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?

 

 

 

27 Thoughts to “McDonnell to protect mountain top removal mining”

  1. hello

    “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.”

    Really? Any specific numbers on how much actual mining contributions were out of the 1.6 that make “Governor McDonnell is the fair haired child of the mining industry”?

    Just wondering… Obama got around $30 million from just SEIU (not counting all of the other special interest big labor unions). What does that make him?

  2. Wonder away. Let’s stick to topic. Did you come here to start a fight or to walk about the questions posed?

  3. hello

    Yeah, I asked about the specific amount of $ from the mining industry out of the $1.6 from “energy sources” that deem Governor McDonnell “the fair haired child of the mining industry”?

    Any specifics at all? I’m just curious as to how much $ it takes to make someone “the fair haired child” of any industry.

  4. Slowpoke Rodriguez

    Governor McDonell caused Mt. St. Helens! I KNEW it!

  5. Look it up yourself, Hello. Here you go,

    http://www.vpap.org.

    Its broken down by industry. Compare it to his opponent.

  6. hello

    What does comparing it to his opponent have to do with anything? Virginia overwhelmingly showed that they wanted nothing to do with his opponent.

    I did a search for ‘mining’ and found a whopping 14 donors with a grand total of $32,751. So that’s it? A grand total $32,751 makes someone a “fair haired child of the mining industry”? Interesting… thanks for clearing that up for me.

    1. Perhaps you ought to read more. It would be a great enlightener. Also, when checking contributions, look at three years to election year. I think it tells a different story than your selective, ‘I want to start a fight to enhance my self esteem, findings.

      So tell me, Hello. What do you think of mountain-top removal mining? Good idea? Bad idea? No opinion at all?

  7. Mountain top removal is a necessary evil to acquire an energy source. The alternative is to build a more dangerous, more expensive mine, putting miners in danger. The fill from that mine would also fill the nearby valleys.

    So, the question is, “Do we want to continue using coal as an energy source or do we import more fuel?If there is a feasible alternative to coal, lets use it. But other forms of energy supplies are also being restricted.”

  8. marinm

    Nothing against coal but why can’t we have more nuke plants? I don’t mind solar or wind farms at all if someone wants to invest in ’em.. Maybe chop off the top of a mountain and when we’re done with it cap it with a wind farm? Just tossing a nut from the gallery.

  9. Would that be an “eco-nut” or a “gun-nut?” Remember gun-nuts shoot back. Or was it a “right-wingnut?” Make sure you unwrap the flag from them before tossing. “Left-wing nuts” are usually found outside in crowds, so they’re hard to catch.

    🙂

  10. hello

    From the site you gave me and my search which resulted in finding a total of $32,751 in donations, “Dollar amounts shown are the total contributions reported for each donor since 1997.”. So no, I wasn’t being “selective” at all. Also, my self esteem has never been better. How is yours?

    To tell you the truth Moon is sounds a bit invasive to the environment, Ill agree with you on that one if that was your point. However, we aren’t left with may choices these days. Like Cargo said, our only other option these days is to import more fuel.

    We should have been building nuke plants for the past 30 years but environmentalist have stopped us from doing it. Now we are waaaaaay behind in not only nuke plant technology but also in nuclear waste recycling. If I’m not mistaken France developed a way to recycle 97% of the waste from their plants. They also produce over 75% of their total energy from nuclear plants.

  11. marinm

    @Cargo, LOL…nice. Of course I meant the peanut gallary as I don’t really consider myself “right-wingnutjob” especially if Romney is the best the GOP can come up with.. I’m pretty sure the -R will lose the upcoming POTUS election but that’s off topic.

    I’m not a fan of cutting off mountain tops (for both environmental and aesthetics concerns) but if it’s a choice between local energy production and supporting terrorism by giving more money to the Middle East.. Hand someone (a Virginian!) a pick axe!

  12. Are there other ways to get coal that don’t require blasting off the tops of mountains? Sure. Are they as profitable? no. Is that what should be driving our environmental issues? Profit?

    I have criticized Egypt and many others have criticized China over their environmental malfeasance. Do we now continue down their path or do we start to act responsibly? Look at the areas that have been clear cut and have been strip mined or mountain-top removal has been practiced.

    Companies don’t like adhering to standards. It reduces their profits. But then again, the railroads didn’t like having to give up their buffalo shoots from the trains either.

  13. Marin, those aren’t the only 2 choices. We don’t live in a world of black or white.

  14. There are two ways to get coal out of the ground. Both include digging. One is to dig a mine into which people crawl, and are subject to gases, flooding, fire, and cave in. Mountain top removal/strip mine is the other way.

    There is no “nice” way to get coal out of the ground.

  15. hello

    This whole thing can easily be explained in short 1:03 video of the person who created these new mining regulations explaining exactly why he wants it….. enjoy:-)

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlTxGHn4sH4

    Obama wants to bankrupt the coal industry, period, you just heard him say it. Just FYI, that video was not edited, it was not a prank by James O’Keefe, it was not doctored in any way. It was honest to God video of Obama saying what his ‘plan’ was for ‘coal’.

