Tag Archives: coal

BLM Replaces Mountain Landscape Photo With Coal Seam On Home Page


The 800-mile Trans-Alaska Pipeline runs alongside the Gulkana River.

April 6, 20177:06 PM ET

Kirk Siegler - Square 2016

Kirk Siegler

Twitter

A quiet change to the website photo banner of a relatively obscure federal agency is causing a bit of an outsize stir on social media.

On the top of its home page, the Bureau of Land Management, which manages more than 200 million acres of public land under the U.S. Department of the Interior, swapped out a photo of a young boy and his companion backpacking across a mountain meadow in favor of one showing a massive coal seam at a mine in Wyoming.

Above:  A cached version of BLM.gov from March 25 shows the Bureau of Land Management’s home page previously featured a photo of a young boy and his companion overlooking a scenic landscape. Bureau of Land Management via Internet Archive/Screenshot by NPR

Above:  A screenshot of the Bureau of Land Management’s home page displays a photo of a “large coal seam at the Peabody North Antelope Rochelle Mine in Wyoming.” Bureau of Land Management/Screenshot by NPR

The agency’s mission is, after all, to manage federal land for multiple uses — which range from hiking trails along scenic vistas and in remote deserts to oil and gas fields and, yes, coal seams.

But on Twitter, environmentalists — along with some satirists — were quick to pounce on the symbolism. The Trump administration hasn’t exactly been shy about its plans to increase fossil fuel development on federal land.

The BLM is downplaying the latest Twittersphere uproar.

More than anything else, spokesman Jeff Krauss tells NPR, the change in home page photos is due to an IT redesign that will once again allow different photos to be rotated through that reflect the agency’s multiple-use mission. That used to be standard practice until recently, Krauss says.

Despite its low-profile status when compared with other DOI agencies like the National Park Service, the BLM has long been a favorite political target from both sides of the aisle. During the George W. Bush administration, for instance, conservation groups criticized — and sued — the agency for approving a rapid expansion of drilling on public lands. Later, under President Barack Obama, mining groups accused the agency of being too restrictive, and Western ranchers led by Cliven Bundy even led armed standoffs against the agency, protesting its authority to control Western lands.

For sure, the stakes are high when it comes to the BLM and the American public’s land, which might explain why a seemingly simple photo change ignited as much controversy as it did in this hyperpartisan political climate.

Things will probably quiet down Friday, when the agency plans to swap out the coal photo for one reflecting the BLM’s recreation programs.

Or will they?

CONTINUE READING…

Kentucky Regulators, Industry Reps Privately Rewrote Coal Ash Rules


By Erica Peterson

https://i2.wp.com/wfpl.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/12/Mill_Creek2.jpg

Kentucky’s Energy and Environment Cabinet has finalized a controversial plan to let the state’s utilities virtually self-regulate the storing of hazardous coal ash near power plants.

As details about the plan emerged over the past few weeks, Cabinet Secretary Charles Snavely defended the rules and the process, saying it included “full public participation.”

But documents obtained by WFPL News show the process was far from public and instead included more than a year of backroom meetings — under both former Gov. Steve Beshear and Gov. Matt Bevin — with representatives of the utility industry. During that time, documents show the regulations were significantly revised and weakened.

When regulators began meeting with representatives of the utility industry in September 2015, the regulations they had drafted (left) were extensive. By the time they submitted the drafts to the Legislative Research Commission in October 2016 (right), the regulations were weakened.

Environmental attorney Tom FitzGerald of the Kentucky Resources Council, who has spent more than 44 years working in the state, and oftentimes on workgroups with members of industry and regulators to craft regulations, said to his knowledge, such one-sided input from industry is unprecedented in recent years.

“I think it’s unconscionable, and I think it does not reflect well on how little value [the regulators] place on public involvement in the development of regulations that are intended to protect the public,” FitzGerald said.

Representatives from the Energy and Environment Cabinet declined an interview request. In response to emailed questions, spokesman John Mura defended the cabinet’s regulatory process.

