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Thursday, August 23, 2007

President Bush: codifying environmental degradation since 2001

Coal mining has been in the news with the trapping of six miners in a collapsed Utah mine and the subsequent death of three rescuers in a second collapse. The federal government has joined the fray, with an announcement that new rules will expressly allow the longtime practice of mountaintop removal for coal mining. The tradeoff is that this method of mining is substantially safer than underground mines, but significantly more destructive to the environment.
The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams...Mountaintop mining is the most common strip mining in central Appalachia, and the most destructive. Ridge tops are flattened with bulldozers and dynamite, clearing all vegetation and, at times, forcing residents to move.

...From 1985 to 2001, 724 miles of streams were buried under mining waste, according to the environmental impact statement accompanying the new rule. If current practices continue, another 724 river miles will be buried by 2018, the [Army Corps of Engineers] report says.
As always with this administration, however, the stink of corruption lies heavy about the decision.
The early stages of the revision process were supported by J. Stephen Griles, a former industry lobbyist who was the deputy interior secretary from 2001 to 2004...The regulation is the culmination of six and a half years of work by the administration to make it easier for mining companies to dig more coal to meet growing energy demands and reduce dependence on foreign oil.
Gee, the industry writes its own rules. That's new.

And then there's the bogus note about oil dependence. Coal is for electricity, oil is for cars. But thanks to the excellent journalism at the New York Times, that lie talking point on energy independence will reach thousands of readers. Bravo.

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