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During Shutdown, Trump Urged to Halt Fracking Permits, 2 Million-acre Lease Sale

For Immediate Release
January 17, 2019

Contacts: Rebecca Fischer, WildEarth Guardians, (406) 698-1489,
Kelly Fuller, Western Watersheds Project, (928) 322-8449,
Taylor McKinnon, Center for Biological Diversity, (801) 300-2414,

WASHINGTON― Conservation groups today called on the Trump administration to halt oil and gas drilling permits and cancel lease sales being developed during the government shutdown, saying they violate federal law. Auctions scheduled in February and March span six states and 2.3 million acres of public lands ― the largest quarterly lease sales in at least a decade.

“It’s absolutely outrageous, not to mention illegal, that Trump is rolling out the red carpet for the oil and gas industry while the American people can’t even reach an agency staffer by phone,” said Rebecca Fischer, climate and energy program attorney with WildEarth Guardians. “We’ve been completely shut out of decisions affecting our public lands, and we won’t stand for it.”

Issuing drilling permits during the shutdown violates the National Environmental Policy Act and Federal Land Policy and Management Act, the groups said in a letter to acting Interior Secretary David Bernhardt. The public can’t view or provide feedback on new permits or environmental reviews since the Bureau of Land Management’s offices are closed and agency scientists furloughed.

The furloughs have also halted any work on whether environmental analysis should be required before issuing drilling permits or leasing public land for fracking. The BLM has posted public notice of at least 127 new drilling-permit applications in several states during the shutdown.

“The Trump administration is trying to use the government shutdown to do an end run around the laws that protect our air, water, and wildlife,” said Kelly Fuller, energy and mining campaign director at Western Watersheds Project. “But the Department of the Interior can’t hide forever. Sooner or later they are going to have to start talking to the public, and the longer they wait to do it, the more lawbreaking they’ll have to explain.”

Issuing drilling permits during the shutdown also violates the Antideficiency Act, which prohibits work without pay in the absence of congressional appropriations except to protect life or property. The BLM cannot require its employees to work without pay to approve drilling permits for the oil and gas industry, the groups said.

“The only thing trashier than our national parks during this shutdown has been the Trump administration’s coddling of the oil industry,” said Taylor McKinnon of the Center for Biological Diversity. “Furloughed federal workers can’t pay their mortgages, but Trump is hellbent on ensuring profits for fossil-fuel corporations. Not one new lease or drilling permit should be allowed under these conditions.”

The groups are calling on the BLM to halt February and March oil and gas lease sales in Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Montana. Furloughed biological- and cultural-resource specialists cannot evaluate public comments on those sales, conduct environmental reviews or consult with tribes as required by law.

Citing similar reasons, a second coalition of conservation groups today also called on Bernhardt to cancel those sales.

According to an analysis by the Center for Biological Diversity, if all the parcels offered in the February and March sales were developed, it would create up to 407 million tons of greenhouse gas pollution. That’s the equivalent of the annual climate pollution from 104 coal-fired power plants.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.4 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
Western Watersheds Project is a nonprofit environmental conservation organization that works to protect and restore watersheds and wildlife throughout the West.
WildEarth Guardians is a nonprofit environmental advocacy organization dedicated to protecting the wildlife, wild places, wild rivers, and health of the American West. Guardians envisions a future in which communities are empowered to choose the kind of power, jobs, and local solutions that benefit current and future generations—solutions that will also enable us to confront the climate crisis.

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Otsego 2000 Challenges FERC Decision to Ignore GHG Impacts

Contact: Ellen Pope,, 607-547-8881

COOPERSTOWN, NY (November 26, 2018) — On Monday, November 26, Otsego 2000 filed an appeal to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, challenging the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) decision permitting Dominion Transmission Inc.’s New Market Project to proceed. Otsego 2000 argues that in permitting this project, FERC violated the Natural Gas Act, NEPA, and binding legal precedent, when FERC refused to consider upstream or downstream GHG impacts wrongfully deciding that these impacts were not foreseeable or quantifiable. FERC also announced a significant policy change stating that for the same reasons, it would no longer consider GHG impacts in future cases. By announcing a significant policy change in a single docket, FERC also violated the Administrative Procedure Act which requires agencies to give notice of proposed policy changes, and allow public comment. By its action, FERC denied due process to citizens and stakeholders across the nation who had no notice of FERC’s plan until it was too late to intervene.

