Tag Archives: water

Lawsuit Filed to Protect Crayfish Threatened by Mountaintop-removal Mining in Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia

30 May

by the Center for Biological Diversity

CHARLESTON, W.V.— The Center for Biological Diversity filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service today for the agency’s failure to make a listing decision on a petition to protect the Big Sandy crayfish under the Endangered Species Act. The crayfish has been lost from up to 70 percent of its range because of water pollution from mountaintop-removal coal mining. It is nearly gone from West Virginia and has lost close to half of its range in Kentucky and Virginia.

“The Big Sandy crayfish is only found in Appalachia, where mountaintop removal and other sources of pollution are driving it extinct,” said Tierra Curry, a Center biologist and a native of southeastern Kentucky, where the crayfish is found. “Mountaintop-removal coal mining is ruining the water — both for wildlife and for people. If we protect streams for crayfish, we’ll also be protecting people.” Continue reading

Southern California Mega-development Next to Biodiversity Hotspot is Defeated

23 May

by the Center for Biological Diversity

The San Jacinto Valley is a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot that is host to more than 300 resident and migratory birds, including the California gnatcatcher shown above.

RIVERSIDE, Calif.— The Riverside County Superior Court has issued a final decision rejecting the “Villages of Lakeview” development next to the San Jacinto Wildlife Area in rural Riverside County. The massive development of 11,350 residential units and 500,000 square feet of commercial space would have congested roads, worsened the region’s air quality and generated more than 175,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

“The county should never have approved a new city next to one of California’s most important birding areas,” said Jonathan Evans, an attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Luring tens of thousands of residents to the edge of the environmentally sensitive San Jacinto Wildlife Area was a reckless idea that was properly thrown out by the court.”

The project posed a grave threat to imperiled wildlife on the project site and in the adjacent San Jacinto Wildlife Area. The San Jacinto Valley is a globally recognized biodiversity hotspot that is host to more than 300 resident and migratory birds, including burrowing owls, California gnatcatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos.

Continue reading

Fracking: ACT 13, The Worst Is Coming

12 Mar

Article by Steven Rosenfeld, from Alternet.org

Pennsylvania, where the Declaration of Independence and U.S. Constitution were signed and where the U.S. coal, oil and nuclear industries began, has adopted what may be the most anti-democratic, anti-environmental law in the country, giving gas companies the right to drill anywhere, overturn local zoning laws, seize private property and muzzle physicians from disclosing specific health impacts from drilling fluids on patients.

The draconian new law, known as Act 13, revises the state’s oil and gas statutes, to allow oil companies to drill for natural gas using the controversial process known as hydraulic fracturing or fracking, where large volumes of water and toxic chemicals are pumped into vertical wells with lateral bores to shatter the rock and release the hydrocarbons. The law strips rights from communities and individuals while imposing new statewide drilling rules. Continue reading

Greenwashed Certifications of Longlines Kill Sea Turtles, Sharks

20 Feb

cross posted from global animal.

The Marine Stewardship Council allowed two eco-certifications for the use of longlines for swordfish fishing that will effect sea turtles and sharks drastically. For every swordfish caught, two sharks are killed.  Every year 1,200 endangered sea turtles are hooked by longlines, resulting in drowning. If swordfish are caught by longlines, consumers need to know what they’re buying and that the fishing method used resulted in preventable deaths. Read on for why many are arguing why longline-caught swordfish should be labeled in the market.

Two back-to-back eco-certifications of Atlantic longline fisheries for swordfish that capture and kill thousands of sharks and endangered sea turtles by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) is a death knell for the credibility for the industry-funded sustainable seafood eco-labeling scheme Continue reading

Fracking debate heating up in New Zealand

12 Aug

Heated debate over fracking, the mining process which could be used to extract gas in western Southland, is raging in the gas heartland of Taranaki.

A protest group, Climate Justice Taranaki, has called for a ban or moratorium on the practice, which it believes threatens aquifiers with toxic chemicals.

The issue has become an environmental flashpoint across the globe, but Taranaki is the first New Zealand region where there have been anti-fracking protests.

“What we are seeing, especially in the United States and Australia, is groundwater aquifiers being depleted and poisoned by toxic chemicals,” Climate Justice spokeswoman Emily Bailey said. “The resource companies don’t seem to be telling us what’s going on.”

Fracking is conventionally used to improve the flow of oil and gas wells by injecting a water-chemical mix into a well and subjecting it to high pressure, which forces the rock surrounding the well to crack open, releasing more oil and gas. In Southland, it could be used to extract shale gas from potentially huge deposits recently discovered under the Waiau Basin.

Anti-frackers believe the practice uses toxic chemicals which can permeate underground aquifiers and contaminate water.

The panic over fracking for shale gas was ignited by a provocative film, Gasland by Josh Fox, which claimed to expose the huge environmental damage caused by fracking in parts of the United States.

