Front Porch Blog

Rep. Pallone and Rachel Maddow Pan ACCCE’s Fraud and “Flat Land” Excuses

(Please forgive any misspellings or grammatical errors from this post. Its just SO dern hard to spell without any flat land and my keyboard getting all tilty all the time. – jdub)

Rachel Maddow had another hard-hitting piece on the ACCCE “Unnatural Mail Enhancement” forgery case last night, along with a very special guest, Congressman Frank J. Pallone (NJ-06).

And Maddow was quick to let ACCCE spokesman Joe Lucas have it, for his ridiculous comments to “The Guardian” yesterday, claiming that the people of eastern Kentucky just need a liiiiiiiitle more flatland if they really want to prosper:

Also, [the coal lobbyists are] doing media interviews, including what I honestly believe is the most jaw dropping argument I have seen anyone make about an American political issue all year with a straight face. His name is Joe Lucas, he is a spokesman for the coal industry group that we’re talking about and he told the Guardian newspaper that “I can take you to places in Eastern KY where community services were hampered because of a lack of flat space, to build factories, to build hospitals, even to build schools. In many places, mountaintop-mining if done responsibly allows for land to be developed for community space.

Lets say for just one minute that Joe Lucas really does have a deep burning passion for flattened land. Well, he is in LUCK! Mountaintop removal mining has destroyed nearly 1.3 million acres of some of the most beautiful, biodiverse, and ecologically valuable land this country has to offer. However, according to the EPA’s 2003 draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), right there, clear as day in appendix G, chapter “Land Use Assesment,” page 43, it says:

it is unlikely that any more than 2 to 3% of the future post-mining land uses will be developed land uses such as housing, commercial, industrial, or public facility development.

Math isn’t my strong suit, but since less than 3% of MTR land is developed, I’d say that leaves about 1 million acres of land (an area about the size of Delaware) that has already been flattened, where Mr. Lucas and his cronies at ACCCE are welcome to build whatever kind of private airport or golf course they like for their own personal use.

Now we can go into how many buildings have had structural failures after being built on mountaintop removal mined land, or the penitentiary built on an MTR site bear Big Sandy which has become the most expensive federal prison ever built because it continually sinks into the unsettled earth. Or we could talk about economic success in other mountainous parts of the country. As Senator Lamar Alexander points out, millions of people come to Tennessee every year to see the natural beauty of Tennessee, which is beautiful (naturally). The Great Smoky Mountains National Park has over 9 million visitors annually and is the most visited national park in the country. Western North Carolina has several flourishing colleges, towns, and industries that will leave our mountains and our economy in tact for many many generations to come. You couldn’t say the same thing about ACCCE or Joe Lucas (IF that is their real name.)

Maddow quipped:

You know it is true, cutting of the tops of mountains does create more flat space, in that horribly hilly part of the world! Maybe its those darn hills that explain why the Appalachian marble shooting team has never won a tournament! They’re also really bad at billiards, everything is really tilty. Don’t West Virginians deserve more flatness?!

Cue Ride of the Valkyries and enter Appalachia’s champion, Congressman Frank Pallone, lead sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310).

Congressman Pallone: Mountaintop mining is a disaster, and it creates pollution, and it has a negative impact on the commuities on peoples health, and I think it’s a disaster for the environment.

Rachel Maddow: Describe what mountaintop removal is. Is it really the full-scale shearing ff of the tops of hills.

Congressman Frank Pallone: Basically, they blast the top of the hill if you will. And then they take the waste and dump it into the rivers or streams nearby, and they pollute those streams.

Rachel Maddow. So you bring the valleys up and the peaks down.

Congressman Frank Pallone: And the water is polluted and people drink it, or use it for other purposes and it affects them in a negative way.

Watch the whole exchange below.

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