Natural Car Cleaners

Natural-Car-Cleaners

Cars are constantly in need of a good cleaning, even if you are meticulous about keeping it spotless. With more environmental awareness being spread throughout the world, from things like paperless insurance statements to reusable air filters, it’s no wonder that there has been a higher demand for natural cleaners for cars. Whether it’s the inside or outside, harmful chemicals aren’t necessary to make a car squeaky clean. Here are a few options for the nature lover in you.

1. G-CLEAN Heavy Duty Hydrophobic Car Wash

This runoff friendly soap should give you the cleaning power you need while not being terrible for the environment. Also their car wash is a renewable product that can even clean off wash rags as you use them, allowing for up to 10-15 times more use. It also helps to repel water from the side of your car so that it doesn’t leave those pesky water marks.

2. Homemade Natural Cleaner

Don’t clean windows on your car with chemicals that could damage the earth. Instead, grab half a cup of vinegar, a fourth a cup of alcohol and a cup of water and mix them together. Put the concoction into a spray bottle and use a microfiber cloth instead of wasting a bunch of paper towels.

Natural-Car-Cleaners

3. Zymbol Cleaner Wax

This mysterious natural wax coats your car and allows you to wipe it off just like regular wax. They claim that it clears up blemishes and minor car scrapes as well. This might be a reasonable alternative to those who are interested in innovative technology that is also good for the environment.

4. Eco Touch

This company offers a variety of products that allow you to wash your car without the use of water. Their products clean interiors and exteriors, though they also offer towels, bulk orders, and some premade kits. It is great for the environment, and it can be used as an all-purpose cleaner.

Conclusion

Don’t be afraid to get dirty while cleaning your car as long as you don’t pollute the environment. Even if you just want unique options, there are a variety of natural cleaners that reduce or eliminate waste and help you clean your car at the same time.

Those Spoiled Ducks: The Pond

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Gladys and Amelia are indeed as pampered and spoiled as any fat Pekins can be. Which was of course entirely predictable due to my husband’s tendency to spoil his pets unmercifully. Gladys, in fact, still insists on being tucked in to the coop every night, and she’s pushing 15 pounds of what one of the grandsons calls “Jabba The Duck.”

Thus it was over the last couple of weeks when the bitter cold gave way to days in the 50s and 60s, that the family was called together to finally finish the duck pond project begun last spring and not finished beyond a hole big enough for the plastic kiddie wading pool that served as bath until now. In this picture you can see my elder daughter the experienced labor straw boss overseeing the elder grandsons as they widened and deepened the depression that would hold the pond liner.

spoild ducksNow, any project that requires more than a year’s worth of planning – usually over beers around the campfire across the back yard from the someday pond – can’t just be as easy as digging out a hole, laying down the liner, and filling it with water. Because it’s a duck pond, and ducks poop in their ponds just like bears poop in the woods, it has to have drainage capability that will allow it to be emptied and hosed down occasionally (I figure from size and depth about once a month). This means the deepest part must have a drain mechanism and a stopper on a chain we can pull, plus a length of pipe extending through the back dirt wall to channel the dirty pond water to the downslope. From a year’s worth of kiddie pool clean-outs plus filling and draining the pond-pond as we engineered over the past couple of weeks, there’s already a water-cut arroyo bisecting the back-back yard extending past the shed to the drop-off at forest edge.

Cold Duck(s) …and other critters

Cold_Duck More below freezing days and absolutely frigid nights on my homestead this week. I keep reminding myself that despite the title of “North” in my chosen home of North Carolina, we’re still ‘officially’ considered the south. But if February turns out to be colder than Alaska (which January has been this year), I’m going to be putting a lot more thought into Costa Rica in my old age…

When we first got the kids – a.k.a. the girls, our two pekins purchased at Tractor Supply as little yellow peeps for the youngest grandchildren a couple of years ago – we became studious consumers of duck facts and duck lore and ‘How To’ information on how to help them live for awhile longer than just Easter week. By last winter they were all feathered-out, white as snow for a winter in which we got no snow, and delivering 2-4 delicious free-range duck eggs per day. And it wasn’t anywhere near as cold as this winter has turned out to be.