Article by Alex Fensome. For more information and full article go to source of cross-posting here

For more recent articles on the anti-fracking movement in New Zealand visit here, here and here

Exxon causes oil spill in Yellowstone

3 Jul

Oil swirls in the Yellowstone river after an Exxon Mobil pipeline ruptured near Billings, Montana. Photograph: Larry Mayer/AP



Hundreds of barrels of crude oil spilled into Montana’s Yellowstone River after an ExxonMobil pipeline beneath the riverbed ruptured, sending a plume 25 miles downstream and forcing temporary evacuations, officials said.

The break near Billings in south-central Montana fouled the riverbank and forced municipalities and irrigation districts Saturday to close intakes.

The river has no dams on its way to its confluence with the Missouri River just across the Montana border in North Dakota. It was unclear how far the plume might travel.

ExxonMobil spokeswoman Pam Malek said the pipe leaked an estimated 750 to 1,000 barrels of oil for about a half-hour before it was shut down. Other Exxon officials had estimated up to 42,000 gallons of crude oil escaped.

Duane Winslow, Yellowstone County director of disaster and emergency services, said the plume was dissipating as it moved downstream. “We’re just kind of waiting for it to move on down while Exxon is trying to figure out how to corral this monster,” Winslow said.

Cleanup crews deployed booms and absorbent material as the plume moved downstream at an estimated 5 to 7 mph.

People’s Tribunal against the Criminalization of Protest in Ecuador

29 Jun

Written by Sofía Jarrín

During three days in the city of Cuenca, Ecuador, hundreds of representatives from several Latin American countries gathered to share experiences and strategies during the Continental Conference in Defense of Water and Mother Earth. The event took place between June 17 and 23, and was organized as an act of resistance against development projects that threaten this vital resource, Yakumama, our mother water. A letter of intention by the organizers reads, “We hope this gathering will become a permanent process of fellowship to protect water and food sovereignty, to create a new social order in harmony with nature, with justice and equity.” 

 The conference began with a visit to sites where environmental conflicts have taken place, in Cochapata and San Bartolomé, more specifically, in the southern province of Azuay, both areas affected by mining companies. The delegation was composed of the Ombudsman, representatives of national indigenous organizations, the Inter-American Platform of Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), Real World Radio, and a team of FoodFirst Information and Action Network (FIAN) International. There they witnessed cases of abuse of power by developers, often in complicity with state agencies, that are laying out mining projects despite clear opposition from the communities where they plan to implement them.

In Cochapata, for example, a community of about 7,800 people, there has been great resistance against the construction of a dam by the mining company Explorsur SA. Seven community leaders were accused of sabotage and terrorism for engaging in public protest, and were recently sentenced to eight years in prison. This occurred despite the fact that the Constituent Assembly had granted them amnesty in July 2008, recognizing their role as environmental defenders. Since then, all seven have been in hiding with serious financial and emotional consequences to their families. Unfortunately, like in many other cases, the courts favour private interests instead of communal decisions on how to manage land and water resources. Currently, there are more than 189 pending cases of terrorism and sabotage in Ecuador.

Back in 2007, at the beginning of his government, President Rafael Correa made a public statement setting the stage for what was to come. “Don’t believe in romantic environmentalists. Anyone who is opposed to development in this country is a terrorist,” he said about the community of Dayuma, Orellana province, who at the was time protesting the environmental devastation in their territory that resulted from oil drilling in the region. The protest was met with police repression and 25 people were detained.
For this reason, one of the main objectives of this conference was to expose these kind of cases, thus exemplifying the ongoing criminalization of protest in Ecuador. An integral part of the conference was a Court of Ethics that analyzed “the criminalization of defenders of human rights and nature.” This people’s court took place on Wednesday, June 22, with the presence a jury of four international authorities: Elsie Monge (Ecumenical Commission of Human Rights, CEDHU, Ecuador), Raul Zibechi (writer and journalist, Uruguay), Leah Isabel Alvear (poet and academic, Colombia), and Mary Hamlin (International Movement for People’s Health). They listened to more than four hours of testimonies and 17 cases of people accused of terrorism.
“Democracy can only be guaranteed when citizens are guaranteed their rights to protest and resistance,” testified Ramiro Avila, a lawyer and professor at the Universidad Andina Simón Bolívar. “These laws are being used to suppress protest and should be immediately repealed.” Avila explained that the law under which the right to protest is criminalized in Ecuador dates back to the early republic, based on the Penal Code of 1920.