“At a time of surging concern for climate change and growing scientific evidence of its causes, FERC’s announcement of a new ‘policy’ to refuse to even consider GHG emission impacts, in defiance of existing law, must be rejected,” said Nicole Dillingham, President of Otsego 2000’s Board of Directors. She added: “The fact that FERC attempts to announce such a policy in a single docket denies all other others of their due process rights. Otsego 2000, as the only party with standing to appeal, simply cannot let this go unchallenged.”

Otsego 2000, an environmental and preservation advocacy organization based in Cooperstown, NY, is represented by Michael Sussman, Esq., of Sussman & Associates, Goshen, NY.

To read the brief and keep up-to-date on the case as it moves forward, visit .



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In Blow to Pipeline Project, Court Invalidates Trump Administration’s Keystone XL Environmental Review, Blocks Construction

For Immediate Release, November 9, 2018

Contact: Margie Kelly, Natural Resources Defense Council, (541) 222-9699,
Mark Hefflinger, Bold Nebraska, (323) 972-5192,
Gabby Brown, Sierra Club, (914) 261-4626,
Jared Margolis, Center for Biological Diversity, (802) 310-4054,
Patrick Davis, Friends of the Earth, (202) 222-0744,
Dustin Ogdin, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 228-1154,
Dena Hoff, Northern Plains Resource Council, (406) 939-1839

GREAT FALLS, MT (November 9, 2018) — A federal judge ruled yesterday that the Trump administration violated bedrock U.S. environmental laws when approving a federal permit for TransCanada’s proposed Keystone XL tar sands pipeline project. The judge blocked any construction on the pipeline and ordered the government to revise its environmental review.

The decision is a significant setback for a pipeline that investors are already seriously questioning. TransCanada has not yet announced a Final Investment Decision on whether to move forward and build Keystone XL should it receive all the necessary permits.

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Morris found that the Trump administration’s reliance on a stale environmental review from 2014 violated the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and the Administrative Procedure Act. This ruling follows the court’s previous decision on August 15 to require additional analysis of the new route through Nebraska.

The court required the U.S. Department of State to revise the proposed project’s environmental impact statement to evaluate the extraordinary changes in oil markets that have occurred since the previous review was completed in 2014; to consider the combined climate impacts of approving both the Keystone XL and other tar sands pipelines; to study the many cultural resources along the pipeline’s route; and to examine the harmful risks of oil spills on nearby water and wildlife.

The State Department must also provide a reasoned explanation for its decision to reverse course and approve the permit, after the Obama administration denied it just three years ago on the same set of facts.

Based on these violations, the court ordered the State Department to revise its environmental analysis, and prohibited any work along the proposed route — which would cross Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana — until that analysis is complete. Keystone XL would have carried up to 35 million gallons a day of Canadian tar sands — one of the world’s dirtiest energy sources — across critical water sources and wildlife habitat to Gulf Coast refineries.

Plaintiffs Northern Plains Resource Council, Bold Alliance, Center for Biological Diversity, Friends of the Earth, Natural Resources Defense Council and Sierra Club filed the lawsuit in March 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Montana.


“Today’s ruling is a victory for the rule of law, and it’s a victory for common sense stewardship of the land and water upon which we all depend. Despite the best efforts of wealthy, multinational corporations and the powerful politicians who cynically do their bidding, we see that everyday people can still band together and successfully defend their rights. All Americans should be proud that our system of checks and balances can still function even in the face of enormous strains,” said Dena Hoff, Montana farmer and member-leader of the Northern Plains Resource Council.

“Farmers and our Tribal Nation allies in Nebraska, South Dakota and Montana celebrate today’s victory foiling the Trump administration’s scheme to rubber-stamp the approval of Keystone XL. This now ten-year battle is still far from over. We’ll continue to stand together against this tar sands export pipeline that threatens property rights, water and climate at every opportunity, at every public hearing. People on the route deserve due process and the Ponca Trail of Tears must be protected,” said Mark Hefflinger, communications director for Bold Alliance.

“Today’s ruling makes it clear once and for all that it’s time for TransCanada to give up on their Keystone XL pipe dream,” said Sierra Club Senior Attorney Doug Hayes. “The Trump administration tried to force this dirty pipeline project on the American people, but they can’t ignore the threats it would pose to our clean water, our climate, and our communities.”

“This is a complete repudiation of the Trump administration’s attempts to evade environmental laws and prioritize oil company profits over clean water and wildlife,” said Jared Margolis, senior attorney with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Keystone XL would devastate species and put communities at risk of contamination. There’s simply no excuse for approving this terrible project. We need to move away from fossil fuel dependence, not support more devastation.”

