Why Is the EPA Sitting on Its Ash? | Mother Jones

The public comment period on the two options for regulating the waste closed on November 19, and the EPA says it logged more than 400,000 comments on the rule. The agency has not offered a timeline for announcement of the final rule. Most observers aren’t expecting it until the end of 2011 at the earliest—cold comfort to communities like Harriman that have millions of gallons of this stuff right in their backyards.

“Two years after the largest toxic spill in the nation’s history, there is still no regulation of deadly coal ash dumps—nor is there clear direction from EPA on the timing or content of a final rule,” said Lisa Evans, senior administrative counsel for Earthjustice. “For the communities enduring damage from aging ponds and leaking landfills, time has run out. There is no reason on earth that their health should be compromised by such an easily avoidable harm.”

via Why Is the EPA Sitting on Its Ash? | Mother Jones.

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TVA must install liner at leaking pond | Chattanooga Times Free Press

A state order against TVA will idle the Kingston Fossil Plant’s new $456 million air scrubber until the utility drains and relines the 1-year-old gypsum waste pond that sprang a leak last week.

The leak, discovered Wednesday — exactly one week before the 2-year anniversary of TVA’s 1.2 million-gallon coal ash spill at the same Harriman, Tenn., plant — sent a shock wave through the community.

“Are we really safe? Really?” said Sarah McCoin, a resident of the Swan Pond community where TVA still has about 500 million gallons of ash to clean up.

via TVA must install liner at leaking pond | Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Jeff Biggers: Minefields or Coalfields: Should Big Coal Change Name For Mountaintop Removal/Strip Mining?

In a new episode of Big Coal Gone Wild last week, coal lobbyists announced their intentions to rebrand mountaintop removal mining as “mountaintop development.”

For besieged residents living near mountaintop removal sites in Appalachia–and in the 20-odd states that allow strip-mining–this announcement has triggered another name suggestion:

Given that millions of pounds of ammonium nitrate/fuel oil explosives are detonated daily near historic American communities, should Big Coal-controlled areas be renamed as “minefields,” and not coalfields.

via Jeff Biggers: Minefields or Coalfields: Should Big Coal Change Name For Mountaintop Removal/Strip Mining?.

Earthbytes: Historic Petition to Protect Tennessee’s Mountain Tops Clears First Hurdle

Earthbytes: Historic Petition to Protect Tennessee’s Mountain Tops Clears First Hurdle.

Woohoo! The North Cumberland Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petition (LUMP) filed by Tennessee’s Governor Phil Bredesen on October 1st now has the blessing of the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) to move on through the system.

In letters to officials in the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC) and the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, Earl Bandy, director of the Knoxville Field Office of OSM, declared that the petition was “administratively complete.”

Here’s the text of a press release that went out from Statewide Organizing for Community ePowerment (SOCM):

Lake City, Tenn. (Nov. 23) – Statewide Organizing for Community eMpowerment, formerly Save Our Cumberland Mountains, is commending the Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (OSM) and Gov. Bredesen for its decision to deem the North Cumberland Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petition (LUMP) as “administratively complete.”  Today, the petition to protect public land in Anderson, Campbell, Morgan and Scott counties from surface coal mining operations has cleared its first major procedural hurdle. A process of evaluation and public comment will lead to a final determination by OSM.

“If approved, surface mining would be prohibited within the area designated under the North Cumberland LUMP, protecting many of Tennessee’s mountaintops and helping to keep some of the state’s world-class, biodiverse ecosystems intact.  Such protections are important because over the long term, it is healthy land, air and water that support thriving communities and economies,” said Cathie Bird, SOCM E3 Committee Chair.

“SOCM commends Governor Bredesen for a well-crafted petition that not only has so far passed muster, but contributes toward a healthy future for people, business and the environment in Tennessee. This is an historical step that represents a turning point in coal production in Tennessee,” said Bird.

In 2000, after years of exhaustive work by SOCM members, OSM granted a LUM to protect the Fall Creek Falls State Park and its watersheds. SOCM will continue to closely monitor the progress of the North Cumberland LUMP.

SOCM is a 38-year-old social, economic and environmental justice issues group.

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Many of SOCM’s members — including me — will be directly impacted by the outcome of OSM’s ultimate decision on the North Cumberland LUMP. The Royal Blue unit of the North Cumberlands Wildlife Management Area is one of my closest neighbors. I was standing within Royal Blue’s boundaries when I heard the call from Nature (no, not THAT kind of call) to speak for protection of the natural communities here.

In that light, I am very appreciative of Governor Bredesen’s efforts, as well as those of Senator Lamar Alexander, who supports the North Cumberlands LUMP and sponsored (with Sen. Cardin of Maryland) the Appalachia Restoration Act (S 696) that calls for protection all of Appalachia’s mountains and streams.

Help expose the dirty secret of mountaintop removal mining with an ad on TV

Many Americans still don’t know that many of us get our electricity at the expense of fellow citizens whose communities are being ripped apart by mountain top removal coal mining. That’s why ilovemountains.org has teamed up with Ashley Judd and The Alliance for Appalachia to get the message out to America’s living rooms.

They’ve put together a powerful new ad that uses President Johnson’s “Daisy Girl” to send the message that mountaintop removal destroys mountains and endangers communities in Appalachia. This war against people and nature is every bit as destructive as any other war being waged to secure and control natural resources, regardless of “collateral damage.”

The coal industry has spent billions of dollars to brainwash people into believing that this dirty war is justified. But we’ve got a little secret of our own. We may not have money power, but we do have people power.

You can grab your piece of that power and start swinging back at the coal industry in three easy steps: watch the ad, share the ad, and then help raise money so that we can raise the stakes!

My friends at iLoveMountains.org have created a widget to give you everything you need to share this important effort on your blogs, Facebook, Twitter – you name it.

We also need you to donate. A few dollars from you and a few hundred other allies against the war on Appalachia could help millions of people could learn about mountaintop removal.

See the ad, share it, grab the widget and donate here.

Thanks for taking action!