Posts tagged: mountaintop removal

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mountaintop removal

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View Liz Judge's blog posts
20 August 2010, 1:01 PM
Roaring Fork Valley and Aspen residents turn out en force for documentary

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.

The eye of the actual beholder of this destructive mining practice feels something that words cannot convey. And the person who sees it destroying ancient mountains and forests, and the lives of people who live among them, has a knowledge and experience that can never be imparted by this blog alone.

That's why Earthjustice was eager to support filmmakers Mari-Lynn Evans and Phylis Geller as they made their moving and stunning documentary on mountaintop removal mining, Coal Country.

2 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
03 August 2010, 2:07 PM
Army Corps and EPA to follow core legal requirements in MTR mine permitting

The EPA and Army Corps of Engineers have announced a major step to help prevent the destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining. In a rare joint guidance, the two agencies agreed to improve the process for permitting mountaintop removal mines.

Although it doesn't solve the problem of mountaintop removal mining, this new direction will make it much harder for coal mining companies to use Appalachian waterways as dumping grounds for their mining waste.

For 30 years, the Corps of Engineers allowed mining companies to completely bury streams with the rubble from their mountaintop mining explosions on the condition that they replace the stream with a manmade stream. In reality, this was a death sentence for healthy streams and entire ecosystems.

Here's how it happened: mining companies exploded the tops off of hundreds of mountains and dumped the waste into streams, burying more than 2,000 miles of vital Appalachian waterways. They claimed to replace the "structure" of those streams with drainage ditches as their permits required. Trouble is, science tell us that you can't just dig a ditch and create a living, healthy stream.

2 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 July 2010, 9:00 AM
Regular updates from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship's press lunch

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. For more info on those environmental violations, see my blog yesterday, and for more information on how mountaintop removal mining is devastating the environment all across Appalachia, contaminating water supplies, sickening people, and tearing apart communities, see our campaign page on our work to Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining. Finally, for some more background on just how Mr. Blankenship became such a notorious national figure, read this New York Times story on his politics in West Virginia.

1 Comment   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
21 July 2010, 1:40 PM
We're live blogging tomorrow as he speaks at the National Press Club

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).

As you may know, an explosion April 5 at the Massey’s Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, West Virginia killed 29 miners. It was the deadliest coal mine explosion in the United States in 40 years.

4 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
18 June 2010, 9:41 AM
Fast-track approach to mountain destruction is suspended
Kayford Mountain in West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman, courtesy of Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Yesterday the Army Corps of Engineers announced that it is suspending the use of nationwide permits for mountaintop removal coal mining.

Under U.S. law, companies who wish to engage in mountaintop removal mining—this is, to use explosives to blow off the top of mountains to get to the coal underneath, and then dispose of the rubble in streams and waterways—need to get a permit from the Army Corps of Engineers to do so. This permit is actually a Clean Water Act permit, and the granting of it holds that a company is abiding by the Clean Water Act, the cornerstone of water protection in the United States, and is following its requirements when it dumps its mining waste in the valley streams and waterways.

In 1982, the Army Corps of engineers established a nationwide permit (NWA Permit 21) for mountaintop removal mining operations, most of which are in Appalachia. This was a generalized, fast-track process that waived the Clean Water Act permit application for companies and automatically granted them permits. Instead of applying and going through a normal permitting process that assesses each company's impact on the waterways and streams, this Corps permit acted as a blind rubber stamp, outright allowing companies to engage in mountaintop-removal mining without proving that Clean Water Act requirements will indeed be met.

1 Comment   /  
View Kathleen Sutcliffe's blog posts
11 June 2010, 8:44 PM
Let’s turn this bad action-adventure plot around
Have we been cast as extras in a fossil fuels end-of-days flick?

Is it just me? Or did this week's oil and gas news have a doomsday quality to it?

On Monday we had not one, not two, but three industrial gas disasters: a natural gas pipeline in Texas exploded, killing one worker, injuring several others and sending up a geyser of flame visible for miles around; a fireball and explosion burned seven workers drilling for natural gas in West Virginia; and authorities shut down activities at a Pennsylvania gas drilling site after a plume of toxic wastewater shot 75 feet into the air from a ruptured gas well, raining chemicals down on the site for 16 straight hours.