My little bit OCD husband fretted and worried all that winter long that his poor ducks were going to freeze to death if it got down into the 20s at night. I pooh-poohed that by reminding him that they’re wearing duck down coats, which are rated to be toasty to well below zero, work even better than fur coats like our dogs and cats wear. Even better, they repel water. All that might get really cold are their feet, and they can always just sit on those for awhile, right?

Well, this winter it’s a whole lot colder, and we were advised by the “Duck Lady” at Tractor Supply when we bought our last 50-pound bag of duck food that sure enough, if it gets below 10º at night, they do need that heat lamp we got when they were just peeps, in their comfy big coop with the door closed overnight. They’ve adjusted okay to the light, and now the biggest challenge is keeping liquid water in their pen’s bowl for long enough to drink before it freezes solid.

Today I found a nice article from Countryside Magazine entitled Managing Livestock in Winter Conditions. Author Robyn Scherer, M. Agr., is a regular fond of good information talking about everything from prepping for winter before it happens, to details on shelter, wind protection, bedding, water, food, supplements, hoof care, exercise and particularly bad weather. Keeping animals old and young and of many species healthy during the high stresses of the winter season.

If your homestead boasts livestock of any variety – or you are planning to add livestock in the future – check out Countryside’s informative article so you’ll have the lowdown on how best to get your animals through the winter happy and healthy.

Antioxidants vs Radiation: Lemon Balm!

Lemon_Balm!Most of us who are committed to the homesteading lifestyle are committed because we perceive the value of living closer to the earth, taking responsibility for ourselves per the ‘conveniences’ of life, and care a great deal about the general health and well-being of ouselves, our families and our communities. A lot of us grow a lot of our own foodstuffs so that we can know “what’s in it” when we eat it, and some also raise their own livestock to receive that high quality protein from a source unconnected with the impersonal death industry that meat and dairy production has become in this modern age.

And for the general robustness of our bodily defense and repair mechanisms – so important to maintaining health and promoting longevity – the value of antioxidants is something we’re familiar with. Antioxidants serve to reduce the amount of “free radicals” in our bodies. Free radicals are loose, fast-moving electrons (and sometimes positrons) that damage molecules and cells by knocking electron shells of atoms out of whack, thereby disrupting molecular bonds. And while a certain amount of oxidative reactions are part of normal metabolic processes, excess amounts of it can cause all sorts of problems. So plants and animals maintain multiple types of antioxidants to balance the processes, such as vitamins C, A and E, glutathione, certain enzymes and peroxidases, etc. which protect against oxidative stress which can cause neurodegenerative diseases, the ailments of aging, and even cancer.

A great deal is known from medical research about antioxidants and their protective uses, and a great many people take supplements or choose high-antioxidant foods as part of their healthy diet. Here is what some doctors have to say about it…

“Free radicals appear to play a central role in virtually every disease you can name, either directly or secondarily.”
Russell A. Blaylock, M.D.

“There is now overwhelming scientific evidence demonstrating that people who eat a diet rich in antioxidants and take antioxidant supplements will live longer, healthier lives.”
Lester Packer, PhD.

Okay, okay. We’re convinced. Many of us even know which of the foods we choose to grow and/or eat pack the most antioxidant whallop. But what about antioxidants that are used to prevent damage from oxidative health hazards most of us are not all that familiar with? Like, say, radiation exposure.

Land Mines in the 2013 Farm Bill

7557830828_cd10ac63d7_mEvery five to seven years a re-vamped farm bill makes its way slowly through the U.S. House and Senate in slightly different versions, to be later reconciled and presented to the full Congress for vote. As usual, there are provisions, proposed new rules, and industry-sponsored riders slipped into the bills on both congressional levels that require some education for us homesteaders and smaller producers and which – once we know about them – will require some direct communication with our members of congress to argue for their defeat.

In what Mother Jones calls Congress’ Big Gift to Monsanto and AlterNet dubs The Monsanto Rider, the 2013 bill is shaping up to be one of the most outrageously Big Ag coddling bills in history. In fact, as AlterNet’s authors present, this bill is likely to require the Secretary of Agriculture to grant a permit for planting and/or cultivation of genetically engineered crops without consideration of environmental impact.

