Archive for coal

Mountaintop Removal and National Security

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , on December 26, 2009 by ezlnwv

Those who profit from mountaintop removal often justify the practice by claiming it is good for the United States. Take Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, who at his pro-mountaintop removal labor day extravaganza–called the “Friends of America Rally”–literally dressed in the American flag and proclaimed that the EPA’s increasing concern about strip-mining put “America itself” at risk.  According to Blankenship and others, because coal companies can cheaply extract coal by simply blowing up the mountains that shelter it rather than paying a large workforce to mine it, they can keep the price of energy low enough so that Americans can afford to power their great cities, factories, and homes. 

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Leaked Memo Proves DEP Head Must Resign

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , on August 21, 2009 by ezlnwv

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.

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The True Costs of Coal: A Very Brief Introduction

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , , on July 23, 2009 by ezlnwv

The social harm caused by coal is enormous.

Of course there is the obvious horror of mountaintop removal. I once led a discussion with coalfield residents in which we brainstormed about 100 of its horrible effects, ranging from the disappearance of wildlife to the boulders that were crashing in nearby homes.

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Massey Scabs Try to Shake Protesters From Dragline

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , , on June 18, 2009 by ezlnwv

Fourteen MORE activists were arrested today in an act of civil disobedience to stop mountaintop removal “mining” in the Coal River Valley of West Virginia.

Four of the protesters attempted to scale a 20 story dragline and unfurl a banner. While high in the air, Massey Scabs (non-unionized mtr workers employed by Massey Energy) and Boone County Sheriff deputies attempted to rattle the tower. A fall from such heights would mean serious injury or death.

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The Meaning of Anti-Coal in West Virginia

Posted in Save Appalachia, Social and Political Commentary with tags , , , , , , , on April 15, 2009 by ezlnwv

The meaning of anti-coal in West Virginia is broad.  To be against coal doesn’t mean to be against the mining and use of coal. Thanks to the Coal Industry’s intensive PR campaign, to be against mountaintop removal, a relatively new mining process in which 1/4 to 2/3 of a mountain is blown away and its debris pushed into the surrounding stream-valleys, also means to be anti-coal.

But it doesn’t even stop there. According to the WV delegates who opposed the coal river wind resolution (over half of them), it is anti-coal to support the preservation of ONE mountain from destruction so that it can be used as a wind farm that will bring more jobs, safer jobs, and clean energy.

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Tennessee Dam Collapse an Ominous Reminder for Coal-field Residents

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 22, 2008 by ezlnwv

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.

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Overcoming Mountain Top Removal

Posted in Save Appalachia with tags , , , , , on July 9, 2008 by ezlnwv

There is a tragedy taking place in the hills of Appalachia. Mountain top removal coal mining has turned 500 thousand acres of rugged grandeur into barren moonscapes, buried over 1,000 miles of head-water streams, poisoned the air and water, and has deracinated thousands by eliminating jobs or simply making homeplaces uninhabitable. Unfortunately, mountain top removal is only a symptom of a much deeper and graver problem. For the people that remain in the coalfields, there is a constant and harrowing recognition of their precariousness. The choices seem clear enough: abet the coal industry in the destruction of the land or be financially destroyed. Continue reading