“Keystone XL would be a disaster for the climate and for the people and wildlife of this country,” said Jackie Prange, senior attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As the court has made clear yet again, the Trump administration’s flawed and dangerous proposal should be shelved forever.”

“Today’s ruling is a decisive moment in our fight against the corporate polluters who have rushed to destroy our planet,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “Rejecting the destructive Keystone XL pipeline is a victory for the grassroots activists who have worked against the Keystone XL pipeline for the past decade. Environmental laws exist to protect people and our lands and waters. Today, the courts showed the Trump administration and their corporate polluter friends that they cannot bully rural landowners, farmers, environmentalists and Native communities.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.


*** The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places. ***

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Trump Administration sells out Boundary Waters Wilderness to industrial mining


Alison Flint, High Profile Litigation Manager, The Wilderness Society, 303-802-1404
Michael Reinemer, 202-429-3949,

WASHINGTON, DC (September 6, 2018) – This week, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue made the decision to arbitrarily cancel a proposed 20-year ban on mining activity in the watershed of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota.

Statement from Chris Rackens, Senior Representative, Government Relations:

“Today’s announcement immediately threatens 234,328 acres of public national forest lands adjacent to the Boundary Waters.  Since late last year the Trump Administration has moved aggressively to make public lands in the watershed of the Boundary Waters available for industrial mining activity, including unlawfully reinstating expired mineral leases. This most recent decision throws out almost two years of work to prepare an impartial, science-based environmental review and analysis of a mineral withdrawal, and flies in the face of previous decisions by the Forest Service that allowing mining in this sensitive watershed poses too great a risk.

“While the Trump Administration claims today’s decision is based on that environmental review, the review has not been completed or shared with the public. Instead, today’s announcement is a purely political backroom decision fueled by remarks by President Trump and Vice President Pence at recent rallies in Minnesota.

“Conservation in Northeastern Minnesota and other places with prized-public lands offers sustainable jobs and economic opportunity for generations to come. Indeed, a recent study by a renowned Harvard economist debunks the myth that mining in this sensitive landscape would result in job growth and economic benefits. The sulfide-ore mines that are being considered in this area threaten to contaminate the land, water and legacy of the Boundary Waters.”

The Boundary Waters is America’s most visited wilderness area. Explorers find refuge in its pristine waters and forested lands, which offer 1,200 miles of canoe routes and 18 hiking trails. The area also includes more than 1,000 lakes left by receding glaciers and hundreds of miles of streams. Strong protections for the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, America’s most visited wilderness, are supported by the public, science and economics.

The pollution resulting from sulfide-ore copper mining would inevitably harm the water quality and ecology of these protected public lands and waterways. The local economy – which is sustained by tourism and jobs connected to this fishing, canoeing, and camping mecca – would also suffer. In an August 6 letter to the Forest Supervisor at Superior National Forest, Harvard Economist James H. Stock predicted economic harm to the region if this mining were introduced in the Superior National Forest.

Earlier this year, the Interior Department reinstated the two expired mineral leases, which date back to 1966. The decision paves the way for Twin Metals to build an industrial mining complex on the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. The Wilderness Society, Center for Biological Diversity, and the Izaak Walton League of America, represented by Earthjustice, filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Washington, D.C. challenging that decision. The week prior organizations joined nine Minnesota businesses to file a separate lawsuit to protect this cherished recreation area from mining.

TO JOIN THE OPPOSITION to this action:

Visit our Too Wild To Drill Boundary Waters page to learn more and take action. You can also find your federal representatives at or Call on your members of Congress to tell them you oppose the Trump Administration’s recent actions to allowing mining adjacent to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.  Sulfide-ore mining would likely harm northeast Minnesota’s economy, which relies on paddling, hunting, fishing, hiking, and other outdoor recreation, with the result of 27,000 lost jobs and $1.4 billion lost economic activity. Tens of thousands of Americans and locally owned businesses have commented in support of protecting the Boundary Waters from toxic sulfide-ore mining.
The Wilderness Society, founded in 1935, is the leading conservation organization working to protect wilderness and inspire Americans to care for our wild places. With more than one million members and supporters, The Wilderness Society has led the effort to permanently protect 109 million acres of wilderness and to ensure sound management of our shared national lands.



