The Charleston Gazette | Lab official admits faking coal water quality reports

A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits. – See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141009/GZ01/141009217/1419#sthash.gUWvR9Lu.dpuf
A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits. – See more at: http://www.wvgazette.com/article/20141009/GZ01/141009217/1419#sthash.gUWvR9Lu.dpuf

Environmental activists in Appalachia have long suspected that water samples from mountaintop removal mines are sometimes tampered with, but now someone has been caught at it. IMO, this kind of thing is a natural consequence of letting the extractive industry buy politicians…or lab techs or anybody else.

I hope this case strengthens the campaign in Tennessee and other states  to keep regulatory authority for coal mining (primacy) with the federal Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement, and not the states.

“A Raleigh County man pleaded guilty Thursday to repeatedly faking compliant water quality standards for coal companies, in a case that raises questions about the self-reporting system state and federal regulators use as a central tool to judge if the mining industry is following pollution limits.”

The Charleston Gazette | Lab official admits faking coal water quality reports.

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Moving Mountains Tragedy 2014: Stunning Court Denial of Appalachian Health Crisis | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community

In a breathtaking but largely overlooked ruling this week, a federal judge agreed that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers may disregard studies on the health impacts of mountaintop removal mining in its permitting process, only two weeks after Goldman Prize Award-winning activist Maria Gunnoe wrote an impassioned plea to President Obama to renew withdrawn funding for US Geological Survey research on strip mining operations and redouble federal action to address the decades-old humanitarian disaster.

Moving Mountains Tragedy 2014: Stunning Court Denial of Appalachian Health Crisis | Common Dreams | Breaking News & Views for the Progressive Community.

The Charleston Gazette | Mingo mine violating selenium limits, judge rules

See on Scoop.itFrackInformant

A Mingo County surface mine approved by the Obama administration is violating West Virginia’s water quality limits for toxic selenium, a federal judge ruled Monday.

U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers issued a 33-page ruling in a case brought by citizen groups against CONSOL Energy’s Peg Fork Surface Mine.

The judge cited violations of the state’s selenium water quality standard, based on samples taken in December 2013.

Chambers ruled in a lawsuit brought against the CONSOL operation by the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and the Sierra Club.

See on www.wvgazette.com

Mountaintop removal protest  – News – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports –

Leza Greenwald, of Athens, Mercer County, gets her head shaved on the State Capitol steps Monday with several other woman and men protesting mountaintop removal coal mining. The group sheared their locks “to represent the stripping of our heritage, our homes, our water and our land,” according to the group’s social media campaign.

Mountaintop removal protest  – News – The Charleston Gazette – West Virginia News and Sports –.

Harvard law professor criticizes Spruce ruling | Appalachian Mountain Advocates

In an article in the latest edition of The Environmental Forum, Harvard law professor Richard Lazarus slammed the ruling by U.S. District Judge Amy Berman Jackson overturning the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s veto of the Spruce No. 1 mine permit. Lazarus teaches environmental law, natural resources Law, Supreme Court advocacy and torts at Harvard.

via Harvard law professor criticizes Spruce ruling | Appalachian Mountain Advocates.

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.