tagged w/ mountaintop removal
A published study by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine and School of Public Health is the first of its kind to suggest that exposure to air pollution particles from mountaintop mining sites may impair blood vessels' ability to dilate, which may lead to cardiovascular disease.
Posted: Oct 09, 2012 3:12 PM EDT
Air pollution particulate matter consisting largely of sulfur and silica was collected through a vacuum system within one mile of an active mountaintop mining site in southern West Virginia.
Adult male rats were exposed to the air particles and, 24 hours following the exposure, their blood vessels' ability to dilate and function normally was significantly reduced.
"This is the first study of this kind to directly associate mountaintop mining air pollution with a lack of vascular function. West Virginians who live near mountaintop mining sites are exposed to comparable levels of air pollution, and, with pre-existing health conditions in West Virginia, certain populations are pre-disposed to cardiac distress," Tim Nurkiewicz, associate professor in the WVU Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, said.
"It is going to be foreseeably worse for those individuals who live near mountaintop mining sites," Nurkiewicz said.
The second phase of the study will be to examine specific bodily organs that are affected or stressed by mountaintop mining air pollution exposure, Nurkiewicz said.
The study, titled "Air pollution particulate matter collected from an Appalachian mountaintop mining site induces microvascular dysfunction," was published in the journal "Microcirculation." Co-authors include Travis Knuckles, Ph.D., and Phoebe A. Stapleton from the School of Medicine Department of Physiology and Pharmacology; Michael Hendryx, Ph.D., and Michael McCawley, Ph.D., from the School of Public Health; and WVU graduate students Valerie C. Minarchick and Laura Esch.A published study by researchers at the West Virginia University School of Medicine... more
Waterkeeper Alliance joined hundreds of people today to stand in solidarity with Appalachia in front of the White House to tell President Obama to be a hero and end mountaintop removal coal mining.
The Summer of Solidarity event began with a rally in Lafayette Park in Washington, DC where speakers spoke passionately about the urgent need to shift towards clean energy and away from extreme forms of dirty energy like coal which poisons our waters, destroys our mountains, pollutes our air and harms our health.
Waterkeeper Alliance stands in solidarity with Appalachia because we ALL need clean water and renewable energy in our future—not the dirty fossil fueled energy of the past that poisons and pollutes the world’s waterways.
Many speakers invoked the memory of mountain hero Larry Gibson who passed away on Sunday, Sept. 9. Activists carried Larry’s fighting spirit to the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality by delivering more than 13,000 personal photos and messages urging president Obama to end mountaintop removal coal mining.
Larry Gibson was honored and remembered today and his fighting spirit inspired hundreds.
Each of the 13,000 messages decried this radical form of strip mining in Appalachia that has impacted more than 500 mountains and buried more than 2,400 miles of streams. Recent peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown widespread devastating health problems near mountaintop removal mining: citizens near mountaintop removal are 50 percent more likely to die of cancer and 42 percent more likely to be born with birth defects as compared with other people in Appalachia.
Maria Gunnoe and many other residents of Appalachia attended the rally.
When learning of about Larry Gibson’s death on Sunday Waterkeeper Alliance president Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. stated, “My uncle, President Kennedy, said that, ‘moral courage is a far greater commodity than physical courage.’ Larry Gibson had extraordinary physical courage with standing arrests, beatings, bullets, dog kills, car chases and attacks on his home–but he was the Achilles of moral courage. He stood up for all of us and for American democracy against the apocalyptical forces of ignorance and greed. The coal companies tried to crush him but it could never subvert his integrity or spirit. Larry was our leader in the coal fields and he died with his boots on.”
More at the linkWaterkeeper Alliance joined hundreds of people today to stand in solidarity with... more
It's been almost 35 years since Lois Gibbs became an environmental activist after she discovered her 7-year-old son's elementary school in Niagara Falls, N.Y., was built on a toxic waste dump.
This week, Gibbs was in West Virginia to hear the stories of women whose families live near mountaintop removal coal mining operations. Gibbs was one of three jurists in an effort by Appalachian women's groups to put the coal industry on trial.
On Thursday, women from across the coalfields of West Virginia, Kentucky, Virginia and Tennessee gathered in Charleston to talk about blasting, dust and polluted water.
"The evidence we heard was compelling," Gibbs said Friday during a meeting with Gazette staffers.