“As a part of the pre-KRS 13A deliberative process of regulation development, it is common for the state to informally discuss regulatory matters with the regulated sector that are directly impacted by those regulations,” Mura wrote.

He also pointed to a public comment period and a public hearing held in November 2016. After public comments were received, the agency made minor changes to the rule.

Dangers of Coal Ash

Coal ash — also called “coal combustion residuals,” or CCR — is the byproduct of burning coal for electricity. It’s often stored in dry landfills or wet ponds, or recycled into products like concrete or wall boards.

But it also contains contaminants like mercury, cadmium and arsenic. And environmental advocates say that’s why it’s so important there’s adequate state and federal oversight over coal ash disposal.

“Coal ash is a toxic substance that if handled incorrectly can take human lives, can make people sick, can ruin the environment, lakes, rivers, streams, permanently,” said Earthjustice attorney Lisa Evans.

In the past decade, there have been two high-profile instances — in Kingston, Tennesee and Eden, North Carolina — where large-scale coal ash spills have contaminated miles of rivers and land. But there have also been numerous other cases where there have been smaller amounts of pollution, where coal ash has caused air problems or has leached chemicals into groundwater.

Kentucky Division of Waste Management geologist Todd Hendricks mentioned a few of those instances in public comments he made about the cabinet’s proposed coal ash rule:

“Analysis of groundwater and leachate from CCR units in Kentucky has shown elevated levels of heavy metals, sulfate, boron, and other contaminants. One facility is conducting groundwater corrective action for contamination of karst springs with arsenic leaching from an inactive surface impoundment. Hundreds of thousands of gallons of arsenic-contaminated groundwater per day are captured and pumped to the active surface impoundment for dilution and discharge through a permitted outfall. At another facility, state laboratory analysis of one recent sample of fluid (presumably leachate) flowing from the toe of a closed CCR landfill showed 9.81 mg/L of arsenic, which is 981 times the maximum contaminant level (MCL).”

Coal ash wasn’t regulated by the federal Environmental Protection Agency until 2015. But with the publication of the first-ever federal coal ash rules in the Federal Register, the EPA set out new standards designed to be incorporated into states’ existing regulatory framework.

And that’s when the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet began working on the state’s version of the regulations.

Emails Show Industry-State Meetings

By its own admission, the Kentucky Division of Waste Management spent more than 1,600 hours working on the regulation in 2015, under former governor Steve Beshear.

On Sept. 3, 2015, regulators sat down with representatives from Kentucky’s utility industry. They screened a PowerPoint presentation on the current draft version of the rules. And on the 12th slide, regulators told the utility representatives that their facilities would no longer be able to qualify for a program called a “permit-by-rule” for coal ash sites. Instead, they would have to stop accepting coal ash into their landfills and ponds by Oct. 19, 2015, or get a permit for disposal.

That wasn’t the last meeting between regulators and industry representatives to discuss the coal ash rules. Emails obtained through an open records request show they met in person at least three more times — in October 2015, and April and June 2016.

State regulators shared drafts of the regulations with Tom Shaw, the environmental director of Big Rivers Electric Corporation, and Jack Bender, the attorney representing the Utility Information Exchange of Kentucky, an industry group. And both men sent regulators UIEK’s comments on the proposals multiple times, months before the agency took comments from the public.

Bender declined a request for additional comment, and Shaw didn’t respond to a voicemail message.

When regulators went into that meeting on Sept. 3, 2015, the draft CCR rules were extensive. They covered groundwater monitoring, inspections, technical specifications for recycling coal ash and plans for closing facilities.

But by the time the draft regulations were released to the public in October 2016, they didn’t contain any of those specifics. And the regulations proposed regulating the electric utilities with a “permit-by-rule” — the very mechanism that the state declared it would not use during that September meeting.

Oversight Steps for Coal Ash Removed

In the proposal released to the public in October, electric utilities wouldn’t have to apply with the state for a permit to build a landfill or pond for coal ash. Instead, the state determined the utilities would have a “permit-by-rule” and could begin constructing coal ash units without prior permitting or review by state regulators.

