The Dernogalizer

June 4, 2009

Column on Mountaintop Removal

I have a column out today in the paper about the Obama Administration’s shameful approval of 42 mountaintop removal permits.  I want to be sure to post it for you.

Mountaintop removal: No science, no ethics

MATT DERNOGA

The Environmental Protection Agency recently approved 42 of the 48 permit applications for mountaintop removal operations in West Virginia, deeming them environmentally responsible. A review of mountaintop removal would serve the EPA well. 

Mountaintop removal is a way for the coal companies to avoid having to mine the mountain the traditional way. Instead, they use millions of tons of dynamite to blow up the mountain so they can easily extract the coal underneath. Dynamite is cheaper than coal miners; no jobs created here. The toxic waste from this process is then dumped into the nearby valleys and riverbeds below, which can ruin the entire ecosystem. 

More disturbing is the effect on the communities that live in the area. Coal slurry is a toxic byproduct of the mining waste, with billions of gallons stored in dams around the mining sites. At mountaintop removal sites like those in the Appalachia in West Virginia, this can shatter the community in two ways.

There was an incident last December in Tennessee where a coal slurry dam between Nashville and Knoxville burst, causing 500 million gallons of sludge to flow into the tributaries of the Tennessee River, which is also the water supply for millions living in Alabama, Tennessee and Kentucky. It was estimated to be 40 times larger than the infamous Exxon Valdez spill. 

Living near a mountaintop removal operation and living near a coal slurry dam is like living in a war zone. Explosions are going off all the time. Ash and rock is raining down around communities. Machinery is clanging all day and night. The air and water is contaminated with toxic metals and chemicals, including arsenic, lead, selenium, boron, cadmium and cobalt. A friend of mine recently traveled to a West Virginia community to see the devastation and said residents have numbness in their extremities because what they are ingesting is so toxic.

In desperation, coalfield residents of West Virginia wrote a letter to the EPA and Department of Interior begging them to stop the madness. “You are our last hope for justice at this point,” they wrote.

The EPA responded to a different letter instead. They wrote back to a West Virginia Congressman who was determined to ensure the permits went through. The EPA letter said, “I understand the importance of coal mining in Appalachia for jobs, the economy and meeting the nation’s energy needs.” You know the rest.

The health hazards mentioned came to light as a result of the EPA’s own analysis and report on the impacts of living near coal ash and slurry ponds. Both President Barack Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson have pledged to base decisions on science. Science has returned to the White House, we’re told. Exactly what kind of “science” are we talking about? This reminds me of my sixth grade “science” fair project that involved lots of burnt bread and no numbers. 

Jackson, the EPA and Obama have made a mockery of science. They placed the coal industry above human decency. They let the people of Appalachia’s hopes slip right through their fingers. In so doing, they’ve undermined (no pun intended) the moral integrity of America and failed West Virginia, as well as the rest of the country.

Matt Dernoga is a senior government and politics major. He can be reached at mdernoga@umd.edu

Sources

On the 42/48 approved…

http://blogs.wvgazette.com/coaltattoo/2009/05/15/rahall-epa-clears-42-of-48-permits-for-approval/

The EPA’s response to the Congressman

http://wvgazette.com/static/coal%20tattoo/epa2rahall.pdf

Link for the coal slurry disaster

http://madrad2002.wordpress.com/2008/12/23/coal-slurry-dam-disaster/  (article link is in the first paragraph, butthere’s a lot of background info in the entire post).

The following two highlight the dangers of being near coalslurry ponds.

http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/pub640.cfm

http://www.environmentalintegrity.org/pubs/FINAL%20COMING%20CLEAN%20EJEIP%20Report%2020090507.pdf

Source for the letter..

http://www.grist.org/article/urgent-letter-to-epa-and-interior-from-coalfield-residents/
About these ads

14 Comments »

  1. […] Cross-posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Column on Mountaintop Removal | CCAN Blog — June 5, 2009 @ 1:16 am | Reply

  2. […] Cross-posted from: here […]

    Pingback by Mountaintop Removal Op-Ed « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 5, 2009 @ 5:47 pm | Reply

  3. […] gas), would be to compare the extraction process of natural gas to oil drilling, or to how we extract and store our coal.  I know many could consider the effects of mountaintop removal to be worse.  The […]

    Pingback by Natural Gas « The Dernogalizer — June 6, 2009 @ 11:22 pm | Reply

  4. […] gas), would be to compare the extraction process of natural gas to oil drilling, or to how we extract and store our coal. I know many could consider the effects of mountaintop removal to be worse. The […]

    Pingback by Natural Gas « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 7, 2009 @ 10:03 pm | Reply

  5. […] gas), would be to compare the extraction process of natural gas to oil drilling, or to how we extract and store our coal. I know many could consider the effects of mountaintop removal to be worse. The […]

    Pingback by Natural Gas | CCAN Blog — June 7, 2009 @ 11:28 pm | Reply

  6. Good column Matt. Thanks for helping spread the word about this atrocity in West Virginia!

    Comment by Dave Cooper — June 20, 2009 @ 2:15 pm | Reply

    • thanks Dave! Good luck with your work moving forward.

      Comment by Matt Dernoga — June 20, 2009 @ 9:13 pm | Reply

  7. […] want background information on how atrocious mountaintop removal is to the land and the people, see here and here.  There is an excellent video of this action which I want to show below.  In case you […]

    Pingback by Dragline Climb Video « The Dernogalizer — June 21, 2009 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

  8. […] written multiple times on the atrocity that is mountaintop removal.  Here is my most recent article.  Today there were massive protests and arrests at Marsh Fork Elementary […]

    Pingback by Massive Mountaintop Removal Protest « The Dernogalizer — June 23, 2009 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  9. […] written a couple of columns on the atrocities of mountaintop removal, which can be found here and here. Of recent, media and actions surrounding mountaintop removal have escalated from climbing […]

    Pingback by Subcommittee Hearing on Mountaintop Removal « It’s Getting Hot In Here — June 26, 2009 @ 1:08 am | Reply

  10. […] over the Waxman-Markey bill(which I support) to be pretty good. At the same time, I’ve criticized his administration over the EPA ruling on mountaintop removal, as well as his stance on clean coal, […]

    Pingback by Obama: “I love Rick Boucher” « It’s Getting Hot In Here — July 29, 2009 @ 11:49 pm | Reply

  11. […] I’ve criticized the EPA a lot for it’s unwillingness to do anything serious about mountaintop removal.  See here. […]

    Pingback by EPA lays the BOOM on Mountaintop Removal Mining « The Dernogalizer — April 1, 2010 @ 5:11 pm | Reply

  12. […] of mountaintop removal, in particular the Obama Administration’s failure to acknowledge the science behind mountaintop removal, a call for a ban on MTR following EPA regulations earlier this year […]

    Pingback by A Day of Fighting for Appalachia « The Dernogalizer — September 28, 2010 @ 2:33 pm | Reply

  13. […] of mountaintop removal, in particular the Obama Administration’s failure to acknowledge the science behind mountaintop removal, a call for a ban on MTR following EPA regulations earlier this year […]

    Pingback by A Day of Fighting for Appalachia « It’s Getting Hot In Here — September 28, 2010 @ 2:36 pm | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Rubric Theme. Blog at WordPress.com.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

%d bloggers like this: