Across Appalachia

West VIrginia: Forest Management Plan Released for Monongahela National Forest
The US Forest Service has released a draft of the forest management plan that will guide all activities on West Virginia’s Monongahela National Forest for the next fifteen to twenty years. The proposed plan will triple the amount of logging allowed on the Monongahela, and will increase the maximum size of clear cuts from 25 to 40 acres.
A coalition of organizations has formed to advocate for increased protection of special places as part of the forest plan, which includes a number of alternative proposals. The West Virginia Wilderness Coalition is supporting an alternative in the plan that would fully protect 11 new backcountry areas in the national forest. They are concerned that the alternative chosen by the Forest Service does not recommend enough new wilderness and will roll back protections for some roadless areas, allowing for logging and road building in 9 of the 16 backcountry areas on the national forest.
The Monongahela National Forest is a prized recreation area home to numerous special places beloved to people across the nation, including the Dolly Sods and Cranberry wilderness areas. The national forest encompasses 1 million acres and is within a day’s drive of one-third of the US population.

Tennessee: Residents, State Officials Comment on Proposed Change to Mining Rules

On August 22, Tennessee residents attended a public hearing in Knoxville to comment on proposed changes to a key regulation that governs surface coal mining. The rule change would weaken a rule that bans coal mining within 100 feet of a stream. The majority of people at the meeting voiced their concern about the impact this would have on the Cumberland Plateau, where surface coal mining has been increasing in recent years.
The meeting was one of four scheduled in and around coal mining areas in the eastern US in this preliminary phase of the rule change process. Additional hearings were held in Charleston, West Virginia; Hazard, Kentucky; and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
The state of Tennessee also submitted comments on the proposed rule change. Among many suggestions, the state requested that the federal Office of Surface Mining (OSM) evaluate the effect of widening the buffer zone to 200 feet on each side of a stream. The rule change currently being considered by OSM would have the opposite effect, essentially eliminating the requirement to protect streams from mining activity with a buffer zone.

South Carolina: Enhanced Public Participation Rules in Clean Water Decisions
The General Assembly recently approved regulations providing the public a stronger voice in developing the “total maximum daily load” (TMDL) of pollutants entering the state’s water bodies. Simply, TMDLs refer to the maximum amount of a particular pollutant that a water body can receive and still meet water quality standards. TMDLs are required under the federal Clean Water Act as additional safeguards when other control programs fail to achieve water quality standards. Once a TMDL is established for a pollutant in a particular water body, the state must determine how much of that pollutant each polluter will be allowed to discharge into the water body daily. The sum of each allowance must be equal to or less than the TMDL.
The new measures strengthen the public’s voice in developing TMDLs by: (1) allowing the public to comment during both the draft and decisionmaking stages; (2) requiring the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control to provide responsive summaries to public input; (3) allowing any person or affected local public body to, upon request, obtain a 30-day extension of the comment period; and (4) permitting any affected public or elected body to request a public hearing.
To see the new regulations, visit

Kentucky: Two Projects Threatening a Recreational Mecca on the Boone Are Scaled Back
Two recent decisions to scale back logging, road-building and other industrial development on the Daniel Boone National Forest will help ensure that Perry Mountain will continue to be a regional mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. Encompassing 8,000 acres of contiguous forest, the Perry Mountain area represents the second largest block of national forest land in Kentucky.
Kentucky Heartwood, a non-profit group that was instrumental in calling public attention to the proposed projects, challenged the proposed Morehead Timber Sale involving 4,800 acres of commercial logging, 7,800 acres of pre-commercial thinning, 109 miles of road construction, project-wide spraying of herbicides, as well as tree-farming on an addition 15,000 acres. Initially excluded from environmental review, the project was ultimately reduced by one-third after conservation groups and local citizens expressed concerns about harm to watersheds, soils, and wildlife habitat.
The state Public Service Commission (PSC) also ruled in late August that a proposed East Kentucky Power Cooperative transmission line should use existing right-of-ways rather than permanently clear a 4.8 mile corridor across the Big Perry area. Conservationists say the ruling represents a significant precedent, since the PSC stated “future applications should comprehensively consider the use of existing corridors in planning future transmission,” as an alternative to building new corridors for powerlines.

