Back in January, the journal Science exploded the myth of clean coal, with a study concluding mountaintop removal (MTR) “permits are being issued despite the preponderance of scientific evidence that impacts are pervasive and irreversible and that mitigation cannot compensate for losses.” Guest blogger Anne Polansky has the latest on citizen action against MTR in this repost.
Polansky, a long-time friend and colleague, applies her training in the Earth sciences and public policy to effect positive change in government and the marketplace, with a strong focus on global climate disruption and sustainable energy policy and practices. The awesome poster above is courtesy of thatvisionthing.
You gotta admit, it’s creative. Smack in the middle of the floor of an otherwise sparkly clean lobby of a JP Morgan Chase bank branch in Manhattan sits a big pile of dirt, shaped like a mountain. Atop sits a letter to the CEO of the behemoth bank, Jamie Dimon, begging for mercy on behalf of huge mountains just west of here (DC) being blown to smithereens by the likes of Massey Energy to get at the solid black gold laced throughout, the stuff that powers our homes and quite likely, this blog post. As are an increasing number of us, Reverend Billy and his choir are really ticked off about Mountaintop Removal and show it by ceremoniously carrying plates of “overburden” fresh from the country roads of West Virginia, singing the gospels of mountain beauty and inspiration, inviting the rest of us to join in the righteous indignation. You go, Rev, and keep it up. You speak (and sing) for me, too. Earth-alujah!!!!
- Earthfire’s diary :: ::
There you’ll see links to a couple of must-see videos:
And a photo taken a little while later: the cops arrive, visibly baffled….
To be fair, to walk into a bank and see a big pile of dirt (without a dirty bomb inside) put there on purpose probably is a bit baffling. Let’s help them out a little bit.
So Officer Joe, and other curious passers by, here’s the deal on MTR (mountaintop removal).
- Coal is used to generate more than half of the USA’s electricity. One could say that “America is the Saudi Arabia of coal” as the US has about 250 years’ worth of coal reserves at our current burn rate. More than 100 new coal-fired plants are on the drawing board, despite the many problems that coal burning creates, climate change being at the top of the list. In other words, there’s lots of coal swirling around inside Appalachian Mountains, and lots of coal-fired power plants willing to pay for it to be extracted.
- JP Morgan Chase finances and underwrites coal mining companies like Massey Energy Co. and electric power generation companies that continue to burn cheap coal to make electricity, despite the risks to planet Earth.
- MTR is wildly destructive. We’ve essentially detonated, decimated, and put some lame bandaids on tracts of land that, taken together, exceeds the square miles of Delaware.
- The cookbook version of MTR goes something like this:
- Remove the forest. (Note, the US EPA estimates that 2,200 square miles of Appalachian forests will be cleared for MTR sites by the year 2012.)
- Scrape away topsoil, the larger the steam shovel, the better.
- Insert bomb. (States engaging in MTR each detonate about 1,000 tons of explosives a day and some blasts have lopped as much as 800 feet off a mountain.)
- Remove coal, sell on open (highly subsidized) market.
- Use bulldozers to put “overburden” (sterile dirt) back to try and make mountain look “good as new.”
- Push and shove leftover rock and soil debris into hollows and stream beds, ignore fish screams.
To add idiocy to injury, we can look inside the mind of CEO of Massey Energy Company, Don Blankenship, who has been whining about reduced profit margins from his quarterly coal revenue of a half a billion dollars. Commenting on the 4th Q of 2009, Massey said:
“We were pleased with our control of costs and our positive cash generation during the fourth quarter in spite of very difficult market and operating conditions.”
What are these difficulties he’s all upset about? Whether he realizes it or not, he’s upset about an increasingly disrupted climate system as the result of CO2 emissions from fossil fuel combustion, like coal burning, for example. In his own sadly ironic words:
“The weak global economy and lower total energy demand from electric utilities and steelmakers weighed on the quarterly sales volumes. In addition, weather, weather-related power outages and disruption of rail and ocean transport significantly impacted Massey’s operations. Produced tons sold in the quarter totaled 7.8 million compared to 10.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2008.
The shipping delays caused by the remnants of Hurricane Ida as it pounded the east coast of the United States in November were only exacerbated by the heavy snowfalls and extreme low temperatures of December. The impacts of the adverse weather on mine operations and transportation and regulatory constraints prevented us from reaching our quarterly shipment targets. However, other projections for revenue and costs per ton were within guidance tolerances.”
So — when will oil and coal barons get a clue that the very business they are engaged in is itself creating market conditions that will make it increasingly difficult to continue the very business they are engaged in….
This is in the category of DUH.
— Anne Polansky