EPA Halts MTR Permits for Review

The ‘Breaking News’ headline at the anti-mountaintop removal website I Love Mountains brings tears to the grateful eyes of we lovers of these ancient, beautiful and abundant mountains…

EPA

Hope renewed across the Appalachian coalfields – Obama Administration suspends mountaintop removal permits for further review…

Obama’s new EPA administrator Lisa Jackson announced this past Tuesday that the agency would be delaying somewhere between 150 and 250 permits issued by the US Army Corps of Engineers to coal companies to flatten mountains and destroy watersheds in their desperate quest to extract the last of the sequestered coal with as few paid miners as possible.

What the EPA will be reviewing are blatant violations of clean water regulations former President G.W. Bush waived in his 2002 “fill rule” and a last days repeal of the stream buffer zone rule that would allow coal companies to ignore any and all impacts of the water supplies of rural residents, towns and cities dependent upon these mountain streams for drinking water supplies.

The map above (h/t Appalachian Voices) shows graphically how open strip mines and MTR directly affects the very poorest regions of Appalachia. One might suspect that these areas are happy to have the good jobs these operations offer, but the reality is that this kind of mining is equipment-reliant, done with machines and not men. For instance, King Coal once provided 120,000 decent paying jobs in West Virginia, but now fewer than 20,000 citizens call themselves coal miners. The people whose environment is being raped are getting nothing of value out of the deal. And may indeed be harmed significantly as their water supplies are systematically polluted, sickening their crops, livestock and families.

As reported on this blog in several posts linked below, some of the people in these poor counties have better ideas about what to do with their mountains, things that will improve everyone’s life, make them leaders in clean, renewable energy supplies, and create green jobs for local residents. Especially check out projects like Coal River Wind, which proposes to harvest the wind instead of the mountain itself.

Another great article with good links and pictures is Hope is Alive in Appalachia!!! by Kossack ‘faithfull’. So get off your duff – call some legislators, sign some petitions, and spread some love of mountains in your circle today!

Links:

Old King Coal vs. Reality
Hope is Alive in Appalachia!!!
Old King Coal, a Filthy Old Soul
Coal River Wind
I Love Mountains

Old King Coal vs. Reality

Patriot Coal,West Virginia, Feb. 13: A federal appeals court in Charleston, West Virginia, has ruled that the US Army Corps of Engineers may permit coal companies involved in the controversial and environmentally destructive practice of “Mountaintop Removal” mining to bypass the Clean Water Act rules in its permitting process.

The rules had required environmental impact studies and reviews prior to permitting the coal companies to blast the tops off ancient mountains and using the debris to fill in valleys, a practice that destroys mountain feeder streams, diminishes supply and pollutes the water supplies for towns and cities downstream. An excellent overview of the situation and local efforts to stem the tide of destruction can be found in this diary by Bruce Nilles on the political website Daily Kos.

One of the mountains immediately threatened by this ruling is Coal River Mountain, one of the last mountains still standing in West Virginia’s Coal River Valley. A local coalition, Coal River Wind Farm has developed an excellent alternative to destroying the mountain and watershed that will return economic value to the area, jobs to the residents and power to the grid all at the same time. Do check them out and lend your voice to their efforts to convince WV state officials to choose alternatives to King Coal and the filth he leaves in his wake.


A new campaign is currently in the works between the Waterkeeper Alliance and environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. to fight the ongoing destruction of Mountaintop Removal, to be called “The Dirty Lie.” Stay tuned for links and information here as soon as the website’s up and going.

North Carolina, Feb. 14: Meanwhile, efforts by environmentalists in North Carolina have been targeting the mighty behemoth Duke Energy and its CEO James Rogers to protest the building of yet another coal-fired power plant in the mountainous southwestern part of the state.Anti-coal activists in NC have also been holding the line in the state legislature against the purchase and burning of coal from Mountaintop Removal in any of the state’s coal-fired power plants and industries. The proposed restrictions were shelved again in the last session, but supporters are active to get a positive vote this year. Environmentalists in Georgia have introduced similar legislation to ban coal from this source, and in Ohio has suspended the building of new coal plants altogether.

So progress is being made even though Old King Coal is still trying as hard as he ever did to turn the whole world black. So stay tuned, concerned lovers of the land, we’ll be seeing a lot more about these battles in the near future, and all of them will need our support!

Links:

Is America Ready to Quit Coal?
Bill aims to outlaw coal mined by removing mountaintops
Georgia to Ban Mountaintop Removal Coal?
Coal River Wind Farm
Waterkeeper Alliance
Appeals court overrules new mountaintop mine rules