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Suppose a logging firm was tearing the cherry trees from around the Jefferson Memorial. Do you think anyone would notice? Suppose local trash haulers decided the National Mall would make an excellent land fill, construction firms decided to tear down the Washington Monument for building material, or a parking lot was planned for the site of the Vietnam Memorial.

Do you think President Obama might step outside before that tower of white marble was dragged down? Would he intervene before over 58,000 names were covered by asphalt? Would he object before the level of empty beer cans and disposable diapers spilled up the steps to Lincoln's feet?

Then why will he not stop the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains before they are gone forever?

As Robert F. Kennedy Jr. points out, his father made the trip to West Virginia to see what was happening there. But these days, the plight of those in the mountains is all but ignored.

My father visited Appalachia in 1966 and was so horrified by strip mining -- then in its infancy -- that he made it a key priority of his political agenda. He complained that Appalachia, with our nation's richest natural resources, was home to America's poorest populations, its worst education system, and its highest illiteracy and unemployment rates. These statistics are even grimmer today as mining saps state wealth. In 1966, 46,000 West Virginia miners were collecting salaries and pensions and reinvesting in their communities. Mechanization has shrunk that number to fewer than 11,000. They extract more coal annually, but virtually all the profits leave the state for Wall Street.

Yes, there are many problems facing President Obama, and many issues confronting the Congress. But the issue of mountaintop removal may be unique in that it doesn't require any extraordinary action. It won't cost billions of dollars. It doesn't need any kind of false "bipartisanship." It only requires that President Obama instruct the EPA and other agencies to enforce the existing law. If he does not do this, there is no doubt where the fault for the resulting ruin will lie.

Instead of acting to enforce these laws, administration officials indicated last month that they will allow more than 100 permits to go forward while they carefully review their regulatory options. If they act accordingly, the ruined landscapes of Appalachia will be Obama's legacy.

It's no good to say that someone else started this disaster. The fact is that it's completely within President Obama's power to stop it. If he does not believe this issue requires prompt action, there's one way to prove it.

President Obama should go to Appalachia and see mountaintop removal.

Go and see, Mr. President. If you're going to allow this Appalachian Apocalypse to continue, have the courage to face it.

Look for additional discussion of this topic in Teacherken's Diary.

If you are interested in environmental issues, please join DK GreenRoots, a new environmental advocacy group created by Meteor Blades and Patriot Daily. DK GreenRoots comprises bloggers at Daily Kos and eco-advocates from other sites. We focus on a broad range of issues and are always open to new ones.

Over the coming weeks and months, DK Greenroots will initiate a variety of environmental projects, some political and some having nothing directly to do with politics at all.

Some projects may involve the creation of eco working groups that can be used for a variety of actions, including implementing political action or drafting proposed legislation. We are in exciting times now because for the first time in decades, significant environmental legislation will be passed by Congress. It is far easier to achieve real change if our proposal is on the table rather than fighting rearguard actions.

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Originally posted to Daily Kos on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:30 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I've sent him a couple of emails so far (15+ / 0-)

    I hope he reads them (cuz they're from me, and I'm so-o-o-o important) and decides to go.

  •  This is a great idea. (23+ / 0-)

    President Obama needs to see mountaintop removal for himself, and to talk to the people whose homes and lives and livelihoods have been destroyed by it. Bravo, RFK Jr.

    I could have been a soldier... I had got part of it learned; I knew more about retreating than the man that invented retreating. --Mark Twain

    by NogodsnomastersMary on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:33:07 PM PDT

    •  Agree (6+ / 0-)

      No way can you understand the horrific impact of mountaintop removal until you see it in person.

      Somehow, photos just don't do it justice.

      It's like watching the mountainscape be tortured day by day until it looks like something completely different - forever and for every generation who may see it.

      •  One of Obama's weaknesses... (6+ / 0-)

        ... is that he's a city boy.  I don't think that landscape and natural-type issues come automatically to his thinking.  As opposed to, say, health care - which is much closer to his heart and experience.

        The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

        by Land of Enchantment on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:56:26 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Kansas, Hawaii, and Indonesia don't count? (0+ / 0-)

          I don't think that landscape and natural-type issues come automatically to his thinking.

          I think there's more to this than the clean-air fund idea that those of us born in cities know nothing about the environment.

          Pendelton State University is a college located in Rutherford, Ohio.

          by annieli on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 04:43:22 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I've never heard him express anything about it... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            NCgrassroots

            ... though I suppose it could be for other reasons.  Health care?  You know his biographical connection, and understand why/how he cares about it.  He understands urban issues pretty well, which is good - most Presidents aren't great on those either.

            I have failed to notice any comparable public expression about environmental/resource issues.  I could be wrong about why that its.  But it definitely is.  In general, city folk often don't know much about where there food comes from, where their water comes from, where their power comes from, etc.  Not always, but often the case.

            The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

            by Land of Enchantment on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 08:27:34 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Bobby Kennedy Jr's opinion piece is powerful (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Munchkn, jonimbluefaninWV

      Always makes you think, what if RFK hadn't been taken from us too soon?  