    He couldn’t get Cap and Trade to pass, even though our very own Gerry Connolly voted FOR it. So, what’s the next move? Well, invent some new regulations silly! If you can’t get something to pass to achieve just invent some new regulation to get the end result you were looking for in the first place. Duh!!!! So now we have the Cap, but no Trade.

    (Psssst… This is why we now have McDonnell, now Mr. Deeds)

  16. hello

    not Mr. Deeds, not ‘now’ Mr. Deeds…. if we had Mr. Deeds ‘now’ we wouldn’t even be having this discussion because VA wouldn’t have a ‘coal’ industry. Deeds would have already shut that down, you know, for the environment.

  17. psssttt you won’t have Mr. McDonnell in 2 years. Then what will you do?

    How do the mining regulations differ from those under the Clinton administration?

    Do you think the mountain top removal is a good way to mine? What about other types of mining?

    Don’t assume anything about Mr. Deeds. You are stereotyping. Considering his district went over to the WVA line, he was very atune to the coal industry. But that election is over and also irrelevant at the moment.

  18. Cargo, right now, you are correct. The problem is, there are people who want to continue going down in those mines. Do we say the hell with the environment? I don’t think we can when we see houses sliding down the side of a mountain and water streams being poisoned. There has to be balance. There simply cannot be a black or white side. This is not a binary question.

  19. The standard mine also fills up those stream beds. The fill has to go somewhere. It is a binary question. One either mines coal or one does not. All coal mines have waste and fill. You have to dig to get to the seam. And if a miner has a choice, they would rather have air above them than risk death due to numerous reasons.

  20. Standard mines have less fill than mountain-top or strip mining.

    You conservatives look at most questions as binary rather than as degrees between 2 poles.

    I don’t think you can speak for most miners. Some miners don’t want their environment totally crapped up. Most miners are proud of the work they do. I think we will both get in to trouble if we start saying how miners feel. My guess is most of them want work.

  21. marinm

    “Some miners don’t want their environment totally crapped up.”

    Yes, we call those miners retired or unemployed. 🙂

  22. Not really, Marin. That is a sweeping generalization. Before I started commenting on this thread I called my best friend who is from southern West Virginia. She says it is a very complex issue and one that isn’t easily pigeon-holed.

    How many coal miners do you know? She comes from an area where every other family is a mining family. She also said strip mining is dangerous.

    I suppose the worst thing we can do is turn mining into a binary problem. There are ways to make mining safer but it will never be safe. There are also diseases associated with mining. Mining regulations can take some of the hazards out of mining but never remove them altogether.

  23. Not Me, Bubba

    Cargosquid :The standard mine also fills up those stream beds. The fill has to go somewhere. It is a binary question. One either mines coal or one does not. All coal mines have waste and fill. You have to dig to get to the seam. And if a miner has a choice, they would rather have air above them than risk death due to numerous reasons.

    Yeah BOTH produce waste of excess rock and coal debris. BUT Mtn Top removal produces MORE FILL than any other method. Did you know natural waterways in WVA have been altered or destroyed thanks to this method of mining? Thanks to the cronyism of the Bush Reich, the Coal lobby pressured the EPA to modify a Clinton-Era law that stated coal mining companies MUST clean up displaced fill that was in direct threat to existing waterways (creeks, streams) and natural aquifers. So what happened? The law was changed to state that coal mining companies who did MTR could decide for themselves if existing waterways and aqifers were in danger from pollution, irreversible modification or just plain ol’ destruction. That is right, it would be up to the company to act upon its conscience (LOL) if action would be necessary for a clean up.

    You can surmise how THAT went.

    The fact is we need coal. We also need jobs and our environment. MTR takes away jobs and destroys the environment. Traditional mining methods also harm the environment, but the damage they do is lesser than the quickie, blow-up-the-mountain and collect the rocks method. So if you like living on or near a lunar-looking landscape, don’t care about the water you drink or that others drink, blast away with MTR. I will stand for the other methods – especially those that provide jobs for more than just demolition experts and truck drivers.

    ….

    Oh and nuclear? How much Uranium do you think there is in this world? It is extremely RARE and hard to produce. It has to be MINED (oh the irony!). And then there is that pesky problem of disposing of the spent fuel rods and other radioactive waste a nuclear plant produces! Lots of people want nuke power, but so FEW are willing to accept its waste in their backyard……

    And as for oil, the majority we import from other countries is NOT the Middle East. We get the bulk of our oil from Canada (#1) and Mexico (#2). But you know what? Here’s the really scarry part…The National LARGEST PRODUCING oil Field of Mexico, Cantarell, has been in decline for the past 5 or more years. Mexico will not be able to export its oil to us much longer for the field has been declining at about 12-13% in yield a year (since about 2006). When they can no longer produce enough to sustain themselves and our needs (as guranteed they DO in the NAFTA treaty), they will have to choose to either keep their oil or export to us. We shall see how that one plays out….

    OUr Energy future is not as bright as some people would like to believe. We are at a stage where we are consuming more and more energy, when the energy sources or reserves we have have either run dry or have peaked in production. When you consume more energy than you produce, sooner or later things are going to give.