The current government of Ecuador, under President Correa, is driving an aggressive development program that is fueling social conflicts all around the country, mostly around mining and oil industries and the control of water sources. Unlike other countries such as Peru and Bolivia, large-scale mining is new to Ecuador and it’s expected to have severe consequences to its many ecosystems. According to the Ministry of Energy and Mines, there are 1990 registered mining concessions in the country, causing serious concerns among civil society, particularly campesinos and indigenous people. “The social leaders are speaking out to defend their human rights, but instead of welcoming them the State is criminalizing their right to protest,” said Fernando Gutierrez, the National Ombudsman.
The most prominent case is that of four top indigenous leaders, all of them charged with terrorism and sabotage: Pepe Acacho, vice president of the National Confederation of Indigenous People (CONAIE), Marlon Santi, ex-president of CONAIE; Delfín Tenesaca, president of the Kichwa Conferedation of Ecuador (ECUARUNARI); and Marco Guatemal, president of Indigenous and Campesino Federation of Imbabura (FICI). They were tried for participating in marches against the Water and Mining Acts during the ALBA Summit in Otavalo in June 2010.
“Is it a crime to defend the water? Is it a crime to defend Mother Earth?” said Carlos Perez, an indigenous leader of Azuay. “Ecuador was pioneer in recognizing the rights of nature, thus the Constitution should be above a criminal code created in times of a dictatorship.” Ecuador was the first country to recognize the Rights of Nature in its Constitution of 2008.
The jury’s decision did not make itself wait. The verdict given was resolute, not only in acknowledging that people opposed to the government’s extractive activities are currently living in an atmosphere of fear and criminalization in Ecuador, but that the State is directly responsible for promoting and maintaining this situation. “These cases confirm that there is a systematic practice to discipline social protest and thus eliminate it,” reads the verdict. “While justice is employed to criminalize the defenders of nature, it remains passive before human rights violations committed against them and against nature.”
It furthermore recommends that the President refrains from making public statements that “delegitimizes and stigmatizes” defenders of nature and human rights. To the judicial powers it recommends to comply with the amnesty granted by the Constituent Assembly in 2008 to all people prosecuted of crimes against the State under a ambiguous Penal Code that is largely considered obsolete.
Although this Court of Ethics does not have jurisdictional powers, it does hope to fill up the space created by the State’s omissions of abuses committed against peaceful social protesters and its exoneration of private companies “that operate in the country with impunity.” Correa´s government has yet to pronounce itself before the court’s decision.
Cross-posted from here

Water minister cancels visit amidst road blockades and protests

10 Jun

By Masoka Dube

South Africa—Water and Environmental Affairs Minister Edna Molewa canceled her visit to Mpumalanga in the wake of community protests over water shortages.

The visit was scheduled for Sunday but last-minute cancellations were made, days after Pienaar residents in Msogwaba outside Mbombela burned tyres and blockaded roads in protest against week-long water shortages.

“We are currently not aware why the visit has been postponed but as soon as I know I will let you know. The dignitaries were supposed to report on progress made in addressing the water provision problems in the area,” regional water and environment department spokesperson Themba Khoza said on Thursday.

According to Khoza, Molewa’s proposed visit included a sod-turning ceremony for the second phase of the Acornhoek bulk pipeline at Shatale township near Bushbuckridge and the handover of two water treatment plants in Louisville near Komatipoort.

Khoza said the water treatment plants, which are designed to carry out multiple treatment stages, would benefit about 6000 households in Louisville while the Acornhoek bulk pipeline would address the water challenge within the Bushbuckridge local municipality.

“The pipeline will supply domestic water to the community of Bushbuckridge from the Inyaka Dam. The pipeline will ensure that about 95 villages in the Bushbuckridge local municipality have access to clean water,” he said.

Khoza said the minister’s visit was postponed to July 2, when Mpumalanga premier David Mabuza is expected to accompany her.

Bushbuckridge local municipality is one of the province’s poverty-stricken municipalities and has more than 1 million residents. – AENS

News source here

Japan on “Maximum Alert” as radiation increases, New stong earthquake increases fears

29 Mar


Japan’s prime minister says the country is on “maximum alert” over its nuclear crisis as radiation continues to seep out of the disabled Fukushima nuclear plant and traces of plutonium have been found in the soil.

Radiation has been detected in the atmosphere on nearly every continent on Earth.

A magnitude 6.4 earthquake hit northern Japan on Tuesday, Japan’s national broadcaster NHK said citing local meteorologists.

The tremor occurred just one hundred miles from the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant, which was crippled by a powerful quake and ensuing tsunami earlier in March.

The epicenter of the new quake was registered at a depth of 18.2 kilometers (11.3 miles). No tsunami warning was issued after the latest earthquake.

Radiation from Japan Nuclear Meltdown detected in rainwater in the US

28 Mar

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health said Sunday that very low concentrations of radioiodine-131 that were likely from the Japanese power plant severely damaged by the earthquake and tsunami earlier this month have been detected in a sample of rainwater. Officials did not say where the sample was taken.

The agency said the sample was taken in the past week and is one of more than 100 around the country. It is part of a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency network that monitors for radioactivity.

Read the rest of the story here.