Leaked Memo Proves DEP Head Must Resign
Against the overwhelming evidence (including EPA studies) and down-right commonsense that mountaintop removal coal quarrying (formerly known as “mining”) had very harmful effects on ecosystems, the coal industry and its government could find shelter behind a scientific institution which said otherwise. And though alone in the wilderness, this shelter seemed all the more sturdy since it was none other than the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection, the very agency whose members had as a primary duty to diligently guard against any intrusion which would harm the environment. As head of the DEP, Randy Huffman’s contestation that mountaintop removal was benign seemed like the voice of Zeno’s reason, assuring us that we have been manipulated by our senses, that the degradation we see is only a chimera, that the arrow really doesn’t move.
And when the United States Senate held a committee meeting to discuss mountaintop removal in June, there was Huffman to put things in perspective, lest the fine Congressmen be duped by the stories of people like Maria Gunnoe, who to Huffman only thinks the mountaintop removal operation behind her house killed everything in the once teeming stream that runs across her ancestral property.
Though everything seemed to contradict the words of Huffman, it was inconceivable that he would be lying. After all, he was under oath and would not dare commit perjury; or worse for christians: lie on the bible. Even more important, he was a scientist and thereby professionally obligated to present the facts, even if they were politically incorrect.
Or we thought until a package arrived at reporter Ken Ward’s office, mailed anonymous with no return address, within it an internal memo written by a respected biologist at the DEP, excoriating Huffman for contradicting the massive evidence his agency had compiled that clearly showed mountaintop removal was harmful!
Ken Ward immediately posted about it. Ken uploaded the memo and linked it to his post. It is worth reading in its entirety.
While solid proof of Randy Huffman’s complicity in covering up environmental damage is sickening, this incident does give us hope that not all employees of the DEP have abandoned their integrity and committment to environmental protection. Where there is integrity, there is a chance that justice may come. But before it can, future heads of the DEP must not be picked by governors, most of whom have been slavish to out-of-state coal interests.