Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Obama & Big Coal" There Is No Such Thing As Clean Coal "

Anyway here's a bit of an update on the efforts being made to stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining. There are on going ptotest & commentary criticizing the practice and pleas for the Obama administration to put a moratorium on the practice. There is also a new documentary out "Coal Country". Obama it appears once again has compromised on the issue to the point of not taking any real action to stop the destruction caused by this form of coal mining. During the election campaign Obama made some great speeches but now it is time to use advantageous position to take action. Big Coal is not concerned about a negative environmental impact nor are they concerned about the health of thew people in the areas where these practices are taking place. Their only agenda is to keep America addicted to coal & to increase their profits each quarter. Once the Appalachian are destroyed they are gone forever.

Coal Country Mountaintop Removal Mining

"A President Breaks Hearts in Appalachia" By Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Washington Post,July 3, 2009

Mountaintop removal coal mining is the worst environmental tragedy in American history. When will the Obama administration finally stop this Appalachian apocalypse?

If ever an issue deserved President Obama's promise of change, this is it. Mining syndicates are detonating 2,500 tons of explosives each day -- the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb weekly -- to blow up Appalachia's mountains and extract sub-surface coal seams. They have demolished 500 mountains -- encompassing about a million acres -- buried hundreds of valley streams under tons of rubble, poisoned and uprooted countless communities, and caused widespread contamination to the region's air and water. On this continent, only Appalachia's rich woodlands survived the Pleistocene ice ages that turned the rest of North America into a treeless tundra. King Coal is now accomplishing what the glaciers could not -- obliterating the hemisphere's oldest, most biologically dense and diverse forests. Highly mechanized processes allow giant machines to flatten in months mountains older than the Himalayas -- while employing fewer workers for far less time than other types of mining. The coal industry's promise to restore the desolate wastelands is a cruel joke, and the industry's fallback position, that the flattened landscapes will provide space for economic development, is the weak punchline. America adores its Adirondacks and reveres the Rockies, while the Appalachian Mountains -- with their impoverished and alienated population -- are dismantled by coal moguls who dominate state politics and have little to prevent them from blasting the physical landscape to smithereens.

Obama promised science-based policies that would save what remains of Appalachia, but last month senior administration officials finally weighed in with a mixture of strong words and weak action that broke hearts across the region. The modest measures federal bureaucrats promised amount to little more than a tepid pledge of better enforcement of existing laws.

And government claims of doing everything possible to halt the holocaust are simply not true. George Bush gutted Clean Water Act protections. Obama must restore them.

"Mountain Top Removal leaves behind a virtual hideous moonscape of devastated earth, billions of gallons of poisonous toxic sludge, and boarded up towns with dramatically high rates of cancer."
Daryl Hannah

Ashley Judd:
Let's End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining-March 4,2009 Sierra Club

Actress Daryl Hannah and climatologist James Hansen arrested at mountaintop removal protest

Daryl Hannah, NASA scientist James Hansen and former W.Va. Congressman Ken Hechler were among 31 people arrested at a non-violent protest of mountaintop removal coal mining near Massey Energy's Goals Coal processing plant on June 23, 2009.

Daryl Hannah explains why she is involved with the movement to stop Mountaintop Removal Mining.

"Why I Was Arrested in Coal River, West Virginia" by Daryl Hannah at Huffington Post, July 1, 2009

Why would I fly across the country on my own dime knowing I would most likely end up in jail in one of the poorest parts of America?

Well, have you ever heard of MTR?

Don't feel bad, my friends are intelligent, well-read and informed people, but most of them had never heard of MTR (Mountain Top Removal) either.

...Mountain Top Removal is a devastatingly destructive form of mining and has already destroyed 2,000,000 acres in the Appalachian Mountains.

Coal companies have literally blown up over 500 mountain tops to access the coal seams and then dumped the refuse into the valleys below, killing over 3000 miles of headwater streams. The EPA just gave the go ahead for an additional 42 mountaintops to be blown off with another 6 permits pending.