    •  A little pre-trip reading is in order also (4+ / 0-)

      I just finished reading Ronald D. Eller's "Uneven Ground, Appalachia since 1945" and I would strongly suggest President Obama read this prior to his visit. Eller provides the historical socio-economic, cultural and policy/political history of Appalachia within the context of development efforts through various administrations. As someone who works in sustainable community economic development in WNC, I found this book invaluable.

      For those who question why we need to be concerned with Appalachia and the environmental issues related to MTR, here are a few facts:

      1. Appalachia is the most biodiverse ecosystem in North America, supporting more than half of the species of trees, flowering plants and ferns found in North America. More than one hundred species of trees exist in the Great Smokey Mountains, more than are found in all of Europe.
      1. Appalachia serves as the watershed for most of the Southeast due to its abundant precipitation, which is second only to the Pacific Northwest. Water quality protection is critical to millions of people downstream. Given that the Southeast is home to one of the fastest growing megaregions in the country, the quantity and quality of the water in Appalachia does matter.
      •  Here's a great article (2+ / 0-)

        The Daily Yonder is a great place for information. Here's an article about the roots of poverty in Appalachia:

        http://www.dailyyonder.com/...

        Appalachia’s rural poor have been put under sociological and psychological microscopes many times over the last 150 years. Basically, two theories have been offered for their poverty.  The culture of poverty theory directs attention inward to the capacities and habits of the poor themselves.  In contrast, a structural theory focuses attention on the relationship between poverty and the corporate economy within Appalachia – especially in its coal regions.  Appalachian sociologist Helen Lewis drew a sharp dividing line between the two theories by stating, "In simple terms it [the cause of poverty] is either fatalism or the coal industry."  

  •  i dont know if thats such a good idea. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dustee
    i have a bad feeling.

    http://politicz.wordpress.com/

    by GlowNZ on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:34:04 PM PDT

  •  yes, let's hope he can fit it in the schedule (5+ / 0-)

    I hope we pay the guy enough for all we expect of him. Yes, he can!

  •  And the thing is... (14+ / 0-)

    But these days, the plight of those in the mountains is all but ignored.

    ...it's really the plight of ALL of us, no matter where we live. Why can't we stop something this heinous? Why is it even a question?

    •  Clean coal. (6+ / 0-)

      He's been talking it up since way back in Chicago on his birthday in 2007.  Because of "Yankee ingenuity" and "Yes We Can".  There's some things that we really shouldn't do, even if we "can."

      The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:57:49 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Then he should get along great (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        nehark, Stwriley, rainmanjr, Munchkn

        with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, also a big believer in a future where clean coal is more than just a slick slogan.

        Why does this example of true bipartisan common ground not make me feel good?

        Positive, one syllable words really sell. The business world and advertisers sell "clean" and "green," politicians sell "hope" and "change". When they are both nouns and verbs, they work even better. So we should not be surprised that millions of dollars are being spent on selling "clean coal" to the public.

        This resonates because the environmental movement was built around clean air and clean water laws and regulatory programs. The coal industry is doing this because it feels threatened by the national and global interest in fighting global warming with its emphasis on greatly reducing greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide, associated with burning fossil fuels.

        The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity launched a $15 million-plus campaign earlier this year. Television ads are constantly being aired telling us in glowing terms about clean coal, as if the coal industry has cleaned up its act by using green technology. Just one problem, the clean coal message is one big green lie. With the likelihood that the Obama administration will provide huge sums of money to stimulate a green economy, including alternative energy sources, the coal industry that wants to greatly expand is willing to pump money into a deceptive advertising campaign.

      •  Yes. I remember. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rainmanjr

        I'd hoped he was joking.

        •  Many of us thought he was. (0+ / 0-)

          We were pretty sure that Obama was pandering for votes from mining towns.  Apparently, we were wrong and Pres. Obama really does believe in clean coal.  If not, he would stop this assault.  But it's also that he doesn't want to lose all those jobs.  If he cancels MTR then the unemployment numbers go up.  If he doesn't keep the economy in line then he'll have little mandate for anything else.  Those jobs are important.

          "The only thing to fear is tomorrows. I don't live for tomorrows. They're no fun." - Denny Crane

          by rainmanjr on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:40:55 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Put some windmill... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            rainmanjr

            ...or solar panel manufacturing in those areas and put people to work that way. Do the roads need repair? I thought some of the stimulus money was to go to infrastructure. Those things could take up the slack in job loss. Couldn't they?

            •  Yes, but it wouldn't happen seamlessly. (0+ / 0-)

              If he stopped MTR before those jobs are created then people will be out of work for a while.  He's just started fighting the battle for energy and, if I remember correctly, he has the supposrt of Blue Dogs.  So there's hope for ending MTR in the near future but it can't be done now.

              "The only thing to fear is tomorrows. I don't live for tomorrows. They're no fun." - Denny Crane

              by rainmanjr on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 09:06:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Pehaps it wouldn't hurt for him to go there... (0+ / 0-)

                ...where the mountains are being destroyed and talk with the people. With all the money being distributed to everyone and his uncle, how much would it take to subsidize retraining of miners and new industries in the area? How much more would it take to keep these people afloat until these goals could be accomplished? Say, maybe .001% of the amount that went to the financial industry? Just a guess.

