Friday, August 24, 2007

No Top of Ol' Smokey

Disclaimer: I’m writing as a daughter of East Tennessee, descendant of some of the first Anglo settlers in an area of The Great Smoky Mountains known as Cades Cove. Those hazy blue ridges are in my blood, and for 200 years, my family has called them home.

Maybe our flagrantly “Christian” president can explain to me why he needs to drive heritage landowners off their land, blow the tops off majestic mountains, destroy irreplaceable habitat of countless mammal, plant, fish, amphibian, reptile, and insect species, dump megatons of toxic wastes and acid mine drainage into the headwater streams and rivers that supply much of the southeastern US, eliminate about 1,000 sq. miles of the country’s most diverse biosystem, depress numerous local economies in Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia, pollute their air, permanently bury their creeks, streams, and other waterways, and bring on floods, mudslides, and acid rain to wipe out what's left of natural life, when instead, he could provide education, job creation, economic security, and environmental protection enhancements for millions of Americans and secure our global competitive footing by pursuing clean alternative fuels. I’m too stoopit to get it. I mean, what would a smart person do?

That said, Dirk Kempthorne, Bush Interior Secretary, issued a proposed rule that, according to the New York Times:

would enshrine the coal mining practice of mountaintop removal. The technique involves blasting off the tops of mountains and dumping the rubble into valleys and streams.

Environmental activists say the rule change will lead to accelerated pillage of vast tracts and the obliteration of hundreds of miles of streams in central Appalachia.'This is a parting gift to the coal industry from this administration,' said Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va. 'What is at stake is the future of Appalachia. This is an attempt to make legal what has long been illegal.’

Is it me or does “Appalachia” seems to function sometimes as a throwaway prompt, almost as if inherent in the word itself is “it’s only”?

What the Times and other outlets I've seen haven't noted is -- guess who's responsible for evaluating coal mining companies applications an requests for exceptions to applicable rules? The Army Corps of Engineers! There, don't you feel better?

What is mountaintop removal?
What does it look like?
What does it do to the economy?
To families and communities?
To the environment?

Six things you can do to help

1. Get up to speed on the issues. Read the books. Missing Mountains and Lost Mountain and Big Coal, see the documentary, and watch the video.

2. Demand it stop. Contact your senators and representatives until it does.

3. Contribute generously to those who are fighting on the front lines.

4. Get green! And

5. Register to vote as Democrat or Independent, and

6. Never, never, never, ever vote Republican again.