Last month, the United States Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (USEITI) published its first report. The good news is that the numbers match up well. A multi-stakeholder group (MSG) of industry, government, and civil society representatives decides which revenue streams the report will include. The Department of Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue (ONRR) unilaterally disclosed all 2013 payments received from companies on public lands and waters. Unfortunately, only a disappointing 12% of eligible companies agreed to have their Internal Revenue Service (IRS) corporate income tax payments reconciled.
On Wednesday, Congress held its fifth hearing on the August 5 spill of 3 million gallons of toxic mine drainage in to Colorado’s Animas River. On this occasion, the House Natural Resources Committee invited Department of Interior (DOI) Secretary Sally Jewell to testify about her agency’s technical report on the causes of the spill.
Last week, Senators Udall, Bennet, Heinrich, Markey, and Wyden introduced the Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2015 (1872 reform). Pegged as the solution to preventing future Animas River disasters, this legislation will reform the antiquated General Mining Law of 1872 and bring the hardrock mining industry in to the 21st century.
On October 27, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced they will propose to add natural gas processing plants to the list of facilities that must report their toxic emissions to the public. This decision came as a result of a lawsuit Earthworks joined and filed by our friends at the Environmental Integrity Project and other organizations.
This week, Senators Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Henrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Representative Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) introduced The Gold King Mine Spill Recovery Act of 2015. This is rapid response legislation. The bill ensures that those who suffered losses from the August 5 Gold King mine toxic waste spill quickly receive the compensation they deserve.
Yesterday, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee held the first of four scheduled Congressional hearings pointing blame at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for the Gold King mine disaster. According to media reports, on August 5, EPA contractors attempting to relieve water levels and remove debris from the Gold King mine, accidently sprang a leak releasing 3 million gallons of sulfuric acid laden water in to a tributary of the Animas River near Durango, Colorado. In fact, for years leading up to the August 5 disaster, Gold King continuously released roughly the same amount of acid mine drainage each week. To help alleviate this problem, in 2009, Colorado state regulators used the mine owner’s forfeiture bond to install a flume to divert the discharge. This band aid-like patch served mainly as a temporary “fix” to delay the inevitable. According to EPA’s own internal investigation, a disaster like this was waiting to happen.
Today, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a series of commonsense requirements designed to control the health-harming toxic air emissions from new and modified oil and gas sources. These steps will result in the industry utilizing more of their cost-effective technologies to capture leaks, flares, and other releases from wells, pipelines, and other gas infrastructure that contribute to climate change, increased asthma rates, smog, and other serious health concerns.