Right now, utilities building coal ash units need a permit from the Kentucky Division of Waste Management. The process sometimes takes years and involves professional engineers, geologists and environmental technicians. Often permits are also needed from the Kentucky Division of Water.

Under the new proposal, those wouldn’t be necessary.

The state’s approach has been modified somewhat in the final version to a “registered permit-by-rule.” This means utilities will have to register before they begin construction of landfills or ponds, but there will still not be a rigorous permitting process.

“It’s the Wild West, basically,” FitzGerald said. “You get to characterize [the project] on your own, if you do at all, you get to manage it at the location you decide, you get to control the design, the construction, the operation, the closure, the post-closure. And the only time the state is going to become involved is after you screw up. If they find out about it.”

FitzGerald said skipping a rigorous permit review process — where the utility and regulators work together to design the project — could pose myriad problems.

If groundwater monitors aren’t put in the correct locations, they might not detect water pollution. Sensitive ecological or historical sites — like Wentworth Cave on Louisville Gas and Electric’s Trimble County property — could be buried under coal ash forever.

Or, in the most extreme cases, an engineering error could lead to structural flaws in a project and result in a catastrophic coal ash spill.

Cabinet spokesman Mura wrote in an email that the state’s end product is an attempt to comply with the federal rules.

“It was the Obama EPA, after a lengthy regulation development process, that promulgated an industry self-implementing program with no permitting program and with the public/state involvement process done via posting of information on industry website(s),” Mura said.

The EPA’s rules were self-implementing but intended to be incorporated into a state’s existing framework. More recently, Congress approved the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation (WIIN) Act, which directs states to work the new federal standards into existing permitting programs.

Legal Challenges Possible

It’s not illegal for regulators to consult with industry representatives before a draft regulation is released for public comment.

Instead, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet routinely seeks input from so-called stakeholders early in the process. But usually that input includes people on different sides of the issue — not just industry representatives but also people from environmental groups, landowners and others with a stake in how the regulations play out,

FitzGerald said that kind of approach — where all sides are engaged early on in the process — ensures that when the regulations are released for public comment, multiple perspectives have been taken into account.

“It is far preferable and I think much more productive and you get a much more responsible work product when you have input from all of the stakeholders,” he said. “And yet in this case, the input came solely from the regulated industry. And the result was a serial weakening of a responsible approach into one that I think is the most irresponsible approach I have seen in my 44 years of working on these issues on behalf of the public.”

Before the rule is finalized, it will need approval from two legislative committees. FitzGerald said if it wins approval, he might consider seeking judicial review.

CONTINUE READING AND TO AUDIO!

Coal Miners Sign Class Action Lawsuit Against EPA


 

 

Image result for Kentucky coal

 

MOUNDSVILLE

Laid off coal miners, and some still employed, are compiling signatures for a class-action lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Act. The petition currently has thousands of signatures.

Those coal miners from West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky and Pennsylvania met on Sunday at the Moundsville Eagles Hall from noon to 6 p.m. to show their support for the lawsuit against the EPA for violations that occurred during the process of enacting legislation.

"This is a provision that can be challenged now. It is an administrative and legislative error. It doesn’t have to do with the final rule and we are not attacking the rule in its entirety. We’ll let the states and the coal companies do that at a later date," said one of the plaintiffs, Kurtis Armann.

Armann said officials found serious problems that occurred during the legislative process, specifically the lack of peer review.

He adds the pending regulations are destroying economies and a way of life for people in West Virginia.

Armann anticipates the class to exceed 2,000 plaintiffs and if Indiana and Illinois get involved, it’ll reach between 4,000 to 5,000 plaintiffs.

 

CONTINUE READING…

Where Coal is King In Kentucky, both Democrats and Republicans are blocking green policies


By JAMES HIGDON

December 09, 2014

 

 

To understand Kentucky politics you have to understand this: When it comes to coal, there is no difference between Democrats and Republicans. There is no red Kentucky or blue Kentucky. There is only charcoal black. And Kentucky politics is a coal miner’s daughter.