  24. “When you consume more energy than you produce, sooner or later things are going to give.”

    Exactly, so why make it harder to develop DOMESTIC energy sources? Uranium mined in Virginia. New Thorium based nukes. Oil shale development. ANWR. Stop the drilling moratorium in the Gulf. Open Yucca Mountain again for waste. Want wind farms? Great. No more NIMBY allowed. Put them off Cape Cod even if the Kennedys don’t like it. Put them everywhere feasible. Solar? Lets do it. New Mexico has lots of desert. Cover it in solar cells. Stop the Ethanol scam and stop burning food. Upgrade and expand domestic refineries.

  25. Drudge report today has a round up of energy news.

  26. Not Me, Bubba

    Cargosquid :“When you consume more energy than you produce, sooner or later things are going to give.”
    Exactly, so why make it harder to develop DOMESTIC energy sources? Uranium mined in Virginia. New Thorium based nukes. Oil shale development. ANWR. Stop the drilling moratorium in the Gulf. Open Yucca Mountain again for waste. Want wind farms? Great. No more NIMBY allowed. Put them off Cape Cod even if the Kennedys don’t like it. Put them everywhere feasible. Solar? Lets do it. New Mexico has lots of desert. Cover it in solar cells. Stop the Ethanol scam and stop burning food. Upgrade and expand domestic refineries.

    The amount of oil *ESTIMATED* to be in ANWR will only produce about 6 months of oil for US consumption. Six months is not a helluva long time especially considering energy consumption is going up, not down. It’s a mere drop in the bucket and is not the magic bullet the “Drill baby Drill” morons think it is.

    Urainum mining in VA. That is if there are DEPOSITS here. It isn’t scattered in each state like fairy dust. Furthermore do you have any idea how much it #1) COSTS to build a plant and #2) HOW LONG it takes for it to go online? Costs are in the BILLIONS and The time from construction to powering-on is roughly 10-12 years – and that is if all goes according to schedule. Last time I looked neither the state nor the feds are capable or willing to invest BILLIONS on any one thing for domestic energy production.

    Ah the Bitumen Tar Sands in Canada (Alberta) and in our own mountain region out west. It takes about 2 barrels of oil to generate ONE barrel of oil from Bitumen. And then there is the environmental impact to harvest the oil from the sand. It destroys the environment for MILES around. Just look at what harvesting the Bitumen from the oil sands in Alberta is doing to the environment.

    http://mhcrudeoil.com/TarSandsMining.aspx

    Thorium based nukes? Now how are we supposed to get energy from that pile of nonsense? People want to be able to fill up their gas tanks and heat their homes, not develop more nuclear warheads that will sit and decay.

    As for teh drilling moratorium in the Gulf, there are three things to address: #1) Those living on the coast do not want to open their drapes of their posh condos and look out at the sea filled with drilling platforms. A lot of big $$$$ in FL has gone toward this.

    #2) The sea floor off the coast of S. Carolina, Georgia, N. Carolina is resting upon a pocket of methane gas so LARGE that if one drilled incorrectly, the sea floor would rupture and release a globally fatal amount of methane into the air. Methane is colorless, and odorless. But in that area of the sea, there have been sightings of methane escaping naturally for the sea turns to bubbles!

    #3) The BP oil spill. Need I say more?

    Windmills are great. I would LOVE to see teh US do what Germany has done with windmills – each house has one that stores electricity for their needs and sells excess back to the grid. Thing is installing a windmill and generator/battery in every home would be…pricy.

    Solar? It takes a ton of energy to make the panels, of which the panels are not exactly non-toxic. Solar is also an energy that is very local. Do not think that solar cells in N Mexico will be generating your home here in VA. The solar energy is used to maintain the solar field and nearby energy needs.

    I agree 100% with you on ethanol.

    As for domestic refineries….well, let me just say this…..if the oil isn’t coming into them, because it isn’t there, no amount of refineries will be of any use. US oil production peaked in 1970. Yep. Our domestic production of oil PEAKED then. All new sources of oil well discoveries peaked in 1967 – globally. There hasn’t been a big new find since then. And the oil companies are now turning to refining unconventional resources like the Tar Sands and other deep wells to keep production up with consumption. What I am saying is this – Global production of oil has peaked. In fact it likely peaked in 2005/2006. M King Hubbert (A geologist) predicted, based on geological models and consumption rates in 1947 that US oil production would peak in 1970 and global oil production would peak between 2004-2008. He was NOT wrong about the US oil production. Current geological studies and trends indicate that he most likely is also correct on global production. If you like, have a read of Twilight in the Desert by Matthew Simmons (An energy advisor to the Bush Admin and energy investor). These are not crackpots or conspiracy theorists claiming Peak oil is real and very likely happening/happened.

    Our energy future is not looking too bright, like I said before. And no amount of technology will fix it, since technology requires massive amounts of energy. I also do not wish to turn this planet into a festering, boiling, poisoned carcinogenic rock for my childrens’ and their childrens’ futures just so we can drive a little longer and buy a bigger TV that takes MORE energy.

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