Monday, September 7, 2009

Good News, but need your help

I've been receiving information recently from several sources about mountaintop removal. Evidently the EPA has requests for 86 mountaintop removal permits to go review here in September. The Rainforest Action Network asks you to sign this petition to Lisa Jackson of the EPA to go to Appalachia and view the destruction before she reviews the requests. As they write:
We're still on the precipice of disaster. In September, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will review 86 new mountaintop removal permits. If approved, these 86 new permits could mean 86 less mountains in Appalachia. That spells disaster as mountaintop removal coal mining has already destroyed 500 mountains, buried 2,000 miles of rivers and streams under rubble and greatly harmed Appalachian communities and culture. If approved, these permits will be devastating for the people and ecosystems of West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and other parts of Appalachia and authorize a new round of blasting, flooding, and water contamination.
Lisa Jackson discussed the Energy Bill in an NPR interview September 3 on the Diane Rehm show, including a section on Mountaintop Removal (about 16 minutes into the interview) where she admitted that she didn't quite know that this is all about. The decisions on this is based on the Clean Water Act, which she says is the only area the EPA can act on. She admits that there are other issues, besides landscape and social issues. She equate this with coal mining in Wyoming, although the issue is very different, since the coal-mining area in Wyoming is not where people have lived, worked, hunted and fished for generations.

Siohban Hughes, writing in The Wall Street Journal of September 3, EPA to Soon Decide on Mountaintop-Mining Permits reported on the NPR interview with Lisa Jackson.
She said the EPA is reviewing about 84 such permits, deciding whether to block the permits from being issued. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issues the permits, though the EPA has veto power.
Mountaintop mining involves using explosives to blast off the tops off mountains in order to get at coal seams under the surface. The technique has become increasingly common -- surface mining operations in central Appalachia account for about 10% of U.S. coal production. But the EPA says that streams have been contaminated in the process and some forest lands have been destroyed.
Ohio Citizen Action reports on the NPR show with Lisa Jackson, pointing out that she admitted that she'd never seen a mountaintop removal site.
"U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson found herself struggling to explain the Obama Admininstration's policy on mountaintop removal coal mining yesterday on National Public Radio's Diane Rehm Show. In response to questions from Ohio Citizen Action's Kate Russell and Guest Host Susan Page, Jackson said "we should uphold science" and agreed with Russell that the scientific research shows that mountaintop removal sites could not be reclaimed. She could not, however, state what the Obama policy on mountaintop removal is."

"At one point it was not clear that Jackson understood what mountaintop removal coal mining was. Jackson said she had never seen a mountaintop removal site: "I have not yet seen it with my own eyes." Then she compared mountaintop removal first to strip mining and then to mining methods in Wyoming, neither of which are comparable," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.
Fortunately, there is also some good news (also from the Rainforest Action Network:)
Last Monday, it was announced that after a grassroots pressure campaign state-owned utility Santee Cooper is canceling its plans to build a $1.25 billion coal plant on the banks of the Great Pee Dee River in South Carolina. On Tuesday, two activists courageously climbed 80 foot trees to prevent mining company Massey Energy's mountaintop removal operations from raining debris and destruction on the Coal River Valley in southern West Virginia. Truly effective grassroots action has proven that Big Coal can be stopped in its tracks if we put our minds to it.

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