I am reprinting this article sent to me by Michael Moore:
August 26th, 20114:18 AM
As U.S. energy companies blow up Appalachian mountaintops in search of coal, the nation’s lawmakers yawn with indifference.
By Don Soeken
Written by Donald R. Soeken and Tom Nugent
“West Virginia is the template for what happens when corporations take over democracy.” – Environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr.
Charleston, W. Va. – Ever wondered what would happen if an invading power suddenly attacked the gorgeous, summer-green mountains of Appalachia with massive bombs that together equaled the explosive power of the Hiroshima A-bomb, each and every week?
Amazingly enough, that stark scenario is happening right now in West Virginia, with hardly a whimper of protest from federal government regulators or the state politicians in Charleston.
During the past ten years, in fact, mountaintops all across Appalachia have been blowing up one after another, creating rock-strewn “moonscapes” which now include more square miles than those contained in the entire State of Delaware.
Fact: As of July 1, 2011, more than 500 Appalachian mountaintops have been destroyed by these bombers . . . who are now using more than 3 million pounds of explosives each day in West Virginia alone.
An environmental catastrophe? You bet it is. Hour by hour and day by day, we’re witnessing the ongoing destruction of our oldest and perhaps most beautiful mountain chain. And yet most of our politicians – along with most of our news media – seem to be totally unconcerned about the bombing campaign against America.
Maybe that’s because the “invading powers” now blasting away at the steep ridgelines of West Virginia, Virginia and Kentucky aren’t foreign countries, after all.
They’re actually giant U.S. energy companies – hugely powerful industries that long ago became accustomed to dictating energy policy in Washington D.C. and in the state capitals of Appalachia.
How bad is the wholesale destruction now being caused by the ruthless bombing-and-digging technique known as “mountaintop removal mining,” all across the once-forested and once-life-abundant region that was America’s first frontier?
To answer that question, you only have to look at the most recent data from the state and federal environmental agencies. Those data show how hundreds of surface-mining sites located along the Appalachian range have been attacked with high explosives in recent years . . . so that mega-sized mining machines can go in later and scoop up the coal and then hustle it off to market.
“What they’re doing is illegal,” says environmental activist Robert Kennedy, Jr., a longtime opponent of Appalachian mountaintop mining as practiced by companies like Massey and Pittston. “If you blew up a mountain in the Berkshires or the Catskills or California or Utah, you would go to jail.”
Like Robert Kennedy, the conservation-minded Sierra Club has been fighting this destructive mining technique in recent years, while frequently pointing out that it “has destroyed forests on some 300 square miles of land, disrupted drinking water supplies, flooded communities and destroyed wildlife habitat.”
But the mountaintops aren’t the only areas which take a daily beating in Appalachia.
In recent years, the thunderous explosions that are the key to mountaintop removal mining (they can send up to 800 feet of rock flying skyward on a single blast) have buried more than 2,500 miles of Appalachian rivers and streams beneath a tsunami of pulverized stone and earth – much of it tainted with toxic refuse from underground coal mines.
That’s right: We’re looking at 2,500 miles of once-upon-a-time-pristine creeks and rivers that are now totally choked with mining rubble, all across Appalachia.
And there’s more: according to a major study just published in the peer-reviewed Journal of Community Health: The Publication for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention, the cancer rate among people living beside a West Virginia mountaintop removal site in recent years was twice as high as the rate among those living a safe distance away from the site. The bottom line on that disturbing study: at least 60,000 cases of mining-linked, above-the-norm cancer can be expected among the 1.2 million West Virginians who live near these mining sites in West Virginia, within the next few decades.
So where’s the outcry?
Why aren’t the senators and the congressional reps from places like West Virginia and Kentucky raising holy hell in the echoing hallways of the Senate and the House?
The answer isn’t hard to find.
They’ve all been bought off . . . by the big-money lobbyists and the super-rich campaign contributors who now run the U.S. Government.
And that’s a real tragedy – not only for the people who live on the land in Appalachia, but also for the people who used to work there.
Because mountaintop removal doesn’t just destroy the landscape; it also destroys mining jobs.
Some background: In the past, the energy company satraps always claimed that they were “providing jobs and helping the economy” – a vitally important fact which they insisted gave them a license to destroy the mountains and valleys that our grandchildren will inherit.
But the “jobs argument” dried up a long time ago. As the statisticians at the U.S. Department of Labor have often pointed out, this new form of “vampire-mining” doesn’t actually provide any new jobs.
Instead, it destroys them.
