Feb 17: Report: Mountaintop-removal damage outlives 'reclamation'

golf course
Twisted Gun Golf Course on a Mingo County mountaintop removal site in West Virginia.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Mountaintop-removal mining continues to damage the environment long after regulators sign off that mine sites have been properly reclaimed, according to a new report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. GAO investigators found that mountaintop removal damages water quality, reforestation efforts need improvement, and mine operators often do not comply with the approximate original contour reclamation requirement. And in a 68-page report to Congress, the GAO said federal and state regulators could do more to limit the damage and to ensure mine operators are held financially responsible for cleaning up industry messes," Ken Ward, Jr, Charleston Gazette.

Feb 15: New leader looks to fire up Sierra Club


Michael Brune will become the Sierra Club's executive director on March 15. (Michael Jones/Sacamento Bee)
ALAMEDA, CA -- "Also at the top of Brune's first-year hit list is bringing an end to the coal industry's 'mountaintop removal' mining practices. Mountaintop removal, which occurs mostly in the Appalachian states, involves using an explosive charge to remove the top 300 or 400 feet of a mountain to expose a seam of coal for mining. While federal regulations require mining companies to replace the top layer of dirt, the process destroys environmental habitat and releases toxins into the air that threaten the health of workers and local residents. 'We must replace dirty coal in this country,' Brune said. 'We must continue this fight until we convince our political and industry leaders that there are more economic benefits to be had by transitioning to wind power and other forms of clean energy,'" Jeff Mitchell, Sacramento Bee.

Feb 12: Mountains rally gets celebrity support

rally

FRANKFORT, KY -- "In an interview, Dave Moss, vice president for the Kentucky Coal Association, said he did not understand why any legislators would back a Stream Saver bill now, following an agreement reached in January on new mining practices. State and federal officials have promised the new methods would protect streams and lead to faster and better reclamation of hillsides and mountains. Rally participants marched from the Kentucky River to the capitol in freezing temperatures. They dressed in winter jackets, scarves, hats and mittens, and chanted 'new power now.' Teri Blanton, the former chair of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, said, 'We want new political power. We want new clean energy power. We want new economic power,'" James Bruggers, Louisville Courier-Journal.

ABINGDON, VA -- Virginia lawmakers to consider ‘Stream Saver’ fill ban, Debra McCown, Bristol Herald Courier.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Blankenship nets $3.8 million in stock deal, Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Feb 11: Amazing Video: Coal miners join historic rallies to end mountaintop removal



FRANKFORT, KY -- "In a symbolic bond between the Appalachian states of Kentucky and Virginia, coal miners and coalfield residents will rally with statewide citizens groups in both state capitals on February 11th, as historic 'stream saver' bills are introduced in special hearings to stop the illegal dumping of mountaintop removal mining waste in protected waterways, and bring an end to the most egregious human rights and environmental violation in the nation. An estimated 2,000 miles of streams and waterways have been jammed and sullied by mining waste in the Appalachian mountains. Coal miners are uniting with citizens and environmental groups across the Appalachian coalfields with an unequivocal message to the world: End mountaintop removal now, and launch a just transition for clean energy jobs in the coalfields," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.


Feb 9: After feds step in, Department of Environmental Protection cites Massey dam


Brushy Fork coal slurry impoundment in Raleigh County, WV

CHARLESTON, WV -- "After federal officials threatened to step in, the state Department of Environmental Protection late last week cited Massey Energy for problems with the expansion of its controversial Brushy Fork coal-slurry impoundment in Raleigh County. DEP officials were aware of a stability violation at the site since late-December or early January, but took no enforcement action until the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement learned of the problem during its own inspection," Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

Feb 4: West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin's impressions of Obama views on mountaintop removal


President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and several cabinet members and aides met yesterday with the governors of West Virginia, Ohio and nine other states to discuss energy policy.

