“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
Archive for clean coal
Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe walked out of a congressional hearing on the TVA disaster Thursday morning. Inhofe, a member of the panel, stated he did not want to hear the testimony of Southern Alliance for Clean Energy Director Steven Smith, a man he calls an “extremist.”
Inhofe ranted that activists like Smith are taking advantage of the TVA collapse(s) to further their own political agendas. But, as Dave Cooper points out in this article, Inhofe has a political agenda of his own: to continue receiving massive campaign contributions from the coal industry.
Coal industry interests pillage and plunder boldly. And they justify their actions with arguments that are blatantly absurd.
Take, for example, the massive billboards Cat Walker has erected along Interstate Highways in West Virginia. Cat Walker is a major supplier of the mammoth machines operated on mountain top removal sites. On their billboards, in huge bold letters are the words: “Coal, clean carbon neutral.”
Really? Coal without carbon? Carbón (the spanish word for coal and carbon) sin carbón?
At 1 a.m. this morning, an earthen dam holding back a pond of coal-ash collapsed, and a frigid flow of toxic slurry destroyed 15 homes in the small community of Harriman, Tennessee. The so-called “retainment” dam was built by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) as a place to dump poisonous ash left after they burn coal for electricity.
According to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, “Coal ash is composed primarily of oxides of silicon, aluminum, iron, calcium, magnesium, titanium, sodium, potassium, arsenic, mercury, and sulfur plus small quantities of uranium and thorium (my emphasis).” Needless to say, the long term health and environmental impacts of TVA’s pollution will be enormous.
Coal-ash ponds are a little-known but major hazard of coal-fired power plants. And wherever these plants are built, hundreds of acres are sacrificed to be the industrial dump site. Unfortunately, ash containment ponds are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the lakes of sludge that threaten Appalachian communties. In fact, the ash-ponds are mud puddles compared to the huge reservoirs that loom above “clean-coal” processing plants.
Weeks after the election of Barack Obama, many community activists fighting mountain top removal are becoming weary that hope may not be on way.
And for good reasons.
Obama recently nominated Lisa Jackson to head the Environmental Protection Agency. Continue reading