Among other things, Gibbs and her fellow jurists heard from Beverly May, a family nurse practitioner from Kentucky. She gave a rundown of the studies by West Virginia University researcher Michael Hendryx and his colleagues that point to links between living near mountaintop removal and being more likely to get cancer or be born with birth defects.
"All of the research points to what mountain people have known since strip-mining began," May said. "It is not possible to destroy our mountains without destroy ourselves. It is not possible to poison our streams without poisoning our children."
Ivy Breshear, 23, said she's worried about having children, given the proximity of her homeplace in Eastern Kentucky to mountaintop removal operations.
"If we don't stand up for ourselves, we must stand up for future generations," Breshear said.
Janet Keating of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition said there has been a "deafening silence" from local political leaders about the WVU studies showing mining's relationship to public health problems.
"The industry has always said in the past, 'You just care about the mayflies and the salamanders,'" Keating said. "It's not just about mayflies and salamanders."
Coal industry officials favor mountaintop removal, saying the practice is the only efficient way to get at some thin seams of Southern West Virginia coal. The industry has also recently donated $15 million to a Virginia Tech-based project to produce reports that respond to scientific papers like those authored by Hendryx and by other researchers who have examined mining's impact on water quality.
Gibbs and her fellow jurors, Bolivian activist Elizabeth Peredo Beltran and Civil Society Institute energy analyst Grant Smith, recommended an immediate moratorium on mountaintop removal and more detailed studies on the practice's impacts on public health.
The Central Appalachian Women's Tribunal on Climate Justice was sponsored by Loretto, an international public interest group, and a variety of local organizations. Results of this week's tribunal will be delivered in June at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Brazil, along with information from other women's group tribunals on other issues around the globe.
More at the linkIt's been almost 35 years since Lois Gibbs became an environmental activist after... more
On August 19th, Alexa Ross ’13 and Lang Center Research Associate George Lakey ’67 had the charges resulting from civil disobedience dismissed in a D.C. court. The two were arrested last September when they participated in non-violent direct action in Washington D.C. to protest PNC Bank’s funding of mountaintop removal. Lakey is also the Former Lang Visiting Professor of Issues for Social Change.On August 19th, Alexa Ross ’13 and Lang Center Research Associate George Lakey... more
With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling, Republicans in the House of Representatives are loading up an appropriations bill with 39 ways — and counting — to significantly curtail environmental regulation.
One would prevent the Bureau of Land Management from designating new wilderness areas for preservation. Another would severely restrict the Department of Interior’s ability to police mountaintop-removal mining. And then there is the call to allow new uranium prospecting near Grand Canyon National Park.
There is little chance that all the 39 proposals identified by Democrats will be approved by the Senate, which they control, or that a substantial number could elude a presidential veto. In fact, one measure — to forbid the Fish and Wildlife Service to list any new plants or animals as endangered — was so extreme that 37 Republicans broke ranks Wednesday and voted to strip it from the bill.
Although inserting policy changes into appropriations bills is a common strategy when government is divided as it is now, no one can remember such an aggressive use of the tactic against natural resources. Environmental groups and their Democratic allies in Congress worry that more than a few of these so-called riders could stick when both sides negotiate and leverage budget concessions in the fall.
“You have a fatal political momentum,” said David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group. “They are going to load up this bill in an unprecedented fashion.”
Republicans frame their proposals — which are being debated and voted on this week on the House floor — as the best way to counter overreaching regulatory agencies.
The unusual breadth of the attack, explained Representative Mike Simpson, a Republican from Idaho, is a measure of his party’s intense frustration over cumbersome environmental rules.
“Many of us think that the overregulation from E.P.A. is at the heart of our stalled economy,” Mr. Simpson said, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency. “I hear it from Democratic members as well.”
But Democrats argue that the policy prescriptions are proof that Republicans are determined to undo clean air and water protections established 40 years ago.
Many of these new restrictions, they point out, were proposed in the budget debate earlier this year and failed. They are back, the Democrats say, because Republicans are doing the bidding of industry and oil companies.
“The new Republican majority seems intent on restoring the robber-baron era where there were no controls on pollution from power plants, oil refineries and factories,” said Representative Henry A. Waxman, a California Democrat, excoriating the proposal on the floor.
Environmental regulations and the E.P.A. have been the bane of Tea Party Republicans almost from the start. Although particularly outraged by efforts to monitor carbon dioxide, the primary greenhouse gas linked to the warming of the Earth’s atmosphere, freshmen Republicans have tried to rein in the E.P.A. across the board — including proposals to take away its ability to decide if coal ash can be designated as a toxic material and to prevent it from clarifying rules enforcing the Clean Water Act.
