How's Obama Doing on Our Transition from Dirty Coal to Clean Energy?
Continued from previous page
Specifically, on March 24, the EPA had to clarify an earlier announcement to place more scrutiny on mountaintop removal permits. The EPA did everything to sidestep any controversy, stating:
"The Environmental Protection Agency is not halting, holding or placing a moratorium on any of the mining permit applications. Plain and simple. EPA has issued comments on two pending permit applications to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers expressing serious concerns about the need to reduce the potential harmful impacts on water quality. EPA will take a close look at other permits that have been held back because of the 4th Circuit litigation. We fully anticipate that the bulk of these pending permit applications will not raise environmental concerns."
On April 8th, however, in the same area that a boulder broke loose from a mountaintop removal operation and killed a 3-year-old boy in his home in 2004, the EPA directed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to revoke "nationwide 21" mining permits in southwest Virginia.
On April 27th, DOI chief Ken Salazar announced the Obama administration's intention to reverse the Bush's administration change of a poorly enforced 1983 buffer zone rule that supposedly prevented coal companies from dumping waste within 100 feet of a stream.
The response from the Appalachian coalfields was cautious.
"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar made it clear at his press conference that the 1983 rule would continue to be implemented as it has in the past - meaning it will not be enforced against waste dumping. He stated that coal production would not be affected and that current coal operations would not be affected and was vague with respect to future actions," said attorney Joe Lovett, from the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment. "Therefore, Interior's action will not provide the protection essential for Appalachian mountain streams under the surface mining law or the Clean Water Act."
"The stream buffer zone rule is a decades-old regulation that has prohibited surface and coal-mining activities from disturbing areas within 100 feet of streams. For years the agency has ignored the law and allowed thousands of miles of headwater and perennial streams in Appalachia to be permanently buried by coal companies under millions of tons of waste generated by mountaintop removal coal mining."
7) Congress With a Mountain Backbone: The Clean Water Protection Act: Or, Lamar Alexander, Benjamin Carden, Frank Pallone, John Yarmuth and Dave Reichert Are True American Heroes
March 24, 2009
If the EPA and DOI ultimately drag their feet in the muck of the machinations and compromises of the coal industry on the mountaintop removal issue, a growing movement in Congress introduced the Clean Water Protection Act this spring to amend the Clean Water Act and prevent the dumping of toxic mining waste from mountaintop removal coal mining into headwater streams and rivers. Coal state senators Alexander (R-TN) and Carden (D-MD) and coal state representative Yarmuth (D-KY) have shown particular vision and courage.
"It is not necessary to destroy our mountaintops in order to have enough coal," said Senator Alexander. "Millions of tourists spend tens of millions of dollars in Tennessee every year to enjoy the natural beauty of our mountains - a beauty that, for me, and I believe for most Tennesseans, makes us proud to live here."
8) Who Killed the Miners' Jobs? Massey Foresaw Layoffs in February, Long Before the EPA or other Environmental Decisions.
February 4, 2009
As part of their 4th quarter 2008 Earnings Call to financial analysts, mountaintop removal giant Massey Energy executives crowed that "2008 was a very exciting and successful year for Massey, by many measures, the most successful in our history. As you know, we undertook a very aggressive expansion plan in late 2007, and our members executed that plan almost to perfection in 2008."