                •  Probably true but welfare for industry? (0+ / 0-)

                  The stimulus bill was unpopular because of added debt to U.S., and loans for corporations that control millions of jobs was wildly unpopular, so I don't see approving welfare for out of work miners until new energy sources could create jobs will be well received, either.  Look, I agree that MTR is a tragic mistake, and should be stopped, I just don't know about sacrificing political allys when we need them most is a good idea.  My inclination is that it's not.

                  "The only thing to fear is tomorrows. I don't live for tomorrows. They're no fun." - Denny Crane

                  by rainmanjr on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 09:29:41 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

    •  What is your commitment? (0+ / 0-)

      Nobody seems particularly interested in the plight of West Virginians other than how it relates to MTR mining.

      The best environmental solution would be to simply end the coal mining, but what of the miners?

      •  Retrain for new alternative energies... (0+ / 0-)

        ...that we should be developing and manufacturing right now.

        I admit that my concern is for the environment. I think the people of West Virginia and our government are creative enough to get around the survival issues. The mountaintops have no such creative intelligence that can respond in the short term.

  •  Normally I don't like to climb on ... (10+ / 0-)
    ... the bandwagons of "Hey Obama Add MY Issue to your To Do List NOW," but this one seems like a combination of easy and important.

    "Hey President Obama...!"

    "If you don't stick to your values when they're tested, they're not values. They're... hobbies." -- Jon Stewart, Jan. 22, 2009

    by pat208 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:37:53 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this diary, devilstower. (11+ / 0-)

    I have commented before about having seen this destruction first-hand, and truly, the president deserves that experience.

  •  I have a hard time taking RFK Jr seriously. (6+ / 0-)

    Until he's willing to look at where some of his family's electricity might come from as an alternative,(Cape Wind), he's not the best person to be talking about the evils of coal.

    This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:40:59 PM PDT

    •  RFK Jr is GOOD! seriously.... (6+ / 0-)

      Look at his whole record, esp. Riverkeeper and his teaching.

      Cape Wind is not a good example......some dubious players involved.........not clear issue of wind vs. coal.

      Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

      by LNK on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:44:52 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  RFK Jr is a shalloow hypocrite on this. (7+ / 0-)

        I kinow his whole record, and a whole lot of it is negated by his self-serving opposition to this most significant piece of New England's energy future.  I have no idea what you're talking about re: dubious players. This is a fully vetted project that rich people on the Cape have been opposing with all the money and connections they can muster. Because they'll maybe have to look at it.

        This is not what I thought I'd be when I grew up.

        by itzik shpitzik on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:48:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Totally disagree on Cape Wind, LNK -- TOTALLY (5+ / 0-)

        It's been so very sad to me to see RFK Jr's words and position on this over time.  I've studied it a fair bit, and Cape Wind is an excellent project -- R.Jr does lots of great stuff, but his NIMBY-ism on this has really hurt his credibility with many of us enviros.

        But that's a side issue -- i completley agree with the thrust of this piece on MTR, will post about it further below.

        •  Public Radio interviews about Cape Wind.... (0+ / 0-)

          I regret not having an easy to find citation, but as I recall one business involved in pushing for provoking a NIMBY reaction was also involved in having old technology power plant near a school. Not a pure advocate......and there are also lots of haters out there who demonize Dems ......

          Mountaintop Removal...indeed.....every part of that story requires urgent action.......

          Media Reform Action Link http://stopbigmedia.com/

          by LNK on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 09:46:54 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not sure i understand.. (3+ / 0-)

            Not sure i get your response, so if you do get a reference, that'll be highly useful -- all the major enviro groups are behind it, and all the env'l studies have given the project a green light (and they have been exhaustive).  

            I really think the Kennedy's don't want their view messed up, from what i gather -- and beauty is quite in the eye of the beholder, as well.  

            I love seeing windmills, graceful, elegant, clean, Earth-saving machines, wherever they be, like from when i was a kid, the ones in the Altamont Pass in CA (*though* these are badly designed for bird-kill and power optimization, from 30-40 yrs ago, far before anybody understood these issues well -- the more modern wind turbines are way way better on all these counts).

            One thing i can tell you is i'd rather live near a windmill farm than a mountain about to be blown up for coal, or downstream of a slag heap.  that's for dayyem sure.

    •  It's not the only way he's hurt his credibility. (7+ / 0-)

      I can't help but wonder if he'd be more persuasive to the administration of not for his antivax lunacy. This is one boy who has definitively cried wolf.

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:58:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Bullshit on every level. (4+ / 0-)

      First of all, it's ad hominem and therefore irrelevant of RFK Jr is a hypocrite.

      Second, the alternative is not necessarily just leaving the coal where it is. You don't have to remove a mountain top to get at the coal.

      Barack Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

      by expatjourno on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:04:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  We're discussing a campaign, (4+ / 0-)

        and so who leads the campaign, and therefore who has the credibility to lead it, is very much relevant. It's not ad hominem when the homo in question is the issue*.

        And yes, narrowly speaking, being anti-MTR is not being anti-coal. But the point is that the Kennedy clan's other energy activism undermines his credibility here.

        * homo is the Latin for man, in the nominative case. I'm only being pedantically grammatically correct, not homophobic :-)

        Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

        by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:11:46 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Even worse (0+ / 0-)

          His support of antivax lunacy and willingness to throw all the evidence to the contrary under the bus, in effect lying simply because it suits his purpose, even though this is a matter of life and death for many, means nothing he says can be trusted.

