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Senator Robert Byrd posted a homage to John Denver and the mountains of West Virginia on his website.

This year, 2010, is the fortieth anniversary of the premier of John Denver's musical tribute to West Virginia as "almost heaven."

When I think of Denver's classic song, "Take Me Home, Country Roads," (which was co-written with Bill Danoff and Taffy Nivert) I think about the things that make West Virginia so unique.  First, of course, is the kind and generous nature of the people of our beloved state.  Next, I picture the beauty and serenity of our mountains.  They seem sacred, and, in fact, mountains are a frequent location for events in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments.

Byrd.senate.gov, March 3, 2010

(Byrd's statement was his weekly address and also can be found here.)

References to the beauty, serenity, and sacredness of the West Virginia mountains seem sadly ironic. One might ask why these treasured places are being turned into almost hell.

Almost hell

I cannot argue with the affection Byrd expresses for the mountains and people of West Virginia. I simply cannot reconcile the sentiment with his reluctance to stop the destruction of those mountains and the lives of West Virginians.

Photobucket

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge mountains, Shenandoah River.
Life is old there, older than the trees,
Younger than the mountains,
growing like a breeze.

John Denver

Last year, Byrd sent his staffers on a fact-finding mission to tour mountaintop removal mine sites from the air and on the ground. Fact-finding after mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed over 500 irreplaceable mountains seems a bit late.

Over the past 30 years (all of which during Byrd's tenure in the Senate), mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia has destroyed more than a million acres of forest and dumped debris and toxic waste in more than 1000 miles of streams. The eventual goal is to destroy approximately 12 million acres encompassing most of eastern Kentucky, southern West Virginia, western Virginia, and scattered areas of eastern Tennessee. You can see the outlines of the growing scourge (surface coal seam) on this map from 5 years ago.

I marvel at the lack of conscience of the people that run the coal companies and the politicians that protect them. The coal industry has long intimidated miners, even murdered union organizers, exploited communities, and is now destroying millions of acres in Appalachia. The miners are the only true heros in this tragedy, but the wealth generated by coal never trickles down to them and their families.

All my mem'ries gather 'round her,
Miner's lady, stranger to blue waters.
Dark and dusty painted on the sky,
Misty taste of moonshine,
teardrops in my eye.

John Denver

: : : : : : :

Change of heart?

Byrd for his part is having some change of heart about mountaintop removal plundering.

It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states.  Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens. West Virginians may demonstrate anger toward the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) over mountaintop removal mining, but we risk the very probable consequence of shouting ourselves out of any productive dialogue with EPA and our adversaries in the Congress.

Robert Byrd, December 3, 2009

It is funny how a process that is "not a widespread method of mining" has already laid waste to over a million acres across four states. He means only that it is not used outside of Appalachia, although somewhat less destructive forms of surface mining are used elsewhere.

Byrd is well aware of the growing evidence of the environmental and health hazards posed by mountaintop removal mining. Byrd's concerns about mountaintop removal mining are pragmatic rather than driven by a deep and abiding affection for the mountains and the people who live there. He wants to protect the interests of the coal industry and is basically suggesting that mountaintop removal mining can be used as a bargaining chip.

Most people understand that America cannot meet its current energy needs without coal, but there is strong bi-partisan opposition in Congress to the mountaintop removal method of mining it. We have our work cut out for us in finding a prudent and profitable middle ground – but we will not reach it by using fear mongering, grandstanding and outrage as a strategy.

Robert Byrd, December 3, 2009

And protecting the profitability of some of the most profitable companies over the past century is just part of his job as Senator.

I have spent the past six months working with a group of coal state Democrats in the Senate, led by West Virginia native Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.), drafting provisions to assist the coal industry in more easily transitioning to a lower-carbon economy. These include increasing funding for clean coal projects and easing emission standards and timelines, setting aside billions of dollars for coal plants that install new technology and continue using coal.

