March 30, 2008

In case you were wondering, all of the major candidates for president are for mountaintop removal and continued reliance on coal.

John McCain is at least consistent in his tongue has been up the coal companies' asses for some time. No more mountains!

Mrs. Clinton, you won't be surprised to hear, has changed her position in order to match her daily audience (and hairstyle). She was against mountaintop removal before she was for it!

Obama has switched positions. But if you insist on pointing that out you must be racist. Si se puede!

1Sky » Blog » Coal State Primary Season

You can't actually trust of any of these candidates and neither party since zero percent of them actually seem to care what happens to the Appalachians themselves--few votes there, populated by depressing and tacky poor whites (as opposed to Rev. Wright's cherished demographic) and all of that coal, easy to turn into gas with technologies that has been off-the-shelf since the Nazis invented it.

On my mind because of political action coming to Washington this week. No, probably won't change much, but you never know.

meanwhile there are some interesting shenanigans going on in Tennessee, showing that you never know what end of the spectrum people will come from, even the religious nuts:

National Coal defends mountaintop removal mining

In a hearing before the Tennessee Senate Environment and Conservation Committee yesterday, Knoxville based National Coal Corp. said that a proposed ban on mountaintop removal mining would put them out of business and affect hundreds of jobs in the state of Tennessee.

When confronted by environmentalists with more than fifty violations at National Coal sites, the company said they amounted to nothing more than "speeding tickets" and said they could explain most of the violations but weren't prepared to offer any explanations at the hearing because they were "blindsided" by the discussion of the charges.

As originally introduced, SB3822 would have required an environmental impact statement before issuing any surface coal mining permits and would prohibit surface coal mining operations to alter or disturb any ridge line above 2000 feet elevation. Another provision would prohibit surface mining operations "within 100 feet of any water of the state."

According to this Knoxville News Sentinel report on the hearing, opponents asked for and received an opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General that the requirement for an environmental impact statement was in conflict with federal law, so this requirement was dropped from the proposed legislation. The bill was also amended to clarify that it would not apply to "surface coal mining activities that are only incidental to underground coal mining if the department determines that surface disturbance and effect is limited to that required to conduct legal underground coal mining."

Despite these concessions to the coal industry, the Environment and Conservation Committee chairman would not allow a vote and deferred the bill until next week so the Tennessee Attorney General's office could appear before the committee to discuss the legislation.

The sponsor of the amended legislation, which he described as a "weak bill," characterized the move as a "stalling tactic" when in fact the committee appeared ready to vote on it.

The bill has made for some interesting coalitions in the Tennessee General Assembly. State Sen. Raymond Finney, the bill's sponsor, is an ultra-conservative Republican and born again evangelical. The House Sponsor is State Rep. Mike McDonald, an environmentalist and a Democrat. State Sen. Tommy Kilby, the Chairman of the Senate Environment and Conservation Committee who blocked the bill, is also a Democrat. He says he doesn't want to put National Coal out of business and opposes the bill because the company "is providing good jobs, benefiting the state by reclaiming land devastated by abandoned mines, and not investing a dime of taxpayer money," according to the News Sentinel report.

The origin of the legislation is another interesting story. It's a faith-based labor of love by Dawn Coppock, the state's top adoption lawyer. She got involved when the Youth Director at her church, Kathy Lindquist, wrote a column about "creation care" and mountaintop removal in the church's newsletter. Following Ms. Lindquist's death in 2005, Ms. Coppock founded the Lindquist Environmental Appalachian Fellowship (LEAF) to further the cause of faith-based environmental stewardship. She worked with State Sen. Finney to draft the mountatintop removal legislation and has mounted an aggressive lobbying effort to get it passed.

Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen would likely sign the legislation if it ever reaches his desk. Commenting on another proposal to increase coal taxes in the state, Gov. Bredesen remarked "I don’t think we should be a cheap place to mine coal."

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