Mountain Top Removal leaves behind a virtual hideous moonscape of devastated earth, billions of gallons of poisonous toxic sludge, and boarded up towns with dramatically high rates of cancer.

...While it takes fewer miners to remove coal with Mountain Top Removal, there are just as many dangers, accidents and fatalities! It is a cheaper way for the companies to mine and that's why it's becoming so pervasive.

According to WVU's institute for health policy research, coal county residents are more likely to suffer from chronic heart, lung and kidney diseases, cancers and generally suffer from excess numbers of premature death. There's a high cancer risk for up to 1 out of every 50 Americans living near the more than 100 billion gallons of toxic sludge in the clay-lined and unlined (the majority unlined) coal ash landfills and slurry ponds, such as the TVA Kingston ash sludge landfill that collapsed into the Emory River in December.

Tennessee Valley Authority officials consistently have said the ash spilled in December from the utility's Kingston Fossil Plant wet landfill in Harriman, Tenn., and in January from its Widows Creek pond in Stevenson, Ala., is non-hazardous... but after the spill, regulatory and independent testing have found high levels of toxicity in the spilled waste and raw water where the two spills occurred. Thirty-one of the landfills and slurry ponds in Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama are on or near major waterways!

The slurry pond above the Marsh fork elementary school where we held our protest holds 2.8 billion gallons (it's one of the smallest ponds -- one nearby in brushing fork holds 9 billion gallons) of sludge in unlined pits containing arsenic, lead, cadmium, and mercury

...Let me make one thing clear... there is no such thing as clean coal!!!

I wish President Obama would stop using the term and take CEQ chief Nancy Sutley and EPA head Lisa Jackson to visit these unfortunate mining sites under their jurisdiction.

And a recent study illustrates the negative effects of Mountain Top Removal Mining on the environment & on the people & communities.Its positive aspects are far outweighed by its negative impact.

" New Study Lifts the Curtain on Clean Coal", Reuters,July 12, 2009 By Cleantechnica -By Tina Casey

A new study from West Virginia University exposes one more dirty little secret about America's favorite fossil fuel, coal. Though coal mining is touted as an economic boon to local communities, the study reviews mortality statistics to conclude that coal mining communities in Appalachia are among the weakest economies in their home states, and in the country. The study, "Mortality in Appalachian Coal Mining Regions," appears in the July-August issue of Public Health Reports, the official journal of the U.S. Public Health Services.

Mountaintop Removal and Clean Coal

The promotion of "clean coal" as a sustainable fuel hearkens back to the days when cigarette smoking was promoted as a healthy habit. Sure, you get a kick, but there's a cost. Regardless of any new technology for burning coal or converting it to other fuels, coal comes from the ground. The worst damage is done by the relatively new phenomenon of mountaintop removal - literally blowing up mountains to reach coal seams close to the surface. It's a cheaper method than underground mining, but as the environmental equivalent of lung cancer, mountaintop removal has leveled hundred of pristine mountains and obliterated hundreds of miles of streams in one of America's richest ecosystems, the Appalachian region.

Coal Ash Dumps and Clean Coal

Given the devastating effects of mountaintop removal, clearly the "clean" in clean coal refers only to emissions from coal fired power plants, not to coal extraction methods. That's quite a narrow definition, especially when you factor in the impact of coal ash disposal. Ash is the stuff left over from burning coal. With about 50% of the electricity in the U.S. currently generated by coal, that adds up to a lot of ash.

The disposal method of choice is to quarantine the ash in open reservoirs. It was barely a year ago that the dam on one such reservoir failed, spilling 5 million cubic yards of coal ash into a Tennessee community. The U.S. EPA responded by proposing new regulations for coal ash dumps. That's hardly a comfort to communities that host hundreds of ash dumps in the U.S., especially the 44 coal ash dumps that the EPA lists as "potentially high hazard" due to the risk of human fatalities from a dam failure.