Robert Byrd, December 3, 2009

Byrd is concerned about ability of the coal industry to transition to a decarbonized economy, but does not extend the same concern to the dwindling employment prospects for people living in coal fields. Mining jobs in the state are rapidly disappearing and the highly mechanized operations used in mountaintop removal mining employ few and pay considerably less than underground mining jobs. Living wage jobs in the West Virginia of the future will not be coming from the coal industry. Byrd is aware of the issue.

In 1979, there were 62,500 coal miners in the Mountain State. Today there are about 22,000. In recent years, West Virginia has seen record high coal production and record low coal employment.

Robert Byrd, December 3, 2009

Whenever there is talk of a moratorium on mountaintop removal mining, the coal industry screams "jobs will be lost" but they mean "profits will be lost." Even Byrd recognizes the cynical "fear-mongering" and "grandstanding" of the coal industry. The sad truth is that state and local budgets are heavily dependent on tax revenues from the coal industry. This is why Governor Manchin and the West Virginia congressional delegation protect mountaintop removal at all costs even though the short-term benefits will come at an overwhelming price for future generations. Future generations will be stuck cleaning up the destruction and toxic effects of mountaintop removal mining long after the tax revenues from coal companies have dried up. The interests of the people of West Virginia will be best served by help to build a sustainable economic and environmental future rather than continued reliance on coal and especially mountaintop removal mining extraction methods.

Byrd closes his March 3rd address with the following.

Contemplating the use of mountains and hillsides as symbols in Holy Scripture, underscores what a special gift our mountains are for the people of West Virginia.  Majestic, inspiring, and, at times, intimidating, our mountains remind us of the glory of the view after the challenge of the climb.  Perhaps that is why West Virginians retain a stalwart and independent character, always inspired by possibilities and undaunted by difficulties.

This statement cannot be reconciled with the use of the mountains, hillsides, and streams as symbols of the malignant avarice of the coal industry. Byrd either really does not believe that the mountains are a special, even sacred, gift to the people of West Virginia or knows damn well that gift is being squandered to feed the bottom line of the coal industry. As noted in an excellent article in The New Republic, Byrd is "finding it increasingly difficult to argue that the interests of coal companies and the interests of his state are one and the same."

Mountaintop removal mining yields very high profit margins because the mechanized operations employ only a handful of people and lax regulations limit liability and reclamation costs. The coal industry is going to fight for every dollar of profit and will spend millions to wage a public relations battle to maintain the right to rape West Virginia. Here is an example of their attack and deceive machinery in action. A study published in 2009 found that health outcomes, including life expectancy, were substantially lower in coal mining regions of Appalachia with health-related costs an average of six times greater than economic benefits of coal to municipal revenue streams. The coal industry representatives immediately attacked the research and researchers. The coal industry then paid economists at West Virginia University and Marshall University to paint a glowing picture of the economic benefits of coal while ignoring any costs to the community.

Country roads, take me home,
To the place I do belong
West Virginia, mountain mama,
Take me home, country roads

John Denver

Youtube video

: : : : : : : : :

The usual suspects and sockpuppets

The coal industry has gotten used to running the show in Appalachia with virtually no environmental regulation of mountaintop removal mining under Bush.

George W. Bush was one of the best friends the coal industry ever had. Over the past eight years, Bush administration officials did nearly everything they could to clear the way for more mountaintop removal. They fought the court challenges that community groups filed against mining projects, watered down environmental regulations, and did little as scientific evidence grew showing the severe ecological damage of mountaintop projects.

Yale 360

The mere talk of tighter regulations sends coal industry scum like Don Blankenship into overdrive.

The mission statement for coal is prosperity for this country. This industry is what made this country great and if we forget that, we’re going to have to learn to speak Chinese.

Don Blankenship, Massey Coal

The mission of the coal industry is to make America rich? Is that why the poverty levels are so high in the coal fields? ... Let me destroy Appalachia or the Chinese will take over...

And whenever dirtbags gather, Sean Hannity will be there.

