This week Earthworks staff received a draft of a bill that will become the Critical Minerals Policy Act of 2013. The legislation directs the United States Geological Survey to draw up a list of minerals critical to our nation’s needs and creates a series of policies designed to improve manufacturing, production, permitting, recycling, and alternatives to these metals.
The Haile Mine near Kershaw, South Carolina first struck gold in 1827. Back then, the Carolinas lead the nation in gold mining until California’s 1849 Gold Rush drove our Manifest Destiny westward. Since then, most hardrock mining has occurred in the Mountain West where large tracts of public land allow mining companies to remove America’s precious metals for free under the 1872 mining law.
Interstate river basin commissions are based on noble values: sharing resources, not polluting neighbors downstream, and planning so water resources aren’t sucked dry. Then again, ideas are only as good as the people who make them reality. When it comes to Marcellus Shale gas development, the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC)—responsible for coordinating water resources among Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania—seems to have fallen down on the job.
Seven conservation and environmental groups have sent a letter to the Susquehanna River Basin Commission (SRBC), asking the Commissioners to reconvene for the purposes of completing its meeting held on December 15 and pointing out that the Commission’s approval of 26 water withdrawal permits for shale gas development projects is not legal because it occurred after the meeting was adjourned.
Last week, the Commission hastily adjourned its meeting in Wilkes- Barre, after a group of citizens disrupted the meeting. The complete text of the letter follows at the bottom of this release.
The SRBC held its December 15 meeting to consider a series of natural gas drilling water withdrawal applications. In response to some outspoken members of the public, the meeting was adjourned; then, after adjourning, theCommissioners proceeded to vote off the record to approve the water withdrawal applications.
By adjourning the meeting prematurely, the SRBC prevented the testimony of non-protesting members of the public who wished to testify on the individual water withdrawals. Effectively, the SRBC’s action penalized the entire public for the actions of a few individuals and violated the SRBC’s own rules.