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mountaintop removal

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

At the end of this month, all eyes will be on the EPA as it makes its next key decision on mountaintop removal coal mining: its preliminary determination whether to veto the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine, due September 24.

The Spruce No. 1 mine is one of the largest mountaintop removal mining projects ever considered in Appalachia. Last spring, the EPA released a proposal to rescind this permit based on scientific and legal analysis showing that the mine does not adhere to Clean Water Act standards.

Mountaintop removal mining is one of those things in life that you can't really understand until you've seen it. All the blog posts, articles, editorials, and columns in the world combined can't equal the impact of bearing direct witness to a mountain being razed by explosives, to streams buried in rubble, and to crystal mountain waters running black.

I'm live at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, where Massey Energy CEO and chairman Don Blankenship is speaking in a special press luncheon today. Outside are protestors who are calling Mr. Blankenship to task for his oversight of the non-union company whose safety law violations -- over 100 citations from the U.S.Mine Safety and Health Administration this year alone -- led to a fatal explosion this year that took 29 lives and whose mountaintop removal mining practices have racked up thousands of Clean Water Act violations.

Tomorrow (July 22), Don Blankenship, the notorious chairman and CEO of Massey Energy, speaks at the National Press Club. We'll be live blogging to make sure you all get the play-by-play -- which promises to be interesting at the very least if Blankenship's previous speaking engagements are any indicator (we live-blogged at his public debate with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., in January in Charleston, WV -- check it out here).

Yesterday the White House took a firm stand against an effort to undermine the 40-year-old Clean Air Act, reverse a Supreme Court decision, and block the federal fuel efficiency standards that were finalized this past spring, which will reduce the nation's consumption of oil by at least 455 million barrels.
 

Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over again and expecting different results. Einstein, who had a particular knack for coming up with enduring and timeless ideas, may find application in our country's energy landscape today.

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