Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Dooda Desert Rock's message to Obama on coal mining impacts


By Dooda Desert Rock

Nearly 60 grassroots and national groups from 26 states have joined together to ask President Elect Obama to think first of the communities impacted by coal when selecting appointees for key positions.
The positions of concern include the Secretary of the Interior, Director of the Office of Surface Mining, Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health, and the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. The letter states that "it is absolutely essential that all of these posts be filled by people who fully and fairly enforce laws relating to underground and surface mining, mine safety and health, coal burning and coal combustion waste."
"For far too long, the regulatory agencies have been led by people with close ties to the coal industry, people who seem to have forgotten that their responsibility is to protect human health and the environment, not the profits of the coal operators. The new administration needs to break this cycle and appoint regulators who will put our land, water, and people first," said Teri Blanton of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.
Groups are also opposed to Obama appointing candidates who have called for decreased regulation under the Bush administration, noting that for the safety of communities located near coal facilities, as well as the workers at these facilities, increased enforcement and regulation are needed.
For example, Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell has been mentioned as a Department of Energy possibility, but citizen groups in Pennsylvania are highly concerned. "Pennsylvania's carbon emissions have increased by 11% over the last five years under Rendell, and he has called for an even more lax environment for coal power plants and coal combustion waste―despite serious health issues and cancer clusters found in communities near current coal facilities," said Lisa Graves Marcucci, Pennsylvania Coordinator for Environmental Integrity Project.
The letter also states the need for appointees to the new administration who are responsive to the residents living near coal operations. "Working for enforcement of the law is like having to work against the government agencies and the coal companies to protect our land and our health. I feel we are being taken advantage of by the industry and the lack of enforcement from regulatory agencies," said Rick Handshoe of Floyd County Kentucky, where more than 21,000 acres have been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining.
"Unfortunately for our members who live in the Powder River Basin, increased coal mining has come with significant costs to our air quality and our way of life," said Shannon Anderson of the Powder River Basin Resource Council. "The mines are woefully behind on reclamation compliant with federal law and some impacts to livestock and wildlife habitat will never be reversed. We urge the Obama Administration to not just generate permits but to balance interests in a manner that will be protective of places and people in Wyoming and elsewhere." The Powder River Basin of Northeast Wyoming and Southeast Montana provides about 40% of the nation's coal.
Groups also urge Obama to select candidates who are dedicated to using authentic science for rule-making and enforcement, particularly science related to climate change findings and the impacts of coal on human health.
"With the new administration in Washington, DC and Congresssman Waxman winning the new Chair of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we hope our issues go forward with a change in coal policy," said Elouise Brown of Dooda (No) Desert Rock, based in the Four Corners area in Chaco Rio, New Mexico (35 miles SW of Farmington, NM), a part of the Dine Nation. Dooda Desert Rock is fighting the construction of a third coal fired power plant (Desert Rock Energy Project) in their sparsely populated community.
The letter concludes by noting the sacrifices that workers and communities impacted by coal have made to provide America with electricity, despite remaining among the poorest communities in the United States, noting that, "We have a vision of long term economic and environmental prosperity for our communities, but we can't achieve this without support from our government."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Navajo Dam, recorded multiple readings of ozone during October.

Readings revealed San Juan County exceeded the federal ozone level by two parts per billion...
desert rock blog

record of decision on kayenta and black mesa coal due...

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Censored News is published by censored journalist Brenda Norrell. A journalist for 27 years, Brenda lived on the Navajo Nation for 18 years, writing for Navajo Times, AP, USA Today, Lakota Times and other American Indian publications. After being censored and then terminated by Indian Country Today in 2006, she began the Censored Blog to document the most censored issues. She currently serves as human rights editor for the U.N. OBSERVER & International Report at the Hague and contributor to Sri Lanka Guardian, Narco News and CounterPunch. She was cohost of the 5-month Longest Walk Talk Radio across America, with Earthcycles Producer Govinda Dalton in 2008:
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