Sacred site in Arizona still threatened by land exchange, copper mine

February 10, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Yesterday, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee held a hearing on legislation that would transfer 2,400+ acres of land to foreign mining companies to facilitate a huge copper mine in Arizona. If built, the mine would take a campground and sites sacred to area tribes out of public hands and turn it over foreign-owned mining companies.

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona. Because the proposed mine would most likely destroy the area in question, the company, called Resolution Copper, is pushing for legislation to privatize the Oak Flat Campground, which has been withdrawn from mining since the 1950’s, and surrounding public lands in the Tonto National Forest.

House Majority Slams EPA Report; Josh Fox Arrested at Congressional Hearing

February 1, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Today, I attended a hearing of the House Energy and Environment Subcommittee of the Science, Space and Technology Committee on the topic of quality science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).  So, I’ll get in to the substance of the hearing, but clearly the highlight was watching Academy award nominated director and anti-fracking celebrity Josh Fox, handcuffed and escorted out of the hearing room by Capitol Police.  House rules don’t allow members of the media to take video during hearings.  Josh is filming a sequel to his popular anti-fracking documentary Gasland for HBO due for release this summer.  Ranking member Rep. Brad Miller (D-NC) twice made formal motions to allow Josh to continue taping arguing that a properly credentialed ABC film crew also requested permission to video tape the hearing.  Both attempts were rebuffed.

The hearing considered the efficacy of an EPA report describing water contamination attributed to hydraulic fracturing activities in Pavillion, Wyoming.  In reality, this hearing served as another opportunity for the House majority to rail against the EPA.  Referring to the EPA’s work as “scientific innuendo” and “regulatory straight jacketing”, the Republicans criticized the report as lacking transparency, peer review, or sufficient consultation with relevant state authorities.

Gasland’s Josh Fox taken away in cuffs

February 1, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Before the House Committee on Space, Science and Technology's Energy and Environment subcommittee hearing today on Pavillion, WY water contamination, Josh Fox was led away in handcuffs.

The committee made their agenda clear with the hearing's title: Fractured Science – Examining EPA’s Approach to Ground Water Research: The Pavillion Analysis.

Josh was there to film the hearing for his upcoming film Gasland 2.

Obama Administration Finalizes Million Acre Ban on Mining Near Grand Canyon

January 9, 2012 • Lauren Pagel

Today I sat in an auditorium in the National Geographic building here in DC and watched Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar sign an administrative withdrawal to protect over 1 million acres of public lands around the Grand Canyon from new mining for 20 years. This action is the culmination of nearly 4 years of effort by a broad coalition to protect this sensitive ecosystem from uranium mining.

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Energy Department Shale Gas Advisory Panel: Miles to go to clean up natural gas development

November 10, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today the Shale Gas Subcommittee of the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board – formed at the request of President Obama – issued its final draft report. The report focuses on the implementation of the many positive recommendations made by the subcommittee in its previous report that came out in August.

When the initial report was released, I had hoped that it would be a wake up call to the Obama administration, moving them on a path towards more responsible oversight of gas drilling. While some positive steps have been taken to protect our air, land and water from the impacts of drilling, it’s clear from this new report that we still have a long way to go.

Bill that would destroy sacred sites, campground, passes House of Representatives

October 31, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Last week, the House passed HR 1904, the Southeastern Arizona Land Exchange and Conservation Act, by a vote of 235 to 186. The bill would take a campground and sites sacred to area tribes out of public hands and turn it over foreign-owned mining companies.

A subsidiary of Rio Tinto and BHP - Billiton is proposing to mine a rich copper vein on public and private lands east of Superior, Arizona. Because the proposed mine would most likely destroy the area in question, the company, called Resolution Copper, is pushing for legislation to privatize the Oak Flat Campground, which has been withdrawn from mining since the 1950’s, and surrounding public lands in the Tonto National Forest.

Another step towards Grand Canyon protection

October 26, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, the Obama administration took another important step towards protecting the Grand Canyon from uranium mining. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released the Northern Arizona Proposed Withdrawal Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for public review, and the Obama administration once again reiterated its support for a withdrawal of the full 1 million acres. This action initiates a 30-day review period after which the Secretary of Interior can make and issue a final decision.

The Grand Canyon is currently threatened by over 1000 uranium mining claims near its borders.

Mining Reforms, Ending Extraction Subsidies Key to Deficit Reduction

October 13, 2011 • Lauren Pagel

Today, the Ranking Members of a variety of House Committees submitted their recommendations to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the Super Committee. The Super Committee is charged with finding $1 trillion in deficit reducing measures this fall, and these recommendations outline key steps that the Committee can take to reach that goal.

Reforming the antiquated Mining Law of 1872, creating a dedicated fund to clean up abandoned mines and reducing subsidies for the oil and gas industry are just a few of the money saving measures suggested by Congressman Ed Markey, the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. In addition to reducing our deficit and saving taxpayers money, these provisions provide important benefits to communities, public health, and the environment.