Month 5, Day 20: MTR-FKR?

The EPA is collecting comments on a proposed mountaintop removal site. It would be a good idea to go to this piece on DK in order to familiarize yourself with the process; it’s worth the trouble. We have got to get off the fossil fuel habit.

Here’s the comment I submitted as an email. See my note below the block for a supplemental note.

I am writing to urge the EPA to veto the proposed surface mining operations at the Spruce No. 1 Mine. There are multiple reasons for this.

The mining industry is not in compliance with federal law regarding reclamation of Mountaintop Removal sites. While a federal statute exempts them from restoring the land to its “original contour” if the land is developed for “industrial, commercial, residential or public use,” a recent study by the Natural Resources Defense Council shows that a very small percentage of the MTR sites are reclaimed. The vast majority are barren, dead, denuded.

When forests are cut down, we lose the benefit of the carbon they store. Greenhouse emissions related to MTR operations add almost twenty percent to the coal’s carbon footprint. When we are finally recognizing that excess CO2 emissions have the potential to trigger catastrophic global warming scenarios, it is the height of destructive folly to destroy a “carbon sink” in order to access coal.

Mountaintop removal is recognized to bring about devastating effects both on local ecosystems and human communities. Coal companies have a terrible track record of reclamation, as noted above — and the MTR processes leave huge areas open to massively destructive erosion, fouling of waterways, and poisonous waste deposits that have profound impacts on the health of residents.

Mining companies have terrible human rights records. For over a century, coal mining operations have routinely given pride of place to profit rather than worker safety. The violations committed by Massey Coal are just the most egregious example of what is essentially an industry tradition; when an industry treats its workers as expendable, we should not be surprised when it also treats local residents, local ecosystems, and public opinion as irrelevant.

When the true costs of fossil fuels are considered, the notion that coal is cheap is revealed as illusory. We can no longer afford such fantasies; coal is one of the most expensive fuels we’ve got — it’s just that our grandchildren are going to be paying for our prodigality. It is vital that the EPA refuse to give the go-ahead to mountaintop removal mining at the Spruce Number One site.

Yours Sincerely,

Warren Senders

The site has a comment submission form with a 2000 character limit, so I had to edit the piece above (which went as an email to a little bit to make it fit. Once the form was submitted my writing went off into space. Who knows if it’s ever going to surface again?

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