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I’m really tired of hearing how Obama is costing WV coal jobs. Not True!

This is for you folks out there who are buying the Tea Party Joe Manchin lies. From West Virginia Blue, a blog I have great respect for:

West Virginia Coal Mine Jobs Rise Under Obama

      Despite the lies told by Sen. Joe Manchin (Joe Manchin) and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (Joe Manchin) and the Friends of Coal Barons Who Kill Miners, President Barack Obama’s EPA has not spelled doom to coal jobs. In fact, the opposite is true:

While the Obama administration and the EPA may be taking a harder look at mountain top removal mining permits, a quick look at coal mining employment in West Virginia reveals that since Obama took office in the winter of 2009 coal mining employment has grown by over 1,500 jobs or by 7.4%. If we measure from the end of the national recession in June 2009 (or the 2nd Quarter of 2009) to the third-quarter of 2011 (the latest available data), employment in the coal mining industry has grown by 3,100. For comparison, total employment in West Virginia has only grown by 2.9% over this period.

People have to really hate Obama to push the lies that come out of the coal industry, out of Manchin’s office and out of the Romney Campaign. It’s possible that the West Virginia politicos (even those claiming to be “Democrats”) have other goals in mind for this pathetically poor state.

We’ll see.

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The real war on coal

My friend Sean O’Leary wrote this well researched op-ed in the Martinsburg Journal, and I reproduce it here in its entirety… maybe now we can get Bob Manchin off Obama’s ass…

Much is made of President Obama’s and the Environmental Protection Agency’s “war on coal”. And it’s true. In order to reduce air pollution and retard global warming, this administration, along with the governments of nearly all industrialized nations, is trying to reduce the burning of coal for the generation of electricity.

But, how much of a difference are the president’s policies making on the amount of coal that’s mined and on the number of jobs in the mining and power generation industries? In fact, let’s ask the big question. If this president is swept from office in November and the EPA’s power to regulate carbon dioxide emissions is removed, as presumed Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, has said he would do, what would it mean for America’s coal industry?

Would there be a rebirth? Would coal-burning power plants that are currently slated for closing become viable again? Would new coal-burning power plants be built to meet the growing demand for electricity? Would mines that have been closed be reopened? And would there be a rebound in hiring creating thousands of new jobs in the mining industry?

If you believe that the answer to any of these questions is, yes, you haven’t been paying attention to the market forces that, far more than government action, are killing coal in general and the Appalachian coal industry in particular.

What are those market forces? First, there is natural gas.

If the Obama administration is conducting a “war” on coal, then the English language hasn’t invented a word of sufficient ferocity to describe the conflict between coal and natural gas. Although West Virginia politicians are loath to admit it, every new gas well that’s sunk in West Virginia is another nail in the coffin of coal. Why?

The practice of fracking has greatly increased supplies of natural gas and reduced the price to the point that it costs only half as much to generate a megawatt of electricity from natural gas as from coal half as much.

That’s warfare. And, in case you’re under the delusion that the competition between coal and gas is friendly, consider that between 2007 and 2010 Aubrey McClendon, CEO of Chesapeake Energy, the largest gas driller in West Virginia, donated $26 million to the Sierra Club’s campaign to block the construction of coal-fired power plants. Just last month McClendon did a victory dance when a Wall Street Journal writer asked him about his reputation as “the scourge of coal”. McClendon said, “I probably am not as strident as I used to be because I don’t have to be. Natural gas has won in the marketplace and it is continuing to win.”

Far more than the president’s “war on coal”, the natural gas industry’s war has had measurable effects. Last year the amount of the nation’s electricity generated by coal dropped by 8.9 percent and coal is now responsible for less than 40 percent of the electricity generated in the US. This was partially attributable to warmer-than-average winter weather, but the bigger factor was natural gas which saw its volume grow by 7.2 percent.

And natural gas’s price advantage isn’t going away anytime soon. One of the reasons gas is so cheap is that the “wet gas” found in many of the Marcellus shale wells in West Virginia, also produces byproducts such as ethane, which is used in the plastics industry. At current prices, these byproducts almost double the value of natural gas. Economically this functions as a subsidy for which coal has no answer.