Since 1980, for example, while coal production in West Virginia increased by 140 percent, more than 40,000 coal mining jobs have actually disappeared . . . with perhaps half of them lost to mountaintop removal mining.
The data are frightening enough. But it’s even scarier to jump in your car and head for Charleston and regions south . . . where you’ll soon find yourself wandering among the new ghost towns and the ruined watersheds of a world we’re rapidly bombing back to the Stone Age.
And why are we doing that? The answer is simple.
It’s so that the Wall Street moguls who run America’s energy industry can “maximize profits” at the expense of the rest of us.
[Donald R. Soeken is a Ph.D. social worker who often counsels whistleblowers in cases involving environmental pollution. Journalist Tom Nugent is the author of Death at Buffalo Creek, W.W. Norton, a book about Appalachian coal mining.]
“After the last eight years, it’s good to have a President who knows what a library is.”
-Sir Paul McCartney receiving the Gershwin award at The Library of Congress.
“I was also going to give a graduation speech in Arizona this weekend. But with my accent, I was afraid they would try to deport me.”
– Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger
“South Park – We’d stand beside you if we weren’t so scared.”
– scribbled on the blackboard by Bart Simpson on last Sunday’s show.
This, of course, a reference to eliminating the image of Mohammed as a member of the Super Best Friends on South Park due to fear of Muslim threats.
(There’s a great article in the Telegraph, UK.)
“I believe in the power of the free market. I believe in a strong financial sector that helps people to raise capital and get loans and invest their savings. But a free market was never meant to be a free license to take whatever you can get, however you can get it. That is what happened too often in the years leading up to the crisis. Some on Wall Street forgot that behind every dollar traded or leveraged, there is family looking to buy a house, pay for an education, open a business, or save for retirement. What happens here has real consequences across our country.”
– President Obama to Wall St. community at Cooper Union. For full text go HERE.
“We’ve heard for months that tonight … is a referendum on health care, it’s a referendum on the administration, it’s a referendum on what direction this country is going. Let me tell you something, what we learned today is that in Broward County and Palm Beach County, Florida, the Democratic Party is alive and well.”
– Democrat Ted Deutch, who defeated Republican opponent Ed Lynch in a special election to fill the seat of former Florida Rep. Robert Wexler.
When they tell you that the Republicans are going to retake Congress because of the Health Care Bill, they should take a look at the first contest since the law was passed. Deutch shows tha Democrats can win BECAUSE of the Health Care bill’s passage!
“This man is not above or outside the law. The institutionalised concealment of child rape is a crime under any law and demands not private ceremonies of repentance or church-funded payoffs, but justice and punishment.”
– Christopher Hitchens on Pope Benedict
(picked up at All Hat, No Cattle)
“James Cameron, who directed ‘Avatar,’ is in a feud with Glenn Beck, because Cameron called him a mad man. The two are very different. One makes millions creating fictional stories, and the other is James Cameron.”
A Quote for the Day – All the stalls in getting the Health Care Bill through reflects on Republicans…
…and as we look forward to upcoming issues and elections:
“The ace we have in our pocket is the Republican party. The Republicans have concluded that their success lies in our failure. The American people are smart. They smell a rat. They know there was nothing about trying to get a better bill.”
– VP Joe Biden being interviewed on Fox.
When Senator McCain stated on television Sunday that the passing of the Health Care Bill meant that Republicans would not cooperate for the rest of the year, this response came down from the Senate:
“For someone who campaigned on ‘Country First’ and claims to take great pride in bipartisanship, it’s absolutely bizarre for Senator McCain to tell the American people he is going to take his ball and go home until the next election. He must be living in some parallel universe because the fact is, with very few exceptions, we’ve gotten very little cooperation from Senate Republicans in recent years”.
– Senator Harry Reid
You tell ’em, Harry.
“We’ll either bring down the whole bill, or we’ll punch big holes in it.”
Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (R- Texas)
…commenting on the Reconciliation Bill about to come up in the Senate to fix things in the Health Care Bill passed by the House.
Is it bluff or planned out? We’ll see.
“I don’t mind losing when we lose, but I hate losing when we win.”
“We’ll have the votes when the House votes, I think, within the next week. Whoever sits here at this time next week, I think will not be talking about health care as a proposal, but as the law of the land.”
– Press Secretary Robert Gibbs on Fox News Sunday
One would hope!
For those who marched on the Insurance Companies and Big Corporations this morning, a quote from the past:
“Those who manipulate the unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested largely by men we have never heard of. In almost every act of our lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires that control the public mind.”
