupted—including charges this was simply an attack on renewables.

__This just in: “Warming of oceans due to climate change is unstoppable, say US scientists.” (more…)