Congress, Obama face crucial decision on mountaintop coal mining

Posted March 18th, 2009 in Blog, Featured Comments Off on Congress, Obama face crucial decision on mountaintop coal mining

Fostering Ecological Hope
Today from Margaret Swedish:

Kayford Mountaintop removal, West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman

Kayford Mountaintop removal, West Virginia - photo by Vivian Stockman

Regular visitors and subscribers to this blog know I have an intense pet peeve with the practice of blowing up magnificent, ancient Appalachian Mountains to get to coal seams.  If you don’t know about the practice yet, or aren’t moved by it yet, click on our Resources tab above, then workshops, and view the second video we have embedded there, or just click here.

I just cannot come up with a more egregious example of all that is wrong with the human relationship with Nature in this industrial and post-industrial era, or a more egregious example of our loss of soul as creatures embedded within Nature.  This is violence of the worst kind, and it is violence that is diminishing our prospects on this planet.

We blow the mountains away, then dump the detritus into rivers and streams, destroying them forever.  In doing so, we spread toxic contaminants through wide swaths of Nature, and human communities are feeling the effects in rising levels of cancers and various other diseases.

Right now we have an opportunity to reverse a terrible wrong done by President Bush way back in 2002.  In that year, he removed mining waste from the list of prohibited pollutants under the Clean Water Act.  And yet, could there be any more horrific form of pollution dumped into the waters of Appalachia?!?!

Look at the photo of the Massey Valley fill disaster.  Do you think this ought to constitute a violation of the Clean Water Act?

Legislation has just been reintroduced in Congress to put mining waste back under the authority of the Clean Water Act and to prohibit the practice of mountaintop coal mining.  We should all rally around this one, for love of the Earth.  Here’s a NY Times editorial that sums it up pretty well, Appalachia’s Agony.  The ball is indeed bouncing into President Obama’s court, and he has a campaign promise to fulfill here.

Now those coal companies are going to tell us that this is the cheapest, most efficient way to get to the coal seams (it has also put thousands of coalminers out of work, replaced by mega-machines and dynamite), and that if they are forced to stop the practice, we will all pay more for our electricity.

To which we say, “Good!!  Yes!!  Absolutely!!” — because these mountains are worth more to us than our creature comforts and our excessive use of power, worth more to us than the inconvenience of reducing our electricity usage as we become staunch energy-efficient conservationists, turning down our energy wasteful lifestyles so the streams and rivers can flow through vibrant natural ecosystems.  We will willingly pay more for the use of coal, a lot more, to a point where alternative clean energy technologies can compete against the industry.

Yes, for love of Nature, make us all pay for what it really takes to produce electricity, because right now, we pay nothing for this irreversible loss of one of the most precious land areas in all our continent.  We tell you, coal executives, that we would rather bow down to the pristine beauty of the mountains than to your bid for the bottom line and our excessive lifestyles.

On our We Can Change the World page, we have listed some of our favorite organizations dealing with this issue.  To learn more about the Clean Water Protection Act, visit:


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