WASHINGTON, DC -- "After meeting with President Barack Obama and other Administration officials yesterday, West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin told a phone press conference that mountaintop removal coal mining was one of the topics. Manchin said he told President Obama, 'Mountaintop removal, we know that's very volatile.' [Obama] says, 'Absolutely.' It was high on his radar screen. He knows all about it . . . . There's no bones about it, [the Administration], they're not a fan of mountaintop removal. They talked about it and they asked me. It's a volatile issue, we know that . . . I could tell that they've got concerns there,'" Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Feb 3: Confirmed three times in one week:
Coal, nuclear lobbyists now firmly in charge of Obama's energy policy



2008 Obama campaign ad
COLUMBUS -- "Mid-20th century vested interests in coal and nuclear power are now firmly in charge of President Barack Obama's energy policy, as confirmed three times in the last week:
  • In his first State of the Union speech on January 27, Obama gave the usual tribute to 'green jobs,' and then reeled off his real priorities: 'But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.'
  • Obama sent his proposed 2011 budget to Congress on February 1. It would double coal subsidies through a switch from the existing $228 million-a-year subsidy to a new $545 million-a-year subsidy with the name "clean coal." The proposed budget also nearly triples federal loan guarantees for new nuclear plants, from $18.5 billion to $54.5 billion.
  • Yesterday, at a town hall meeting in Nashua, New Hampshire, Obama signaled that he was ready to accept a "Plan B" energy bill. When the cap-and-trade climate bill was moving through the U.S. House last spring, Obama and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi let it be larded with subsidies to coal and nuclear interests, with an eye to buying votes for the cap-and-trade provisions. Now it is clear that the cap-and-trade scheme cannot pass, so Senators are preparing 'Plan B', to pass the coal and nuclear subsidies without the cap-and-trade provisions. Obama told the town hall audience that he is receptive to this idea: 'We may be able to separate these things out.' Meanwhile, Sens. John Kerry (MA), Joseph Lieberman (CT) and Lindsey Graham (SC) are busy adding more nuclear power subsidies to the bill," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Feb 3: Anti-mountaintop removal activist Jeff Biggers to speak in Cincinnati

CINCINNATI -- "Ohio Citizen Action and the Urban Appalachian Council proudly present author, award-winning journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers, reading and presenting from his new book, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: the Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland. The event takes place at 2pm Sunday, February 7 in the auditorium of North Presbyterian Church, 4222 Hamilton Avenue in Northside and is free and open to the public. Mr. Biggers is known as a thorough and passionate researcher and a very entertaining speaker. Books will be available for sale and donations will be accepted to promote the work of Ohio Citizen Action to stop mountaintop removal coal mining and of the Urban Appalachian Council to provide educational and cultural programs to, by and for urban Appalachian families in Greater Cincinnati," Melissa English, Southern Ohio Program Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

Feb 3: New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance breaks two records in the fight to stop mountaintop removal mining

WASHINGTON, DC — "Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey’s 7th District became the 163rd co-sponsor of H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act. The House bill and a similar bill in the Senate, S. 696, the Appalachia Restoration Act, both seek to put an effective ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Rep. Lance is the ninth House member from New Jersey to co-sponsor H.R. 1310 and the eighth Republican nationwide. Both New Jersey Senators are co-sponsors of S. 696. Six Ohio House members are co-sponsors: Steve Driehaus, Marcia Fudge, Mary Jo Kilroy, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan, and Betty Sutton. Neither Ohio Senator has co-sponsored S. 696," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Feb 3: Manchin going to talk coal with Obama and Biden

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Gov. Joe Manchin said he and governors from 10 other states are scheduled to meet with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss energy... 'I think there's a misconception that we don't recognize we need to do our part for the environment,' Manchin said following a speech to several hundred business leaders in South Charleston on Tuesday. Manchin said it seems the fact that West Virginia is the third-largest producer of wind power in the eastern United States is often overlooked. And 'we'd love to do solar,' he said. 'I want them to know we have a land-use bill' that requires mining companies to plan how land will be used after mountaintop removal mining, he said," George Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail.

Feb 2: Judge blocks further protests against Massey



CHARLESTON, WV -- "A federal judge has temporarily ordered a halt to mountaintop-removal protests that involve trespassing on Massey Energy property or interfering with any of Massey's operations. U.S. District Judge Irene C. Berger granted Massey subsidiary Marfork Coal Co.'s request for a temporary restraining order against non-violent civil disobedience actions aimed at stopping its mountaintop-removal mining operations. The order prohibits 'trespassing or otherwise congregating' on mining property as well as 'interfering, obstructing, blocking, impeding or tampering with' any mining properties in Southern West Virginia," Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Judge bars protesters from Massey mines in West Virginia, Tim Huber, Associated Press.

