Friday, August 24, 2007

Mountaintop Removal

The Bush administration has promulgated new regulations to make it easier to destroy the landscape in the pursuit of coal. The new rules would relax restrictions on the horrific practice known as mountaintop removal, in which entire mountains are blasted out of existence and the refuse dumped into what used to be creeks and rivers.
The New York Times
has the story:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Bush administration wants to quit requiring coal operators to prove that their surface mining will not damage streams, fish and wildlife.
Under proposed new regulations that it will put out Friday for public comment, strip mine operators would have to show only that they intend ''to prevent, to the extent possible using the best technology currently available,'' such damage.
This language is nothing short of Orwellian. Mountaintop removal, by definition, does more than damage streams for instance; it causes them to cease to exist.
This aerial photo taken near Kayford Mountain, West Virginia shows what mountaintop removal looks like. To give a sense of the scale of the operation, the small object in the right hand side of the photo is a dragline, the largest earth moving machine ever built. The scars inflicted on the landscape are visible from earth orbit.
The language used to describe this practice is no less tortuous than the practice itself:
''With this proposal, we can establish a consistent, nationwide means to reduce the impacts of surface coal mining and provide clear rules specifying what mining activities can and cannot be conducted near bodies of water,'' said C. Stephen Allred, Assistant Secretary of Interior for Land and Minerals Management.
Current policy from the Interior Department's Office of Surface Mining says land within 100 feet of a stream cannot be disturbed by mining unless a company can prove it will not affect the water's quality and quantity.
Interior officials have said that complying with that buffer zone requirement is impossible in ''mountaintop removal mining,'' which involves shearing off the tops of ridges to expose a coal seam. Dirt and rock are pushed below, often into stream beds, a practice known as valley fill.
In other words the practice cannot meet current regulatory requirements, so the federal government is proposing to make it easier to destroy the landscape on an even larger scale.
Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition has much more on this practice. The proposed rules can be found here.
Photo: Vivian Stockman, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition


Anonymous Anonymous said...

God helps those who help themselves I guess. I can only imagine what awaits these souless folks when they meet their maker.
In the meantime, Tommy, it is up to the rest of us to call them out.

1:20 PM, August 25, 2007  
Blogger Tom Noyes said...

One thing that would help would be for those of us who don't have to live near these ruined landscapes to make our disgust known to those in Washington who make the rules.

1:52 PM, August 25, 2007  
Blogger Frank said...

I have flown over West Virginia a number of times.

It looks just as bad from 37,000 feet as it looks close up.

12:36 PM, September 01, 2007  

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