OSM tells Gov. Bredesen (D-TN) to Piss Off!!
by faithfull, Mon Apr 03, 2006 at 10:10:33 AM EDT
Recently, particularly after the Sago mine disaster in which 16 were killed, states have been paying more attention to the effect that mining has on their lives, communities, and environment.
West Virginia's governor Joe Manchin wanted all WV mines shut down for safety reviews.
Tennessee Phil Bredesen (D-TN)
also filed a request with the Office of Surface Mining, requesting that the OSM Reclamation and Enforcement develop an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) to review the effects of coal mining in Tennessee.
The OSM also received similar requests from Paul Sloan (Deputy Commissioner, TN Department of Environment and Conservation) and Gary Myers (Executive Director of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency.)
In response to these requests for an assessment of their actions, and the results thereof, the OSM respectfully flipped Governor Bredesen, Commissioner Sloan, and Executive Director Myers the bird....
WHAT DO THEY HAVE TO HIDE??
After receiving Governor Bredesen's request for an EIS, the Office of Surface Mining sent back a reply telling the governor that they weren't interested in letting people know what they do, how it effects Tennessee, and that they would rather keep it secret.
TDEC Commisioner Sloan recognized SEVERAL reasons why the OSM should do an Environmental Impact Statement.
- Four "lands unsuitable for mining" petitions granted since 1985, plus a recent petition covering the New River watershed that was rejected by the OSM;
- Unsatisfactory treatments for acid mine drainage;
- New information about threatened and endangered species since the 1985 EIS;
- Advances in mining technology, including augur mining;
- Stricter water quality standards; and
- A need to address cumulative impacts from landslides, post- mining land-use problems and abandoned mine lands.
Last year, a 23-acre section of a reclaimed strip mine in a remote area of Scott County slid into the drainage of Smoky Creek in the Sundquist Wildlife Management Area. The landslide on High Point Mountain has been dumping sediment into a tributary of New River for 12 months, endangering aquatic life and clouding the water for miles downstream.
Please read these exerpts from the OSM reply to Governor Bredesen...
I appreciate your concern regarding the impacts of coal mining in your State and your interest in its proper regulation. However, after careful review, we have determined that preparing a comprehensive programmatic EIS to address all Federal regulation of coal mining in Tennessee under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) is neither warranted nor appropriate.
So, the coal mining wants to keep their actions secret, doesn't want any accountability, and wants us to give them the power to police themselves while they run rampant around law and order. Not only does the OSM brush off their complete and well-documented disrespect for Tennessee, but they encourage minimizing federal oversight.
While we have confidence in our Tennessee Federal program and our compliance with NEPA, we believe strongly that the most effective way to achieve the goals outlined in your letters would be for Tennessee to resume State regulatory authority, consistent with the role envisioned for all States in SMCRA. Of the 25 coal-producing States, Tennessee is one of only two that do not have primacy. By implementing a State program, the citizens and government of Tennessee could directly address the concerns raised in your letter in ways that best meet the needs and interests of Tennessee.
Somehow...I still don't believe for a second that the OSM wants coal companies to be held accountable. (See the Jack Spadaro interview in the upcoming issue of the Appalachian Voice)
I am encouraged by your interest in the regulation of surface coal mining, and we at OSM are ready to assist Tennessee in taking the future of coal mine regulation into its own hands.
What are all these little red flags I am seeing?!
I commend you for your leadership and concern for the long-term welfare of the people and the environment of Tennessee. We also appreciate the good working relationship that we have with TDEC staff, and we will continue to work with the State as we fulfill our responsibilities under the Tennessee Federal program.
Brent also lists his numbers. How convenient!
Brent Wahlquist - 202-208-4006
He also suggests that folks might want to call Tim Dieringer, the Knoxville Field Manager at - 865-545-4103.
I think Ill do that.
(Cross-posted at the new Appalachian Voices blog)