Jan 28: In State of the Union speech, Obama ignores the leveling of the Appalachian mountains
Adopts Bush energy policy: nuclear power, drilling, and coal

Stahler cartoon

COLUMBUS -- "In his first State of the Union speech, President Barack Obama did not mention the leveling of the Appalachian mountains underway by the mountaintop removal coal companies. Instead, after the usual bow to 'green jobs' and the dead cap-and-trade bill, Obama set out his new energy policy, which is identical to the energy policy of his predecessor: 'But to create more of these clean energy jobs, we need more production, more efficiency, more incentives. That means building a new generation of safe, clean nuclear power plants in this country. It means making tough decisions about opening new offshore areas for oil and gas development. It means continued investment in advanced biofuels and clean coal technologies.' During his presidential campaign in 2008, candidate Obama said he was 'against' mountaintop removal coal mining. Since taking office, he has not said a word about it, letting the U.S. EPA and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers engage in a policy standoff while the destruction continues," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Historic Cost of the State of the Union: Mr. President, Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal, Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.

Jan 28: Big news (maybe): EPA looking at ‘fill material’ definition

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Buried in a new Rolling Stone magazine profile of Obama EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson is some potentially huge news for coal mining in Appalachia … it seems that EPA has quietly begun re-examining the definition of 'fill material' in its Clean Water Act rules and may make some changes. But if you look closely at what EPA has said, it’s not clear that they’re really going to do what environmentalists would like to … we’re a long way from knowing if this is a big deal," Ken Ward Jr, Charleston Gazette.

Jan 27: Another voice for the mountains: Rep. Chu 162nd co-sponsor of Clean Water Protection Act

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Representative Judy Chu (CA-32) is the 162nd co-sponsor of H.R. 1310 the Clean Water Protection Act, an effective ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Rep. Chu serves on the Education and Labor, Judiciary, and Oversight and Government Reform committees. She joins six House members from Ohio in co-sponsorship: Steve Driehaus, Marcia Fudge, Mary Jo Kilroy, Dennis Kucinich, Tim Ryan, and Betty Sutton. S. 696, the Appalachia Restoration Act, is a similar bill in the Senate, and has 10 co-sponsors. Neither Ohio senator has co-sponsored the bill. While Senator Sherrod Brown was a member of the U.S. House, he was a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act. Since June of 2009, Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have sent Senator Brown over 22,000 letters urging him to co-sponsor S. 696," Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Jan 27: Ohio Citizen Action staff attend President Obama's town hall meeting, urge ban on mountaintop removal


Gerald Abt, Jennifer Roddis, Governor Ted Strickland and Dave Ralph


Dave Ralph, Senator Sherrod Brown and Jennifer Roddis

ELYRIA -- "We were stopped by security when we tried to pass out our flyers about mountaintop removal to people waiting in line for the President's town hall event. We were told by a representative of the Student Life Office that he could not approve the content of the flyer and that the individual who could approve it was unreachable. We were sent to the designated 'free speech area,' located on the opposite end of campus. We decided that it wouldn't be very beneficial for us to stay in a place where there were no people, so we went inside one of the buildings on campus where the speech was being shown on a big screen. We sat down and a few minutes later Governor Strickland came in, we gave him our flyer, and he quickly went on his way. We also gave Senator Brown a flyer and I asked him what the hold-up was on co-sponsoring the Appalachia Restoration Act. He said that he 'has a lot more important things to worry about,' and brushed me off,” Jennifer Roddis, Ohio Citizen Action.


Jan 26: Old senator, new tricks
What’s behind Robert Byrd’s surprising smackdown of Big Coal?

WASHINGTON, DC -- "As a rule, politicians in West Virginia don't care for environmentalists. This is, after all, a state that supplies 50 percent of U.S. coal exports, a state where the mining industry is responsible for roughly 30,000 jobs—a state that essentially depends on pollution for its survival. And West Virginia's most prominent coal champion has long been Robert Byrd, who once slammed green critics of mining as 'head-in-the-cloud individuals' out to destroy jobs and impoverish the region. In 2008, Byrd was the lone Senate Democrat to vote against even starting debate on a bill to curb carbon-dioxide emissions. So just about everyone was shocked when, last month, Byrd did an about-face and wrote an op-ed that criticized modern-day mining practices and accused the coal industry of 'having its head in the sand' on climate change," Jesse Zwick, The New Republic.