-Edward Bernays, Pioneer of Corporate PR and Propaganda
And although Bernays said this at least 70 years ago, the truth is still there…
“I warned them this was going to happen. Happy animals don’t kill their trainers.”
– Russ Rector, a Fort Lauderdale dolphin trainer turned marine mammal activist
Yesterday’s trainer death by an orca whale at Orlando Seaworld was apparently not the first death this whale has caused. Good article HERE.
“Mitt Romney’s address to CPAC today – and the overwhelming greeting that attendees gave to Dick Cheney – makes one thing perfectly clear: the Republican Party still pines for the very leadership that bankrupted this country financially, with their reckless economic policies, and ethically, with their allegiance to special interests over the American people. And that’s what real failure looks like.”
– Brad Woodhouse, Communications Director
for the Democratic National Committee
I loved this… it popped up in the middle of her CPAC column, “It’s time to party like its 1854“:
Mitt Romney, who won the conference’s presidential straw poll last year after a Herculean lobbying effort, is back with a new book in which he warns that if America doesn’t change its ways it could wind up becoming the “France of the 21st century.”
We all know that Americans would hate to spend the next 90 years enveloped in serious wine and universal health care. But think about how much more threatening Romney’s warning must be for the French. Where are they supposed to go in this new world order?
My guess is that they will continue to wonder what’s wrong with us.
“Trust me, after taxes, a million dollars is not a lot of money.”
— RNC Chairman Michael Steele
Does this guy ever think before he speaks? Is he aware that the average middle-class American family lives on $50,000.00 a year (which means that the millions of folks below the halfway mark live on much, much less)?
Paul Volcker in today’s NY Times:
I’ve been there — as regulator, as central banker, as commercial bank official and director — for almost 60 years. I have observed how memories dim. Individuals change. Institutional and political pressures to “lay off” tough regulation will remain — most notably in the fair weather that inevitably precedes the storm.
The implication is clear. We need to face up to needed structural changes, and place them into law. To do less will simply mean ultimate failure — failure to accept responsibility for learning from the lessons of the past and anticipating the needs of the future.
Couldn’t agree more. Now, about those bonuses…
Former National Endowment for the Arts Chair Bill Ivey in his book “Art’s Inc” cites this one:
“You’re doing a great job, but we’re still going to oppose you: you’re just too good an issue for us.”
– chief of staff serving John Shadegg, Conservative Republican from Arizona
That’s a major problem, I think. Politicians rarely seem concerned with the Arts.
“I mean, it just annoys and irritates me on something so fundamentally important. That this Congress, this leadership, is so tone deaf and so hell bent on propping up a policy that the American people doesn’t want, that they’re willing to basically flip the bird to the American people on this issue and slip it in in the dead of night.”
– RNC Chairman Michael Steele
Of course, the only reason why Congress held the cloture vote at 1am this morning, was because Republicans filibustered the bill. Last night, Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) offered a unanimous consent agreement to move the 1 a.m. vote to 9 a.m. this morning if Republicans agreed to forgo the optional 30 hours of debate between each cloture vote and still pass the final legislation before Christmas. Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), who had also sternly criticized the early morning vote, objected to the measure.
And Harry Reid commented on Steele’s language:
“I’m disappointed that someone with the title that Mr. Steele has would be so crass and set such a terrible example for the youth of this country.”
President Obama must remember his own words from the campaign. His call of “Yes We Can” was not just to us, not just to the millions of people who voted for him, but to himself. We all stood shoulder to shoulder with the President during his hard fought campaign. And, we will continue to stand with him but he must fight for the reform we all know is possible.
Our challenge to you, to the President, to the Senate and to the House of Representatives is to fight. Now, more than ever, all of us must stand up, remember what health insurance reform is all about, and fight like hell to deliver real and meaningful reform to the American people.
– Service Employees International Union President Andy Stern
“The war is a threat to our national security. We’ll spend over $100 billion next year to bomb a nation of poor people while we reenergize the Taliban, destabilize Pakistan, deplete our army and put more of our soldiers’ lives on the line. Meanwhile, back here in the USA, 15 million people are out of work. People are losing their jobs, their health care, their savings, their investments, and their retirement security. $13 trillion in bailouts for Wall Street, trillions for war; when are we going to start taking care of things here at home?”
– Congressman Kucinich in a Press Release today.
“The American people overwhelmingly voted last year for a change in our national priorities to put the interests of ordinary people ahead of the greed of Wall Street and the wealthy few. What the American people did not bargain for was another four years for one of the key architects of the Bush economy.”
-Senator Bernie Sanders putting a hold on therenomination of Ben Bernanke to the Federal Reserve.
Go to it, Bernie!