The second market force crushing coal in Appalachia is cost. The volume of Appalachian coal produced per miner dropped by 25 percent between 2001 and 2008. This decline in productivity is driven by the exhaustion of easily accessible coal seams and produces higher costs and reduced competitiveness in the face of the onslaught by natural gas.

The third market force killing coal is the American people.

In its April issue, Mother Jones magazine ran a story by Mark Hertsgaard documenting the virtual moratorium that has fallen upon the construction of new coal-fired power plants, particularly in the eastern part of the country. While there are just over 30 new coal-fired plants currently under construction in the US, more than 160 have been blocked often by local residents who don’t want what they perceive as a dirty industry in their back yards. The look not only at the global warming impact of coal burning, but at its effect on health as measured in elevated levels of asthma attacks and death.

By the end of the decade these combined market forces will have produced almost twice as much of a reduction in carbon emissions as would have been achieved under the proposed (and, in West Virginia, the much-reviled) cap and trade legislation that died in 2010.

Does that mean that Obama administration actions on coal are irrelevant or superfluous? Not altogether. Clean-air regulations are causing some older coal-fired power plants to be taken offline sooner than they otherwise would be because it’s not worth the cost to retrofit them with pollution control equipment. However, this is only slightly speeding up the inevitable. Those plants, like the coal industry as a whole, are dead men walking, not because of government action, but because of the free market. And the question for West Virginia’s political leaders is whether they will finally focus on building a post-coal economy rather than trying to postpone the inevitable.

– Sean O’Leary can be reached at seanoleary@citlink.net.

Here’s something we can do to head off Fracking in West Virginia (and elsewhere)…

I received this e-mail today from  Josh Fox at Gasland. I hope you will read it and follow his suggestions.:

Dear Friends:

I want to call your attention to some critical news and ask you to quickly take action:

FIRST: USDA GATE!!!

BREAKING NEWS: USDA Reverses Itself and Exempts Rural Properties with Gas Drilling Leases from NEPA

ACTION:  Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

Here’s the background and the reasons why you should call:

In a move that has angered hydrofracking opponents, the USDA did an about-face and reneged on earlier statements that its popular rural housing loans on properties with gas drilling leases would have to comply with the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), and today authorized an Administrative Notice stating that rural housing loans would be excluded from NEPA.  On Monday, The New York Times had reported the USDA was planning on issuing an Administrative Notice to the opposite effect, telling staff that loans on properties with gas leases must undergo a full environmental review as required by NEPA before mortgage loans are made or guaranteed by the agency.

“The proposal by the Agriculture Department, which has signaled its intention in e-mails to Congress and landowners, reflects a growing concern that lending to owners of properties with drilling leases might violate the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA, which requires environmental reviews before federal money is spent,” the Times wrote.   The article quoted the program director for rural loans in the Agriculture Department’s New York office saying that, “We will no longer be financing homes with gas leases.”   “Approval of such leases would allow for a number of potential impacts to possibly occur which would need to be analyzed in a NEPA document that would be reviewed by the public for sufficiency,” another USDA official was quoted as saying.

See the full New York Times article HERE.

But in an email statement yesterday, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack reversed those positions and said, “USDA will not make any policy changes related to rural housing loans…The information provided to Congressional offices on March 8, 2012 was premature and does not reflect past, current or future practices of the department.   Tomorrow, I will authorize an Administrative Notice reaffirming that rural housing loans are categorically excluded under the National Environmental Policy Act.”

Friends, this is a very important development and one that we need to speak up about.  A full NEPA review, like the type the agency was talking about affirming, would have been more transparent, more rigorous and comprehensive.  USDA staff experts in the NY office as well as in DC made clear in emails that the law and the science require that mortgages with drilling leases shouldn’t be exempt from NEPA.   This 180-degress turn by Secretary Vilsack contradicts both science and law.

