The Bush Administration Drops The F-Bomb on Appalachia

It’s not straight from the VP’s mouth, but it’s straight from his policy book. Energy companies rule and all you folks living in the neighborhood can “just go f— yourselves” to quote on Administration Official.

The one thing that has been consistent about the Bush Presidency is that never have so many environmental laws been gutted, overwritten, or just plain ignored in such a short amount of time.

New rules would ease coal mining restrictions | – Houston Chronicle

The Bush administration wants to quit requiring coal operators to prove that their surface mining will not damage streams, fish and wildlife.Under proposed new regulations that it will put out Friday for public comment, strip mine operators would have to show only that they intend “to prevent, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available,” such damage.

I think the kicker is this from the end of the above article though…

The latest changes to the buffer-zone rule were first proposed more than three years ago.

At a hearing in March 2004, opponents talked of floods and flattened peaks and of homes swept away or devalued in central Appalachia.

A lawyer for the National Mining Association said the mines’ preference was to get rid of the rule entirely, because it is confusing and there are other protections for streams in federal law.

The telling part of that final statement is left unsaid in the article though..

Clean Water Action: Save Our Mountains, Save Our Streams

The Bush administration has changed Clean Water Act rules that prohibit dumping of wastes, especially mountaintop removal coal mining waste – but also hardrock mining waste, construction and demolition debris, and other industrial wastes – to bury streams, wetlands, lakes, rivers, ponds and other water bodies around the country.

This May 3, 2002 rule change puts virtually all of our nation’s waters at risk by overturning a 25-year old regulation that forbid the use of wastes to fill and bury waters.

Then there is this article:

EPA eliminates Clean Water Act protection for many non-navigable waters and wetlands

As a result of U.S. Environmental Protection Agency rule changes to the enforcement of the Clean Water Act, it now only automatically applies to permanent navigable waters and the wetlands attached to these waters. Intermittent and non-navigable waters and their wetlands may or may not be protected depending upon other criteria including whether or not they are attached to navigable waterways. These changes were the result of a Supreme Court ruling last year that ruled in the words Justice Anthony Kennedy that there must be a “significant nexus” between a wetland and/or waters and a navigable waterway. The cause of the navigable water requirement in the Supreme Court’s ruling is the wording of the Clean Water Act itself, which under Title I Section 101(a)(1) states:

it is the national goal that the discharge of pollutants into the navigable waters be eliminated by 1985.

So the protections the Mining Association Lawyer was talking about don’t exist…Are you surprised?

This Administration has systematically destroyed the laws and policies put in place to protect Americans. Be it your health, your jobs, your right to an education…None of these things matter to this Administration. The only thing that matters is that the companies with the most friends and relatives on their boards continue to do business unfettered by legal restraints. Even if it takes rewriting the laws in the late night committee meetings on the eve of the vote…

If you have stuck with me this far…go write a letter to your Representatives in Congress. Tell them to say NO…NO to Mountaintop Removal…NO to Water Pollution…NO to Air Pollution…NO to Drilling in ANWAR…NO to the indiscriminant drilling in the Rockies…Aw hell, just tell the to say NO to Bush and Chaney for a change.

For more info and to Take Action follow these links…

Blue Ridge Moutains environment

A Beautiful Mine – New York Times

It seems that the time has come for the American public to have to come to grips with what their unceasing  need for electricity is doing to one of the oldest and most diverse ecologies on the planet.

When it comes to mountaintop removal, a certain fatalism seems to take hold in Appalachia — the coal companies are too powerful, the politicians are corrupt, the regulators won’t regulate and the news media don’t care. But we cannot give up on rehabilitating Appalachia. While most efforts to reclaim the land destroyed by strip-mining have done little to restore the landscape or improve the region’s economy, one effort holds out special promise. It is a three-year-old program within the United States Office of Surface Mining called the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, and it is based on decades of research.

Later in the op-ed Erik Reece speaks of the current state of affairs in Appalachia and his hopes for a future…

Appalachia’s land is dying. Its fractured communities show the typical symptoms of hopelessness, including OxyContin abuse rates higher than anywhere in the country. Meanwhile, 22 states power houses and businesses with Kentucky coal. The people of central and southern Appalachia have relinquished much of their natural wealth to the rest of the country and have received next to nothing in return.

To right these wrongs, first we need federal legislation that will halt the decapitation of mountains and bring accountability to an industry that is out of control. Then we need a New Deal for Appalachia that would expand the Appalachian Regional Reforestation Initiative, or create a similar program, to finally return some of the region’s lost wealth in the form of jobs and trees, rebuilt topsoil and resuscitated communities. Financing should come from a carbon tax on Appalachian coal bought and burned by utility companies across the country — a tax that would also discourage the wasteful emissions of greenhouse gases. Such a project would educate and employ an entire generation of foresters and forest managers, who would be followed by locally owned wood-product industries and craftsmen like Patrick Angel’s brother Mike, who makes much sought-after hardwood chairs just like ones his grandfather fashioned.

Let’s hope that America comes to it’s senses soon. If nothing else, the internet has given a voice to those who live and love the Appalachia that the coal companies would destroy. This virtual voice is beginning to get the word out to the rest of America and it wont be very long before America answers back.

Lord help the coal companies and forgive them their destruction…I don’t think I can or will until they fix their mess.

Source: A Beautiful Mine – New York Times

environment nature Padre Island Texas

Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | – Houston Chronicle

From the local newspaper, this tidbit of environmental news…

The first endangered Kemp’s ridley turtle known to have nested this year on the Texas Coast laid 84 eggs on South Padre Island Tuesday, officials said…

From 1979 through 1996, only 17 Kemp’s ridley nestings were recorded in Texas. Last year, the known Kemp’s ridley nestings on Texas beaches hit 102, more than double 2005’s record of 50.

Source: Endangered turtle lays 84 eggs on South Padre | – Houston Chronicle