          For example, when he recently called on Obama to limit/eliminate MTR through executive order, does (and should) the power of an executive order really extend that far or not? I have no idea - there could easily be tricky legal issues in play. But since I can't trust anything RFK Jr. says, I either have to find someone else whose done the research (haven't found anyone yet), or do it myself in order to have an informed opinion on the matter.

          •  So you would be pro-Thimerosal, then? (0+ / 0-)

            And I guess you would throw all the evidence on the other side of the issue "under the bus?"

            Not to hijack the thread here, but there is a raging controversy about Thimerosal and its relation to autism.  Perhaps we need to consider how much your partisanship on that specific issue would impair your ability to render a reliable judgement as to RFK Jr.'s character.

            I mean, to me, you sound pretty het up.

          •  There's black, and there's white (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            expatjourno

            And then there's Thimerosal.  I find that you have mischaracterized the state of play.  E.g., there's quite a discusson at this link, including this:

            I could go on but hopefully you're getting the picture. Based on all of the info Kennedy was neither lying nor was he being dishonest. Your arguments against him do not prove your point and you have no argument for most of the points I have raised.

            Some will read this and agree with you.  Some will read it and come to another conclusion.  Some won't bother reading it, but will be aware that the case isn't as open-and-shut as you say.

            And as for thread hijacking, my point here is not about Thimerosal, it's about character assassination.

        •  A flawed messenger, granted. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MKSinSA

          But his message is still the right one.

          Taken from the perspective that we are just wasting half of the electricity we generate, though, I can see not wanting the environmental degradation either way until we'd gone as far as we could with conservation.

          Barack Obama is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I've ever known in my life.

          by expatjourno on Tue Jul 07, 2009 at 03:22:10 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  RFK's not suggesting HIKING..is he? n/t (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rainmanjr, Jane Lew, uc booker, jtown
  •  There's 500lbs of aluminum (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, Calamity Jean, Broadview

    on top of the Washington Monument. That's some serious beer money at the scrapyard.

    Let's just assume that my snarky comment above has released all the anger I have about mountaintop removal, and save everybody from reading endless pages of fuming, OK?

    Well, a little rant...

    My favorite response to a wingnut who advocates use of coal: If God meant for us to use coal for fuel he would not have put it so far under the ground.

    Or: God invented carbon sequestration. That's why oil and coal are already underground.

    Live Free or Die-words to live by

    by ForFreedom on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:46:26 PM PDT

  •  this is a bit much (3+ / 0-)

    ....the ruined landscapes of Appalachia will be Obama's legacy.

  •  If there is one state i care the least about (4+ / 1-)
    Recommended by:
    playtonjr, uc booker, jtown, lincoln deschain
    Hidden by:
    trevzb

    it is west virginia

    a close 2nd comes south carolina

  •  What jobs replace the mining? (7+ / 0-)

    We can't afford more unemployment, that's number one.  If replacing strip mining with tunnel mining increases employment, then I'm all for it.  But if this is simply shuttering an entire industry and thousands of jobs, then we need to get some electronics factories back over here fast.  Increase industry elsewhere first, then shut down the mining.

    I'm just saying that the GOP will win the Presidency in 2012 if this recovery flounders, and that's all on jobs.

  •  added DK GreenRoots tag cause was scheduled (0+ / 0-)

    for eco week. :)

    the case you made is clear, straightforward and simple. let's hope that he listens.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:55:42 PM PDT

  •  He's got to go see who is running Russia first. (0+ / 0-)

    There seems to be a lot of speculation as to whom it is that actually runs the country over there and his daughters want those little dolls that open up to another doll that open up to another doll that...

    Have you forgotten about Jesus? Don't you think it's time that you did?

    by uc booker on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:55:44 PM PDT

    •  Um, or he may be over there (8+ / 0-)

      to negotiate sensitive and vital agreements over nuclear arms reduction and the renewal of a major treaty due to expire in December whose goal is to reduce and eventually eliminate the risk that someone could destroy New York City in a single blast.

      I agree that he should take mountaintop removal more seriously, but don't pooh-pooh the Russia trip just to get in a dig.

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:03:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Did FDR go there as well? (0+ / 0-)

    I mean early in his presidency, if not before he took office? I think that a president is both morally obliged, and politically wise, to personally visit those parts of the country that are hardest hit by whatever economic or other hardships affect them.

    As usual, what is right and what is smart are one and the same.

    Fox Nauseam Delenda Est

    by kovie on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 06:57:10 PM PDT

  •  Organizing for America (6+ / 0-)

    (formerly Obama for America) held listening tours throughout WV about 6 weeks ago. The suggestion that Obama visit the MTR sites was given numerous times. Any time I get the chance I remind our district organizer that Obama really needs to see the MTR sites to see for himself.

