Former Secretary of the Interior, former US Congressman and EARTHWORKS cofounder Stewart Udall died today at his home in New Mexico at age 90. During his long career as a conservationist, Udall co-authored the Wilderness Act of 1964, which protected millions of acres from development, stewarded the creation of more than 60 national parks, and sued the federal government on behalf of Navajo uranium miners and people suffering health impacts from above aboveground nuclear tests.
In 1988, Stewart Udall joined with Phil Hocker and Mike McCloskey to form the Mineral Policy Center, later EARTHWORKS, where he served on our board of directors until 1997. We will always remember Stewart and do our best to carry on his vision of environmental justice, clean air, clean water, and protection for our treasured natural resources.
Yesterday, EARTHWORKS launched the Texas Oil and Gas Accountability Project a new watchdog to keep an eye on the drilling industry in the Barnett Shale of north central Texas.Texas OGAP also released DRILL RIGHT TEXAS, a guide to gas extraction best practices.
Like its cousin, the Marcellus Shale gas play that underlies most of the north central Appalachian Mountains including New York and Pennsylvania, the Barnett Shale contains vast reserves of natural gas that recently became economic to extract.
The reason it's now economic: a relatively new drilling technique called horizontal hydraulic fracturing.
You may have heard that natural gas is better for the environment than other fossil fuels. When it comes to greenhouse gas emissions, that is true certainly when compared to coal. But and it's a big but when it comes to local impacts, natural gas extraction/processing/transport as currently practiced is not something you'd wish on your worst enemy, or their drinking water.
Because of his experience exposing the industry's malfeasance, and the public health impacts associated with it (and his success in moving state government to respond), DISH, Texas Mayor Calvin Tillman was invited up to the Marcellus region in New York and Pennsylvania to share his wisdom -- and to get to know the experiences of other gas industry impacted communities.
After a week "up north" he wrote the following message:
According to the House Energy and Commerce committee, the three largest hydraulic fracturing companies may be using diesel fuel or diesel-based solutions, along with other hazardous chemicals, in their hydraulic fracturing fluids.
This potentially violates the Safe Drinking Water Act.
Yesterday a bill that would allow citizens to stop polluters from polluting took a big step towards becoming law.
The New Mexico House Judiciary Committee passed Private Action to Enforce Environmental Statute - HOUSE BILL 259.
It goes to the House floor this afternoon; then it's on to the Senate. If it passes the whole legislature, the Governor will certainly sign it into law.
More good news. The New Mexico legislature also killed a ridiculous proposal by drilling industry champions. Industry wanted to punish communities who regulated oil & gas drilling by prohibiting them from receiving taxes generated by drilling. Only if a community let industry run wild would they get severance tax revenue. Fortunately, that proposal died (was tabled) a well deserved death this week.
This is a big deal nationwide because New Mexico is a bellwether for the entire country. Good drilling laws and regulations in New Mexico will influence other states wrestling with similar issues -- like New York and Pennsylvania.
Thanks to everyone that made calls and donated to help counter industry's initiatives.
Stay tuned for more updates. Things are looking good, but the fight is not over.
When consumers buy jewelry, they don't want their purchase to underwrite environmental destruction; they don't want to support throwing people out of their homes; they don't want their wedding rings to cause the pollution of drinking water.
But consumers have little reliable assurance about the origins of their jewelry purchases.
Although there have been several steps in the right direction in the six years since the No Dirty Gold campaign was launched.
Today we released Tarnished Gold? Assessing the jewelry industry's progress on the ethical sourcing of metals. It evaluates the efforts made by jewelers towards responsible sourcing of precious metals. It is based on responses to a survey sent to the jewelers that had signed on to No Dirty Gold's Golden Rules of Responsible Mining by mid-February 2009, and ot other large jewelry retailers who sold jewelry worth more than $100 million.