From the Richmond Times Dispatch:
Gov. Bob McDonnell said Tuesday that he is prepared to protect Virginia’s coal-mining industry against costly and burdensome federal mining regulations, including a legal challenge if a surface or mountaintop-removal mining permit is denied.
McDonnell spoke to a “coal awareness” breakfast and assured industry leaders that coal is part of his overall plan to make Virginia the East Coast energy capital.
“For the foreseeable future, we know that coal’s going to be an extremely important part of Virginia’s and America’s energy future,” McDonnell told the gathering at a downtown Richmond hotel.
He added that Obama administration regulatory efforts have “been over the top” and have failed to balance job growth with environmental concerns.
“That’s why you see a lot of governors in coal-producing states that have tried to stand strong and have alerted Congress about some of the problems these overburdensome regulations will cause,” he said.
McDonnell said later in an interview that he has had discussions with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., the former West Virginia governor whose administration filed suit against tighter federal coal-mining regulations.
The lawsuit targets recent EPA policies to limit the practice of burying streams under tons of excess rock. Since President Barack Obama took office, the number of water-quality permits for Appalachian mines has slowed significantly.
“We have the same concerns that West Virginia does about the overburdensome nature of these surface mining regulations,” McDonnell told The Associated Press. On joining that legal challenge, he added, “We have not made any final decisions.”
Its all about jobs and Virginia industry, isn’t it? Not really. There is balance. Obviously, one visit to VPAP says it all. Governor McDonnell is the fair haired child of the mining industry. During the last election cycle he was the recipient of over $1.6 million dollars in campaign contributions from energy sources, primarily mining.
The problem seems to be the collision course between the Obama administration and coal mining companies over mining regulations, in particular, mountain top removal mining. McDonnell has decided to challenge the Obama administration, regardless of environmental impact.
Ever been to Mt. St. Helen’s? It is remarkably horrible. The entire top blew off, leaving a giant gaping hole in the top and side of the mountain. Mountain top removal stops short of the devastation of Mt. St. Helen’s but you get the idea. Mountain top removal has been described as strip mining on steroids.
First clear cutting is done, stripping away all vegetation from the mountain top. The heavy equipment is brought in to gouge out the top of the mountain to reach the coal seam. The debris is loaded into the valley below, clogging streams etc. A full description of the process can be found at MountainJustice.org.
Strip mining and its variations are just plain ugly to start with. They leave mountain tops and sides bare and exposed. Even though mining companies are supposed to reclaim land, it often isn’t done. The environmental impact on these areas is devastating and can be seen all over the coal mining states.
Why should these mining companies be allowed to trash the environment for profit? Are jobs the end all-be all? Is it safer for miners to do this type of mining since it doesn’t require going miles beneath the earth? Is there a balance? Will coal mining ever be a safe job? Why do citizens allow their regions to be crapped up by this type of mining? Are the jobs worth it? Whose responsibility is it to guard and protect the environment?