Excluding NEPA review of fracking’s environmental impacts is a significant move.  It means that environmental review of rural housing loans would be limited to the EPA‘s far less comprehensive national study of fracking, which is focused exclusively on drinking water and does not admit public comment.   Doing a NEPA analysis would have ensured that federal agencies issuing loans are complying with the law.  In fact, officials expressed concern the agency would be vulnerable to lawsuits if they didn’t conduct the NEPA reviews thoroughly enough.  But exempting rural housing loans from NEPA means that gas drilling leases will also be exempt from legal recourse and other basic public interest protections the law was meant to provide.  It also means that when property values drop precipitously due to contamination from gas drilling, sometimes to as low as 10% of their original value as we’ve seen in Pennsylvania, the American Taxpayer is going to be left holding the bag.   

Not only is this is unlawful, it’s just not right.

Call President Obama and tell him:

“Please do not allow the USDA to exempt housing loans from a full NEPA review.”

White House Phone numbers:  202-456-1111 and 202-456-1414

SECOND: EPA VINDICATES DIMOCK FAMILIES!!!

BREAKING NEWS: EPA confirms Dimock water is unsafe.  The Gasland team and I provided Pro-Publica with the unreleased water tests.  The families in Dimock, PA have high to explosive levels of methane as well as chemicals known to cause cancer and heavy metals that exceed the agency’s “trigger level” in their water wells.  The families have been vindicated.  Science triumphs over spin.

Please read the full Pro-Publica story HERE.

Thanks for taking action and being a part of a profound movement to stop fracking!

–Josh

The USDA seems to be in the pocket of the gas companies. It should be the representative organization of the American rural citizenship.

As Josh says: “Science triumphs over spin.”

I’m starting to get form letters back from my representatives in the Senate and Congress…

… all glad to see my concern and all saying they’ll keep me in mind as legislation comes up.

However, not one of them, whether Democrat or Republican, got elected without financial support from the coal companies that are destroying West Virginia with mountain top removal to get coal. If you think that means they are going to regulate the coal companies who are destroying our state… ruining homes, water supplies and the tourist industry… then you have got to be kidding yourself.

Here’s a piece by Michael Jonathon:

So… of you’re anywhere in the states that have Appalachian coal mining, keep this in mind next Fall when the politicians are campaigning in your neck of the woods.

Suppose you were killing weeds in your garden and producing birth defects, too.

Monsanto‘s Roundup, which has been associated with deformities in a host of laboratory animals, may have a similar impact on humans.. One laboratory study done in France in 2005 found that Roundup and glyphosate caused the death of human placental cells and abnormal embryonic cells. Another study, conducted in 2009, found that Roundup caused total cell death in human umbilical, embryonic and placental cells within 24 hours. Yet researchers have conducted few follow-up studies.

“Obviously there’s a limit to what’s appropriate in terms of testing poison on humans, but if you look at the line of converging evidence, it points to a serious problem. And if you look at the animal feeding studies with genetically modified Roundup ready crops, there’s a consistent theme of reproductive disorders, which we don’t know the cause for because follow-up studies have not been done.

“More independent research is needed to evaluate the toxicity of Roundup and glyphosate and the evidence that has already accumulated is sufficient to raise a red flag.”

– Jeffrey Smith, executive director of the Institute for Responsible Technology

We have been critical of Monsanto for soft-peddling Roundup, as have members of the scientific community. In 1996 New York State’s Attorney General sued Monsanto for describing Roundup as “environmentally friendly” and “safe as table salt” (although I don’t think anyone from Monsanto would sprinkle Roundup on their spaghetti.) Monsanto, while not admitting any wrongdoing, agreed to stop using the terms for promotional purposes and paid New York state $250,000 to settle the suit.

Roundup Ready seeds are now proliferating 80 % or more of the seed market (if you don’t believe me try purchasing a heritage corn seed at any major supplier like Home Depot or Lowe’s. While they are occasionally there, most products are Monsanto GMO seeds that are Roundup Ready.) Driving by fields and fields of weed-free Roundup Ready corn yesterday, I rolled up my car windows so as not to breathe in any of this crap.

