Latest Machinations on Mountaintop Removal

I must confess that I'm too busy to blog today.  But for the latest on mountaintop removal do yourself a favor and check out Ken Ward's always informative Coal Tattoo blog. 

Today Ken writes about how the EPA has objected to three more MTR permits that were set to be issued by the Army Corps of Engineers -- two in West Virginia and another in southwestern Virginia. This is obviously a positive trend.  Way to go, EPA -- keep the heat on the Corps!

Ken also blogs about some interesting comments Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) made last week after Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) introduced bi-partsian legislation to ban the so-called valley fills that make mountaintop mining possible. 

Rahall said the state's most productive coal seams likely will be exhausted in 20 years.  And while coal will remain an important part of the economy, the state should emphasize green job development.  That, he said, is especially important as pressure against mountaintop mining increases.

Rahall said the pressure is coming from both Republicans and Democrats. During the 2008 presidential race, Republican nominee John McCain came out in favor of ending mountaintop mining.

"It's something that's evolving over time in our industry and the responsible segment of our industry realizes that," he said.

Kudos to Ken for cutting to the heart of the issue on this:

First, of course, is: If coal isn't a long-term economic engine, as these comments suggest, then does it make good sense to blow up more mountains and bury more streams for short-term gain?  Second, though, is what are policymakers and political leaders in West Virginia really doing to deal with the end of coal as a major economic engine - as the major economic engine in some southern counties?