With roughly 61,000 jobs directly or indirectly linked to the industry and some $4 billion in annual revenue, the state’s devotion to coal is all but carved in stone. One law in the state, for example, allows energy companies to cap renewable energy to one percent of production, saving the remaining 99 percent for coal.

“The coal folks want people to burn coal,” says Wallace McMullen, the conservation chair for the Sierra Club’s Kentucky chapter. “In Kentucky, the coal-state mentality has equally blinded them all”—Democrats as well as Republicans.

Which means when Louisville’s civic leaders try to improve the city’s environmental health, it’s not just Republicans in Washington like incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell standing in the way, but Democrats in the state capital of Frankfort, too.

Just ask John Yarmuth, Louisville’s congressman since 2006. Yarmuth is a vocal advocate for alternative energy, as opposed to someone like Alison Lundergan Grimes, who quite visibly advocated for coal without mentioning alternatives during her unsuccessful campaign to unseat McConnell.

Yarmuth, the only Kentucky congressman endorsed by the Sierra Club, won his re-election handily and outperformed Grimes in Louisville by 12,295 votes — and his Congressional district doesn’t even include all of Jefferson County. Many of those Yarmuth-but-not-Grimes voters held the environment as their chief concern, and were upset with Grimes for trying to be more pro-coal than McConnell. When she said in her gun-themed TV ad that she “disagree[d] with Obama on coal and guns,” that wasn’t some political half-truth, as her critics and some of her supporters wanted to believe.

“Of all my supporters, environmentalists were the most concerned with Alison,” Yarmuth says. “More so than African-Americans, LGBT, labor or immigrant groups,” because coal was one of the few policies Grimes took a stand on. And for environmentalists, it was on the wrong side.

“I hardly saw the point in voting for someone that almost stubbornly refused to stand out as anything other than ‘not Mitch,’” said Meghan Levins, a chef in Louisville’s burgeoning farm-to-table scene. She voted for Yarmuth, but not Grimes. “The coal issue really is a sticking point with me because I think it’s so ridiculous to imply that there is such a thing as ‘clean coal.’”

Yarmuth hasn’t been hurt politically by his pro-environmental positions. His views are in line with voters like Levins, who represents Louisville’s political base and favor a sustainable energy policy at the risk of “a speculative increase in price,” as Yarmuth puts it.

“Part of what we deal with in Kentucky is the coal culture, which is a larger political factor than the economics of coal,” he adds. In Yarmuth’s estimation, voters in the coal-mining regions see advocacy for alternative energy as “an attack on their way of life,” which is “more impressionistic than dollars and cents.”

 

This emotional response to the culture of coal is what coal operators leverage for political might in election seasons. Democrats in Kentucky either support this message or remain too afraid of it to challenge it in statewide races. This is something that national activists have difficulty understanding about Kentucky politics: any elected Democrat outside of Louisville is as pro-coal as any climate change-denying Republican.

Grimes is a prime example. Grimes’s defense of coal wasn’t just some last-minute campaign stunt; her family’s relationship with coal goes back decades. Her father, Jerry Lundergan, was the chairman of the Kentucky Democratic Party under Gov. Wallace Wilkinson, who once proposed building a 41-story skyscraper in Lexington called the World Coal Center. Before that, Gov. Julian Carroll testified before Congress about how important strip mining was to Kentucky’s economy, and Kentucky’s current governor, Steve Beshear, sued the EPA in 2010 for blocking state-issued coal mining permits. All three governors are Democrats.

James Higdon is a freelance writer based in Louisville and author of The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History. He can be reached at @jimhigdon. Full disclosure: His father, Jimmy Higdon, is a Republican state senator in the Kentucky state legislature.

Continue Reading »

Page:
  1. 1
  2. 2

Read more: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/12/kentucky-coal-politics-113440.html#ixzz3LuAAkots

5 arrested in protest against coal magnate Jim Justice in downtown Roanoke


skd 090414 justicetojustice p01

 

By Jordan Fifer and Jeff Sturgeon | The Roanoke Times

A group of protesters who unfurled a large banner criticizing coal magnate Jim Justice and the practices of his Roanoke-based mining company caused a spectacle in downtown Roanoke on Thursday morning, prompting a large police and fire response to take down the display.