Jan 26: Manchin promises review of coal critics' complaints


Raleigh County resident Bo Webb tells the media about his meeting on mountaintop removal Monday with Gov. Joe Manchin. (Chip Ellis/Charleston Gazette)

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Gov. Joe Manchin on Monday promised to review citizen complaints about lax enforcement of strip-mining regulations and urged the coal industry and its critics to discuss their differences without resorting to violence and intimidation. 'What we're looking for is trying to find a balance,' Manchin said after a private meeting with coalfield residents, environmentalists and several academics who have studied coal's negative impacts. 'You would like to think there's got to be some common ground,'" Ken Ward Jr., Charleston Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Manchin calls for dialogue in the coalfields, "Goldman Environmental Prize winner Maria Gunnoe was at the meeting. She, too, called for dialogue between regulators, the coal industry and the environmental community. 'The people in the coalfields are reaching out to you,' she said. 'Don’t be a brick wall,'" Erica Peterson, West Virginia Public Broadcasting.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Gov. Manchin aims for balance between mining, environmentalists, Mannix Porterfield, Register-Herald.


Watch video of the press conference

Jan 26: Ohio Citizen Action nominated for Cincinnati City Beat’s “Best Of” issue

CINCINNATI -- "In recognition of Ohio Citizen Action’s campaign to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, local independent weekly newspaper City Beat nominated the group for its annual ‘Best Of’ issue. The organization was nominated for Best Cause, campaign director Melissa English received a nod for Best Do-Gooder and last August’s Music for the Mountains benefit was nominated for Best Fundraiser. Online voting is open until Sunday, February 21st and results will appear in the March 31st issue. For details or to cast your votes, visit citybeat.com.

Jan 25: Watch the complete Kennedy-Blankenship debate on coal



CHARLESTON, WV -- "Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship and Waterkeeper Alliance President Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. debated the role of coal, and its future, as part of the United State’s energy supply. Topics ranged from use of renewable energy, employment rate within the coal industry, mountaintop removal coal mining, economic benefits and costs, and the costs of human health impacts. Staged at the University of Charleston, West Virginia, the debate was broadcast live on the internet by local television stations,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.

Jan 22: Blankenship, Kennedy debate coal's future

debate
Environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., right, debates Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship at the University of Charleston.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Several times during the event, Kennedy cited the recent statement by Sen. Robert D. Byrd, D-W.Va., urging the coal industry to 'embrace the future' and chiding environmentalists for being unrealistic in thinking the nation could simply stop all coal production. 'We're not going to get rid of all mining in this state, and I'm not advocating that,' Kennedy said. '[But] the state needs to start diversifying and transitioning to a new energy economy.' Blankenship responded that West Virginia's laws are too difficult to comply with and its legal climate too harsh on businesses. And, he said those who attack the coal industry are attacking their neighbors who work in the industry -- 'the people who are teaching your Sunday schools and coaching your Little League.' But Kennedy said coal operators are only able to compete in the world energy market by shifting onto society the costs of the pollution, workplace safety and climate change impacts of their product. 'All of these costs are imposed on the rest of us,' Kennedy said. 'We should have free markets with no subsidies. If we did that, there is no way your industry could compete,'" Ken Ward, Jr., Charleston Gazette.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Mountaintop mining: Coal baron debates a Kennedy, Tim Huber and Tom Breen, Associated Press.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Energy debate yields little middle ground, Tom Zeller, Jr., Green Inc, New York Times.


Jan 21: Young punk rockers revive folk songs for a new generation

The Tillers

CINCINNATI -- "'The Tillers, a Cincinnati-based folk trio, specialize in creating scenes one might expect to have seen during the Great Depression, if not for the tattooed punk rockers sprinkled throughout the crowd and the listeners on cellphones in the back. 'I Ain't Got No Home'--one of several Woody Guthrie melodies featured in this show--was first recorded about seventy years ago. But considering the sky-high number of foreclosed houses the recent economic crisis has spawned across the country, the music is eerily relevant today... Given the number of songs they play about being penniless and itinerant, it isn't surprising that The Tillers have done their part by performing at homelessness benefits. In addition to food and clothing drives, their musical interest in coal mining songs led to an interest in current mining issues. They recently worked with Ohio Citizen Action to combat mountaintop removal," Geoffrey Dobbins, The Nation.