Don Blankenship, the CEO of the state's biggest coal producer, Massey Energy, teamed up with the state Chamber of Commerce and other trade groups to hold a Labor Day rally. The theme? How "environmental extremists and corporate America are both trying to destroy your jobs." Blankenship spent more than $1 million on the event, which took place on a flattened mountain and featured conservatives like Sean Hannity and Ted Nugent.

The New Republic

The CEO of the largest coal company along with the Chamber of Commerce is claiming that corporate America is destroying jobs. That has to be one of the few times Blankenship has ever told the truth. And way to build up your populist credibility by inviting a millionaire Fox News commentator and millionaire third-rate musician with guns to rile up the rabble, all while dancing on the remnants of a destroyed mountain.

: : : : : : : : :

A round of applause for Robert Byrd

I would be remiss in not giving Senator Byrd a round of applause for his fighting spirit. In response to a terrible editorial on healthcare reform in the Charleston Daily Mail, Byrd fired back in a letter to the editor that pointed out the deceptions and contained this gem.

With all due respect, the Daily Mail's hyperbole about "imposing government control," acts of "disrespect to the American people" and "corruption" of Senate procedures resembles more the barkings from the nether regions of Glennbeckistan than the "sober and second thought" of one of West Virginia's oldest and most respected daily newspapers.

Bryd, March 4, Letter to Editor

: : : : : : : : :

WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP

1. Learn more

Advocacy Organizations:

Appalachian Voices

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition

Coal River Mountain Watch

Kentuckians for the Commonwealth

2. Take Action - Support the Appalachia Restoration Act

The Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696) is a bill in the U.S. Senate which will sharply reduce mountaintop removal coal mining and protect clean drinking water for many of our nation's cities. It will protect the quality of life for Appalachian coalfield residents who face frequent catastrophic flooding and pollution or loss of drinking water as a result of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Here is another reason why your support for the Appalachia Restoration Act is critical. The Obama administration is delaying action on tighter restrictions on mountaintop removal mining.

The Obama administration has delayed action on a set of broad-ranging and specific measures to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop removal, after details of the plan were leaked to coal-state mining regulators.

Charleston Gazette, March 6, 2010

Contact your Senators: National Resource Defense Council contact form

Originally posted to DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 06:46 AM PST.

Poll

Most cynical justification of mountaintop removal mining

16%17 votes
16%17 votes
32%33 votes
3%4 votes
18%19 votes
12%13 votes

| 103 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

    •  What's funny is (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mattman, RunawayRose, DWG

      if we limit the coal companies to more traditional (still environmentally awful, but dramatically less so) forms of extraction, they're still going to come for the coal.

      This is painted as some life or death battle for nasty companies that hire very few miners at little pay, but the industry would be there regardless of mountaintop, like it has for generations.

      I miss Johnny Rook and Ormond Otvos.

      by Nulwee on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:41:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Exactly (3+ / 0-)

        Mountaintop removal is not necessary to meet the existing demand for coal in this country. We could stop it tomorrow with no impact on rates. The only reason it exists is that politicians have made it economically feasible to destroy a million acres to get at a small surface coal seam that is rarely more than 5 feet thick that lies near the surface on 12 million acres of Appalachia. If the industry were made to pay fair use for the land they buy at a steal to push off people and then restore the sites to near original condition instead of planting non-native grasses and walking away, the practice would cease immediately.

        Please help the people of Haiti

        by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:08:28 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  They will come for the coal (4+ / 0-)

        but they (the coal companies) will not carry the risks of this very dangerous business. We must wean ourselves off of coal. I hope that we can find a way to do that and provide employment to people when we do.

        We have a big coal industry here and I don't want to see the people in our coal country impoverished. My daughter went to college in Utah's coal producing area and I love the area and it's people. We need to think long term as we move forward, but coal has got to go.

        "Take it back, take it back. Oh no you can't say that. All of my friends are not dead or in jail." John Prine

        by high uintas on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:12:36 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Tip and rec! n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ahianne

      ...it is unfortunate that the opposition to the Democrats in this country now consists entirely of crazy people. - NNadir

      by RunawayRose on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:12:38 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Well Done (21+ / 0-)

    There is much I love about the Senator, not the least of which was his bravery before we abandoned the hunt for bin Ladin and sunk all our markers into the ridiculous folly of Iraq.