    "I have never missed Hunter S. Thompson, George Carlin and Abbie Hoffman more than I do today."

    by wv voice of reason on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:03:44 PM PDT

  •  I think he may actually already have seen it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Bob Love, frandor55, Jyrinx

    although perhaps he had other things on his mind.  In the runup to the WV primary he took a helicopter trip with Nick Rahall over the Congressman's district, which IIRC has suffered some MTR.  Of course, the weather was horrible, so I do not know about the visibility, and there were some real scary moments on the flight, to the point that they wondered if they were going to land safely.

    do we still have a Republic and a Constitution if our elected officials will not stand up for them on our behalf?

    by teacherken on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:04:49 PM PDT

  •  Probably (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rainmanjr

    why RFK Jr. is not a part of this administration.

  •  how would you like this in your back yard? (12+ / 0-)

    MTR is being done in Ky too, this picture been all over the internet who took it I don't know

    Photobucket
    Photobucket
    Photobucket

    "I want to be in Kentucky when the end of the world comes, because it's always 20 years behind" -Mark Twain

    by vet on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:06:42 PM PDT

  •  I was unfamiliar w/ MTR's real effects (8+ / 0-)

    until I saw the footage on an episode of 30 Days, the Morgan Spurlock show where he or a willing participant spends 30 days living a lifestyle etc that is very outside their norm or sometimes even diametrically opposed to it.  He spent the opening episode of season 3 returning to his native West Virginia to spend 30 days working in the coal mines.

    As a new miner, Morgan is assigned much of the grunt work, including plastering, building wooden roof supports, shoveling coal and hauling heavy equipment. On his days off, Morgan leaves the mine to examine some of the bigger issues surrounding the coal industry. He meets with Peggy Cohen, 36, the daughter of a miner killed in 2006 in a Sago, West Virginia mine explosion. Morgan also talks to both coal industry executives and environmentalists about surface mining and mountain-top removal to gain perspective on the pros and cons of an industry that provides the U.S. with the raw materials for 50% of our electricity.

    Emphasis mine.
    I realize how much it reminds me of the horrors of clear-cutting that I have seen here in the Pac NW; I know they are different in many ways it still takes a beautiful part of the land and completely strips it leaving it like an open wound.  I don't care who they voted for it's a piece of history as well as very scenic country.  It is worth protecting!

    "In a democracy, dissent is an act of faith." -- J. William Fulbright

    by ninkasi23 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:08:48 PM PDT

  •  Amen to that (4+ / 0-)

    and Chairmen and CEO's of major corporations who sit in Boardrooms thousands of miles from where they lay waste to environment should visit their own devastation once in a while too.

    They appear to have little empathy for locals.

    Think Tank. "A place where people are paid to think by the makers of tanks" Naomi Klein.

    by ohcanada on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:10:26 PM PDT

  •  We need to clone Obama (0+ / 0-)

    Not because I disagree, but there is so much to do and only four cough (eight) years to do it in. Where do you start and stop?

    http://dauntingideas.com

    by dauntingideas on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:13:41 PM PDT

  •  While I agree with most of your sentiment.... (4+ / 0-)

    I feel this sentence is somewhat out of line:  

    Do you think President Obama might step outside before that tower of white marble was dragged down?

    Are you insinuating that he doesn't care?  That he's an ivory tower egghead?

    •  Yes. That's exactly what he's insinuating. (0+ / 0-)

      It also follows directly from the rest of the argument — it's Obama's detachment from the reality of MTR that's causing his inaction. That's pretty well the definition of ivory-tower eggheadedness.

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:17:51 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I totally agree (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCgrassroots, Munchkn, xylem

    Obama could seriously net points with the folks down there if he went and put his money where his mouth is. Sure they won't greet him as a liberator, with flowers and stuff, but right now a lot of folks are expecting the worst. He could totally undercut them by taking one good hard swing at their real enemies, and let it be known how much that move would help their interests.

    Kneecap the coal companies who reap huge profits at cost of major environmental damage(including the savings from ignoring any kind of efficient clean-up obligations.) Crush their annual projections and Break their bottom lines...

    Mark my words. A day will come when negligent or deliberate ecological malfeasance will be punished severely by heavy fines and prison time.  We will get there, taking nature seriously, as a precious(and I mean economically as well as ecologically) resource that we can not replace. If our ecologists had the bloodthirsty chops of some of the wall street landsharks, well I guess they wouldn't be our ecologists, would they? But the could use some kung fu training.

    We the People just need to stop having our collective panic attack, and stop to admire the greenery; while it's still there.

  •  Not to sound insensitive but (0+ / 0-)

    why would people want to live in those areas to begin with? Frankly I think the problem should be given just compensation as provided by the Constitution and should move (if they so choose) to safer areas. It would allow coal to still be used as a source of energy and it with the populations out of the way, it would be safe.

  •  RFK Jr. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NCgrassroots, jonimbluefaninWV

    He's an American Hero.  His passion about the environment is second to none.  I've seen him testify before congress numerous times and his knowledge and drive on the subject are second to none.

  •  Best fucking idea I've heard in a long time (4+ / 0-)

    Next week, after visiting Moscow, Africa, and wherever. Go visit one of the most fucked landscapes in our own country.

    Dammit, man. This is a good idea.

    And he can tie it right into health care, because most of those folks don't have any.

    "I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious." A. Einstein

    by bewert on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:30:52 PM PDT

  •  AMEN! (5+ / 0-)

    Appalachia is a national SHAME.

    While he's at it, he can look at some coal ash "storage" facilities too.