Even as the New York Times details the continuing corruption of the organic foods industry by Big Biotech, Big Ag and Big Food to create what it calls “Big Organic” that isn’t so organic after all. Corporations such as Kellogg, PepsiCo, Heinz, Coca-Cola, Cargill, ConAgra, General Mills, Kraft and others have managed to gobble up the vast majority of our nation’s organic foods industry, and by virtue of that standing, get to alter and amend the rules small producers, homesteaders, wholesalers and retailers worked so hard on for so long under the USDA Organic label. To the point where some of the remaining organic food businesses – like Eden Foods – have dissociated themselves from the USDA’s corrupted program entirely.

Most very small producers like myself don’t really have to worry too much about certification for the purpose of supplying our harvest to big producers, and I admit I have let my certification lapse because the “extra” money I’d hoped it might bring in doesn’t cover the costs associated with inspections and such. I have plenty of customers for what I do sell, all local and willing to pay a premium for my non-chemical, non-GMO practices. I know many other small producers who have also kept their customer base more local, for much the same reason. Our CSA shares programs, organic tailgate and farmer’s markets, many organic restaurants, bed and breakfasts, etc. are always looking for more, so the market isn’t saturated yet.

At the same time, most small producers and homesteaders I know are like me in that they do purchase quite a lot of food from the grocery store for our families. Not everything can be bought fresh off the truck from a trusted farming neighbor, in all seasons of the year. So of course the integrity of the national organic foods system affect all of us, and thus we must all care about what happens to the standards in an era of such gross corruption and collusion between government and business that nobody can trust anyone on that level anymore.

The Organic Consumers Association has a great article about the situation, which includes the entirety of the problematic riders in the Farm Bills on both sides of the congress. Its list of what the riders seek to accomplish:

• Outlaw any review of GMO crop impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act, or any other environmental law, or by any other agency other than USDA.

• Prohibit other agencies (like EPA, wildlife agencies, etc.) from offering expert input in the USDA’s review process. If the USDA determines in its review process that potentially harmful effects may occur, those findings are barred from informing any approval decision.

• Force backdoor approval of GMO crops, even if USDA has not previously reviewed and approved them, through unreasonably short deadlines that result in automatic approval if time (180 days) runs out.

• Codify a dangerous policy of allowing transgenic contamination in crops and foods.

• Limit EPA’s oversight of biotech crops engineered to produce pesticides.

I encourage my readers to read the links provided and educate themselves about the new corporate corruptions of national farm policy responsibilities and goals. And to let their legislators know how they feel about this corruption and the proposed farm bill’s elevation of corruption to the status of national policy.

Wild Herbs Endangered By Poaching

wild_herbs[Slide show of poachers from Mountain Express]

My southern Appalachian homestead was originally purchased more than twenty years ago as the high country standard of “13 acres more or less, graded.” That means they took an overhead map (probably one from the USGS with elevation lines), put a 1-acre grid over the top of it, and counted the acres within the boundaries. The fact that it is so steeply graded means there’s a bunch of land that if flattened out, would add greatly to the total acreage. We have walked the land a lot, and the true number is nearly 25 acres, most in thick stands of third-growth temperate hardwood forest. There are a few scattered giants, trees that are at least two hundred years old, but the rest has been logged and/or burned more than once since white folks drove the Cherokee west.

There were large stands of wild ginseng and black cohosh growing on the rich tilth of well-shaded hillside when we got here, and I began the project of re-planting and managing (against invasives) of these valuable medicinal herbs. To a lesser degree we’ve got a smaller stand of introduced goldenseal in the bottomland of the smaller creek across the ridge, and we also occasionally tend collections of other marketable wilding herbs fancied by herb dealers and shop owners. September is the big month, when in my region the roots and herbs are gathered, dried and taken to one of the itinerant licensed herb dealers servicing the region.

As the herb season is in full swing in North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Virginia and West Virginia, an age-old problem has reared its ugly head as the price for ‘sang (and black cohosh, an at-risk medicinal) has skyrocketed. Poaching.

Last season wild-managed ginseng topped $800 a pound, definitely the “gold standard” among wildings in these parts. It takes a lot of roots to equal a pound dried, and they must be kept intact enough for the dealer to determine their age. Some years ago when wild American ginseng first made it to the endangered plants list, restrictions were imposed to the ability to sell your crop. Wild roots are not marketable at under 5 years or over 15 years. This was done in hopes of salvaging the truly wild stands from poachers, who aren’t shy of who’s land they’re stealing from.