The appropriations bill in question covers the Department of Interior, the Forest Service and the E.P.A., and it was voted out of committee and onto the House floor strictly along party lines — with the Republicans prevailing 28 to 18. The bill cuts annual combined funding for agencies by 7 percent — and by nearly 18 percent for the E.P.A. alone — but it is controversial mostly because of the onslaught of policy changes.
Representative Norm Dicks, Democrat of Washington and ranking minority member on the appropriations committee, said Republicans were adding provisions unchecked to the law and getting away with very little scrutiny. He expected even more regulatory rollbacks to be added to the bill this week. The bill is under open debate on the House floor, and policy changes requested by members but not included by the appropriations committee can now be added one by one to the bill, in addition to the 39 riders that came out of the committee.
“It is already like a wish list for polluters,” Mr. Dicks said, “and it is going to get worse on the floor.”
Conservatives have been adding amendments at a furious pace. Earthjustice, an environmental advocacy group, counted more than 70 anti-environmental amendments filed as of Wednesday morning and was monitoring for more.
Dave Conover, a senior vice president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington analysis and advocacy group, and a former Republican staff member with the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, said the large number of provisions was less about policy and more a way for the conservatives in the House to signal the depths of their discontent with a broken political process.
“It is clear that the Senate is not going to pass all these appropriations,” said Mr. Conover, adding, “And the message is that in a down economy excessive environmental regulations are a bad move.”
But Mr. Goldston of the Natural Resources Defense Council said that although most of the policy attachments would never become law, the Republican appropriations flurry was still unnerving — and could pose more reason for concern in coming months. ”We are then going to be in a situation again where the Senate and president face the question of whether they are willing to shut down the government or appease a motley group in the House over a spending bill,” he said. “No one knows how that plays out.”With the nation’s attention diverted by the drama over the debt ceiling,... more
The federal government and the West Virginia Coal Association want a judge to dismiss a lawsuit aimed at protecting Logan County's Blair Mountain from surface mining and returning it to the National Register of Historic Places.
In new court filings in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., the Department of the Interior, the National Park Service and the Keeper of the Register argue that environmental and preservation groups lack legal standing to sue over the 1,600-acre site of a 1921 armed uprising by coal miners.
The Southern West Virginia landmark, considered by many to be an important site in U.S. labor history, was briefly listed on the historic register, then removed when property owners objected.
The government contends the Sierra Club, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Labor History Association and other groups can't demonstrate any concrete harm from the delisting, don't own property on the mountain and lack legal permission to visit any of the privately-owned parcels.
"Their interest in the site is purely notional, and even if mining were to occur on Blair Mountain, the injury that they allege they would suffer is purely speculative,'' the motion for summary judgment argues.
In a friend-of-the-court filing, the Coal Association says the plaintiffs cannot claim they've been stripped of their right to enjoy the mountain because citing specific places they visit would be admitting they've trespassed.
Except for a road, everything in the proposed boundary area is privately owned, "with the majority being owned or leased by members of the WVCA who have strict no-trespassing policies,'' it argues.
"Simply stated,'' the association says, the plaintiffs "have no right to visit or enjoy the Blair Mountain nomination area.''
More at the linkThe federal government and the West Virginia Coal Association want a judge to dismiss... more
Fueled by coal industry complaints about the Obama administration's crackdown on mountaintop removal, legislation passed the U.S. House of Representatives on Wednesday that would strip federal regulators of their authority to make state agencies properly police water pollution.
House members approved the legislation by a vote of 239 to 184.
The legislation faces an uncertain future in the Senate, and a veto threat from the White House, but its approval by the House provides a symbolic victory for critics of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
"The reality is that the agency is strong-arming the states," said Rep. Nick J. Rahall, D-W.Va. "Rather than bringing the sides together and bringing balance, they have widened the divide."
Rahall, ranking Democrat on the House Committee Transportation and Infrastructure, joined with committee Chairman John Mica, R-Fla., to push legislation they dubbed the "Clean Water Act Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011."
Mica and Rahall found common ground in their anger with EPA: Rahall over the mountaintop removal crackdown and Mica over federal efforts to force greater cuts in nitrogen and phosphorous pollution from Florida farms and other businesses. West Virginia Reps. Shelley Moore Capito and David McKinley, both Republicans, were co-sponsors.