Georgia: State Declares War on Invasive Grass
After confirming the establishment of Cogon grass in nine south Georgia counties, state officials are taking immediate action to fight the spread of the invasive grass from Asia, which ranks among the world’s 10 most dangerous weeds. Cogon grass, which can grow to four feet tall, produces seeds that disperse as far as 15 miles, and rapidly takes over agricultural lands, native forests and even houses, is already established on every continent except Antarctica and has engulfed more than a billion acres of land across the world. In the US, the grass has infested nearly a million acres in Florida and has also been reported in South Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Alabama.
State officials are particularly concerned about the potential impact on the region’s multi-billion dollar forest industry, as the grass kills pine seedlings. Already, Cogon grass is estimated to cost Alabama $7.5 million per year in lost forest productivity.
With only a dozen sites and less than 100 acres infested, officials remain hopeful that aggressive control efforts can halt the spread.

Alabama: Company Fined Second Time for Environmental, Worker Safety Crimes

McWane, Inc., which operates a number of iron foundries across the nation, pled guilty to violations of worker safety and environmental laws at one of its divisions in Northern Alabama. The company admitted to knowingly violating the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act by allowing workers to illegally treat hazardous lead and cadmium waste without a permit.
As part of the agreement reached in Anniston between the company, state, and federal agencies, the company will pay a $3.5 million fine receive 3 years probation and abide by a number of consent decrees imposed by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management.
This was the second time this year that the company has pled guilty to environmental and safety violations, according to officials in the Justice Department. In March, a McWane division pleaded guilty to submitting false statements and violating the Clean Air Act, for which it paid $4.5 million, received 5 years probation, and was required to install $24 million in pollution abatement equipment.

North Carolina: Attorney General Cooper to EPA: Pollution Rule too Weak

In July, NC Attorney General Roy Cooper notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that he intended to file suit challenging its proposal to reduce interstate smog and soot from power plants in 28 eastern states by 2015. Cooper also requested that EPA re-consider other parts of its Clean Air Interstate Rule (CAIR).
Although he generally supports EPA’s efforts to reduce unhealthy levels of fine particles and ground-level ozone in downwind states, including North Carolina, Cooper is concerned that certain loopholes “will give power plants in other states the ability to send additional pollution our way.”
Specifically, Cooper claims that the CAIR rule will not cap emissions of nitrogen oxide from power plants in Georgia during ozone season. “It’s particularly unfair to North Carolina that power plants in Georgia will be given a break . . . because North Carolina has done a good job in reducing its own emissions by passing the Clean Smokestacks Act,” said Cooper.
Additionally, the Attorney General expressed concerns that EPA’s decision to allow polluters that achieve early compliance to trade their pollution credits to other utilities would not balance trading regionally and might create hotspots of pollution in downwind states.

Global Warming Bill Clears Legislature
On August 30, the North Carolina General Assembly demonstrated its commitment as the Southeast’s leader in addressing the region’s air pollution problems by passing the Global Warming/Climate Change Bill.
Consensus among the world’s leading scientists is that global warming—the rapid increase in average surface temperature of the planet—is due, in large part, to the burning of fossil fuels since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Global warming is predicted to have significant adverse impacts in North Carolina including stronger hurricanes, rising seas that would drastically alter the state’s coastline, shifts in agricultural and forestry growing patterns, and the spread of tropical diseases. Each of these impacts has significant economic repercussions.
The first of its kind in the Southeast, the bill establishes a commission devoted to: (1) study issues related to global warming and the emerging carbon economy; (2) determine whether it is appropriate and desirable for North Carolina to establish a global warming pollutant reduction goal; and (3) develop a recommended goal if one is deemed appropriate and desirable. The Commission’s global warming assessment is to be completed on or before November 1, 2006.


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