Jan 20: Colbert Report takes down Big Coal: Save the endangered hillbilly (video)



NEW YORK, NY -- "'Goodbye purple mountain's majesty--here comes Patriot Coal! Last night on the Colbert Report, Stephen Colbert hosted scientist Margaret Palmer in a brilliant takedown of the Obama administration's recent decision to green light more mountaintop removal permits, in light of a blockbuster new scientific study that concluded that "mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post.


Jan 19: Must read report: The decline of Central Appalachian coal



CHARLESTON, WV -- "'Given the numerous challenges working against any substantial recovery of the region’s coal industry, and that production is projected to decline significantly in the coming decades, diversification of Central Appalachian economies is now more critical than ever. State and local leaders should support new economic development across the region, especially in the rural areas set to be the most impacted by a sharp decline in the region’s coal economy.' That’s the take-home message from a major new report issued today by the Morgantown consulting group Downstream Strategies. The report is called, 'The Decline of Central Appalachian Coal and the Need for Economic Diversification.' It’s must-read material for anyone who cares about the future of the Appalachian coalfields, and especially for elected officials who keep hoping that the next coal boom is just around the corner," Ken Ward Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.


Jan 19: Kennedy-Blankenship debate on mountaintop removal will broadcast live on the web

CHARLESTON, WV -- "The University of Charleston will present a public conversation between Waterkeeper Alliance President and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and Massey Energy Chairman and CEO Don Blankenship titled the Forum on the Future of Energy. The event will advance the national discussion about U.S. energy policy and its impact on jobs, the environment, the economy, and national security," University of Charleston.

Thursday, Jan. 21, 2010, at 6:15pm
The following West Virginia television stations will be broadcasting the debate live via television and internet:
WOWK 13
WBOY 12
WTRF 7
WVNS 59


Jan 18: New State report shows two-year results of Gov. Strickland's all-out coal drive: 180 coal production jobs and 54 coal-related jobs; meanwhile Ohio loses 106,603 jobs overall

COLUMBUS -- "In the first two years of Governor Ted Strickland's term, Ohio coal jobs increased by 234, of which 180 were production jobs and 54 were coal-related jobs, according to a new report from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. During the same period, Ohio lost 106,603 jobs overall, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics."

"In 2006, gubernatorial candidate Ted Strickland's platform included a doubling of Ohio coal production 'from 23 million short tons to 46 million short tons a year.' To this end, once elected, Gov. Strickland closely followed the agenda of the coal companies, as he has during his entire political career. Last Friday's report showed Ohio coal companies producing 26 million tons in 2008. With Ohio coal production up by about 8.4% in 2009, according to the U.S. Department of Energy, there is no way Strickland can come close to meeting his campaign promise by the end of 2010."

"Meanwhile, no new coal plants have been or are being built in Ohio under Strickland. He put his political weight behind the proposed AMP-Ohio coal plant in Meigs county, but the participating communities pulled the plug on the project in November 2009. He is also touting the proposed $5 billion Baard coal-to-liquids plant in Wellsville, Ohio, but that one is hanging by a thread as well. Is coal really the best cornerstone for the State's economic development program?" Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.



Dr. Margaret Palmer tracks a stream ecosystem threatened by heavy development in the watershed near the University of Maryland.
Jan 18: "Mountaintop Mining Consequences" author to appear on the Colbert Report

CLEVELAND -- "Dr. Margaret Palmer, who helped to author a major study on the effects from mountaintop removal, 'Mountaintop Mining Consequences,' will appear on the Colbert Report on Comedy Central Monday night, January 18 at 11:30pm. (It will be rebroadcast at 1:30pm and 7:30pm on Tuesday, January 19th. You can also view it online starting on Tuesday, January 20.) Dr. Palmer was part of a team of scientists who participated in the study who called for an end to mountaintop removal and valley fills. Vist Dr. Palmer's website for more information," Ohio Citizen Action.


Jan 15: Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of coal



COLUMBUS -- "Inspired by Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland, written by Project member Jeff Biggers, 'Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal' is an original and groundbreaking multimedia production that brings a national audience into the frontlines of the coalfields and mountaintop removal issue today. The play draws from real-life experience and documentation, and seeks to recover forgotten history in our nation’s dark legacy of coal mining,' The Coal Free Future Project.