All of this as BP kept churning out an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico and investigations continued into the Massey mine disaster in West Virginia that killed 29 miners.

Looking around at this fossil fuels end-of-days drama unfolding around us, I can't help but feel like we've all been cast as extras in some scary action-adventure movie.

5 Comments   /  
View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
09 June 2010, 1:29 PM
Vote down Sen. Murkowski's resolution to bail out big polluters
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK)

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.
The effort at hand is a seldom-used congressional "Resolution of Disapproval" by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), on the Senate floor for a vote tomorrow, June 10. The resolution, which was influenced by oil- and polluter-industry lobbyists, is at the center of a fury of political positioning and partisan politicking. Its purpose is to block the EPA's ability to regulate greenhouse gases, authorized by the Clean Air Act and reaffirmed by the 2007 Massachusetts v. EPA Supreme Court decision.
In an official statement yesterday, the White House threatened to veto the resolution if it is passed by the Senate tomorrow. Meanwhile, Sen. Murkowski and her Republican allies held a press conference to solicit public attention and support for this vote. The rest of the Senate and, more importantly, the public, should see through their smoke-and-mirrors routine. After all, the connection between reducing our national dependence on oil and controlling fossil fuel pollution are two sides of the same coin.

6 Comments   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
29 April 2010, 12:24 PM
And more evidence of climate change, & learning things the hard way

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.

Looking out yonder, we see a devastating oil spill and possibly one of the worst and most costly ecological disasters in our country's history, mountains being destroyed by explosives and the resulting toxic sludge getting dumped into our waterways, communities and people being poisoned by coal ash and coal waste, and carbon pollution exacerbating heat waves, warming our oceans, and increasing ocean acidity until building blocks of our underwater life are killed off—and these are just some of the things we are seeing here in the U.S.

Looking beyond the U.S., we see unfriendly regimes getting stronger and richer from our reliance on foreign oil, we see China boosting its share of the renewables market in its quest for global economic leadership and to meet its growing thirst for energy.

6 Comments   /  
View Raviya Ismail's blog posts
22 April 2010, 1:24 PM
Study shows link between cancer and mine waste

With the recent mining tragedy in West Virginia there has been argument enough that mountaintop removal mining takes the human element out of mining – that is, machines extracting coal from deep within mines supplant the human cost of mining.

A new study shows that this belief has no merit.

According to researchers at West Virginia University and Virginia Tech, West Virginians living near streams polluted by mine waste are more likely to die of cancer. This study is the first to see the connection between the health of Appalachian streams and the health of coalfield residents. If you didn't know, mountaintop removal mining is a method that blows up mountains and dumps mine waste into streams.

1 Comment   /  
View Liz Judge's blog posts
22 April 2010, 9:41 AM
Thanks for all you've done

“The battle to restore a proper relationship between man and his environment, and between man and other living creatures, will require a long sustained political, moral, ethical, and financial commitment far beyond any commitment ever made by any society in the history of man. Are we able? Yes. Are we willing? That’s the unanswered question.” – Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day.

When Earth Day was born 40 years ago, there were “spumes of pollution pouring out of smokestacks, people spraying children in parking lots and at picnics with DDT, air pollution in major cities that was basically unbreathable, rivers catching on fire, lakes dying,” says one of Earth Day’s original organizers, Denis Hayes, in this Washington Post video. “It was just deteriorating very rapidly, but what addressed those problems was a wave of legislation immediately after Earth Day.” (For more on Earth Day’s storied history, read this.)

As we celebrate 40 years of Earth Day, we’re also celebrating 40 years of Earthjustice victories – check out 40 of our favorite victories along with stunning photos in this new slideshow made for Earth Day 2010.

We're also celebrating our army of supporters, activist members, and concerned citizens. We have you to thank for each of these major victories, and the many victories and wins in between.

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