If you want to track the GPA‘s review of glyphosphate, go HERE. BTW, this is the same EPA that the Republicans want to have defunded. I wonder who is getting most of the contributions from Monsanto?

Let’s help stop Fracking, especially in WV…

CREDO put up a petition last night. I hope you will read it, then go there and sign…

Subject: Tell your Senator: Stop dangerous Fracking

Dear Friend,

Did you know that oil and gas companies are allowed to inject unchecked quantities of a secret, toxic fluid, directly into or drinking water – and that the EPA is currently powerless to do anything about it? 

High Pressure Hydrolic Fracturing (or Fracking) is a method of drilling for natural gas by pumping a mixture of water and toxic, cancer-causing chemicals deep underground. 

It’s already responsible for poisoning the groundwater in states across the country, but thanks to the work of Dick Cheney the EPA can’t currently regulate Fracking. 

I just signed a petition asking my Senator to co-sponsor the FRAC Act, which would allow the EPA to regulate Fracking. Please add your voice and help build the call to pass this vital bill to protect our drinking water: 

http://act.credoaction.com/campaign/frac_act/?r_by=-2276645-vfzXZ7x&rc=paste1 

 

It only takes a minute… so please let the Congres know your feelingd.

A Brilliant Article by Sherry at A Feather Adrift:

I was looking for more information on Patty Murray’s defense of Planned Parenthood and the crap the Republicans are trying to blackmail us with to keep the government open. I found this piece by our friend Sherry who we have quoted before. Read it. Please.

Shut ‘er Down?

07 Apr

I read a piece yesterday by Michael Tomasky that posited a couple of theories about what the GOP was about in this budget battle. He basically saw it as two possibilities. One is that Boehner is up to his neck in poo, knowing that a shutdown will reflect badly upon the GOP. The other is that they really think that if they stop this economic recovery with a shutdown, Obama will suffer in 2012. The latter is clearly the more sinister and evil of the two.

I’m more inclined to the former. I think Boehner is being squeezed and is desperately trying to hold on to his job. He wants to make a deal, yet he is held hostage by the freshman extremists who are much like the those who went out to watch the “opening” battle of the Civil War. Sitting with tea and crumpets, they soon were horrified at the slaughter and ran for their lives. It’s just that the extremist teabaggers, having learned only “revisionist” history, have no clue what they are bringing about.

My understanding through days of listening and reading is that the parties are close enough on the actual numbers. One would think that enough, but the GOP, beholden to its crazies, and deeply afraid of them now, keep moving the end zone lines. What it now comes down to, is not the size of the cuts, but the actual cuts themselves.

Pense, that idiotic buffoon, demands a shut down if the PPH is not defunded. And the extremists are fanning the flames by, so  I’ve read, blanketing Boehner’s office with white sheets. This is to symbolize that Margaret Sanger, the long DEAD founder of PPH was alledgedly supportive of the KKK.

Ms. Sanger has also been charged with believing in eugenics, and from that we get the ugly billboards suggesting that PPH’s aim is the genocide of the African-American people. Forget the real reason that African-Americans seek PPH’s abortion services more often than whites.

Such nonsense is just that of course. Pense claims that his purpose is to stop funding PPH because the “American people are clear that they don’t want the government funding abortion.” Of course there is already legislation to that effect and PPH’s budget from Congress funds health care issues separate and apart from abortion, such as mammograms and cervical cancer detection as well as family planning assistance. All this to women who cannot afford these services elsewhere.

Another pet project is NPR. The GOP wants it defunded for no other reason than they think it left leaning and that’s not helpful to them. The fact that Fox Noise and all manner of other “conservative” institutions receive federal dollars is conveniently ignored. This is nothing but another means to kill the opposition, union killing and voter suppression, wild gerrymandering, being others.