Illegal harvesting of ginseng has become so rampant that the U.S. Forest Service cut the number of 3-pound national forest harvesting permits by 75%, but as much as 90% of diggers don’t bother with permits in the first place.

“Dramatic declines of wild ginseng populations over the past decade suggest previous harvest levels are no longer sustainable,” Forest Supervisor Kristin Bail explained in a June 20 press release announcing the changes. “It is in everyone’s best interest to further limit the amount of the harvest to help ensure the plant’s future sustainability.”

So it is increasingly falling to us rural landholders, if we have the ability and conditions, to preserve this plant to the best of our abilities. Both for our own income purposes as an annual cash crop with careful management, and as preservation of a valuable botanical in its native areas. There are definite plusses for committed homesteaders in putting even the wild areas of our ‘steads into some kind of production that can help support our lifestyles. A good overview of the project comes from NCSU, Cultivating Native Woodland Botanicals.

Of course, poaching ginseng on either private or public land is a crime (punishable by fine or prison time, or both). Alas, it is a crime that is seldom prosecuted. Robert Eidus, licensed ginseng dealer and owner of the North Carolina Ginseng & Goldenseal Company, puts it this way…

“I’m allowed to buy from people who steal from other people,” adds Eidus. “It’s the last illegal, sanctioned business in America.”

Ginseng can be – and is in many places – grown in artificially shaded plots and usually sold young. Wisconsin grows about 95% of the farmed ginseng in this country, a $70 million crop for the state. But this ‘sang usually sells for a mere $18 to $24 a pound – nothing close to the $800+ a pound wild ‘sang is earning. If correctly managed there is no discernible difference between forest-managed and truly wild ginseng, though well-managed beds chosen for their thick tilth of forest floor will return larger roots than wildings that may have rooted in shallow tilth or in beds choked with sizable rocks.

Good managers never harvest a root without planting a few small young roots or several seeds. It takes two years for the seeds to sprout, so it’s important to get them before the deer do when they ripen to bright red, and further to discourage deer from foraging where your ginseng is growing. But fear not – even if deer do eat your leaves and seeds one year, the plant will come back next year as long as the root is still in place.

Meanwhile, in my area the N.C. Ginseng Association is actively recruiting homesteaders and landowners for development of more forest managed ginseng crops. Other herb companies in areas where ginseng grows are organizing the same sort of thing, which might offer newcomers to the idea of forest farming some valuable knowledge and physical help to get started. You may end up having to police your own crops for poachers, though, so a little tidbit of wisdom I was taught back during my childhood by a wild ‘sang manager in eastern Kentucky should be kept in mind.

“Don’t tell people about your crop.” Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have a dog either. Good for keeping poachers, deer AND bears away! Do give it some thought, consider if your land is suitable for ginseng. And/or black cohosh, goldenseal, spikenard, elder or any other of the increasingly valuable botanicals marketable these days.

Useful Links:

Cultivating Native Woodland Botanicals
Botanical Bandits
WildGrown: NC State wildcrafting survey
Cultivation and Marketing of Woodland Medicinal Plants
NC Ginseng Dealers 2013/14 [PDF]

“Protect America’s Pollinators Act”

H.R. 2692; 2013

Honey bees: About those neonics
Honey bees: About those neonics
The extermination of our priceless honeybees is proceeding apace, with devastating ramifications. Back when CCD – [Colony Collapse Disorder] first hit the news in 2006/7, it was reported that we were losing a third of our honey bee colonies every year [33%]. Today that figure it up to 45.1%, nearly half.

Many causes have been proposed over the years, and scientists with the USDA have been looking into four general categories to try and discern the most prevalent cause. Those are listed as:

1. Pathogens – Scientists are looking at Nosema (a pathogenic gut fungi) and Israeli Acute Paralysis Virus, amog other likely culprits. So far it does not appear that there is any one pathogen responsible for the majority of losses, although there does seem to be a higher viral and bacterial load in affected colonies.