Five people were brought away in handcuffs after the sign was strung between two midrise buildings shortly after 9 a.m., spanning busy Jefferson Street.

The sign was in protest of Justice, who lives in West Virginia but bases his company Southern Coal Corp. in Roanoke, three doors down from where the banner was hung. Southern Coal has been the target of state and federal regulators and activists for numerous documented environmental problems at 30 company mines in five states, including Virginia.

“JIM JUSTICE PROFITS APPALACHIA PAYS,” read black letters on one side of the large white banner, while the reverse claimed, “JIM JUSTICE: TOXIC SPILL BILLIONAIRE.”

The five — identified as Rebecca Marie Holmes, 23, of Wise County; Heather Glasgow Doyle, 30, of Blacksburg; Kyle Scott Gibson, 28, of Wise County; William E. Blevins, 32, of Wise County; and Catherine Ann MacDougal, 27, of Gloucester, Massachusetts — were charged with interfering with the property rights of the building owners, a misdemeanor, police spokesman Scott Leamon said. Each was granted a $1,500 secured bond but remained in jail as of Thursday afternoon.

Three groups with an environmental bent, two of them Appalachia-focused, claimed to have had a role in the banner incident. One, Mountain Justice, describes its goal as to “seek to save our mountains, streams and forest from greedy coal companies,” according to its website.

Another group, Radical Action for Mountain People’s Survival, also known as RAMPS and based in West Virginia, describes itself as “a non-violent direct action campaign” against strip mining. The third group that said it had a role, Rising Tide North America, based in San Francisco, is “confronting the root causes of climate change,” its website says.

D. Steele, a 23-year-old from Matewan, West Virginia, who gave only his first initial, said he was with RAMPS. As the demonstration wrapped up, he said the group aimed “to make Jim Justice be accountable for his unfair business and environmental practices.”

As of July, federal regulators were tracking 277 unabated or uncorrected environmental violations dating to 2011 at Justice company mines in Virginia, West Virginia, Alabama, Kentucky and Tennessee, said a spokesman for the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, a federal agency that polices mine operators. “Civil penalties are piling up,” Chris Holmes said.

The Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy has begun proceedings to seize money placed in safekeeping by the company to guarantee reclamation of disturbed mined land at four Wise County locations. The Justice companies are appealing that state action, and Justice has said reclamation of those mines would be premature.

Justice, who could not be reached Thursday, has said most of the 277 violations were paperwork-related. “I’m cleaning it up,” he said in July.

In the view of the Roanoke protesters, Justice is an environmental scofflaw.

“He chooses the cheapest practices at the expense of his own employees,” said 32-year-old Erin McKelvy of Lee County, who said she belongs to Mountain Justice and came out to support the cause. “For somebody who’s a billionaire, you would think he would be able to do a good job, pay off his debts and clean up the messes he’s made.”

Police and fire crews closed about a block off Jefferson Street between Campbell Avenue and Church Street for about 90 minutes while they removed the banner and escorted the protesters down from atop two buildings.

The protesters “had attached themselves to the base of the banner, using their weight to anchor it, and declined to move,” Leamon said.

The owner of one of the buildings asked police to remove the sign, he said.

Roanoke Fire-EMS Deputy Chief Jeff Beckner, who was on one of the roofs, said the protesters offered no resistance during their arrests.

Police confiscated climbing equipment in bookbags including carabiners, yellow safety vests and rope, police Sgt. J.H. Bowdel said. A photo posted on Facebook showed the protesters wearing the vests on the roof.

“Everyone made sure to take all the necessary precautions to protect themselves and everyone else,” Steele said.

No one was injured, he said, describing the incident as a deliberate public act to try to create public pressure without regard to what he called “the legality of the tactics.”

The protest became a midmorning spectacle, with perhaps 60 to 70 workers and pedestrians milling about and stopping to take photos.