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340 Organizations Call on Trump Administration to Abandon Rushed Rewrite of National Environmental Policy Act


August 21, 2018
Contact: Phil LaRue, Earthjustice, 202-667-4500 x 4317,

WASHINGTON, DC (August 21, 2018) – More than 340 public interest organizations from across the country formally submitted comments on Friday urging the White House Council on Environmental Quality to abandon its reckless and unprecedented attempts to rewrite the implementing procedures of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA).

The Act, written partly in response to 1960s highway revolts protesting the destruction of communities and ecosystems, has long been considered a bipartisan core of American environmental law. It passed the Senate unanimously when first considered.

Raul Garcia, Earthjustice Senior Legislative Counsel, issued the following statement:

“The National Environmental Policy Act was written in response to some of the most significant environmental and civil rights issues in modern history. And yet here, in the middle of August, with limited opportunity for public input at a time when millions of Americans are on vacation, the Trump administration appears to be embarking on a sweeping rewrite of the law. Simply put, it’s unacceptable that the administration could roll back the core protections this law affords without seriously listening to the voices of all Americans.

“Instead of persisting with this sham of a rule-making process, let’s work together to strengthen environmental protections for all communities.”

A copy of the coalition’s comments is available HERE.


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Federal court throws out key permit for Atlantic Coast Pipeline

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals yesterday threw out the National Park Service’s permit for the Atlantic Coast Pipeline in a case argued by SELC on behalf of the Sierra Club, Defenders of Wildlife, and the Virginia Wilderness Committee. The court also issued its opinion regarding a Fish and Wildlife permit that it vacated earlier.

“This is an example of what happens when dangerous projects are pushed through based on politics rather than science,” said SELC Senior Attorney D.J. Gerken. “This pipeline project was flawed from the start and Dominion and Duke’s pressure tactics to avoid laws that protect our public lands, water, and wildlife are now coming to light.”

The ruling entered by a panel of three judges means that Dominion no longer has the permit needed to drill under the Blue Ridge Parkway. The Blue Ridge Parkway weaves through some of the most scenic terrain in Virginia and North Carolina.

Now, if pipeline developers continue construction on the 600-mile route from West Virginia, through Virginia and into North Carolina, they will be operating without two crucial federal permits.

“Given the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s recent decision to stop construction based on an invalid right of way permit in the case of the Mountain Valley Pipeline, FERC should immediately halt all construction on the Atlantic Coast Pipeline,” said SELC Senior Attorney Greg Buppert. “It’s time to pause and take a look at this project for what it is, an unnecessary pipeline that’s being pushed through to benefit Dominion Energy, not the people of Virginia and North Carolina. ”

SELC is calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to halt all construction along the ACP route given it no longer possesses a right-of-way permit from the National Park Service.

It has become clear in recent hearings at the State Corporation Commission that Dominion has never even conducted a study as to whether the pipeline is needed in Virginia. And Dominion’s claims of energy savings are bogus; Virginians will pay $2 billion more for the pipeline than it would if the utility used existing pipelines.

This May, the same three-judge panel found that the United States Fish and Wildlife Service’s approval for the project did not comport with the law. The initial order stated that the agency’s limits for harming endangered species were so vague that they undermined the objectives of the Endangered Species Act.

There are other permits in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals under challenge for inadequacy to protect land, water, and wildlife in the path of this risky and unnecessary project.

To learn more about the risks of the Atlantic Coast Pipeline go to


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Congress Keeps Defense Authorization Bill Free of Riders Curtailing ESA and NEPA


Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Contact: Eric Bontrager; 703-887-0559;

WASHINGTON, DC (August 1, 2018) – The following is a statement by Lynn Scarlett, Co-Chief of External Affairs at The Nature Conservancy, following the passage by both the House and the Senate of the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that does not include several proposed damaging provisions that would have undercut the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). 

Congressional negotiators successfully kept these proposals, which included prohibitions or delays on listing certain species and exemptions from completing environmental analysis for a broad suite of extraction projects on public lands, from the final version of the bill. The president is expected to sign this legislation:

“Congressional leaders should be commended for working together to leave dangerous rollbacks of the Endangered Species Act and the National Environmental Policy Act on the cutting room floor,” said Scarlett. “With passage of a NDAA bill without these proposals, the important collaborative work on the ground to find long-term solutions for conserving imperiled species, like the greater sage grouse and lesser prairie chicken, can continue. 

“While we are pleased with this development, the future of the Endangered Species Act is far from secure. Repeated proposals by the administration and members of Congress to undercut or weaken the act jeopardize the long-term survival of at-risk species. While there is room for exploring ways to update and improve the implementation of the Endangered Species Act, these species-specific attacks undercut that work and make it nearly impossible to have serious discussions about ways to improve the act and its implementation. However, any changes to the act or implementing regulations must be focused on enhancing outcomes for species. The Nature Conservancy will not support changes that diminish or weaken the core protections of the Act.”