"Welcome to the Saudi Arabia of Coal"
At the Columbus Performing Arts Center in Columbus, OH
Saturday, February 6th, 8PM


Jan 15: Children's drawings against mountaintop removal mining



Jan 15: 'West Virginia has alternatives' other than mountaintop removal, Bobby Kennedy, Jr. says

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Next Thursday, environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. will debate Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship in a highly-publicized event at the University of Charleston. Kennedy says he first became aware of mountaintop removal as a teenager. His father, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy visited West Virginia during his 1968 presidential campaign. 'It’s an issue that my father was concerned about and spoke to me about when I was 14 years old,' Kennedy said. 'Mountaintop removal in West Virginia is the worst human-made environmental catastrophe ever to happen in North America,'" Erica Peterson, Organizing Director, West Virginia Public Broadcasting.


Jan 14: The transition from coal
U.S. coal shipments decline by 175 110-car coal trains a week

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- "Coal shipments by rail dropped 14.3% from December 2008 to December 2009, according to a report released yesterday by the Association of American Railroads. This compounds another 13.5% drop in the previous year. The 14.3% decline represents 96,022 rail carloads of coal, or 175 110-car coal trains a week. Coal shipments have accounted for half of all rail traffic in the United States. The drop cannot be written off as just another symptom of the economic storm we are all going through. Rail carloads excluding coal were 6.9% higher in December 2009 than in December 2008. This suggests that something different is happening with coal," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.


Jan 13: When Scientists speak out
The power of a communications plan

mountaintop removal
What a highly influential recent paper on mountaintop removal mining shows about how scientists can change policy by getting their message (and timing!) right. Above: West Virginia mountaintop removal mining.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-- "But now, a group of prominent environmental scientists are lending their expertise to the case against MTR and, further, are questioning the very idea that mitigation of its damaging impacts is possible—or in other words, whether there is any such thing as a 'mild' or 'safe' mountaintop removal. In a recent ' Policy Forum' article in the journal Science, a team of twelve environmental researchers survey MTR’s many nasty effects, which range from the destruction of ecosystems and the attendant reduction in biodiversity and species endangerment, to stream pollution, fish deformation, the befouling and dangerous pollution of human drinking systems, the increased risk of flooding, and so forth. Then, at the end of the paper, the scientists step beyond the mere 'facts' of the case to denounce MTR in uncompromising terms, calling for policy changes to prevent its further use. What started out as pure science became, for these researchers, a clarion call to action,” Chris Mooney, Science Progress.


Jan 12: 51,461 voices strong: Ban mountaintop removal coal mining

COLUMBUS -- "With West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd's powerful statement against mountaintop and the recent release of Mountaintop Mining Consequences, the consensus that mountaintop removal coal mining must be banned is strengthening. Here in Ohio, residents have known that for some time. Since June 2009, 51,461 Ohio Citizen Action members and friends have sent messages, hand written letters, and children’s illustrations to legislators calling for a ban on mountaintop removal coal mining. Congress can effectively ban mountaintop removal by passing either H.R. 1310, the Clean Water Protection Act, or S. 696, the Appalachia Restoration Act. Six Ohio House members, Betty Sutton, Tim Ryan, Marcia Fudge, Dennis Kucinich, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Steve Driehaus, are among the 161 co-sponsors in the House. Neither Ohio senator has co-sponsored S. 696. When he was a member of the House, Senator Sherrod Brown was a co-sponsor. As a Senator, Brown has received 21,029 letters from constituents urging him to become a co-sponsor of S. 696,” Kate Russell, Organizer, Ohio Citizen Action.


Jan 12: Massey violations more frequent since record fine, greens allege


Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Two years ago, Massey Energy agreed to a record-setting $20 million Clean Water Act settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Federal officials said the deal would force Massey to change the way it does business. Now, lawyers for the Sierra Club and three other environmental groups say Massey is violating its water pollution discharge limits more often than it did before the EPA settlement... Specifically, the notice alleges that between April 1, 2008, and March 31, 2009, Massey violated its effluent limits at its various operations at least 971 times, and accrued 12,977 days of violation during that 12-month period," Ken Ward Jr. Charleston Gazette.