The legislation would stop EPA from rejecting Clean Water Act "dredge-and-fill" permits approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, as EPA did earlier this year with the largest mountaintop removal permit in West Virginia history.
But the bill goes much farther than that. It would block EPA from stepping in if states write water quality standards federal scientists believe are too weak. EPA would no longer be able to withdraw federal approval of state water pollution regulatory programs, and would be stripped of authority to object to water pollution discharge permits issued by state agencies.
In a report issued Tuesday, the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service said although lawmakers have considered minor changes to particular regulatory programs before, "it is highly unusual for Congress to advance legislation that would broadly alter the federal-state partnership in order to address dissatisfaction with specific actions by EPA or another agency."Fueled by coal industry complaints about the Obama administration's crackdown on... more
In 1972 I was 13 years old and becoming much more cognizant of the fact that the Earth I had lived on up to that point was changing and not for the better. And this disturbed and concerned me greatly even at that young age as I felt a special connection to the environment as I still do. It is innate in me and as much a part of my existence as breathing. The trees, the air and especially the water at that time all told a story to me about who I was, where I came from and where I hoped to go as I became an adult. From the time I was a young girl my mother instilled in me respect for the Earth and taught me that what you put into her you get out. Unfortunately, I lost my mother to cancer at the age of 17 not nearly having the amount of time with her that I needed but the lessons she taught me about life, respecting others and respecting this planet in that short time have always stayed with me.
And at that time in history, those lessons were more important than ever to be learned. Just three years prior in July of 1969, the Cuyahoga River in Ohio became so contaminated with industrial waste and pollution that it literally caught on fire. Rivers from the Hudson to the Potomac to the Mississippi were little more than open sewers with untreated waste and industrial byproducts being dumped with little regulation. Public health alerts and fishkills were commonplace. Rivers burning, pictures of raw sewerage flowing in rivers, oil fires and fish floating dead in rivers was more than enough for the public to demand action and accountability for what had been done to our waterways by an out of control corporate assault for profit. Of course, the polluters fought against any type of regulation of their crimes against nature citing as usual that it would be financially cumbersome to act responsibly. But on October 18, 1972, the voices of the people were heard with the passage of the Federal Water Pollution Control Act, commonly known as the Clean Water Act. The main goal of this act was to ensure to "restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of our nation's waterways" and to make them cleaner by 1985. Other provisions were subsequently added to assure that once these goals were met that they would be adequately maintained.
Almost forty years after its passage there is much to be proud of regarding this act. It has been a success. Billions have been saved in dollars and in destruction and pollution to our waterways. More than one billion pounds per year of toxic pollutants have been removed from waterways. Point source pollution has been greatly reduced and the Cuyahoga is cleaner and actually making a profit. Of course, there are still great obstacles as we see this same irresponsible corporate mentality seeking to turn back the clock, but on the whole the Clean Water Act has been the one piece of legislation that has withstood the test of time... until now. The lifeblood of our country is now once again under attack by those in our Congress more beholding to the corporate entities that support them than the people they should be supporting.
A bill, H.B. 2018 also known as the "Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011," would null and void decades of progress that have made our waterways cleaner and safer. The bill supported both by Rep Nick Rahall and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia(coal country) seeks to undo two key provisions of the Clean Water Act that would undermine the EPA's ability to hold states accountable for water quality standards. In other words, corporate entities (coal companies) holding sway over state governments would be the final arbiter on water standards even if evidence proves that doing so would be a threat to human and aquatic health. Again, even if evidence proves that doing so would be a threat to human and aquatic health. How unconscienable. How irresponsible. How morally bereft.
To see this total apathy towards the source of all life and the disrespect for all who have sacrificed so much to ensure a cleaner planet is reprehensible. And I admit that now forty years after I first learned of the Clean Water Act passing at the age of 13 after being scared for the future I am again and this time moreso as this important issue has not gotten the media coverage now that it did then. This is why the Internet and social media are so crucial in getting this type of information out to the public. Our media has been co opted by these same corporate entities seeking to escape culpability for their crimes against nature just to save a buck even at the expense of our health and that of our children.
So are you incensed yet? Do you want to do someting to let them know that you will not go back to rivers in flames and rivers and streams from coast to coast flowing with industrial and human waste, coal excrement, nuclear waste and anything else those who buy policy in DC deem too expensive to take responsibility for? We need the same loud voices that we heard in the 1970s. We need that urgency. We need that caring. Those voices, the voices of our young selves that stood in the streets crying for environmental justice must now be heard again. Those who perceive themselves as masters of our fate must be sent a message that it is we who are the masters of our fate. Our children deserve better than that. They deserve clean water! Please , speak out for our rivers. Our lifeblood. The soul of America. Remember Cuyahoga and say, never again!