The EPA is another target. Damn us for wanting clean air, and water, and support for alternative energy sources. Big Business doesn’t like pollution control interfering with profits. That is masked by idiots on committees who claim that “God has promised that the earth will never be destroyed.” Well there you have it. We can foul our nest all we want, God is our janitor! Such unspeakable misinterpretation of scripture is nothing but misdirection and slight of hand. It’s all about business.

Ryan and his silly “revolutionary” budget is aimed at only one thing–the thing the GOP always aims at, keeping money in the hands of rich people. It’s desire to destroy Medicare and Medicaid under the guise of taking down the deficit, might have some legs were it not for the fact nothing is done to address the tax cuts for the wealthy.

This is all nothing new. The GOP hates with a passion anything that smacks of “income redistribution”. In their world there would be no social security either. They did not put forth any of these social reforms, they hate them, always have. They believe they are at the top of the heap due to their own talents and frankly, my dear, they don’t give a damn about any of the masses.

Charity, to borrow from the extremist right-wing religionists, should come from the individual, which is what Jesus wanted (doncha just know). When people give of their own volition, of course, they work for their own salvation, which is all that really counts, and the “right” kind of poor are taken care of, and the rest? The rest, will either do the ditch-digging jobs with just enough to subsist, developing into a stable underclass we can count on forever. They will do it or die.

We will, they dream, build a righteous land run by God’s natural leaders–white men who with benevolence, (their version) make the US into a mighty, unassailable ruler of the world. Anyone who doesn’t like it, well, we got plenty of bombs.

And if you don’t think this is exactly what they truly want, you are deluded.

End of Rant.

Why are we being taken over by utter stupidity?

I start the morning with a guy ringing the front doorbell and, rather than run downstairs holding the dogs so they don’t run out the door, I open the window and say “Yes?” He asks me if I want information on the celebration of the death of Jesus Christ.

“No, thank you. No, I don’t.”

Perhaps I should put an “atheist lives here” sign on the door… that might keep these folks from coming around (and there are more and more of them lately.) Or perhaps I should go door to door asking if people want information on pure logic as it relates to religious myth. Probably not.

Then I get back to the computer and I’m reading Taegan Goddard‘s morning posts and find this:

House Denies Global Warming is Real

The House of Representatives defeated an amendment to a bill that “would have put the chamber on record backing the widely held scientific view that global warming is occurring and humans are a major cause,” reports The Hill.

The amendment, which stated that “Congress accepts the scientific findings of the Environmental Protection Agency that climate changes is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare,” failed by a near party-line vote of 184 to 240. The only Republican to vote for the amendment is Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), while three Democrats voted against it.

These are people who have control over money given to scientific research (which they are now probably going to try and eliminate) and who represent any possibility of protecting ourselves in the future from destroying our world.

Of course, the Congressfolk are now working as hard as it can to shut down the government without making their own parties seem responsible. Each side claims to not want the shutdown. At least one group (read “Tea Party”) has taken a stand against ANY compromise, and that will keep Republicans in a muddle.

We are being governed by the brain dead… led by people walking backwards into an existential hole.

I’m going back to bed.

Guest Article: The Continuing EPA Budget Battle

from Nicholas Scott:

The GOP has recently been setting out on an effort to cut down on a number of domestic programs, yet they are also aiming at many of the Environmental Protection Agency’s regulations that they believe are a major obstacle in revenue and creating jobs. While the actions have included attempts to lower the power of the clean air act and come down on some of the EPA’s regulations, the campaign to have the EPA’s budget by a third may be the biggest issue of them all. With all of the moves by the GOP against the EPA in early 2011, it seems more like an assault on the foundation of the EPA, rather than just a campaign to help businesses and increase jobs. If the GOP is able to follow through and have the budget sliced by a third, this could bring forth the possibility of diminished air quality and future health risks.

