Front Porch Blog

Mountain Monday: Is Coal the New Oil?

An every day fossil fuel…
An influential lobby on Capitol Hill…
Dwindling supply…
Spiking prices, effecting nearly every facet of the American economy…
Big industries exploiting high prices as an excuse for unnecessarily increasing extraction at any environmental cost…
…while stuffing their pockets with record profits.

Sound Familiar?

One of the most dramatic and pivotal price shifts in the weakening economy over the last 7 years has been the price of a gallon of gasoline. As we turned over the millenium in 2000, gas was at a balmy $1.26 according to the Energy Information Administration. Since then, the price has more than tripled, breaking $4.00 nationally for the first time just last month. The increase in fuel costs is already having dramatic impacts on our food and supply costs, making it more expensive to buy anything across all markets.

Are we on the verge of seeing electricity rates pull a “gas-prices?”

A little less conspicuous than the price of fuel for our automobiles has been the insane upward spike in price of America’s “most abundant fuel” for electricity – COAL.

From a low of roughly $30 in 2000, the cost of a ton of Appalachian coal has increased 5 fold from 2000-2008, now fetching roughly $150/ton. Roughly half of America’s electricity is produced by coal, and a Appalachia produces a large percentage of our fuel for electricity. Most of this production in central Appalachia is from “mountaintop removal coal-mining” . This is a barbaric process by which entire mountains are blasted apart for coal. Their toxic corpses are then dumped into adjacent river valleys, poisoning the fountainhead streams for many of the major rivers in the east. Over 1 million acres of Appalachia, and over 1200 miles of streams have been destroyed by mountaintop removal and the dumping of mountaintop removal waste according to government statistics.

We will continue to cover this emerging story in the coming weeks.

See if you are connected to mountaintop removal at the My Connection page at, and check to see if your Congressman is a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169) here.

We also need you to join the Bloggers Challenge. Over 470 bloggers have participated, but we need to spread the word until every American and every politician is hearing about mountaintop removal on a daily basis.

This weeks featured blogs…

1. Featured Blogs for July July 28-August4th
Coeruleus at She Flies with Her Own Wings:

They’ve told us time and again that we’ve got an almost limitless supply of coal in this country and that if only we’d let them destroy our mountains and valleys, and suck it up when it comes to mercury, a happy future of “clean” coal would await us! With what seems to be wee bit of a supply problem on our hands, do you believe the coal industry when they say they’re going to make all those investments to make coal clean?

Kevin at Life Has Taught Us

Your power comes from this coal. So, your comfort is based in this destruction. Also remember that the mountains of Appalachia are also the “mother of waters” and many of you are downstream. In the big picture, we are all downstream.

2) Mountaintop Removal Fact of the Week
Appalachian coal cost $40 in 2007 (low).
Appalachian coal costs $150 in 2008 (high).

3) Mountain Movie/Image of the Week:

Buffalo from the Sky
Logan County, WV

4) Featured Activist:
Larry Bush, from Wise County Virginia:
Himself a former miner and American veteran, Larry Bush traveled with other Appalachian residents to Washington DC last month to lobby Congressional Representatives to co-sponsor the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169)” which now has 146 co-sponsors thanks to the efforts of Larry and others. Larry has also been an outstanding organizer in SW Virginia and a leading voice against the dangerous new coal-fired power plant proposed by Dominion in his home of Wise County. In Wise County, 25% of all the land has been strip-mined, and there is already another coal-fired power plant 4 miles away from where the proposed coal plant would go. Despite all of this, Wise County suffers from 20% poverty, and according to the County profile:

The population of Wise County is considerably less prosperous than the population of Virginia. Wise County’s poverty rate is 108% higher than the Virginia poverty rate. The per capita income for Wise Countians is only 59% of the per capita income for Virginians.

Thanks to the efforts of Larry and others, the people of Wise County and SW Virginia may yet be able to stop the efforts of Dominion and Governor Kaine to build another deadly, GHG emitting, mountaintop removal using coal-fired power plant in their backyard.

5) Mountain Music of the Week:

Indulge in watching a few of the best musicians in the world – Tony Rice, Jerry Douglas , Sam Bush , Mark o’Connor, and Béla Fleck rip through Rice’s classic version of “Freeborn Man.”

Thats it for this week!





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