2. Parasites – Varroa mites are often found in honey bee colonies affected by CCD. It is not known if the mites are directly involved or if the viruses that Varroa mites transmit are a significant factor in causing CCD.

3. Management Stressors – Among the management stressors that may contribute to CCD are poor nutrition due to apiary overcrowding and increased migratory stress brought on through transporting the colonies to multiple locations during the pollination season.

4. Environmental Stressors – These include the impact of pollen/nector scarcity, lack of diversity in nector/pollen, availability of only pollen/nectar with low nutritional value, and accidental or intentional exposure to pesticides at lethal or sub-lethal levels.

USDA colony surveys have revealed no consistent pattern in pesticide levels between healthy and CCD-affected colonies, and the most common pesticide found was coumaphos, which is used to treat Varroa mites.

A very good article by Tom Philpott for Mother Jones last month explains what, exactly, the scientists are looking at, and why they feel it’s a combination of environmental and bacterial, viral and fungal infections as well as the pesticides used to control them that are at fault in the CCD disaster.

Unwilling to wait for the government scientists to come up with definitive causes for CCD before acting to protect the bees, the U.S. House of Representatives is now considering an action bill, H.R. 2692: Protect America’s Pollenators Act of 2013. The bill is sponsored by Democratic congressman John Conyers of Michigan, and boasts 17 co-sponsors. It directs the administrator of the EPA (not the USDA) to take certain actions related to pesticides. Including neonicotinoid insecticides, a relatively new class of pesticides powerful enough to kill a songbird with just the amount coating a single kernel of corn.

Earlier in the year the European Food Safety Authority determined that the most widely used “neonic” pesticides pose unacceptable hazards to bees, so the European Union has suspected their use entirely on open-grown agricultural crops. But as hinted above in the ability to kill birds, neonics present clear and present dangers to other pollinating insects and beneficial insects like ladybugs and praying mantises. I have been unable to find information on neonic toxicity to hummingbirds and various species of butterfly, but if they can kill songbirds and ladybugs, neonicotinoids certainly seem like a strong suspect.

CCD should concern us all as homesteaders, happy rural dwellers, and as regular citizens. A full third of our food supply relies upon bees for pollination. Please call or write to your Congresscritter today and let him/her know that this is important to you and all your neighbors, urge them to vote for the bill.

Killed a Rattlesnake This Morning…

Killed_a_Rattlesnake

Just a bit of Father’s Day excitement here on the ‘stead, where this morning Sirius the Cat was seen stalking a slithery something in the jasmine growing along the garden fence next to the gateway.

Here in the highlands of the Blue Ridge – we are about 4 miles as the eagle flies from the eastern continental divide in the Western No’Cakalackie southern Appalachians – we don’t have that many pit vipers to worry about. Only ones we ever see, in fact, are copperheads and timber rattlers. Copperheads aren’t very long or heavy snakes, but they’re aggressive as hell and will actually chase you (or your cat, or your dog, or your grandkids) down just to get a bite in on something they’re either too mean or too stupid to know is never gonna fit into their mouth. In the 21 years we’ve lived on our remote homestead acreage we’ve averaged a copperhead a year to add to the fence collection of heads, but that really means some years we get several and some years we get none.

Grandson who has lived his whole life with us has never been bitten, but another grandson and a nephew visiting from their cities have. You can warn those city kids until you’re blue in the face to watch where they’re walking and stay away from snakes, but they’ve just no experience of the “deep woods” to rely upon, and that can easily end in a quick and painful trip to the ER and an inevitable argument with the ER staff who always want to insist that we can’t possibly know what kind of snake did the biting. Even though we’ve killed it and packed its head into a zip-lock to prove the point. Doesn’t exactly lend great confidence in their treatment skills, which no doubt helps to explain why grandson Number 2 ended up losing half his thumb to his copperhead.

And just so you city folk can know, copperheads and timber rattlers look nothing alike, nor are their habits anything close. Rattlers are a bit more evolved than copperheads, at least in my estimation. They are quite mellow temperamentally, generally avoid biting animals they can’t fit into their mouths (why waste precious venom?), would much rather do a little macho dance and rattle their tails menacingly instead. Sound a lot like cicadas, so that can be confusing if you’re not paying attention. And while they can easily blend into the scenery of a dappled forest floor or rock outcropping, out on the lawn or in the garden these heavy-bodied snakes are darned hard to miss. Our Father’s Day rattler was just barely 3 feet long (they can get to six feet), had five rattles.