Some said they supported the protesters’ efforts but were unsure what the cause was about. A few said though they supported the right to protest, it should be done in a safe way.

“You got to realize that you got this hanging up right here and it’s caused a lot of businesses problems, and also you got the law involved over something stupid hanging up,” said Roger Simmons of Roanoke. “If that thing falls down and lands on a car, you’re going to have a big accident right now.”

Asked about any public safety risk of the protesters’ efforts, McKelvy said people should be more worried about the message the group was spreading.

“The public safety concern is what Justice and his company is doing,” she said.

More Coverage

CONTINUE READING STORY WITH VIDEO…

Mitch McConnell’s coal-fired claptrap: Dirty fuels and stupid politics in Kentucky


Monday, Aug 11, 2014 10:22 AM CST

Mitch McConnell and Allison Lundergan Grimes both love coal — and it’s making them say very silly things

Simon Maloy

The Kentucky Senate race is basically an argument over coal. A big, stupid argument over coal.

Late last week, Yahoo! News’ Chris Moody reported that Elaine Chao, wife to incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell, serves on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, “which has plunged $50 million into the Sierra Club’s ‘Beyond Coal’ initiative, an advocacy effort with the expressed goal of killing the coal industry.” Taken in isolation, this is good, charitable work that, to be frank, you wouldn’t expect a former member of George W. Bush’s Cabinet and Heritage Foundation fellow to be involved in.

And according to Bloomberg Philanthropies, the anti-coal effort is getting results. “The Beyond Coal campaign has retired 161 coal plants,” a February report from the organization states. “The shift away from coal is also helping to save lives. These retired coal plants will save 4,400 lives, prevent 6,800 heart attacks, and prevent close to 70,000 asthma attacks each year.”

Those are good things! The filthy business of coal mining and burning are causing lots of health problems in Kentucky and other Appalachian states, like higher rates of cancer and birth defects that studies have traced to the release of heavy metals from surface mining. The climate change impact is also significant, as coal-fired plants are the top source of carbon emissions in the United States. Less cancer, fewer heart attacks, decreased risk of climate change-caused catastrophe – great job, Elaine Chao! Wouldn’t have pegged you as one of the good guys.

Of course, that’s not at all how this is playing in Kentucky, where coal is a big part of the state economy and pandering to coal interests is what needs to happen if you want to get elected to statewide office. Thus we have the spectacle of the McConnell campaign vigorously and adamantly denying that its candidate’s wife had any involvement whatsoever in this philanthropic effort to not cover Kentucky with soot and asthma:

“The decisions to make those grants by the Bloomberg philanthropies were made before she joined the board and she played no role in the decision to grant them,” McConnell spokesman Don Stewart told Yahoo News. “Sen. McConnell has a longstanding, principled record of defending coal families and jobs. Decisions made by a board before Sec. Chao ever joined do not change that and as the Obama administration will tell you, he hasn’t let up an iota in his defense of Kentucky coal families and jobs.”

That’s a bit of a cutesy position to take, given that they’re tacitly acknowledging that Chao joined Bloomberg Philanthropies after their anti-coal activism was established. And local Kentucky media reported that Chao was “on the charity’s board when at least half of the grants were made to the Sierra Club.” But this is how coal politics work. You have to reject and denounce the life- and environment-saving charitable work done by the group your wife works for.

(The Louisville Courier-Journal pointed out that Bloomberg Philanthropies also does anti-tobacco activism, which is at cross-purposes with McConnell’s “staunch” defense of Kentucky tobacco interests.)

I certainly don’t want to leave the impression that this is a McConnell-only problem, though. Being a Democrat in Kentucky means you have to play this same game, and McConnell’s opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, is positioning herself as a stronger supporter of coal than he is. “Senator, let’s set the record straight. I’m the only pro-coal candidate in this race,” Grimes said last week at an event with members of the United Mine Workers of America. When the Environmental Protection Agency unveiled its new rule capping carbon emissions for existing power plants, Grimes cut radio ads blasting President Obama: “Your EPA is targeting Kentucky coal with pie in the sky regulations that are impossible to achieve.”

