Four years ago, a small Tennessee town woke up to a nightmare. A nearby coal ash pond that held back more than a billion gallons of toxic waste collapsed, sending a flood of ash and dirt right through their doors. In the weeks and months that followed, an entire nation began to see the magnitude of the coal ash threat.
The Latest On: Coal
Yesterday, one of the nation’s top coal companies, Patriot Coal, announced that it is getting out of the business of mountaintop removal mining.
Hurricane Sandy delivered a lot of pain when it punched into the East Coast. As I write this, a week later, the sea has retreated but the suffering remains. Half of Manhattan is cold and dark. The New Jersey shore is in bits. Parts of Long Island are knocked out.
Having spent most of my life in hurricane country and having lived through many similar blows, I can’t stop thinking about what people are going through to find bottled water and a place to get gas and some sort of help for the elderly and infirm. My heart is with them.
Coal companies have been blasting mountains, dumping waste rock into streams, and undermining private and public lands for more than a century. It’s apparently lucrative to do so.
But a recent filing by a coal company shows just how far they have drunk their own Kool-Aid (or coal ash?) in justifying the damage mining can cause.
The filing concerned Earthjustice’s efforts to protect the Sunset Roadless Area on the GMUG National Forest in western Colorado. The Sunset area is a landscape of pine, fir, and aspen stands, dotted with wet meadows and beaver ponds.
In the latest episode of Down to Earth, our own Jessica Knoblauch interviews Dr. Alan Lockwood, neurologist and author of the new book, The Silent Epidemic: Coal and the Hidden Threat to Health. Dr. Lockwood reiterates eloquently what we’ve known for decades: there’s nothing clean about coal.
It's been a long two years with the 112th Congress. In that time, House leadership has often tried to "help the economy" by wiping away our basic public health and environmental protections—in the process putting thousands of Americans at risk of disease and death from exposure to toxic chemicals and carcinogens in our air and water.
No one who has met Ken will ever forget him.
I first met him in 1999 when I started at Earthjustice. Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates and his colleagues had just won the first-ever federal court ruling against mountaintop removal. This set off a political firestorm in West Virginia and at the U.S. Capitol. Efforts were underway to overturn the decision by exempting mountaintop removal from federal environmental laws.
Seeking protection from unsafe dumping practices, more than 300 public interest groups from 43 states, representing millions across the nation, sent a letter this week to the U.S. Senate opposing S. 3512, the “Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012.”
The fight to end mountaintop removal will not stop until mountaintop removal stops, but yesterday we lost one of the most beloved heroes and leaders of the movement. Larry Gibson, the Keeper of the Mountains, died on Kayford Mountain, a sacred place he fought for three decades to save. He recalled how, 30 years ago, some people told him that the destruction caused by mountaintop removal and strip mining would be “fixed” in six months.