This is a post about how we can improve life for Tennesseans, protect an American culture that has endured for centuries, and promote our beloved Appalachian Mountains that once stood higher than the Himalayas, now threatened by mountaintop removal coal mining.
Tennessee Tuesdays are a new weekly feature at the Appalachian Voices Front Porch blog, serving you since 2006. While our main goal is to end mountaintop removal, we also hope to spread the gospel of hope, bring light to issues facing Tennesseans, and offer solutions on how we can move our state towards a cleaner and more energy efficient future.
Are you from Tennessee or nearby? Introduce yourself in the comments and let us know what you'd like to hear about. For now, welcome! Have a cup of coffee and take a minute to enjoy your Tennessee Tuesday.
What's been happening in Tennesse lately?
Tennessee Legislature 2013: zOMG
My home state of Tennessee has been in the national news a lot the last few months, and not for the greatest reasons.
via App Voices
Rahall Legislates that Water Stop at State Lines. Seriously.
Yesterday evening the House of Representatives passed The Clean Water Cooperative Federalism Act (HR 2018), a bill that turns back the clock forty years on the environmental and public health protections in the Clean Water Act. This brazen attack on public protections is the closest big industrial polluters have ever come to completely gutting laws that protect Americans' ability to access clean water.
Colorado Democratic Representative Jared Polis perhaps said it best:
“Let’s not fool ourselves, the bill before us today isn’t just about the role of federal government, the bill isn’t just a push for state sovereignty; rather, this bill would satisfy two very niche special interests at the cost of the American public. This bill is designed to benefit mountaintop coal mining companies and large factory farms.”
We will start today's post with a simple hypothesis. Mountaintop removal means FEWER mining jobs for Appalachia. We will go into the correlation with poverty, the horrific physical health problems, the desperate need for economic diversification in the region, the permanent aquatic impacts, the other opportunities Appalachian Voices' and others are fighting for, and how Appalachian coal is in permanent decline. But for now, lets review why mountaintop removal has been a decades long NIGHTMARE for fans of job creation in Central Appalachia.
The FArCES of Coal:"With Our Head in the Sand, As Loud As We Can" Edition
Originally posted at the App Voices' Front Porch
Well, I'm not sure how it happened. But it seems like southern West Virginia has survived its first post-apocalyptic, economy-annihilating, way-of-life-ending weekend after EPA heroically vetoed Arch Coal's Spruce Mine permit last Thursday. As bad as Joe Manchin and Nick Rahall said life was going to be after the veto, myself and most folks in West Virginia ended up having a pretty decent weekend, all things considered. Heck, we even learned that despite the snow many if not most nearbyresidents are celebrating EPA's veto of Spruce #1 mine.
A set of so-called "pro-coal" Representatives have introduced HR 6113 to prove that they care more about Don Blankenship's approval than their constituents' health. This bill asserts that President Obama's EPA threatens national security.
Continuing their march to ignore evidence, make stuff up, and push for an entirely rampant and unregulated coal industry, coal-bound legislators have introduced what they are calling the "Electric Reliability Protection Act" (HR 6113). If signed into law, this bill would defund EPA's efforts to protect Appalachian citizens from the toxic valleyfills associated with mountaintop removal. In addition, the Representatives assert that the Obama Administration's very attempt to protect citizens from toxic drinking water is indeed a threat to national security, which we'll go into below.
Update: Nike has graciously removed the horrific images of mountaintop removal from their WVU page. This is a victory for us. While I still think that West Virginia University has some serious questions to answer regarding its identity and coal, Nike is to be applauded for respecting the concerns raised by citizens directly impacted by mountaintop removal.
Original diary below, and posted at the new Appalachian Voices Front Porch blog
Robert C. Byrd "may come closer to the kind of senator the Founding Fathers had in mind than any other." -- Almanac of American Politics
Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-WV) passed away early this morning at the age of 92. Senator Byrd is the longest serving member of the United States Congress in American history, and as the Senate's "President Pro Tempore," Senator Byrd was third in line to the Presidency. According to his website, he cast more than 18,680 roll call votes -- more votes than any other Senator in American history -- compiling an amazing 97 percent attendance record in his more than five decades of service in the Senate. He ran for office 15 times and never once lost a race.
"Past error is no excuse for its own perpetuation. Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live." - Robert Francis Kennedy
It's been over 7 weeks since the deadly explosion at Massey Energy's Upper Big Branch (UBB) mine claimed the lives of 29 American Miners in Raleigh County, West Virginia. The incident, which was our nation's deadliest mining accident in 40 years, was unquestionably made more tragic by the fact that it was preventable. In order to ensure that no similar, preventable, coal-related tragedy occurs, it is critically important that we recognize the full breadth of the coal industry's impact on Appalachian communities and ecology, while collectively accepting shared responsibility for addressing its transgressions. Step one, as they say, is admitting we have a problem.
This just in from Senator Byrd's office, and offered without comment.
The recent explosion at the Upper Big Branch coal mine in my home county of Raleigh, which killed 29 West Virginians and injured 2 others, has brought West Virginia statewide sorrow and worldwide attention.
Reflecting on President John F. Kennedy’s death, Robert F. Kennedy once said, " A tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom."
Originally from the App Voices' Front Porch blog
The science is in, and the Obama Administration is listening. Today's issuance of guidance by the Environmental Protection Agency is an absolutely historic step in ensuring that the economy, ecology, and communities of Appalachia are better protected from the devastating impacts of mountaintop removal. Citizens from Appalachia and across America are celebrating.
We have been told, and the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection has confirmed, that blasting has begun at Coal River Mountain.
Coal River Mountain is the tallest mountain ever slated for mountaintop removal, and remains the very last mountain in the Coal River Valley that is still in tact. This is Coal River Mountain (intact) as viewed from Kayford Mountain, one of the largest mountaintop removal sites in Appalachia.
Troops, this is the big one. There comes a point in which we can no longer accept the dangerous and dirty imposition of the past, and what that means for our fellow citizens.
This is the fulcrum of the battle between clean energy and dirty coal.
Fading hope or ultimate despair lie in the balance today in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia.
This is an emergency, and we need your help.
Building on Jeff Biggers' message
Happy labor day everyone. This day carries special significance in Appalachia, particularly for our coal miners. We look at it with special attention today as, Don Blankenship, Ted Nugent, Sean Hannity and several far-right extremists are holding a protest - opposite the actual UMWA labor rally - meant to whip up the fervor against those of us working to address climate change and mountaintop removal. They are holding the "rally" because, in Don Blankenship's words:
If big biz and gov't are working against American workers, who will support them?