    A nickel ain't worth a dime anymore. -Yogi Berra

    by Joon on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:34:17 PM PDT

  •  What is with diarists who like to use words (6+ / 0-)

    like 'courage' and 'cowardice' in discussing their issues? I'm honestly getting tired of reading anything that relates action or inaction on certain things to courage or cowardice. Present your issues, present why they are important, press the POTUS to act, and that's that. It's pure speculative bullshit to infer courage or lack thereof on any of these. In the same vein, I've also had with those who casually throw the word 'heroes' around as well, especially when it comes to sports and games. Total horseshit!!

    open your mind or someone else will open it for you, but be careful you don't open it too much for you brain to fall out.

    by carlos the jackal on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:35:27 PM PDT

  •  Can *anybody* explain how this is happening??!! (4+ / 0-)

    Thank you Devilstower for a great and well-written piece, and some good discussion in the thread above, too -- what i have been wondering for some time is how the F--- this is happening by this Admin.  

    As you point out, this one is in their court -- i have read that 2/3 of WVians don't want MTR (of course, they likely want to mine coal, but as i say above, with the more labor-intensive methods so they can keep their jobs).  and the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers are the primary agencies that govern this -- both federal and at least the EPA under direct Exec Branch authority (don't know about the ACE..?).  this is not one that at this point Barack has gotta battle the entrenched interests Congress about, right now -- plenty of other places he will need to do that.

    He has the power to compel the EPA to not grant those permits.  he has spoken against MTR last year.  earlier this year the Admin indicated they were going to fight MTR -- so what the F--- happened?  i was stunned when they started granting those applications in April or so -- the suddenness and insanity of it in fact reminded me of my feelings when Bushco started talking about needing to invade Iraq back in Fall 2002 -- i just couldn't f------ believe it.  

    And i feel just about as angry about this now -- i live at the moment next to WV, in Ohio, and i've driven roads where you can see coal-mining operations in PA and WV, but haven't seen the utter goriness of a MTR operation except in pictures.  as i've said in other places, it is an abomination against the Earth to allow this to happen.  many things we humans do are -- clearcutting (as mentioned), and dumping toxic waste and spewing excess CO2 and on and on -- but many of these things i have a deep hope will be able to be fixed by wiser future human societies and generations (not that i'm happy about them -- i work on them too, spent a lot of my life in staunch forest protection for old growth in CA).

    But this is different -- you JUST CANNOT BRING MOUNTAINS BACK.  

    You can make artificial hills all you want with human-made trash (ugh), but you're not going to make several thousand feet high mountains that took the Earth millions of years to create.

    Every call i've made to Congress in recent times on healthcare, gay issues, etc. i've generally tacked on MTR at the end -- because i can't stomach the idea that this is being allowed.

    Phew.  ok, so i repeat my q -- how and why is the Admin doing this?  i am quite clear that Barack is a reasonable and decent person, but how can he countenance this at all? what in the Good Lord's name happened behind closed doors for them to grant these permits to these massive coal-mining companies?  i am trying my best to understand, because i do get it (even if i strenuously disagree) with many of the Admin's decisions -- on torture pics, nuclear power, slow response on LGBT, compromise on healthcare etc. etc. -- but i simply am not getting it on MTR.  and of all the comments, and in articles, and even the anti-MTR websites i've visited so far, i'm simply not seeing a deeper explanation of how and why the Admin is allowing this, and if it's only a matter of appeasing companies like Peabody Coal for their campaign contributions (is that it??).  

    So i am hoping someone who is a very staunch Obama supporter with insight on this can help me get it -- esp. someone who agrees with the Admin position on it.

    Thx.

    •  You've gotta know it's the Blue Dogs. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jonimbluefaninWV

      If they lose MTR then we'll lose their support.  Without their support we don't have 51 votes, I'm thinking, and without 51 votes we don't get health care, green energy or any further economy shore-ups.  So, Pres. Obama is playing ball with them for those things that everyone heard him campaign on.

      "The only thing to fear is tomorrows. I don't live for tomorrows. They're no fun." - Denny Crane

      by rainmanjr on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:29:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  To further make your point, look at WV's Jay (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Escamillo

        Rockefeller, as close to a true coal state liberal as you can get, one who once ran for governor in WV calling for the abolition of stripming (and got his ass handed to him, in 1972).

        While Jay is to be admired and supported as a staunch supporter of a meaningful health care public option, he and Senator Byrd announced the other day their opposition to the energy/cap-and-trade bill passed by the House.

        Rockefeller's statemant was less adamant and categorical than Senator Byrd's, but it's clear that he harbors...grave concerns about a bill which is already diluted and proposes something like $60 billion (I think that's the amount) for "clean coal."

        Now, keeping in mind that Jay backed Barack early and now chairs the rather important commerce committee, how likely is it that federal legislation banning MTR's going to get anywhere in the US Senate. Or that Obama's going to be tempted to burn the many bridges he will burn (including staunch liberals in the House like WV's Nick Joe Rahall) by taking on MTR...in his first year. And almost certainly not in his first term, either.

        This one's classic second term stuff, and can't even be plausibly addressed until a green energy roadmap's been laid down legislatively.