Some republicans are adamant in saying that the clean air act is not at stake with all of their initiatives against the EPA.  Republican Fred Upton claims that the GOP is looking to return the clean air act to its original reason for being created, to protect people and families from smog and pollution. Upton was a main backer of the Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, which is directly aimed at taking away the EPA’s ability to oversee greenhouse gas emissions.  Upton’s take on regulating emissions seems shaky. Sure he says that he wants to return the clean air act to its original purpose, but he also pushes to let businesses have free rein on emissions. In eliminating the EPA’s ability to regulate these emissions and downplaying their importance, it almost signals to businesses and factories that abusing the levels of emission for the purpose of increased revenue is alright. The price of diminished air quality and the possible ensuing health risks could be the cost of raised revenue and employment

Sometimes it’s very hard to realize the impact an organization like the EPA can have on the people. The EPA works with a number of regulations, standards, and initiatives aimed at reducing health risks. Monitoring greenhouse gas emission for example, allows the EPA to make sure that increased pollution and smog don’t turn into health risks such as asthma and other respiratory problems. The EPA also fights every year to keep public water clean, monitor the level of mercury in fish and aquatic life, as well as monitor pesticides and keeping related illnesses down. The EPA also has an initiative geared towards asbestos removal all over the country. This is aimed at helping to prevent short term risks such as dizziness and nausea, as well as long term health risks like asbestosis and mesothelioma.

Asbestos is a type of construction material that was used constantly throughout the last century in all types of products, specifically in many older buildings, workplaces and structures. With mesothelioma life expectancy being very short and workers contracting symptoms, use of this material was gradually blacklisted. While no one uses asbestos today, it’s still being removed from older structures all over the country by the EPA.

The EPA certainly works as an organization that has its hand in a number of different projects, such as promoting sustainability, monitoring levels of pollution, and subsequently looking to keep health risks down.  As the battle continues on over whether or not the EPA should be involved with certain issues, both groups are looking for improvements to the country. The EPA is looking to maintain their ability to prevent health risks, while the GOP is looking to increase revenue for businesses, as well as create jobs.

Quote of the Day – As House Republicans Reject E.P.A. Ruling on Climate Control

Jay Inslee

“If Copernicus, Galileo, Newton and Einstein were testifying today, the Republicans would not accept their views until all the Arctic ice has melted and hell has frozen over, whichever comes first.”

– Rep. Jay Inslee, Washington (D)

The House Energy and Commerce Committee held a hearing yesterday, requested by Democrats, on a bill to strip the E.P.A.’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions. The measure would overturn the E.P.A.’s finding that carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases pose a threat to public health and the environment and would bar the agency from writing any regulations to control them.

Needless to say, in a Republican-controlled House, despite the overwhelming scientific opinion, this bill will pass.

The EPA’s West Virginia coal mining smackdown

Salon asked the author of BIG COAL, Jeff Goodall, why it is important that the government has move to close a mountaintop removal coal mine.Here is a exerpt… but you will likely want to read the whole article:

clipped from www.salon.com
On Thursday, the EPA sent shock waves through the environmental movement and the coal industry when it announced it was revoking the permit for a huge mountaintop removal mine in West Virginia. After two weeks in which House Republicans have made it clear that one of their top priorities is crippling the EPA, the agency’s decision seemed a forthright declaration that it will not back down.
Why is the EPA’s announcement that has revoked the permit for the Spruce No. 1 Mine in West Virginia a big deal?
Because it shows that the EPA is finally willing to do its job and enforce the laws on mountaintop removal mining. Ever since the Bush administration came in and gutted the EPA and changed some of the rules for mountaintop removal mining, the industry has gotten away with whatever it wants.
The revoking of this permit sends a very clear signal that the agency is now going to enforce the laws, and they are going to protect the water supplies of this region, and not just roll over for Big Coal.
blog it

Those of us who live in West Virginia have worried for quite awhile over the polluting properties of mountaintop removal in Coal Mining, as well as “fracking” for gas and oil in shale rock. Both are happening in this state and both are poisoning its residents. This move by the EPA is both brave and valuable; brave because it knows the newly powerful Republicans would destroy the EPA if it could, valuable because it shows that the government can do its job and protect citizens from corporate induced danger.

It is a good first step, but this is ONLY a first step.