    But when I heard him speak of coal and mining as though it were his blessed mary I almost threw up.

    He may be too old to come to terms with what his kind of small thinking has done to the planet.  But those who will remain after he is gone are not.

    Coal, like all fossil fuels have had their 15 minutes of fame and need to be sent back to hell where they came from.  

    And a scar of green needs to close the wound once and for all.

  •  I am sure you could see the sort of devastation (10+ / 0-)

    pictured above from the moon.  Out there somewhere, aliens are plotting the destruction of the human race because we don't deserve to live, given what we've done to our planet.

    The sleep of reason brings forth monsters. --Goya

    by MadScientist on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 06:56:07 AM PST

  •  my grandfather was a coal minor (11+ / 0-)

    in the wheeling area...he passed in his mid-50's.  Good diary!!

  •  So many reasons to get off of coal, (13+ / 0-)

    MTR is certainly the most visceral. Thank you for the diary, tipped and a rec'd.

    "Interesting. No, wait, the other thing: tedious." -Bender

    by patrickz on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:01:53 AM PST

  •  All this has been sung by John Prine in his song (17+ / 0-)

    Paradise
    Written by John Prine.

    When I was a child, my family would travel,
    To western Kentucky, where my parents were born.
    And there's a backwards old town that's often remembered.
    So many times that my memories are worn.
    And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg county,
    Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay.
    "Well I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in askin'."
    "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."
    Well, sometimes we'd travel right down the Green River,
    To the abandoned old prison down by Aidrie Hill.
    Where the air smelled like snakes: we'd shoot with our pistols,
    But empty pop bottles was all we would kill.
    And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg county,
    Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay.
    "Well I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in askin'."
    "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."
    Instrumental break.
    Then the coal company came, with the world's largest shovel,
    And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land.
    Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken.
    Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.
    And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg county,
    Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay.
    "Well I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in askin'."
    "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."
    When I die, let my ashes float down the Green River.
    Let my soul roll on up to the Rochester dam.
    I'll be halfway to Heaven with Paradise waitin',
    Just five miles away from wherever I am.
    And Daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg county,
    Down by the Green River, where Paradise lay.
    "Well I'm sorry, my son, but you're too late in askin'."
    "Mr. Peabody's coal train has hauled it away."

    Health is the first requisite after morality - T. Jefferson

    by OHdog on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:17:22 AM PST

  •  Thank you. (9+ / 0-)

    Go to one of those advocacy orgs. Sign up. Do something. Write a letter. Sing a song. Do a dance.
    END MOUNTAINTOP COAL REMOVAL MINING.

  •  And this was done by Democrats. (8+ / 0-)

    East Kentucky lost a district and Harold Rogers' old district got moved to the east end in 1992...the rest of that map is blue territory: Rick Boucher in the tail of Virginia; Nick Joe Rahall in WV.

    Of course, I shudder to think what the Republicans would have done instead. If they'd been in charge, Appalachia would probably be full of convicts and indentured servants in work camps mining irrariated slag heaps.

    This is one of those issues that makes me despair. Neither party will do anything about it, and the local population is either helpless or hostile or both.

    "Don't worry! Our Health Care Bill is going to a big farm, where it will have plenty of room to run around!" --attributed to Barack Obama

    by AdmiralNaismith on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:33:35 AM PST

  •  The world needs more Joni Mitchell (8+ / 0-)

    If there can be neo-cons, why can't there be neo-hippies?

    If cats could blog.... they wouldn't.

    by crystal eyes on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:34:59 AM PST

  •  As an immigrant to WV from the Midwest (6+ / 0-)
    I greatly appreciate the natural beauty of the Shenandoah Valley and the Eastern Panhandle. I could really understand John Denver's song for the first time in my life. It's something to behold and I can understand the passion many people have in the area for their natural heritage.

