Front Porch Blog

Short Term Solution Means Long Term Fix for Appalachia: part III

Part 1
Part 2

But what about the Navajo, Hopi and Crow? Peabody destroyed the Black Mesa, a sacred place of worship for Native Americans in Northern Arizona. And the Washington Group uses Crow labor in the Absaloka mines of Montana, and gives nothing back to the reservation.

And about the people of Appalachia, people desperate for jobs and opportunity? Their land is literally crumbling around them as mountain top removal coal mining erodes more than just the landscape. A once self sufficient people have been raped of their resources. No farms can grow on the barren rock beds, and fish can not survive in streams inundated with toxic sediments. The little life remaining is subject to poor air quality, toxic water and constant removal of habitat.

It becomes obvious the coal companies desire profits at the expense of the poorest, most depressed regions of our country. And what does congress suggest? MORE! Yes, and it’s bi-partisan. Even democratic presidential candidate Barrack Obama has co-sponsored the senate bill advocating liquid coal. He is joined by four other senate democrats, who are supporting the bill with eight republicans. The house bill also has multiple co-sponsors from both parties.

Researchers at the MIT believe $70 billion would be needed to develop infrastructure for liquid coal, so it could be made available to the American masses. As legislators make one of the most important decisions for our future, they should think ahead, keeping in mind the cost and long term involvement with this project. And what happens when we’ve used all the coal?

Why not give our farmers subsidies for making renewable fuels instead of Fortune 1000 energy companies? After all, Rudolph Diesel developed his engines with the idea that they could all be sustained from a personal farm. The prototype ran on peanut oil and was made to run on plant oil derivatives. Mr. Diesel would be appalled at the current status of his invention, and having his name on every gas station billboard in America.

One person in Washington, D.C. does have it right. Senator Jeff Bingaman, D-NM, is drafting a bill supportive of renewable energy sources and not coal-to-liquids. A part of his proposed legislation would also ask energy companies to use renewable fuels for 15% of their production by 2020.




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