Front Porch Blog

Presidential Candidates Coming Around on MTR

Barack Obama recently spoke on mountaintop removal during a speech in Lexington, Kentucky.

He said the country also needs a forward-thinking energy policy, and he alluded to his disapproval of the coal mining process of mountaintop removal.

“We’re tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels,” he said, sparking loud applause.

Senator Christopher Dodd has spoken directly to the proposed Buffer Zone rule change:

I oppose Bush’s proposal to relax environmental rules on mountaintop removal. This rule change is an example of special interests, in this case coal companies, running the government. When big coal companies make the rules, worker safety and the environment suffer.
Instead of expanding coal companies’ right to destroy the environment while mining for coal, the government should be working to develop truly clean and safe coal technologies. This means protecting our climate with new technologies, protecting mine workers by enforcing safety rules and standing up to the big companies, and protecting communities and our natural landscapes by using only safe and clean extraction methods. This can only be accomplished by opposing mountaintop removal.

Bill Richardson also provided a strong statement on the issue:

The Administration’s decision to streamline mountaintop mining isn’t good for anyone. Instead it’s a gift to the industry that has been most loyal to the GOP at the expense of mine workers and the environment. What this nation needs is a 21st century energy policy that will reduce the pressure to dig up and burn every last ounce of coal, no matter how dangerous or how destructive. Coal can fit into this picture with new technologies, but the Administration is hanging onto the last scraps of a failed energy policy as long as it can.

In the West, and in Appalachia, people are fighting to protect their communities, their jobs, and the environment in the face of this rapacious policy. Jim Webb said it best before he was elected senator to the coal state of Virginia: ‘The ever-hungry industrialists (realized) that (Appalachia) sat arop one huge vein of coal. And so the rape began. The people from the outside showed up with complicated contracts… Soon the (local folks) were treated to a sundering of their own land… The Man got his coal, and the profits it brought when he shipped it out. (The local people) got their wages, black lung, and the desecration of their land.'” (From Born Fighting, Jim Webb, 2004).

Richardson also throws us a bonus quote from Senator Jim Webb, who himself needs to start leading on this issue.

(h/t DevilsTower at DKos)

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