    I have personally seen little of the coal industry, as that's in the western part of WV and the devastation has to be seen from the air for maximum impact. It borders on criminal, if not sinful action. However, if this is to be stopped, we will need to provide reasonably well paid employment for the miners and their families. There's not much out there but mining jobs. I have no idea what the answer to that is - It's for those of a much higher pay grade than I.

    "Ridicule may lawfully be employed where reason has no hope of success." -7.75/-6.05

    by QuestionAuthority on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:37:15 AM PST

    •  My family original came from Pike County KY (6+ / 0-)

      We do need to help this region build a sustainable economy. One immediate possibility would be to take a page from the Roosevelt's Civilian Conservation Corps and use unemployed or underemployed people in the region to help restore the damage on the million acres destroyed by mountaintop removal mining. To reforest the region there is a great deal of work to be done reworking the compacted soil and planting native tree species. Beyond that, there have been success stories in small agricultural projects, green energy technologies, and other innovation small business approaches.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:58:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  There are simply (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Orinoco

    too many humans on this planet now.

    Thanks to the Catholic Church (among many religions) and their no-contraceptive policy mixed with vaccines and antibiotics along with other life-saving treatments have allowed populations to grow out-of-control.  This is all and good.... but.

    There was once a time when a large family was necessary to work the farm, replace the family members who perished and whatnot.

    I am not trying to be anti-family here, I'm simply trying to point out a couple of reasons why there has been such a huge population growth on this planet and the planet is allergic to all these humans.  It is unsustainable with the approaching 7 billion humans.

    At the rate that humans are trashing this planet, their numbers too will once again decline.  I don't think humans will become extinct, but one day, only the strongest will be able to survive.

    -6.13 -4.4 Where are you? Take the Test!!!

    by MarciaJ720 on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:38:12 AM PST

  •  West Virginia...where you can still legally (0+ / 0-)

    fondle poisonous christian snakes in church (only 34 agonizing trips to be with Jesus last year)

    "These are people of the land. The common clay of the new west. You know.....morons!" -The Waco Kid

    by fedorko on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 07:39:33 AM PST

  •  I live in WV (8+ / 0-)

    Nothing I would like better than to eliminate MTR.

    However the coal companies who do MTR have now mobilized the miners against any regulation.

    Realize that the biggest thing eliminating mining jobs has been strip mining and MTR but they have totally hid that and at any environmental hearing or rally you will have miners as the shills of the coal companies making a ruckus and shouting down speakers.

    Here's the problem as I see it:

    Taxes paid by the coal industry and by utility companies that make electricity using West Virginia coal account for two-thirds, or over 60% of business taxes paid in our state.

    The coal industry pays approximately $70 million in property taxes annually.

    The Coal Severance Tax adds approximately $214 million into West Virginia's economy. Twenty-four million dollars of coal severance taxes collected each year goes directly into the Infrastructure Bond Fund.

    All 55 counties, even the non-coal producing counties receive Coal Severance Tax funds.
    The coal industry payroll is nearly $2 billion per year.

    Coal is responsible for more than $3.5 billion annually in the gross state product.

    http://www.wvminesafety.org/...

    So while I'd like to see MTR eliminated, and really coal eliminated as an energy source myself, politically speaking you are not going to see it when it contributes that much to the economy.

    I was talking to a guy last week and he quit his job in the hospital and went to work at a MTR site and this was a guy with a 12th grade education and he was pulling in over 100,000 a year. Those are huge wages for WV.

    So while we can push politically to end MTR and coal as an energy source, I believe we are doomed to failure unless we can find some way to develop the economy to where the states and people who are making money from it have some alternative. Realistically this should happen either before or concurrently with more regulation to make it happen.

    •  I understand why the miners are scared (4+ / 0-)

      Mining jobs in the region are dwindling fast and the coal companies have been able to exploit that fear.

      As for the exact economic contribution to the state, I would be reluctant to accept the numbers provided by the mining source. As I note in the diary, there are many costs associated with mining that are not taken into consideration.

