Across Appalachia

The Ongoing….

“Truth, not politics,” should guide energy development, quips Massey energy Co. president Don Blankenship at a WV coal symposium in September. If that were to happen, “American coal will reduce the need for young men and women to die for oil in the Middle East.” …

The Ohio Valley Energy Coalition responds: ”The truth is that there is no such thing as “clean” coal, mountaintop removal must end and we … [must] do something about greenhouses gases and the global climate crisis…. “ And does Bankenship think its true that young men and women “need” to die for oil?

Momentum against MTR in Appalachia is building, the Cleveland Press said, quoting David Orr, environmental-studies program head at Oberlin College…..

More subsidies for synfuels are on the way… This time a floor price to boost the economies of coal synfuels plants. The floor price for synfuels kicks in when the price of crude oil falls below $40 per barrel, the federal government would make a payment to the facility owner…

Yet synfuels plants were closing this summer. Many coal synfuels plants closed down because the price of oil was too high. Under the 1980 synfuels act, government subsidies stall when oil reaches $60 a barrel. Nationwide 55 coal synfuels plants take advantage of several billion dollars a year in subsidies, mostly by spraying diesel oil on already marketable coal…

Controversy over air pollution control regulation rages on the federal and regional levels. In Washington, seven members of the EPA’s science advisory committee for air pollution insisted this September that new particulate regulations do not provide an “adequate margin of safety … requisite to protect the public health” as required by the Clean Air Act. Virtrually ever public health and medical association in America opposed the EPA’s lax regulations, including the American Medical Association, the American Lung Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association, the American Cancer
Society, the American Public Health Association, and the National Association of Local Boards of Health.

Meanwhile, in Greenbriar County WV, a proposed power plant isn’t planning to use the best pollution controls as required by law, the Sierra Club, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Greenbrier River Watershed Association argued in a state Air Quality Board hearing recently.

Power plants sited in areas with clean air, such as Greenbrier County, may be permitted to use less effective pollution controls if state governments agree to that they are too expensive. This expense is considered in dollar costs to the company only, rather than also in terms of the cost of premature deaths downwind.

Mining Expert Fights Destruction of Appalachia

Mountain Top Removal and the Destruction of Appalachia will be the subject of Jack Spadaro’s talk at Appalachian State University on October 26th from 7:00-9:00, in the Belk Library, room 114.

Raised in the West Virginia coalfields, Jack Spadaro worked in the mines to finance his college education, receiving a degree in Mining Engineering from West Virginia University. His efforts earned him a position as the top safety trainer, and superintendent for the Mine Safety Health Administration’s National Mine Health and Safety Academy. He soon lost favor, though, with MSHA and the Bush administration, when he transitioned from employee to whistle blower.

In October of 2000, a sludge dam, owned by mining giant Massey Energy, failed in Martin County, Kentucky, resulting in an environmental disaster worse than the Exxon-Valdese oil spill. Spadaro was assigned to investigate the incident, and when he insisted that Massey be held accountable for the negligence that allowed the flood to occur, Spadaro’s files, and computer were confiscated and he was given “early retirement.”

Spadaro now dedicates his time to fighting injustice in the coalfields and serves as an expert witness in court cases related to mining issues. Though soft-spoken, Spadaro’s voice is often heard when issues of coal-mining safety and sludge dams arise.

Spadaro is the recipient of several awards, including the Jenco Foundation Award for Service to Humanity in Appalachia, the Chuck Chambers Public Service Award of the West Virginia Environmental Council, and the Helen Lewis Community Service Award of the Appalachian Studies Association. Mr. Spadaro frequently speaks to university and civic associations and can be contacted at

Sponsored by the Center for Appalachian Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences, Sustainable Development and Appalachian Voice.

More Forest Means Less CO2, Study Says

The U.S. could offset nearly 20 percent of its current emissions of CO2 by turning marginal farmland into forests according to the Pew Centre on Global Climate Change.

There are about 115 million acres of land in the United States (excluding Alaska) that are poor for agriculture but good for growing trees. If planted in trees, the land could store enough carbon to reduce the country’s current emissions of 7.075 billion metric tonnes, or nearly 20 percent, according to the report “Agricultural and Forestlands: U.S. Carbon Policy Strategies”

“There is lots of land out there and we are tapping so very little of our ability to sequester carbon,” says report co-author Ken Richards of the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University.

“It would cost about 50 dollars per metric tonne of carbon stored,” Richards told IPS. Most of the 50 dollars per tonne of carbon cost would be compensation for landowners.

Re-foresting of the United States would bring many other benefits, such as erosion control, water quality protection and improved wildlife habitat.

“Over longer time horizons, agricultural and forestlands can produce biomass-based substitutes for fossil fuels, thereby further reducing emissions,” the Pew report notes.

Other benefits include erosion control, water quality protection and improved wildlife habitat. “Over longer time horizons, agricultural and forestlands can produce biomass-based substitutes for fossil fuels, thereby further reducing emissions,” the Pew report notes.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Leave a Comment