200,000+ Comment on "National Forest Sale"

(Cross-posted at the new Appalachian Voices blog)

The Citizen-Times has more on the National Forest Sale (covered here, here, here, and an alternative plan here)

The U.S. Forest Service has more than 200,000 comments to sort through, and Western North Carolina rangers have calls to take -- some from landowners and some from developers.

The Forest Service is finding people have plenty to say about a proposal to sell public land to help cover costs of a rural schools program.

Except, as we discussed earlier, any money that is made here doesnt stay here.  It goes right back into the Federal Treasury! So NONE of the money from the 10,000 acres we would lose would be garunteed to stay in our area, and the South gets pennies on the dollar compared to other states!

Way to go on this folks!

There's more...

Poison Water in the Coalfields - People are Dying

(Cross-posted at the new Appalachian Voices blog)

"At least one hundred of these folks are too sick or too old or they don't have a car to come pick up the water themselves," said Billy Sammons of Lick Creek, "so we deliver it.  It's what we have to do if our neighbors are going to have water."

This is coal sludge in the water supply.

Coal companies have been injecting coal sludge into abandoned long-shaft mines in and around Mingo County for nearly two decades. The heavy metals and toxins from these illegal dumps have leached into the water supply and now the people of Rawl and Mingo County, WV are fighting for their lives.

Near Williamson, WV, in the communities of Rawl, Sprigg, Merrimac and Lick Creek, residents claim they have had problems with their water for the past ten years.  Many have liver and kidney problems, various forms of cancer and skin rashes-- health problems associated with long-term exposure to high levels of arsenic, lead, manganese, selenium, and other toxins which scientists have found in residents' well water.

There's more...

Bush Administration Actively Fights Environment in Montana

The environment is one of those issues most voters say they care deeply about, though when they get to the polls they subordinate their green leanings for strongly-held opinions on more salient issues. But when the Bush administration begins to actively seek to overturn states' environmental regulations, going against the traditionally conservative states' rights position, it could be the case that voters -- particularly those in states directly affected by the White House's actions -- will actually base their vote at least in part on the environment.

With the Bush administration pushing Montana to water down some of its sensible environmental regulations, as The Washington Post's Juliet Eilperin reports, we'll have a chance to see if Montanans will indeed voice their opposition to corporatist bureaucrats in Washington trying to bully them on behalf of the energy lobby.

Federal energy officials are opposing new rules by Montana to force companies that extract methane gas from underground coal beds to clean up the water pollution caused by drilling operations, even as state officials cite an unreleased 2003 federal report that says cleanup costs are relatively inexpensive.

The Denver office of the Environmental Protection Agency produced the report but never published it, saying it related to a proposed drilling application that was dropped.

A Montana consulting firm obtained a copy of the EPA report, however, and handed it over to Gov. Brian Schweitzer (D). Last month, Montana's Board of Environmental Review, citing the EPA paper and other economic studies, voted to force coalbed methane companies to leave the state's streams as clean as they were before drilling started, although the companies do not have to clean up existing pollution.

While the corporate conservative members of Congress from Wyoming are jumping on the bandwagon behind the Bush administration's move, noticeably absent from comment on the story was Montana's own conservative Senator, Conrad Burns, who faces a tough reelection campaign this year as a result of questions about his once close relationship with Jack Abramoff.

In 2004 Governor Schweitzer, then the Democratic gubernatorial nominee, rode to victory with support from within his own party but also from hunters and fishermen not traditionally aligned with the Democratic Party. As David Sirota explains in his extremely interesting Washington Monthly piece on the 2004 Montana gubernatorial race, Schweitzer was able to win over these outdoorsment, who bore similarities to conservationists like Theodore Roosevelt, by backing smart and fair regulations of the mining industry.

If the Bush administration continues with its attempt to encroach into Montana and block Schweitzer's plain sense regulations, will Burns step in and try to stop them? If not, does he risk ceding these conservationist voters to his eventual Democratic challenger, whether he be Jon Tester or John Morrison? The proof will be in the pudding, though I wouldn't put too much money on Burns just now.

There's more...

Appalachian Voices blog: Up and Running!!!

The new Appalachian Voices blogis shoving off today across the great Southern American blogosphere!

As we embark on this journey I invite you to join us for Mountain Oyesters and barbeque, sweet tea and moonshine, Smokey Mountains and Clean Smokestacks!

From Lookout to Kayford to Blair to Grandfather Mountain, we will be there protecting our environment, gaurding and celebrating our culture, and encouraging engagement in the politics of Appalachia.

There's more...

RIP: Bill Hayes -The "Inspector From Hell"

(Cross posted at the new Appalachian Voices blog)

Democrats need heroes.

This is a story about an amazing man named Bill Hayes,zealous inspectors for the Office of Surface Mining (A.K.A. - heroes), and the first cessation ever given by the OSM.

Patrick N. Angel, longtime strip mine regulator and now federal Office of Surface Mining forester in the London, Ky., office, had this to say at last weekend's memorial service for legendary mine inspector William Hayes.

It was the morning of May 25, 1978 - 6:00 a.m.

Lying in bed, I wondered how much longer it would be before Bill Hayes knocked on the door of my motel room, as he had each morning for the past two weeks. We had been working as a two-man inspection team, crisscrossing the Eastern Kentucky coalfields, trying to be everwhere at once.

Our strategy was to make it appear there were more OSM inspectors than the five we had in the state at the time. We were on a true blitzkrieg. Some operators called us zealots, and a few labeled us storm troopers, but we were mostly known as "the inspectors from hell."

There's more...


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