Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Obama Will Do What Bredesen Will Not

Scrap Bush’s last-minute mountain-top mining rule, that is. From the Washington Independent:
“In its last weeks in office, the Bush Administration pushed through a rule that allows coal mine operators to dump mountaintop fill into streambeds if it’s found to be the cheapest and most convenient disposal option,” Salazar said in a statement. “We must responsibly develop our coal supplies to help us achieve energy independence, but we cannot do so without appropriately assessing the impact such development might have on local communities and natural habitat and the species it supports.”

Yet no one is under the delusion that the change will end the practice of mountaintop mining, in which companies blow apart the tops of mountains to reach the coal seams within, often pushing the soil, rock and debris into adjacent stream valleys. Mary Anne Hitt, deputy director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, issued a statement Monday applauding the administration’s move, but warning that much remains to be done to protect the ecosystems and communities near mining operations.

True, no one is under that delusion. Which is too bad. But this is a start.

I live for the day when we can rally at the state capitol and demand that our Governor, who purports to be a Democrat, ban this heinous practice in Tennessee. Bredesen has already said he won’t do so, citing the most BS reasons.

Mountaintop removal mining, unchecked by the government, amounts to a huge government subsidy of the coal industry. "Clean coal," indeed. The price of this practice is never reflected in the cost, but the day will come when we have to pay the piper.

I live for the day when consumers such as myself can sufficiently express our distaste of the coal industry in our consumption choices. True, there’s the “Green Power Switch” (which I’ve done for a couple of years) and alternative energy sources -- I have solar panels on my roof. But like it or not, I’m still consuming coal.

Coal consumption is built into the system. I have no way of living coal-free and if anyone wants to choose an alternative energy source, say solar panels on the roof or a windmill in their backyard, the costs are passed on to the consumer, while other technologies enjoy government subsidies.

It’s time to level the playing field.