  •  This column by Kennedy has gotten... (5+ / 0-)

    a lot of exposure here in the coalfields. Later this week I plan to do another diary on this issue with links about a new film which will debut July 11 in WV. The industry is inciting a mob to try to prevent viewers from entering the theater. More details to follow.

    If you have come to help me, I don't need your help. But if you have come because your liberation is tied to mine, come let us work together. Lilla Watson

    by va dare on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:55:26 PM PDT

    •  Seriously? Awesome :-D (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      va dare, Munchkn

      You know a documentary is powerful when its targets mobilize so fiercely to destroy it :-)

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 07:58:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Here's a teaser... (3+ / 0-)

        Coal Country Premiere: Big Coal Lobby Does Not Want You to See This Powerful New Film

        As a groundbreaking clean energy counterpart to this summer's extraordinary Food, Inc. documentary on the agribusiness, the long-awaited "Coal Country" film on the cradle-to-grave process of generating our coal-fired electricity will be hitting the theatres next week with the big bang of an ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosive.

        And Big Coal ain't happy.

        After a year-long campaign of threats and intimidation, the Big Coal lobby plans to have its Friends of Coal sycophants out in force to picket the premiere of the film on July 11, 7pm, at La Belle Theater in the South Charleston Museum in Charleston, West Virginia.

        Coal Country film site

        If you have come to help me, I don't need your help. But if you have come because your liberation is tied to mine, come let us work together. Lilla Watson

        by va dare on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:08:33 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  You know, I really don't get that. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          va dare, Calamity Jean

          Isn't it rather elementary and obvious that if they just ignored the movie, it might just blow over as some fringe screed that no-one takes seriously, and now they're guaranteeing it more headlines and visibility and ticket sales and legitimacy and, ultimately, effect?

          This isn't a big-time Michael Moore or Al Gore blockbuster, which would get lots of attention anyway. WTF?

          (I assume Friends of Coal is an Astroturf front group. Does anyone in WV buy their just-regular-folk act?)

          Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

          by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:15:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  You're back! Just in time! (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          va dare, Munchkn

          (even if you did miss eco-week last week)

          The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

          by Land of Enchantment on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:15:56 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I got to read a lot of it but... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Land of Enchantment, Munchkn

            I was taking care of my 10-month-old granddaughter and  she didn't give me much time for participating in anything other than chasing her around, trying to keep her from eating lint. I will definitely try to do better, promise!

            If you have come to help me, I don't need your help. But if you have come because your liberation is tied to mine, come let us work together. Lilla Watson

            by va dare on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:40:12 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

  •  Does marriage rights come afterward? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    auron renouille

    Everybody has a pet project, and we all support most of them.

    Then why will he not stop the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains before they are gone forever?

    Jesus fucking Christ, even Dennis Kucinich wouldn't have accomplished this yet.  I knew we shouldn't have elected an electable president.

    John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

    by Bob Love on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:03:06 PM PDT

    •  Um, yes he would have. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ms scarlett leadpipe, Munchkn

      He can halt the issuance of EPA permits, then put a regulation in place banning MTR outright. Poof. Done.

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:06:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  (Also, this issue has a particular urgency. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Calamity Jean, Munchkn

      There's no hard deadline for marriage rights. Gay people will be just as married if they have to wait another year — each such year is a grave injustice, yes, but at least it would end. If Obama takes another year to get this right, the damage will be truly irreversible.)

      Wanna save up to $425 on a hotel room at Netroots Nation '09? Room with me! Please e-mail if interested.

      by Jyrinx on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:09:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Air? Water? Climate? (3+ / 0-)

      Special interest "pet projects"?

      Sigh.

      The river always wins. -- Mark Twain

      by Land of Enchantment on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:17:23 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Endangered species would seem (2+ / 0-)

        even more urgent that MTR. Things like this can be argued forever without conclusion.

        I think Obama is doing quite well, and has had the most successful beginning of any presidency since Roosevelt.

        And at any rate, I did not call air, water or climate "pet projects". Respond to what I've written, not to some imaginary antagonist. I've never seen you so inattentive, or so slapdash.

        John Galt is the new Walter Mitty.

        by Bob Love on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:51:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, not really. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Land of Enchantment

          even more urgent that MTR. Things like this can be argued forever without conclusion.

          Those mountains won't last forever at the rate they're turning them into mudholes. I've never had an issue hit me in the gut like this one does...it makes me want to physically harm the people in charge of it.

          Blood will spill over MTR before it's done, if it hasn't already.

          Want to fill in the Grand Canyon, saw California's redwoods into decks, blow up the Rockies and pave the Washington mall while we're at it?

  •  Stop behaving as if the US is a republic! (0+ / 0-)

    Obama does not care about Appalachia.  Like most recent presidents, he cares about his wars.  Presidents are good at making war.  They are not good at fixing domestic problems, problems of the American republic that once was.   They use rhetoric about fixing health-care, education, the environment, infrastructure, but the rhetoric is all there is.  Get it into your heads, folks, that Obama, Bush, whoever, are presidents to preserve and expand the US hegemony over foreign resources.  Understand that and much else will come clear.  What to do?  If you are young, emigrate.  If you are too old, you had plenty of warning.  You should have left during the Vietname War.

  •  This is an excellent idea (0+ / 0-)

    If I were President, I would want multiple national command centers (one in every state and territory) and I would like to be mobile most of the time.