Killed_a_Rattlesnake

Another urban myth about rattlesnakes – no, you can’t reliably tell how old the snake is by how many rattle rings it’s got. Because as the snake ages and more rattles are added with the annual molt, dried up old rattles at the end fall off. And while you may encounter a single snake when it’s on the hunt, rattlers tend to maintain familial relationships, sun themselves in groups and will den-in in large numbers during the winter.

Of course we kind of felt sorry for him, as rattlers generally don’t come into the mowed areas of the property at all, and this is the first one I’ve ever seen in the garden vicinity. We have a nice collection of nifty snake beheading devices kept in groups at several places around the property where copperheads are likely to show up, and a well-practiced alarm system for when one of ‘em does show up. The spotter must stay put and holler “SNAKE!!!” as loudly as possible, without taking his or her eyes off the thing. Because if you do, it’s going to disappear quickly and then you’ll know it’s around but not where.

We who hear the alarm then hurry to the closest beheading device storage and grab at least one long-handled device and one short, head to the scene of the showdown. We do not usually attempt to kick the snake to death barefooted – much prefer a hoe, a shovel, a heavy bank scythe, a sword, or a machete. For this one grandson used a hatchet (as seen in photo above).

People eat these rattlesnakes, I’ve heard they taste like chicken (doesn’t everything?). But since we don’t eat meat of any variety, we buried the body. If it had been as slim and lithe as the usual copperhead we’d simply have tossed it off the mountainside into the deep woods, but this one would be far too tempting to the dogs.

Rattlesnakes are pretty mellow critters as snakes go. Those rattles are there so they can warn you, which is kind. Their venom has been known to kill humans, but they don’t bite unless they have to. We nailed the head to the fence, a custom we learned in west Texas many decades ago. ‘They’ say it’ll keep the snake’s brothers away, but I’m not convinced that’s true. Doesn’t work that way with copperheads, anyway. Where there’s one there’s always another nearby that you aren’t seeing. I guess we’ll find out if that’s how it works for rattlers too. Oh… and hanging the head on the fence makes it rain, the same ‘they’ say. It rains an inch a day here in the southern Appalachian temperate rain forest this time of year, so I can’t swear to that one either.

At any rate, we’re into snake season now. While there are just the two species of poisonous snakes in my area, there are other varieties of venomous snakes in other areas of the country. Check out some of the useful information in the following links, and don’t forget that venomous snakes are a threat to pets and livestock as well as to humans. Happy Summer, and watch out for snakes!

Useful Links:

CDC: Venomous Sakes
Top 10 Most Venomous Snakes
Venomous Snake Safety
Snake Venom

The Mountains Cry: A Vibrant Voice Passes On

Mountains_CryThis blog has covered many environmental issues, perhaps the one dearest to the heart has been the astounding destruction wrought by King Coal on the beautiful, peaceful, ancient mountains of southern Appalachia in the name of profit: Mountaintop Removal. The [West Virginia] State Journal reports that long-time environmental activist and tireless mountainkeeper Larry Gibson died September 9th at the age of 66 while working at Kayford Mountain, his family home in Raleigh County. Larry was born at Kayford Mountain, and spent the last decades working to protect Kayford and all of these majestic mountains from King Coal and the rampant destruction of mountaintop removal.

Larry Gibson traveled across the country to speak at schools, churches and other public gatherings to spread his simple gospel about these mountains: “Love ‘em or leave ‘em – just don’t destroy them.” Gibson established the Keeper of the Mountains Foundation in 2004 to support mountain communities threatened by King Coal and its mountain-shearing machinery, and the family requests donations to the Foundation in lieu of other expressed condolences. A private funeral is planned, with a public memorial service to be announced later.

One of the most heartfelt remembrances is from Mary Anne Hitt, Director of the Beyond Coal Campaign, entitled The Mountains Weep for Larry Gibson. Rest in peace, friend.

Please see the post The Last Mountain: A Call to Action for many more links to coverage of Mountaintop Removal Mining in this and other blogs, educational resources and activist groups.

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