Thank you.In 1972 I was 13 years old and becoming much more cognizant of the fact that the Earth... more
When the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the need was desperately apparent. Rivers were catching on fire. Pollution choked waterways. Most rivers and streams weren't safe to swim in. For some reason, Rep. Nick Rahall is supporting an effort by the coal industry and other major polluters to turn the page back to those days.
Enforcement of the Clean Water Act has kept billions of pounds of toxic chemicals and other pollutants out of America's waterways.
A bill quietly working its way through Congress, H.B. 2018, the "Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act of 2011," would undo decades of progress and render the Clean Water Act all but useless.
The bill -- supported by both Rahall and Rep. Shelley Moore Capito -- strikes at two vital provisions of the Clean Water Act. First, it would strip the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the ability to make states improve deficient water quality standards. The EPA could no longer withdraw approval of state programs, limit financial assistance or object to specific permits because of inadequate water quality standards enforced by the state.
An analysis of the legislation by the EPA says, the bill would prohibit the agency from revising water quality standards without buy-in from the state "even in the face of significant scientific information demonstrating threats to human health or aquatic life."
Second, the bill essentially allows a state to overrule a determination by EPA scientists that a dredge and fill permit could harm municipal water supplies, fishing, wildlife or recreation areas.
This bill would turn the Clean Water Act on its head, giving states the right to allow less stringent protection of the nation's waterways.
Together, these two provisions would lead to a race to the bottom in places like West Virginia where industry holds substantial sway over state regulatory agencies. The entire point of the Clean Water Act is to ensure a nationwide clean water standard because the waters of this nation are a shared resource.
more at the linkWhen the Clean Water Act was passed in 1972, the need was desperately apparent. Rivers... more
The story of the Battle of Blair Mountain starts in the southern coal camps of West Virginia, a time when King Coal reigned supreme, openly and without apology.
Mining companies owned workers' homes; they owned the schools, the air and water; they owned the police and even private armies. They owned miners' lives.
Which is why murder seemed permissible. When a notorious strikebreaker shot down labor hero Sheriff Sid Hatfield, who refused to be bought by the coal companies, more than 10,000 enraged miners and pro-union forces rose up in Mingo and Logan Counties and converged on Blair Mountain. A private army of management mercenaries shot guns and dropped leftover bombs from WWI—it was the nation's largest armed conflict since the Civil War and the largest labor confrontation ever.
Don't know about the Battle of Blair Mountain? There's a reason for that. West Virginia—a state still dominated by the coal industry and its political interests— has resisted highlighting the battle in history books and has denied commemoration attempts. When the federal National Register of Historic places chose the historic site for protection, the state—working with coal company lawyers—contested the decision. The site was de-listed last year, when West Virginia state officials submitted a "revised" list of 57 landowners supposedly objecting to the historic preservation decision. The list even included 2 dead people.
This Battle of Blair Mountain continues today. Coal companies stand literally to erase this history by obliterating the mountain.
Massey Energy and Arch Coal hold several permits in various stages to mine this land in the very worse form of strip mining on this planet: Mountaintop removal mining (MTR). One active mountaintop removal site is already blasting away the mountain and is moving within a few hundred yards of the historic battle site. Massey Energy, of course, is the company responsible for killing 29 of its workers last April in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion. Since then, it has come under extreme fire for its tens of thousands of violations of safety law and its corporate culture of profits before people. Not to mention, by Massey's own records, they've had 67,000 violations of just one of the environmental statute. It's influence among West Virginia politicians, of course, is far-reaching.
All across Appalachia today, mountaintop removal mining is destroying mountain communities by ripping apart its landscape, environment, health, heritage and economic prospects. Mining companies come in, break the law, reap profits, and leave a wasteland. In MTR regions in W. Va, companies are exploding dynamite the power of a Hiroshima-sized bomb—every single week. This form of mining isn't good for jobs either. Ripping up the mountain rather than carefully extracting coal is "efficient" -- i.e. it replaces people with machines to enhance company profits. As is noted in the wonderful documentary The Last Mountain, which is being released this week, while Appalachian coal company profits and production have skyrocketed in recent decades, at the same time some 40,000 mining jobs have been lost.