The Nature Conservancy is a global conservation organization dedicated to conserving the lands and waters on which all life depends. Guided by science, we create innovative, on-the-ground solutions to our world’s toughest challenges so that nature and people can thrive together. We are tackling climate change, conserving lands, waters and oceans at an unprecedented scale, providing food and water sustainably and helping make cities more sustainable. Working in 72 countries, we use a collaborative approach that engages local communities, governments, the private sector, and other partners. To learn more, visit or follow @nature_press on Twitter.


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Court Deals Another Blow to Fracked Gas Mountain Valley Pipeline


Friday, July 27, 2018

Contact: Doug Jackson, 202-495-3045,

WASHINGTON, DC (July 27, 2018) – The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit dealt another blow to the floundering Mountain Valley Pipeline (MVP), handing down a decision that rescinds permission for all pipeline-related activities in the Jefferson National Forest. In response to a challenge from a coalition of clean air and water advocates, the court vacated the U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s decisions to allow the MVP to cross the publicly owned Jefferson National Forest.

As a result of today’s decision, MVP should halt work within the publicly-owned Jefferson National Forest immediately.
The court sided with the coalition groups on their claims that:

The Forest Service had improperly concluded that sedimentation and erosion impacts of the pipeline could be mitigated. The Court chastised the Forest Service for capitulating to MVP’s optimistic assertions of mitigation effectiveness, instead pointing to the Forest Service’s own statements about how mitigation often fails in practice.

The Forest Service violated its own 2012 Forest Planning Rule, by arbitrarily concluding that amendments to forest plan standards protecting soil, water, and riparian resources to accommodate the pipeline construction were not “directly related” to the requirement to protect those same resources.

The Bureau of Land Management violated the Mineral Leasing Act by approving a new right-of-way across the National Forest without having demonstrated that co-locating with existing disturbance would be impractical.

Today’s decision has implications beyond the imminent halt of construction along the 3.5 mile section of MVP’s route through the Jefferson National Forest. Since the same panel of judges is also reviewing the coalition’s same arguments against Virginia’s certification of MVP pursuant to section 401 of the Clean Water Act, it could mean trouble for the MVP’s route in the entirety of Virginia. Furthermore, Sierra Club and Wild Virginia, together with other organizations, have filed a similar challenge regarding the Atlantic Coast Pipeline; that case is scheduled for a hearing September 28.
Today’s decision was the result of cases brought by Sierra Club, Wild Virginia, and Appalachian Voices, represented by Sierra Club attorneys Nathan Matthews and Elly Benson, together with The Wilderness Society, Preserve Craig, and Save Monroe, represented by attorney Tammy Belinksy.
In response, Sierra Club Staff Attorney Nathan Matthews released the following statement:
“Today’s decision is great news for Virginians and everyone who cares about clean water and pristine forests. We have said all along that we can’t trust Mountain Valley Pipeline to protect Virginia’s water, so it’s refreshing to see the court refuse to take them at their word. We aren’t buying the gas industry’s claims about their water protection methods and now, the courts aren’t either. MVP should immediately halt all work in the publicly-owned Jefferson National Forest.
“These polluting corporations are threatening Virginia’s water, climate, and communities so they can make a profit off a pipeline that isn’t even needed. There is no right way to build these pipelines and we don’t want our water polluted just to line the pockets of gas industry CEOs.”
David Sligh, Conservation Director of Wild Virginia, said:
“Today’s decision from the federal appeals court upholds the principle that agencies responsible for protecting the public’s lands and resources must conduct thorough and honest reviews and reject proposals that would harm our interests. Senior officials in the Trump administration betrayed our trust and ignored the good work of Forest Service experts, placing corporate profits above the rights of citizens who use and value these precious natural treasures.”
Peter Anderson, Virginia Program Manager of Appalachian Voices, said:
“This is a major victory for Virginia families and for all Americans. The national forests are held in public trust, and citizens have long argued that this massive pipeline would devastate the Jefferson National Forest and pollute water resources along the route on public and private land. The court is compelling the Forest Service to adhere to water and other environmental protections on federal land. For its part, the Northam administration must fulfill its duty to protect water resources by requiring a stream-by-stream analysis along the entire route.”
Hugh Irwin, Conservation Planner for The Wilderness Society, said:
“Our effort to prevent this pipeline construction underscores why our national Too Wild to Drill Campaign includes this pipeline across the Southern Appalachians. The Mountain Valley Pipeline would harm public lands in Virginia and West Virginia including a roadless area, old growth forest, the Appalachian Trail, rare wild species and local drinking water.”
Jim Gore, Member of the Board, Save Monroe, Inc. said:
“The 4th Circuit has validated what we have been saying to the Forest Service for almost four years. We are already seeing ongoing degradation of water resources due to erosion and sedimentation caused by MVP construction on our steep slopes and ridges. Save Monroe is gratified that the Court sees it as we do and has acted to protect the forest and its irreplaceable water.”
Bill Wolf, Co-Chair of Preserve Craig, Inc., said:
“The quality of life in our community has already been seriously harmed by MVP and the Forest Service and BLM decisions. If MVP were a responsible company, it would respect this decision and halt all construction activity today.”  

