About this time in the hills of Kentucky the leaves are changing to brilliant colors of golds and browns. The Appalachian Mountains brilliant with color, ablaze with color just before going to sleep for the winter when Spring will return to see them burst out with as many shades of green as there are golds! Just as the eye catches the shades of color you can smell autumn in the air and the trees are full of activity as birds and squirrels are preparing for the up-coming colder months. The mountains are alive with activity and life through the seasons if we can just stop long enough to look and observe its existence.
Coming from the mountains of Kentucky I grew up with a respect for the land and life it held because of my Dad. He was a coal miner. He was a deep miner, a foreman and he understood the dangers of the mine to himself, his men, and to the land. My Dad did everything in his power to keep the mine from hurting the land and his men because life in all its forms was important because he had gone through war and grown up poor; he and my Mom had gone through The Great Depression and had raised their family on now what would be considered very little.
My parents were very proud of what they had achieved, of their daughters and their daughters’ accomplishments. They loved sitting on their front porch and waving to their neighbors they had known pretty much their entire lives and whose children had been our playmates and friends.
Life changed for us when mountain top removal came into being. Strip mining. It was still mining the coal companies said, but when you saw the mountains go away it hurt you deep down. It was as if part of who you were as a person was being taken away from you forever. The sad part was, it was true: Part of you, the mountains, were being taken away from you forever in the name of greed and in the name of jobs.
Politicians keep claiming they are trying to bring jobs into the mountains, into the Appalachians, but what they’re really trying to do is keep the poor just that poor . It is as if they are trying to keep a section of the country one specific way just so they have something, some entire group of people to point at and say, “These are the people I am trying to help.” In reality they are not trying to help anyone at all except themselves.
On Monday, October 18th, 2010, Governor Steve Beshear‘s administration sued the Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. District Court in Pikeville! Why? It was stated that “the EPA had overstepped its authority by setting…standards without legislation from Congress.”
“In April, after the EPA issued a memo setting new standards of conductivity — a measure of dissolved minerals and salts in water discharged from coal mines — the agency blocked permits the state issued in Bell, Floyd, Harlan, Knott and Pike counties.”
These counties are some of the hardest hit counties and some of the poorest counties where clean-up never comes or rarely seems like it comes in time. These counties are also some of the most beautiful places you could want to see. Harlan is home to Black Mountain, one of the most beautiful places you could ever wish to see. Why would eleven mining permits need to be given for these counties? Just what kind of mining permits were denied?
In a letter to Beshear, state House Speaker Greg Stumbo and Senate President David Williams called for a lawsuit, saying the EPA “appeared impatient and anxious to take a stand against certain types of mining” as early as January 2009. Stumbo and Williams called the EPA’s decision “unjustified and unlawful.”
Certain types of mining?
Luckily for Kentucky and for the beloved mountains, the EPA defended its decision to block the permits.
You can read more about it here http://www.kentucky.com/2010/10/20/1486933/epa-defends-decision-to-block.html
What is most sad is that the Governor of Kentucky who is sworn to protect ALL of the state, all the Commonwealth was in on this horror and it was all in the name of 17,ooo jobs. Yes, I understand the jobless rate is high now and especially in this area, but let’s face facts: There is more going on here than protecting 17,000 jobs for the poor folks. How much money is involved for House Speaker David Stumbo, and Senate President David Williams, and just possibly Governor Steve Beshear? It must be a lot to sue the Environmental Protection Agency!!!
All quotations from http://www.kentucky.com/2010/10/20/1486933/epa-defends-decision-to-block.html
- Coal Lawsuit Puts EPA’s Moutaintop Removal Rules on Trial | 80beats (blogs.discovermagazine.com)
- Environmentalists Join Mountaintop Fray (green.blogs.nytimes.com)