Today in North Carolina, the first committee hearing will be held for the Appalachian Mountain Preservation Act. This is a bill introduced to the North Carolina General Assembly that would prevent NC utility companies from buying Mountaintop Removal mined coal. If you live in North Carolina, take a moment to contact Rep. Lucy Allen, Chairwoman of Environment and Natural Resources Committee and ask her to support The Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act, HB 340. Call Representative Lucy Allen at 919.733.5860 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 21, 2009
April 20, 2009
Maria Gunnoe has been awarded the extremely prestigious Goldman Prize for her work on coal-related pollution and MTR in So. WV. I spent some time with Maria in 2004 interviewing her for Black Diamonds and hiking with her up to the large surface mine behind her home. Julia Bonds (also featured in Black Diamonds) won the Goldman Prize in 2003, and I traveled to Washington DC to film Julia accepting the award at the National Geographic Society. I had some awkward/hopeful conversations at the reception with folks who had just started to realize that MTR was so so prevalent and an international disgrace/human rights violation literally several hundred miles from DC. Also, the direct link of MTR to energy usage in the Mid-Atlantic was beginning to surface in an uncomfortable way with DC corridor environmental groups spurring them to focus on coal production with new scrutiny. Like Julia Bonds, Maria has also suffered threats of violence, death threats, and required the assistance of US Marshals on at least on occasion to monitor her family’s safety due to her outspoken stance on protecting WV mountains, families, properties, and culture. More on Maria’s incredible achievements here: http://www.ohvec.org/links/general_interest/maria_gunnoe.html
In a stunning and unexpected (by me at least) announcement this week - the EPA declared CO2 a pollutant and a threat to human health. More from MSNBC - notable as now more serious regulation of coal fired power plants could begin. http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/30264214/
Civil disobedience around the building of new coal fired power plants continued outside Duke Energy in Charlotte, NC. Forty people were arrested in the latest action to call attention to public disaffection with coal. The Charlotte Observer has posted slide show reportage here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/galleries/gallery/675641.html
April 16, 2009
Following the brouhaha after announcing they would “scrutinize” three massive coal surface mine permits in WV, the EPA is having its second closed meeting with the WV DEP and coal industry officials in Charleston, WV on April 15th & today, April 16th. The EPA states in regards to the meetings:
“EPA continues to review applications for new surface coal mining permits that will impact streams, rivers, wetlands and other waters in Appalachian states. The Agency appreciates the opportunity to work closely with West Virginia and mine operators to assess opportunities to improve the environmental review of proposed coal mines in Appalachia.”
Citizen and activist groups had also requested to meet with EPA officials as part of this process although I don’t see them listed as participants.
The mainstream press coverage continues to posit the conflict as “environment vs. economy.” It would be great to see some in depth coverage of contemporary economic development in the WV questioning the lack of miner re-training, lack of movement toward sustainable green jobs, and lack of diversification beyond coal. The continued myopic narrative is frustrating with the on-going extreme poverty and massive daily destruction of future natural resources.
WV Public Broadcasting coverage of the meetings:
April 15, 2009
In a follow up to “Black Diamonds,” I’ve been documenting the Coal River Wind Project. This project has a viable proposal for 200 industrial wind turbines on Coal River Mountain. Currently, Coal River Mountain is slated for a 6,000 acre surface mine. Coal River Wind would provide more jobs and more money for the local citizens than the surface mine according to a recently released feasibility study. More here: http://www.coalriverwind.org
I’m also documenting a group in Williamson, Mingo Co. They are hoping to bring in a manufacturing plant to make wind turbines. They want the plant to be citizen owned and controlled therefore taking back control of their community which they feel has been economically hi-jacked by indifferent coal companies.
More soon as the project unfolds.
August 24, 2007
Welcome to the blog that accompanies the Black Diamonds: Mountaintop Removal & The Fight For Coalfield Justice! This blog will continue to report on community problems, environmental and economic issues in Appalachian states due to large scale coal surface mining. The Utah disaster, the recent Bush Adminisration decision to essentially “legalize” mountaintop removal and the covering of US streams with industrial waste, have created a lively and sometimes frustrating public debate as late. We’ll be writing more about those issues and others - very soon!