    Ever hear of teleconferencing?  Staying in D.C. means staying inside The Bubble.  Go see America and teleconference with D.C. when necessary.

    I would make every effort to visit not only every state and territory of the U.S., but each and every one of their counties and major cities as well.  I would also visit each and every Native American Nation (I think there are now over 450 of them!).

    In order to govern America, it sure as hell helps to get up close and personal with as much of it as possible. Introduce yourself to America and America to you!  You HAD to do it as a candidate; now CHOOSE to do it as President.

    And, let's take it a bit further: I would have a standing invitation open to each and every senator and congressperson to have them and their family attend dinner with me and my family each evening, during the workweek, maybe even on weekends!

    It then becomes awfully difficult to play games with people when you know them and their family members on an intimate basis.

    Same goes for all countries: let's talk, no pre-conditions.

    Listen, talk, repeat; listen, talk, repeat; ad infinitum.

    " ... or a baby's arm holding an apple!"

    by Lavocat on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:57:49 PM PDT

  •  But his base is Goldman Sachs. (0+ / 0-)

    n/t

    Obama used to be for single payer before he came out against it.

    by formernadervoter on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 08:59:34 PM PDT

  •  Sheesh let's blame Obama for everything... (3+ / 0-)

    even back before Reagan....

    I dunno. I don't like the sound of what I am hearing from the Left.

    And dang it, I am a Progressive. But I'm not nuts.

    Ugh. --UB.

  •  Appalachia can't stand anymore of the progress (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ms scarlett leadpipe, Munchkn

    and prosperity thanks to mountaintop removal.  Wise County, Virginia is being bombed, blasted and bulldozed right into 3rd world America.  

    http://www.wisecountyissues.com/...

    End Mountaintop Removal !

    There will only be change when those unaffected are as outraged as those who are.

    by quidam56 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 at 10:14:54 PM PDT

  •  Let's talk about the AFL-CIO (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jonimbluefaninWV

    Here's an editorial from about 2 years ago "Singular mission: Economic cornerstone of W.Va. under attack" which blasts "activist environmental groups" which are engaged in a "calculated attempt to destroy a foundational industry that provides employment to hundreds of thousands of people in our state."

    You will be shocked to learn that these terrible environmental groups have a web page that actually says "Mountaintop Removal - Help End It!"

    OK, now let's talk about who wrote this screed. It was written by Steve Roberts and Kenny Perdue. Who? "Roberts is president of the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. Perdue is president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO."

    Let's go over that again, in case you missed it. This vicious excoriation of anyone who would dare oppose MTR was co-authored by the president of the West Virginia AFL-CIO.

    I suspect this has something to do with Obama moving a little cautiously on this issue.

  •  The number of people who expected Obama to... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jonimbluefaninWV, BoxNDox, Escamillo

    ... solve every problem, instantaneously and simultaneously, is rather staggering.  Bordering on a bunch of people stamping their feet and going "Mommy gimme my sammich NOW!"

    This was my concern - that we'd have a bunch of people who had no clue that governing ≠ campaigning.  Well, they all converged on this diary.

    "What Washington needs is adult supervision" - Barack Obama

    by auron renouille on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 12:24:40 AM PDT

  •  The same Kennedys (3+ / 0-)

    who squeal like a bunch of stuck pigs at the idea of putting wind turbines (wind turbines!) miles off the coast where they would "ruin" the clan's multimillion dollar view.  The turbines would literally stand less than an inch tall when viewed from the shore.

    The most pathetic display of NIMBY I've ever witnessed.

    "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

    by Subterranean on Mon Jul 06, 2009 at 05:53:03 AM PDT

    •  So, the Kennedys are the root of all evil? (0+ / 0-)

      And no non-Kennedy will substantiate the claim that tourism and fishing will be affected very negatively?  And there really are no better places to put the installation?  And this really wasn't thought up with an eye to dividing environmentalists against each other?

  •  Obama's Mountaintop Mining in West Virginia (0+ / 0-)

    "Clean coal" and dirty money! Obama's White House Visitors' Log is top secret because the tons of money Obama received from Big Coal during their unusually high number of visits is a helluva lot dirtier than their filthy "clean coal".  MONEY TALKS!  And Barack is a good listener!

  •  If you're going to go to coal country... (0+ / 0-)

    You'd better have a plan that is something more than "mountaintop removal is bad."

    This overblown bit of hyperbole is an example of how NOT to do it...

    >Go and see, Mr. President. If you're going to allow this Appalachian Apocalypse to continue, have the courage to face it.

    Appalachia is a poor area.  People in Appalachia rely on mining (including mountaintop removal) as the source of their livelihood.

    If you just go in and say we're doing away with mountaintop removal, you're saying that you're taking away their livelihood.

    That's not going to work.

    Making mountaintop removal the focus is the absolutely WRONG approach.

    IMO, the RIGHT approach is to go in and say "here's how we're going to help you EXPAND your economy to the point where mountaintop removal is no longer necessary."

    People in Appalachia feel like they are looked down upon and spoken badly about - and they are, for the most part, right.  Look at the stereotypes you see on TV and in movies.

    It's a tricky thing for a slick politician (and Obama is certainly that) to go in and make the people of Appalachia warm up to him.

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