This is a new "Battle of Blair Mountain" taking place today --- and raising national awareness about this amazing story could help pressure an agency that hardly ever received much attention to reconsider its decision. This victory would be a huge symbolic win for the Appalachian communities, and for the organized labor movement around the country, which is again under siege today.
contThe story of the Battle of Blair Mountain starts in the southern coal camps of West... more
Three GOP candidates for Governor in Kentucky came out in support for Mountaintop Removal practices of the coal industry. I especially like the argument of Phil Moffet who called Mountaintop Removal "Mountaintop Development", since its creates flat lands which can be developed for commercial use. This guy has a weird kind of humor.
Read more at:
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2011/04/26/business-us-kentucky-governor_8435701.htmlThree GOP candidates for Governor in Kentucky came out in support for Mountaintop... more
HUGE. We get a win over corporate interests! Time to celebrate!
It was another tough year for the coal industry. In the last 25 months not one coal-fired power plant broke ground for construction in the United States. In 2010 alone a total of 38 proposed plants were erased from the drawing board, the most ever recorded in a single year. Utilities also announced 12,000 MW in coal plant retirements -- or enough power to bring electricity to a whopping 12 million American households. And even Massey Energy's infamous henchman Don Blankenship is set to retire, effective next month.
Indeed coal executives got what they deserved in their stockings this holiday season -- big lumps of black coal. "I predict historians will point at 2010 as the year that coal's influence peaked and began declining," says Bruce Nilles, deputy conservation director of the Sierra Club, whose organization released a year-end report on coal in the U.S.
Nilles is correct; the coal boom out west looks to be over, as companies like Arch and Peabody scramble to figure out what to do with their vast reserves while U.S. markets begin to dwindle. The EPA has also not been as friendly to this portion of the energy sector as in years past, placing most coal permits for mountaintop removal on hold and even recommending a veto of the proposed Spruce Mine in West Virginia, which would be the largest of its kind in the country.
With the help of Rainforest Action Network and other grassroots activists, financing for new mining projects from the likes of PNC and UBS will prove difficult from now on. In 2010 both banks joined the growing number of lending institutions that are turning their backs on mountaintop removal ventures. During the first half of this year renewable energy projects also accounted for 93 percent of all proposed projects.
Back in 2001 the outlook for the coal trade looked much different. At the time, a total of 150 plants were proposed in the U.S. It was to kick off the coal rush of the millennium. But citizen opposition mounted in the form of legal battles, public education efforts, demonstrations and well-executed divestment campaigns all over country. From the streets of Washington to the rural outback of South Dakota people became outraged. Concern for public health and the awareness of coal's contribution to climate change increased dramatically. The result has been exceptional: a total of 149 of those 150 plant proposals have been halted outright.
Who said environmentalism is dead? When it comes to coal anyway, the movement is alive and well with dozens of victories under its belt in the last two years alone.
Nonetheless, it's just the beginning. According to Dr. James Hansen, director of NASA's Goddard Space Institute, ending emissions from coal is "is 80 percent of the solution to the global warming crisis." Hansen says this is because of three straightforward reasons: 1) according to most estimates coal is much more plentiful than oil and gas; 2) coal is far more carbon intensive than any other fossil fuel; and 3) coal use is concentrated in the United States in around 600 power plants (dozens of which are already slated for closure), whereas other fuels are spread among an array of sources.
Climate scientists estimate that greenhouse gas levels have already passed the dangerous benchmark of 350 parts per million. However, in order to curb this dire trend, and bring down this number dramatically, Hansen and others say we must eliminate coal use in the United States by 2030.
Is it doable? It certainly looks to be.
cont.It was another tough year for the coal industry. In the last 25 months not one... more
Maybe Santa should have thought that one through.
2 years ago
"A West Virginia man wins a small victory, but not the war, against a mining company in the Coal River Valley.
Few homeowners in Appalachia dare to stand up to coal companies. But Bo Webb did, and achieved the unthinkable: He forced a company to move blasting on a mountaintop-removal strip mining site away from his hollow."
I admire this man. This is an inspiring story and am only hoping more and more people will join this fight!
Join the Organic Movement:
http://current.com/groups/organicgreen/"A West Virginia man wins a small victory, but not the war, against a mining... more
Because Joe Manchin is an insufferable douchebag.
