Environment Forum

The Green Gauge: Rio Tinto takes a hit

AUSTRALIA

Global miner Rio Tinto enters the spotlight this week as one of its uranium mines in Australia leaks toxins into a river leading to the wetlands of the Kakadu National Park, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines May 22 to June 4 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Here are the recent hits and misses:

bot25 Rio Tinto PLC / Rio Tinto Ltd.

Rio Tinto PLC has recently faced controversies concerning the impacts of two of its subsidiaries on their surrounding communities. Reports have emerged that a uranium mine operated by Energy Resources of Australia, which is owned by Rio Tinto, has been leaking high levels of uranium, sulphate and radium into a river flowing into the world-heritage wetlands of the Kakadu National Park in Northern Australia. Rio Tinto-owned Kennecott Minerals has also recently faced protests against a planned nickel and copper mine in Northern Michigan on Lake Superior, which local Indian tribes as well and the National Wildlife Federation have claimed will lead to sulpheric acid pollution as well as the destruction of a site considered sacred by native Americans.

bot25 Areva

Areva recently revealed that it was ending shipments of nuclear waste to Russia. The company had come under increasing pressure as a result of a documentary on the TV station ARTE last October that highlighted the shipments. Greenpeace, which claims to have criticized the shipments since they began 25 years ago, had also recently focused criticism on the company, sending boats to intercept the shipments. Greenpeace argued that the company has failed to prove that all of the nuclear waste sent to Russia for enrichment was eventually returned to France and consequently has been in violation of Russian environmental law and European regulations.

Who is responsible for cleaning up our oceans?

OIL-RIG/LEAK

– David Rockefeller, Jr. is a philanthropist and CEO of Around the Americas and Chairman of Sailors for the Sea. Any views expressed here are his own. –

When the Ocean Watch set sail from Seattle last May at the launch of our Around the Americas expedition, our greatest challenge was to make Americans start thinking about health of oceans. For too long, we have been taking our rich seafood supplies and scenic seascapes for granted.

One year and 28,000 miles later, and now with the massive BP oil spill, much has changed.

MMS “cozy” with industry? Hardly

JDH 2– John Hofmeister is founder and CEO of Citizens for Affordable Energy, former president of Shell Oil Company and author of Why We Hate the Oil Companies: Straight Talk from an Energy Insider. Any views expressed here are his own. –

How bad, really, was the Minerals Management Service (MMS)?

The quick answer is no one will ever know.

Despite all the accusations of a “cozy” relationship with industry, the recent termination of President Obama’s appointee who served less than a year, as well as the re-organization by the Interior Department suggest that any sleaze has been swept aside by political calculations in the rush to assert that the administration is on top of things in Washington.

I must admit I was surprised to hear of this cozy relationship, since my experience with the MMS was exactly the opposite.

Now is not the time to research oil cleanup

rona

– Rona Fried, Ph.D., is CEO of SustainableBusiness.com, a news and networking site for green businesses: including a green jobs service and a green investing newsletter.  Any views expressed here are her own. —

Before the catastrophic BP oil drilling failure, polls showed that Americans favored oil drilling as a safe way to increase our energy independence. This was after decades of polls trending in the opposite direction.

Are Americans learning something from this?

I submit that Americans have become too trusting and complacent toward multinational corporations – will this be a wake-up call? Since the Obama Administration came into office, we’ve seen stark reminders of corporate greed and lack of appropriate regulatory oversight in just about every industry – the recent coal mining accidents, the outrageous behavior of Wall Street firms, a health care industry that raises premiums 40 percent even in the face of regulation, and now an oil industry that proves it’s completely unprepared to deal with an accident.

The Green Gauge: Statoil rapped over oil sands

Another oil company besides BP is drawing the ire of environmental groups this month. The Norwegian-based Statoil is under fire for development of the oil sands of Alberta Canada, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines May 8 to May 21 for winning or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

Deepwater drilling is inappropriate, period

AUSTRALIA

Jean-Michel Cousteau is an environmentalist, documentary producer, president of Ocean Futures Society and the son of ocean explorer Jacques-Yves Cousteau. He has produced over 70 films, including the documentary series Ocean Adventures in 2006. Any views expressed here are his own. –

In the midst of desperate attempts to stem the flow of oil and the agony of waiting to understand its effects, we are left with simple questions like what exactly is happening to the waters of the Gulf of Mexico? And how quickly can we move from dependence on oil to a sustainable, renewable energy policy?

Absolutely no one knows the damage being done throughout the mile-deep water column. Crude oil and gas are gushing out at a few thousand pounds per square inch of pressure.

The Green Gauge: BP’s environmental history scrutinized

The ongoing struggle in the Gulf of Mexico to contain and remove oil spilling from a ruptured deepwater well is damaging more than the environment, a bi-weekly analysis of companies in the news by ASSET4 data providers shows.

Here is a breakdown of the companies that made headlines Apr. 23 to May 7 for making or losing credibility based on environment-related activity.

Company selections were made by Christopher Greenwald, director of data content at ASSET4, a Thomson Reuters business that provides investment research on the environmental, social and governance performance of major global corporations. These ratings are not recommendations to buy or sell.

So long, sardines? Lake Tanganyika hasn’t been this warm in 1,500 years

lake_tanganyika1_hEast Africa’s Lake Tanganyika might be getting too hot for sardines.

The little fish have been an economic and nutritional mainstay for some 10 million people in neighboring Burundi, Tanzania, Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo — four of the poorest countries on Earth. They also depend on Lake Tanganyika for drinking water.

But that could change, according to research published in the online version of the journal Nature Geoscience. Using samples of the lakebed that chart a 1,500-year history of the lake’s surface water temperature, the scientists found the current temperature — 78.8 degrees F (26 degrees C) — is the warmest it’s been in a millennium and a half. And that could play havoc with sardines and other fish the local people depend on.

The scientists also found that the lake saw its biggest warm-up in the 20th century.

Oil is on the beach – now what?

OIL-RIG/LEAK

–Dan Howells is deputy campaigns director for Greenpeace USA. Any views expressed here are his own.–

On repeated trips over the last couple of weeks, Greenpeace found the first traces of oil coming ashore at Port Eads, the southernmost tip of Louisiana.

Greenpeace’s mission in the Gulf is to bear witness and record what might be the biggest environmental disaster of our lifetime and to provide independent assessment of the harm that is being done to the ecosystem, and share stories of what we are seeing.

Oil spill on ice not worth the risk

ENERGY CONGRESS

– Dennis Takahashi-Kelso is executive vice president of Ocean Conservancy and was Alaska Commissioner of Environmental Conservation at the time of the Exxon Valdez spill. Jim Ayers is vice president and senior adviser at Oceana and was executive director of the Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council. Any views expressed here are their own. –

As we are seeing each day, the Deepwater Horizon oil platform blowout in America’s Gulf coast is a human and environmental tragedy.

The oil platform was drilling an exploratory well for British Petroleum in the Gulf of Mexico when there was a blowout, resulting in the loss of 11 workers’ lives and uncontrolled releases of fuel and crude oil.

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