The Impact of Coal Mining on Local Economies

As revealed by the new West Virginia University study, the "clean" in clean coal pulls an even more impressive disappearing act when it comes to the benefits of coal on the communities that are home to mining operations. Charleston Gazette writer Ken Ward Jr., whose previous work includes an article on the health effects of coal mining operations, covered the release of "Mortality in Appalachian Coal Mining" and has made a pdf of the study available through his blog, Coal Tattoo. The authors are Michael Hendryx, associate director of the WVU Institute for Health Policy Research with co-author Melissa Ahern of Washington State University. As Ward notes, the authors determined that the coal industry contributes about $8 billion annually to the Appalachian economy, but under their analysis the economic losses attributable to premature deaths associated with coal operations are in the range of $42 billion.

The Hidden Costs of Clean Coal

The authors of the study emphasize that their estimate is conservative, based primarily on the well documented connection between early mortality and economic health. Ward's blog cites additional factors that were not part of the study, which make the economic picture even gloomier: the effect of poor health on worker productivity, the increase in public aid for foods stamps and Medicaid, and the economic consequences of natural resource destruction. This last item is particularly relevant to mountaintop removal, which is a highly mechanized process linked with job loss, not job creation. Appalachia lost more than half of its coal mining jobs in the 20 years following 1985, when mountaintop mining came into its own. On top of that, the destruction of pristine, tourist-friendly areas near the famous Appalachian Trail closes at least one door to alternative employment opportunities that could help improve community health.

see article:
"Demolishing Appalachia" by Debra McCown TiCities.com July 12, 2009

...The film, “Coal Country,” looks at the negative effects of surface coal mining on Appalachian residents and communities in four states. Kathy Selvage, a Wise County activist opposed to mining practices used in the region, is among those featured in the documentary.

“I believe our hope is it brings international exposure to that and also that it furthers a conversation about where we go in energy policy in this country,” Selvage said of the film. “I hope it opens people’s minds to the problems that are the side effects of mountaintop removal coal mining. I hope it opens people’s hearts to the suffering that goes on in communities where this mining occurs right where people live.”

Coal Country Premiere: Big Coal Lobby Does Not Want You to See This Powerful New Film by Jeff Biggers at Huffington Post

...Why is Big Coal so afraid of this documentary film by native Appalachian daughters Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller, producer and director of three-part award-winning landmark PBS series, The Appalachians?

If anything, Coal Country goes out of its way to include the views and voices of the Big Coal lobby and its executives, engineers and miners. This, in fact, might be why Coal Country is so compelling; far from any hackneyed agenda, Coal Country simply allows the coal industry and those affected by its mountaintop removal operations and coal-fired plants to tell their personal stories. The end result is devastating. In a methodical and deliberate fashion, Coal Country brilliantly takes viewers on a rare journey through our nation's coal-fired electricity, from the extraction, processing, transport, and burning of coal.

Once you see the breathtaking footage by cameraman Jordan Freeman, and the unaffected and heart-rending portraits of coal mining families, you will never flick on your light switch again without thinking about Coal Country.

From the git-go, West Virginia governor and coal peddler Joe Manchin declares: "There is no replacement for coal. There might be 30 or 50 or 100 years from now, but there's not today."

A French engineer cheerfully proclaims, "Coal is a wonderful resource. It's too bad it's dirty."

As one coal company executive coldly states, the millions of pounds of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosives that rip through the Appalachian mountains and poison the watersheds and air of local communities daily, "might make some people uncomfortable."

Another coal engineer playfully recalls teaching his children to refer to coal-fired plants as "cloud factories" to bring the rain, in the face of some of the highest cancer and heart disease rates in the country, and an American Lung Association study that 24,000 Americans die prematurely from coal-fired plant pollution each year.

and concludes:

Coal Country should be required viewing for our nation's elected officials, and the administrators at the Council on Environmental Quality, the EPA and the Department of Interior.

In fact, Coal Country needs to be screened at the White House theater.

also see:

Movie Goers React to “Coal Country” July 3,2009

Coal Country:The Movie website

and so it goes,

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