      As I note in the diary there is a dependency on coal by state and local government. However, the supply and hopefully demand for coal makes that an intractable long-term basis for the economy.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:07:10 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Here's a link to Toots & the Maytals (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, marina, DWG

    "Country Road"

    I won't bother to embed since there's no video, but I'd encourage all to listen.

    Truly a great song with universal appeal.

  •  The debate is familiar (7+ / 0-)

    To anyone opposing clear-cutting of forests.

    The argument is always "Jobs". But jobs over what time scale?

    Sooner or later the coal is gone, or the trees are gone. And then the jobs are gone. In fact, the more environmentally devastating the techniques used to obtain the natural resources are, the faster the jobs are done, and the workers unemployed. At which point you have no jobs, and also no nature.

    Jobs involving using the earth in sustainable ways don't go away when the resources are depleted. Those of us who live out West can go see ghost towns. Towns which flourished as long as a resource (usually gold or silver) could be extracted, and now have a population of zero. Only the dry climate keeps them from disappearing. West Virginia does not have such a climate. How many towns will simply disappear in the next century?

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

    by blue aardvark on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:14:30 AM PST

  •  WV has ghost towns. (3+ / 0-)

    The ironic part is many of these dead or dying towns still have lots of coal coming out of the area. It's just that there's tens of thousands of less miners needed to extract it.

  •  Missing from your poll "People like flat ground" (7+ / 0-)

    yes, a coqal advocate/lobbyist actually said something like that and Rachel Maddow laughed in the face of the stupidest corporate meme ever when he did.

    Tipped and Rec'd for great work.

    Cheers

    "They can't remain comfortable in their ignorance. That has to change or the wars won't stop." ~ Kossack ontheleftcoast

    by MinistryOfTruth on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:24:52 AM PST

  •  Here in East Kentucky, The people have... (5+ / 0-)

    Bought the excuses of king coal hook, line and sinker. I have been awoke from the sounds of mountaintop removal in my area, and not 2 miles from my home, they had this rally just last year...

    People here need to be given other jobs, new industry needs to come here to show them they are not as dependent on it in this area as they think they are. I have also discussed how coal rules in these parts, several times, clogging our courts to bypass safety, reducing jobs not because of the EPA but because they can do it slightly cheaper (not enough to influence coal "prices" though) by just blowing up the mountain and hiring less miners.

    A lie is a lie even if everyone believes it. The truth is the truth even if no one believes it.-- Anon.

    by ekyprogressive on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 08:40:23 AM PST

  •  Nature of the Beast (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RunawayRose, DWG

    I don't think people realize how invidious Blankenship and Massey Energy have linked themselves into West Virginia. I know a number of otherwis good progressives in the state. Progressives on many issues other than coal who support the coal companies because they are afraid of what will happen to the state's economy if the coal companies leave. Personally, I think it would be better, but many people don't seem to agree with that opinion. They also provide job opportunities who people who otherwise would not have them. It's kind of analagous to a group like racist organizzations in the early part of the twentieth century handing out sweet benefits to those who support their cause and try to not so subtly strike terror against those who oppose them.  

    •  No question the state government is (0+ / 0-)

      heavily dependent on tax revenues from coal. However, a truly progressive view is one that takes the costs of coal into consideration along with the fact that coal money is not a sustainable foundation for the state economy. They need to take a longer view of the issue rather than simply looking at current revenue streams.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:26:08 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "delayed by Obama" isn't the whole story (0+ / 0-)

    Obama's EPA recently approved a new mountaintop removal project. I'm wondering why this didn't make your diary? Are you in spin mode here?

    •  Umm, no (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marina, MrAdam

      I covered the approval of the Hobet 45 permit in a previous diary along with other EPA shortcomings in regulating mountaintop removal mining. I have diaries in the works on the Spruce mine permit and will delve into the regulatory waffling in detail. There is a limit to how much you can put into one diary and have people read it. My objectives for the coming month are to keep the regulatory issues regarding mountaintop removal mining and coal ash in view to keep pressure on the administration.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:36:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Just stop it. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marina, DWG, MrAdam

    Now.