Jan 12: Reckoning at Eagle Creek
The secret legacy of coal in the heartland

NEW YORK, NY -- "Award-winning journalist and cultural historian Jeff Biggers takes us on a journey into the secret history of coal mining in the American heartland. Set in the ruins of his family’s strip-mined homestead in the Shawnee National Forest in southern Illinois, Biggers delivers a deeply personal portrait of the largely overlooked human and environmental costs of our nation’s dirty energy policy over the past two centuries. Reckoning at Eagle Creek digs deep into the tangled roots of the coal industry beginning with the policies of Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson. It chronicles the removal of Native Americans, and the hidden story of legally sanctioned black slavery in the land of Lincoln. It uncovers a century of regulatory negligence, vividly describing the epic mining wars for union recognition and workplace safety, and the devastating environmental consequences of industrial strip-mining," JeffBiggers.com.


Jan 11: Kentucky adopts tougher surface-mining guidelines



FRANKFORT, KY -- "Kentucky has issued tougher guidelines for surface coal mines that officials say will protect streams and lead to faster and better reclamation of hillsides and mountains. The guidelines, hammered out over the past year by federal and state regulatory officials, environmentalists and coal-industry representatives, call on coal operators to place more 'spoil' material disrupted by mining — such as dirt and rock — back on the mine sites, instead of dumping it into valleys and stream beds. They are already in effect," Deborah Yetter, Louisville Courier-Journal. Published January 7.


Jan 8: US scientists demand government ban on mountaintop mining
Analysis of damage done leaves Obama no choice but to ban the highly destructive practice, say the authors of a new study

Palmer
Margaret Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Maryland led the study.
WASHINGTON, DC -- "Mountaintop mining should be banned for causing vast and permanent destruction to US environment and exposing its people to serious health consequences such as birth defects, a new study says today. An article in the journal Science, by a team of 12 ecologists, hydrologists, and engineers, provides the most comprehensive analysis so far of the damage done by the controversial mining practice. The process involves shaving off up to 1,000 vertical feet of mountain peak – including ancient forests– to expose thin, but highly prized, seams of coal. Margaret Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Maryland Centre for Environmental Science, who led the study, said the science left no excuse for the Obama administration not to ban the highly destructive practice," Suzanne Goldenberg, The Guardian UK.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Pressure builds against mountaintop coal mining, The Obama administration, which has pledged to heed scientific expertise on the issue, should reject all new mountaintop removal permits, scientists say, citing environmental and health effects, Tom Hamburger, Los Angeles Times.

WASHINGTON, D.C. --
Scientists reject mountaintop mining method, Andrew C Revkin, Dot Earth, New York Times.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Scientists call for end to mountaintop removal, Scientists call on regulators to stop permitting mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia, Vicki Smith, Associated Press.

Jan 7: Bombshell study: Mountaintop removal impacts ‘pervasive and irreversible’

“Mining permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for the losses.”

CHARLESTON, WV -- "That quote above is the conclusion of a blockbuster study being published tomorrow by a group of the nation’s top scientists, detailing the incredibly damaging environmental impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining and the failed efforts at reclaiming mined land or mitigating the effects. Based on a comprehensive analysis of the latest scientific findings, the paper calls on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Army Corps of Engineers to stay all new mountaintop removal mining permits unless new mining and reclamation techniques “can be subjected to rigorous peer review and shown to remedy these problems,'" Ken Ward, Jr., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.

WASHINGTON, DC -- Scientists decry impacts of mountaintop coal mining, David A. Fahrenthold, Washington Post.


Jan 7: From today's Diane Rehm Show on mountaintop removal coal mining

Mari-Lynn Evans, filmmaker, calling from Akron: We worked for four years on our documentary film, Coal Country. Joe Lovett and Judy Bonds are both in it. One of the things that really struck me during this four year process was how the intimidation just continued to increase during that time period.

Diane Rehm: What kind of intimidation?