"Ask yourself to step up and don the mantle that I wear hell raiser. If you believe in this struggle, then it is time to double your efforts. If you don't like to get political, then it's time to understand that the very circumstances of your life is political. So, do it now. Get political. You must realize the power to change is not only within your grasp but it is to your responsibility to your generation and the one to follow
To exert this power and citizenship, I have chosen to ignore my own political party and I've endorsed a fighter, Jesse Johnson, whose running for Senate in West Virginia. Jesse is a fighter, he too is a hellraiser, and he is the one to carry this baton. I have deemed him the ultimate solution in this fight."Because Joe Manchin is an insufferable douchebag.
"Ask yourself to step up and... more
2 years ago
2 years ago
Okay, so this race in WV is crazy.
The Governor of WV, Joe Manchin, is this huge pro-MTR jerkwad, totally in bed with the industry, and he’s just got this megalomaniacal drive to seek even more power. Now, when Robert Byrd died, Manchin had the power to appoint whomever he wanted. He really wanted to appoint himself, but his PR sense wouldn’t let him do that. It would be too obvious of a power grab, plus he’d only serve a partial term, and then likely get voted out for being a power-hungry monster.
So what he did instead was this: he appointed somebody else to fill Byrds spot, but then after appointing them, he wanted to hold a special election so that he could “legitimately” run for office. Now, this is costing WV a lot of money. Elections cost money for governments to hold in terms of manpower, printing ballots, running voting machines, etc, especially when they are held on the whim of the Governor. But there was a catch, he had to change the law in order to hold this special election. So he mucked around in the state congress until he had enough votes to change the law to create a special election so he could run for office. Oh yeah, and he’s a Democrat.
A Democratic Party elder in WV politics, Ken Hechler came forward to run in the primary to challenge Manchin. Ken Hechler is on hell of a dude. He served in WWII, he advised Harry Truman, marched with MLK jr, and served 9 terms as WV Sec of State.
But, Since he didn’t have the coal industry backing him (because he wasn’t a pro-MTR candidate) and Manchin DOES have the coal industry backing him, Manchin flooded the media market with adverts and won handily.
So now, there’s a Republican who is in the back pocket of the Coal Industry, there is a Democrat who is in the other backpocket of the coal industry, but there is only ONE candidate running who is against MTR coal mining-- Jesse Johnson of the Green affiliated party, the Mtn Party. Jesse Johnson makes a cameo appearance in the film “Coal Country” has run for Governor of WV, and is a tireless activist. He has been working on this issue for years.
Ken Hechler ENDORSED Jesse Johnson over Joe Manchin. It’s kind of a huge fucking deal for an institution of the DNC to throw aside party alleigance for an issue like this. It would be like Hillary Clinton endorsing Ralph Nader.Okay, so this race in WV is crazy.
The Governor of WV, Joe Manchin, is this huge... more
2 years ago
In southwest Virginia, where hollowed and stripped mountains rise abruptly from creek beds, coal is deeply entwined with the Clinch River.
From its headwaters in Tazewell, the Clinch winds south through the coalfields, feeding mines, preparation facilities, and power plants. It drains the region’s most polluted tributaries before meeting the Tennessee, Ohio, and Mississippi.
One tributary, Dumps Creek, joins the river near this quiet mountain valley town. Most days, the creek runs opaque and brown; some days it runs orange. In 2003, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality drew attention to the acidity, sedimentation, and high concentration of heavy metals in Dumps Creek, but didn’t name the source. Trace the creek to its headwaters, and the source is evident.
Within Dumps Creek’s 20,000-acre watershed there are two active and two abandoned deep mines. There’s also a scraped off mountaintop, fully one-fifth of the watershed, where miners blasted away the topsoil and bedrock to get at the coal. Dumps Creek is critical to these operations—hundreds of thousands of gallons of water are used daily to cool and lubricate mining machinery, wash haul roads and truck wheels to reign in airborne particulates and to suppress underground dust that otherwise could ignite.
The Start of Coal’s Troubled Path
These production practices are only the first stages of an economically essential and ecologically damaging accord between coal and water. Water is critical to every stage of the mining, processing, shipping, and burning of coal. In the era of climate change, swift population growth, and increasing energy demand, the result is a fierce and complex competition between the two resources that has become much more difficult to resolve.
Thirty years ago, high levels of pollution from coal mining and combustion prompted state action and two 1970s national statutes. The Clean Water Act and the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act were designed to limit damage to fresh water resources. Though they made a difference, both laws have never been enforced strictly enough to keep the coal industry from polluting.
