Saturday, November 01, 2008

Bush OKs Appalachian Disaster

President Bush took action this week with more than 90 new laws deregulating rules put in place for public safety. He approved measures which will insure dirty drinking water, dirty air and decreased counter-terror operations.

The Washington Post reported on the story Thursday
. Removing rules governing the "mountaintop removal" method of coal mining means more coal slurry will end up in drinking water in the Appalachian region. It's a haphazard approach blurred into "energy policy" actions which in reality dumps more waste, increases health problems, and destroys the Appalachian region.

The destruction has been widespread for some time and these new laws will make it worse:

Almost everything that isn't coal is pushed down into the valleys below. As a result, 6,700 "valley fills" were approved in central Appalachia between 1985 and 2001. The U.S. EPA estimates that over 700 miles of healthy streams have been completely buried by mountaintop removal and thousands more have been damaged. Where there once flowed a highly braided system of headwater streams, now a vast circuitry of haul roads winds through the rubble. From the air, it looks like someone had tried to plot a highway system on the moon."

Why is it OK to punish the Appalachian region?

Urban affluence and this country's shortsighted energy policy are making Appalachia a poorer place -- poorer in beauty, poorer in health, poorer in resources, and poorer in spirit.

"This wouldn't go on in New England," Jack Spadaro told me last July, up at Larry Gibson's place. It wouldn't go on in California, nor Florida, nor along the East Coast. After the '60s, America and the mainstream media seemed to lose interest in the problems of Appalachia. Though the Martin County slurry pond disaster was 20 times larger than the Exxon Valdez spill,
The New York Times ignored it for months. But the seeming invisibility of the people in Appalachia does not make their plight any less real."

The blog Facing South has been following this problem for some time with posts you can read here. Just as residents and other concerned groups have been bringing these issues to light, the new laws provided by President Bush will bury them under tons of debris and changing the law to protect the lives of so many will now take major Congressional and Presidential efforts to repeal. In the meantime, money trumps safety and more of our region will be lost forever in this greedy struggle.

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