Grimes’ pro-coal campaigning led to one of the dumber campaign fights in recent memory. Her campaign put together a newspaper ad touting her support of coal interests that featured a photo of a miner holding a chunk of anthracite. It turned out that picture was actually a stock photo of a European male model pretending to be a miner, and the Grimes campaign replaced it before it went to print. But Politico got hold of the story and … well, you know what comes next. “The stock photograph could undermine Grimes’s messaging as Republicans raise doubts about the authenticity of her pro-coal position,” Politico reported, with complete earnestness.

McConnell’s campaign jumped on this ridiculous issue, with the candidate himself getting in on the action. “My opponent has been in Hollywood so much lately that she really can’t tell the difference between a coal miner and a European male model,” McConnell said at a campaign event. The Grimes campaign fought back. “The stock photo war of 2014 escalated in Kentucky on Thursday night, as Alison Lundergan Grimes’ campaign attacked Sen. Mitch McConnell’s team for using European stock photos in three Facebook posts,” reported Politico (obviously).

This is where pro-coal campaigning takes you, I guess. It would be nice if the debate in Kentucky were on how to best transition the state away from filthy, toxic fuels. But, the politics being what they are, instead they’re fighting over who’s more the enthusiastic supporter of an industry that is destroying the environment and making the people in close proximity to it sick.

Simon Maloy

Simon Maloy is Salon’s political writer. Email him at smaloy@salon.com. Follow him on Twitter at @SimonMaloy.

More Simon Maloy.

CONTINUE READING…

Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) has been illegally pouring toxic coal ash into the Ohio River,


Earthjustice

Liked · May 29 · Edited

 

BRAZEN: For years, Louisville Gas & Electric (LG&E) has been illegally pouring toxic coal ash into the Ohio River, unbeknownst to neighboring communities. Now thanks to a hidden camera and satellite imagery, the utility has been caught and faces a lawsuit from Earthjustice along with huge fines. http://ow.ly/xoDMp
LG&E could be fined up to $68 million along with $37.5K for each day that goes forward until the dumping is stopped. Coal ash contains a toxic brew of pollutants, including mercury and arsenic, which can cause cancer. It’s the waste product left over from the nation’s coal-fired power plants. Here’s great information on coal ash >> http://ow.ly/xoOp4
Help SPREAD this post and TELL US >> Do you think the fines are harsh enough for LG&E’s years of illegal dumping?

 

Can Legalizing Marijuana Help Appalachia?


By Michael P. Tremoglie

 

NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Will legalizing marijuana help or hinder some of the poorest of Americans? Appalachia has long been known for intractable poverty, coal and moonshine. But what many do not know is that marijuana is an Appalachian cash crop.

Some say it will only help; after all, Appalachians make quite a bit of dough from grass. "Outdoor cannabis cultivation is common throughout the Appalachia…region," reads a June 2007 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ). "The number of outdoor plants eradicated from grow operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia increased from 1,004,329 in 2005 to 1,252,524 in 2006. Cannabis cultivators deliberately locate outdoor grow sites in remote areas of public and private lands to reduce the chance of discovery by passersby or law enforcement and, more commonly, to protect their crops from theft. Cannabis is cultivated in Kentucky on broad areas of privately owned land, in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and on the Cumberland Plateau."

Related Articles

What coca leaves are to the mountain people of Peru, marijuana is to the mountain people of America. These growers take their their marijuana cultivation seriously, too. They are not shy about using lethal force to protect it. The DOJ describes some of the efforts to protect crops, "Cannabis cultivators frequently use camouflage, counter surveillance techniques, and booby traps to protect their outdoor grow sites. …These sites are often protected by armed guards who conduct counter surveillance. Moreover, the use of booby traps significantly increased in 2006….some cannabis cultivators used punji sticks, which may be camouflaged by leaves and brush or incorporated into pits and explosive devices, to reduce the risk of crop theft."

CONTINUE READING…

Next » Last