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit


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Earthworks: Senate Committee to Hold Hearing on Interior’s “Critical” Minerals List


July 17, 2018
Contact: Alan Septoff,, 202.887.1872×105
Aaron Mintzes,,  919-302-6393

WASHINGTON, DC (July 17, 2018) – Today Earthworks’ Senior Policy Counsel is testifying before the full Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee as it examines the Department of the Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals.

Interior published the list in response to President Trump’s December 20, 2017 executive order, “A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals”. Presidents Trump’s order followed multiple failed attempts by Congress, most recently introduced by Rep. Amodei (R-NV), to gut the mine permitting process for so-called ‘critical minerals’.

The Interior & Commerce Departments (and other agencies)  are now charged to provide policy strategies to the President, including “recommendations to streamline permitting and review processes related to developing leases; enhancing access to critical mineral resources; and increasing discovery, production, and domestic refining of critical minerals.”

Statement of Earthworks Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes
“Reforming so-called “critical” minerals policy is simply the mining lobby’s latest gambit in a decade-long attempt to eviscerate community and environmental oversight of their industry — the nation’s largest toxic polluter.

We need to strengthen our outdated mining laws, not weaken already flimsy community and taxpayer protections. Families across the country live with pollution from irresponsible mining, and taxpayers — not polluters — too often pay for a cleanup bill which has reached $50 billion.”


Senate Energy & Natural Resources Full Committee Hearing to Examine the Department of the Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals; July 17 2018, 10am, Dirksen Room 366
Written testimony of Earthworks Senior Policy Counsel Aaron Mintzes
Mintzes’ statement upon release of Interior’s Final List of Critical Minerals
Federal Register notice publishing Interior/USGS final list of critical minerals
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Toxics Release Inventory Ranking of Top Toxic Polluters by Industry


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West Virginia Hits Fracked Gas Pipeline With Third Environmental Citation

For Immediate Release
Contact: Doug Jackson, 202.495.3045 or

CHARLESTON, WV (June 15, 2018) — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued a Notice of Violation (NOV) to the fracked gas Mountain Valley Pipeline following an investigation on June 6, 2018. This is already the third citation issued to MVP in its nascent construction phase. This time, regulators punished MVP for failing to modify their Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP) after it was proven to be ineffective, for failing to implement proper runoff controls, and for failing to prevent sediment-laden water from leaving the construction site without proper treatment.
It is especially noteworthy that the MVP would receive three NOVs in such a short time from West Virginia, a state that is notoriously loathe to regulate the fossil fuel industry. For example, at the Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment, the WV DEP did not pull their permit after several violations, eventually leading to underground coal sludge injections that poisoned well water in surrounding communities. Similar concerns were raised around a chemical spill into the Elk River.
In response, Sierra Club Organizing Manager Bill Price released the following statement:
“After getting their second Notice of Violation, MVP said they were committed to building their fracked gas pipeline ‘the right way.’ Well, if this is right way to build a pipeline, I’m terrified to see what the wrong way looks like.
“We have said all along and will repeat it again – there is no need to build this dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipeline. Clean, renewable energy sources are abundant and affordable and we shouldn’t risk West Virginia’s water, climate, and communities just to boost the bottom line of a polluting corporation.”

About the Sierra Club

The Sierra Club is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization, with more than 3 million members and supporters. In addition to helping people from all backgrounds explore nature and our outdoor heritage, the Sierra Club works to promote clean energy, safeguard the health of our communities, protect wildlife, and preserve our remaining wild places through grassroots activism, public education, lobbying, and legal action. For more information, visit


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