    I can remember when strip-mining was controversial. Then we had the Environmental Movement. Now they're simply destroying the mountains. This is progress?

    A society that does this has no values.

    Slap it. Shoot it. Kaboot it.

    by adios on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:31:41 AM PST

  •  Who the F*** do we think we are? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, Calamity Jean, MrAdam
    It took G_d 250 million years to make that ecosystem. What a**** destroys that in a day? Would they do that to the work of an merely human artist like Michealangelo? Don't destroy the Master Artist's work!

    Green jobs could provide plenty of economic growth. West Virginia and Appalachia should start a free range venison industry. Much lower in cholesterol than corn fed beef cattle and and free-range deer don't produce methane. Corn fed cows do. Wild turkeys are good too; or they could clean up the water and produce freshwater fish. There's also ecotourism, camping, and windpower.

    •  All great ideas (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Flaming Liberal for Jesus

      I have seen enterprising folks in the area developing bee colonies and associated products.

      If Obama wanted to provide immediate job relief for the area, he could push for a Civilian Conservation Corps approach to reforest the million acres destroyed by mountaintop removal mining. A big push for the CCC during the Depression was planting trees. Since reforestation of the mountaintop removal mine sites is complicated by soil compaction, the amount of work it would take to reforest these sites would have a huge immediate impact on the depressed economies in eastern KY, southern WV, and western VA. Think of the political capital that would build for pushing for the sustainable ideas that you mentioned.

      Please help the people of Haiti

      by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 09:43:04 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Well, all ruminants produce some methane (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DWG, JeffW, Flaming Liberal for Jesus

      ...free-range deer don't produce methane.

      as part of their digestive process, but feedlot cattle produce more because their manure is held in ponds and ferments more methane.  

      There's also ecotourism, camping, and windpower.

      Oh, yeah, windpower!  I sometimes wonder if the coal companies are so hot on MTR partly because it removes the best places to put wind turbines.

      Renewable energy brings national security.

      by Calamity Jean on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 11:19:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  This has been in the back of my mind too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW

        I sometimes wonder if the coal companies are so hot on MTR partly because it removes the best places to put wind turbines.

        It is a cheap way to "reclaim" MTR sites and gives them a clean energy credit. The idea that we deforested millions of acres to scrape the land for coal and put up wind farms makes my head spin.

        Please help the people of Haiti

        by DWG on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 11:27:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  No, other way around. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW

          It is a cheap way to "reclaim" MTR sites and gives them a clean energy credit. The idea that we deforested millions of acres to scrape the land for coal and put up wind farms makes my head spin.

          Once a mountain has had the top removed to extract the coal, it's ruined as a windpower site.  The loose rocks bulldozed flat aren't strong enough to base a wind turbine on, and the hacked-off flat surface is below the surrounding unmined hills and therefore too low to catch the best wind. From the coal company's POV, it's a win-win.  They get coal and prevent their chief rival from having a place to work.

          Renewable energy brings national security.

          by Calamity Jean on Tue Mar 09, 2010 at 10:37:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Well, I just wrote postcards to both my (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DWG, JeffW

    Senators asking them to support S. 696, and one to my Representative asking him to introduce it in the House.  

    Because postcards can't hold anthrax they don't get delayed by security like letters do.  I use 4 inch by 6 inch index cards, which hold about three sentances in my handwriting.  They are quick to do and only cost $0.28 to send.  Don't use 3 x 5 cards, they are too small to be legal as mail.  

    If you don't like index cards as postcards, you can buy prepaid postcards at your local post office, or order them online.  Or get really creative and buy souvenir picture postcards from your local tourist trap.  

    Congress needs a blizzard of hand-written postcards thanking them for supporting health insurance reform (if they have) and urging them to support S.696 and other worthy causes.

    Renewable energy brings national security.

    by Calamity Jean on Mon Mar 08, 2010 at 11:10:42 AM PST

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