Mari-Lynn Evans: We at first, of course, saw the initimidation that was happening to the residents like Judy [Bonds], who are forced to protect themselves and to have surveillance cameras around their houses because there's been so many threats to them. The first premiere of our film -- which is a balanced film, it shows both sides of the issue, the pros and cons of mountaintop removal -- two days before the premiere, the theater cancelled it due to security concerns. When we were able to reschedule it two days later at the capitol, we had to have West Virginia state police there, some of them in riot gear, to protect all the the people -- I think there were over a thousand people, a full house -- just watching the film. All through the film, it was like watching the Rocky Horror Picture Show. People were screaming and yelling, even with the presence of all the security there. There were pro-coal representatives that had to be removed from that location. Since then we have other screenings in the coal fields that were cancelled due to threats. I've received threats. My videographer has been arrested and has received threats. Unless you're down there, you don't . . We're losing the mountains were losing the water, were losing the air of our beloved Appalachian mountains. We're losing the people and those communities. People cannot live there. The people who do live there and are speaking out about it, as happened at that public hearing in West Virginia with the Army Corps of Engineers, people are literally removed by the police and are not allowed to speak publicly about this issue.

Diane Rehm: I want to give Roger Horton an opportunity to respond.

Roger Horton, Citizens for Coal: I would simply say that no one should threaten anyone. . .

Diane Rehm: Well, of course not, but she's talking about what did happen, not what should happen. Can you comment on what did happen?

Roger Horton: No, ma'am. I was not there. .

Diane Rehm's radio show: The ongoing controversy over mountaintop coal mining

WASHINGTON, DC -- "Today, Thursday morning at 10:00 AM Eastern time, Diane Rehm's National Public Radio show will concentrate on mountaintop removal coal mining. Rehm's guests will include, Joe Lovett, Executive Director of Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, West Virginia; Judy Bonds, Co-Director of Coal River Mountain Watch; Siobhan Hughes, reporter for the Wall Street Journal covering energy and the environment; Tom Hamburger, an investigative reporter who covers the White House and executive branch for the Los Angeles Times; and Roger Horton, founder of Citizens for Coal," Paul Ryder, Organizing Director, Ohio Citizen Action.

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Byrd applauds all parties for progress on mining permits, statement by Senator Robert Byrd, January 5, 2010.


Jan 6: Environmental Protection Agency approves permit for controversial West Virginia mountaintop removal coal mine
Decision opens the door for more destruction in Appalachia

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced that it would sign off on a Clean Water Act permit for Patriot Coal Corp.'s Hobet 45 mountaintop removal coal mine in Lincoln County, West Virginia.... This decision marks the first mountaintop removal mining permit to move forward of those mining permits the agency earlier identified in 2009 as needing additional attention. 'Sadly, the coal industry’s undue influence over decision-makers has traded people’s health, communities, and water for profit,' said Janet Keating, Executive Director of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition. 'We’re shooting ourselves in the future. After all the coal has been mined, what kind of economic development can happen when the water is unfit to drink and people have been driven away?,'" press release, Sierra Club.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Hobet 45 deal: Mountaintop removal questions for all, Ken Ward JR., Coal Tattoo, Charleston Gazette.


Jan 5: Coal debate at University of Charleston sold out


Robert F. Kennedy and Massey CEO Don Blankenship.

CHARLESTON, WV -- "Tickets for the Jan. 21 debate at the University of Charleston featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Don Blankenship are gone but the event will be broadcast live, said university spokeswoman Jennie Ferretti. 'Interest in this thing has been phenomenal,' she said. Kennedy, an outspoken environmentalist, is president of the Waterkeeper Alliance. Blankenship, a staunch advocate of the coal industry, is chief executive officer of Massey Energy Corp. They will speak at a 6:15 p.m. event titled, 'Forum on the Future of Energy.' University of Charleston President Ed Welch will be the moderator," Charles Hohmann, Charleston Daily Mail.

CHARLESTON, WV -- Rahall: EPA Drops Objection to W.Va. Surface Mine, Tim Huber, Associated Press.


Jan 4: New Year's resolution: Mountaintop removal ends in 2010

NEW YORK, NY -- "This is the year that mountaintop removal ends. This is the year we begin the just transition in the coalfields - climate ground zero - with a real commitment to sustainable economic development for a clean energy future. This is what we know: Mountaintop removal provides less than 8-10 percent of all national coal production, while utilities coal stockpiles have increased during the summer for the first time in 25 years; while absentee coal companies slash mining jobs and idle higher-cost mines to keep their stock holders happy in a period of slumping demand; and, as recent U.S. Geological Survey estimates place 'peak coal' production as early as 2020," Jeff Biggers, Huffington Post. Posted January 1.



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For more information:
Kate Russell
(614) 263-4600








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