More recently, the country’s relationship with coal has come under close scrutiny again because of its environmental costs. Coal companies, seeking greater production efficiencies, use mining techniques that level mountaintops and bury the streams below them. Coal combustion, meanwhile, produces the nation’s largest share of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are accelerating global climate change and diminishing the nation’s freshwater reserves.
The U.S. withdraws 410 billion gallons of both fresh and saline water a day from its rivers, lakes as well as aquifers. Roughly 85 percent is fresh water. About half is used to cool thermoelectric power plants, and most of that cools coal-powered plants.
– USGSThe Energy Information Administration, a research unit of the federal Department of Energy, forecasts that by 2050 the demand for energy in the U.S. will be 40 percent higher than it is today. As the nation considers what it will take to cool the planet and serve the country’s steadily increasing energy appetite, federal scientists and policy makers are taking a fresh look at how long the coal era will persist, and by necessity the tumultuous space where water and coal intersect.
Little about what they see is reassuring. Scientists define water use by two basic measurements. One is how much water is “withdrawn” from America’s rivers, lakes, and aquifers for domestic, farm, business, and industrial use, most of which is returned to those same sources. The second is how much water is actually “consumed” in products, by livestock, plants and people, or evaporates in industrial processes. In both measurements of withdrawal and consumption coal is at the top of the charts.
The U.S. withdraws 410 billion gallons of water a day from its rivers, lakes and freshwater aquifers. About half is used to cool thermoelectric power plants, and most of that cools coal-powered plants, according to the most recent assessment by the United States Geological Survey (USGS).
Similarly, the U.S. consumes about 100 billion gallons of water a day; nearly 85 percent is used for crop and livestock production. Of the 16.1 billion gallons that remain: industrial, mining and power plants use nearly 8 billion gallons a day, most of that for mining, processing and burning coal, according to the Department of Energy.
The EPA said it wants to regulate the technique, but it’s still issuing permits to remove mountaintops. Federal and state regulators, and even coal industry executives themselves understand the ropes of ecology, economy and efficiency that are tightening around the nation’s energy sector. Climate change is leading to decreased supplies of rain, snowmelt and fresh water. Energy demand is increasing even as pressure steadily grows to limit greenhouse emissions and reduce water consumption.
To keep coal in the energy mix, industry representatives have readied a fix for climate change—an unproven technology to snare carbon emissions at coal-fired plants and store them deep underground—called “carbon capture and sequestration” or CCS.
But there’s a big problem there, too. Scientists with Sandia National Laboratories who’ve studied carbon capture and storage say CCS will increase water withdrawal and use by 25 percent to 40 percent. In other words, without significant advances in a technology that is only now being tested in a handful of applications, the path to a low-carbon economy that still burns coal will put enormous new pressure on America’s declining supply of fresh water.
“The generation of electricity is inextricably tied to water availability,” said Jeff C. Wright, Director of the Office of Energy Projects at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, during a federal conference on energy and water in April.
“Carbon capture may reduce greenhouse gases going to the air. But it will increase the amount of water needed in thermoelectric plants, coal plants especially.”
continuedIn southwest Virginia, where hollowed and stripped mountains rise abruptly from creek... more
By Rob Perks
Posted July 6, 2010 in Health and the Environment, Saving Wildlife and Wild Places, Solving Global Warming
NRDC recently released a report -- Reclamation FAIL -- that debunked the coal industry's propaganda that mountaintop removal mining is beneficial because (1) Appalachia needs more flat land and (2) flattened mine sites are routinely converted for economic development. Such claims are nothing more than a big, flat lie.
Specifically, NRDC’s analysis used aerial imagery to show that nearly 90% of mountaintop removal sites have not been converted to economic uses. Of the 500 mountaintop removal sites we examined, we excluded 90 from our survey due to active, ongoing mining activity. That left 410 supposedly reclaimed mine sites, for which we found that:
* Overall, economic activity occurs on just 6% to 11% of all reclaimed mountaintop removal sites on sites we surveyed
* 366 (89.3%) had no form of verifiable post-mining economic reclamation excluding forestry and pasture
* 26 (6.3% of total) yield some form of verifiable post-mining economic development
In terms of actual economic development on post-mined lands, one of those 26 "beneficial" projects is a federal prison on what used to be Belcher Mountain in McDowell County, West Virginia. You can actually take a look at the site using GoogleEarth by clicking here.
New art Image: "Appalachian Coal Disaster" available at the following URL
CoalWar.comBy Rob Perks
Posted July 6, 2010 in Health and the Environment, Saving Wildlife and... more