Nick Joe Rahall
“This is my tap water. I’m unemployed and can’t afford to buy any water. I’m worrying now every day daily that I’m going to die. I’ve asked a lot of the people around if they would watch out for my kids, you know … if I do die.” – Kenneth Stroud, Rawl, WV
The above photograph was taken in Rawl, WV, a community located in Nick Joe Rahall’s Congressional District. The other pictures you can find on this blog were also taken in Rahall’s district. In fact, most of my blogs about poisoned water, toxic slurry, and flattened homelands are based on real cases from Rahall’s district.
Yet, inexplicably, Rahall has been cast as an environmental hero, even by such groups as the Sierra Club. And thanks to this false image and coal industry influence, Rahall has been picked to chair the House Committee on Natural Resources, despite his record of a blatant disregard for clean water, perhaps our most vital natural resource.
While Rahall has the solid support of strip-miners and his constituents who live outside of the coalfields, residents who have been affected by the destruction Rahall supports are speaking out. Loudly.
In fact, the above photograph is one of many pictures and videos activists are sending to the members of Rahall’s committee. Perhaps the following letter to the editor, published in the Charleston Gazette on December 14, best sums up their thoughts about Rahall’s chairmanship.
Rep. Nick J. Rahall is hopeful that his chairmanship of the House Committee on Natural Resources will facilitate stronger measures under the Obama administration to protect the nation’s waters and endangered species. According to Paul J. Nyden’s article in the Nov. 23 Sunday Gazette-Mail, Rahall plans to lead his committee to improve the Endangered Species Act, push for stricter regulation and increased royalties from extraction of oil, natural gas, and minerals mined on federal land, and safeguard our lakes, rivers, and oceans. To this I say, “Amen.”
What is so puzzling about Rahall is that his district contains arguably the most egregious ongoing environmental catastrophe in our nation. Mountains and valleys are irrevocably destroyed, poisonous slurry impoundments loom dangerously over communities, and streams are buried and befouled. Rahall’s complicity in mountaintop removal will be his dark legacy for centuries to come.
Rahall continually refuses to acknowledge his double standard, a fact underscored in Nyden’s article that specifically omits any mention of coal extraction and processing abuse.
Perhaps Rahall feels that protecting land, water and species in other parts of the country will make up for his sins of allowing much of his own district to be ruined.
With the Obama administration tepidly speaking against mountaintop removal, and promising to combat climate change, Rahall as chairman of a powerful committee will have a fresh opportunity to either become a true champion of the environment or just remain lipstick on a pig.
Here is another letter about Rahall from a different community activist.
I am very sorry to say that Rep. Nick Rahall’s environmental actions are a
perfect modern-day example of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.
As Rahall touts protection of wilderness and Western clean-water rights, he advocates for the destruction of his own state’s mountains and water.
People living in most coal-extraction communities here in Appalachia are drinking and bathing in toxic water. We that live near the blasting from mountaintop removal strip mining are being covered in poison air from coal, silica and
As Rahall postures, we are poisoned and destroyed with 3 1/2
million pounds of explosives daily. He allows underground toxic coal waste sludge injection that is leaching into our water supplies.
Rahall and coal cronies try to fool people by saying “we need flat land for development,” but in reality we already have enough blasted, flattened mountains to last 1,000 years at the current rate of development. Less than 5 percent of the flattened mountains destroyed has any development at all.
No matter what other good Rahall, Sen. Robert Byrd and Sen. Jay Rockefeller do, their crime of aiding and abetting mountaintop removal strip mining will
be their legacy. America is documenting this crime.
Please visit OHVEC or Coal River Mountain Watch to see how you can help people in communities like Rawl. It doesn’t take money to help. For example, you can write your congressman and tell him or her to support House Bill 2169, the Clean Water Protection Act, which will ban mountain top removal coal mining.