Front Porch Blog

Mountain Monday: The Clean Water Protection Act and 2009

In the chilly holiday transition of the next two months we will be saying goodbye not only to 2008, but – happily – to the Bush era of regulatory tomfoolery and pollution industry handouts, as well as the exorable and often mystifying inhabitants of the 110th Congress.

Thanks to you, the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169), finishes this session of Congress with 153 co-sponsors, a record number of grassroots supporters both inside Appalachia and across America, institutional support inside the beltway, and a national network of activists from Hawaii to Maine to Florida to Washington State ready to finish this fight once and for all in 2009.

We enthusiastically welcome in 2009, President-Elect Barack Obama, and the 111th Congress.

Firstly, thank YOU:
1) To each of you who took the time to call or write your Representatives and targeted members of Congress asking them to take action on coal and mountaintop removal…

2) To the 800+ of you who have taken the time to blog about mountaintop removal and the Clean Water Protection Act, in particular Devilstower, A Siegel, Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse, Va Dare, emmasnacker and others, keep it up!…

3) To each of who took time out of your lives to meet with your Representatives, or the 100s who traveled Washington DC to ask Congress to pass the Clean Water Protection Act, which will permanently reverse the Bush Administration’s 2002 “fill rule” change. The Bush change allows toxic waste from mountaintop removal coal-mining sites to be dumped into America’s headwater streams.

Secondly, in the 111th Congress the Clean Water Protection Act will be re-introduced and passed. We have a record 143 bi-partisan returning co-sponsors in the House. We also have several exciting developments in the intervening weeks…

One of our most high-profile supporters – Congressman Rahm Emanuel (IL-05) – has ascended to be seated at the right hand of President-Elect Barack Obama to serve as Chief of Staff. Rahm’s support surely won’t hamper our chances for a supportive administration, although Senator Obama has voiced opposition to mountaintop removal and strip-mining for years. During a swing through southern West Virginia earlier this year, Senator Obama promised that protecting Appalachian waterways was going to be a top priority of his EPA. So, with Congressman Emanuel at his side, we expect President-Elect Obama – within 100 days – to repeal the Bush Administration’s regulatory changes allowing for mountaintop removal mining.

The 111th Congress is an inherently friendlier Congress due to its make-up, and this includes the Senate. In the 111th for the first time, we will introduce this legislation in the Senate. Four previous co-sponsors from the House now sit in the upper chamber (Udall, Cardin, Brown, Sanders). Senator Byrd (D-WV), who we admire and respect but who disagrees strongly with us on this issue, has stepped down from his position as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee.

Big coal is on its heals at the moment, with national support and viability of renewable energy at an all-time high, support for immediate action on global warming at an all-time high, and no amount of misleading green-washed commercials able to convince the American public that there is such thing as clean coal. The EPA Board of Appeals just ruled that any new or proposed coal-fired power plant has to apply Best Available Control Technology (BACT) when regulating for CO2. This potentially puts the kibosh on any new, deadly, coal-fired power plants when President-Elect Obama assumes the Presidency. Production of coal in Appalachia is in steep decline, while prices have sky-rocketed over the last 8 years. But from Appalachia, we deeply feel that the time for change has come, and look forward to working with you, the 111th Congress, and President-Elect Obama to end one of the worst chapters in Appalachia’s deep and storied history.

If the will of the people of Appalachia and the United States is heeded, and the word of the President-Elect kept, this will be the year and the Congress that sees the end to one of the ugliest and unnecessarily brutal acts of self-mutilation in American history – mountaintop-removal coal-mining.

Here’s to our hopes for the 111th Congress and the Obama Administration!





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