Saturday, May 29, 2010

Taking the Dirty Energy Hunt to southwest Virginia

Comment: Ever seen a rich coal mining, just the large corporations blowing up our Mt. for coal. Also Pittsylvania County, VA will be just like Wise County, polluted air, water and land. No much difference in waste products in coal than waste products in uranium mining. Coal has sludge ponds full of dangerous by products and uranium mining and milling will have uranium tailing ponds to last 4/ever! No to Mt. Top Removal and No to uranium mining and milling!

Created 05/26/2010 - 15:53
By Kathy Selvage of the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards [1]. -- Luis

Our nation’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels like coal to supply its energy needs has put our health here in southwest Virginia as well as our economy, our quality of life, and our own climate, at risk. It is what sent us on the Dirty Energy Hunt [2] (see some of the pictures I took at the end of this post [3]).

We are reminded again and again by the loss of 29 West Virginia miners recently and the coal ash disaster in Tennessee two winters ago of just how fragile life and our planet are. We are constantly putting the immediate health and safety of our friends and neighbors and entire regions of our country in jeopardy as well as the long term future of our planet. We must stop.

Here in southwest Virginia, we suffer from all the phases of the dirty coal cycle.

They blow up our mountains and destroy our streams to get the coal, they burn it in our midst to produce electricity and pollute the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil in which we grow our vegetables, and leave us with the deadly remains buried in coal ash landfills that may some day burst and pollute us again and again.

Wise County, in the southwestern corner of VA, is my homeland. Approximately 1/3 of the entire surface of the county has been desecrated due to radical forms of mining to get at thin seams of coal.

It is almost like living in a war zone: Sirens, loud explosions, dust bowls and raining rocks are not unusual happenings in our communities. The beautiful, lush mountains of southwest Virginia are simply sacrificial lambs for the energy needs of this country.

Our landscape is dotted with two maximum security prisons, and the second coal-fired plant is currently under construction, even though the battle continues to rage in the courtroom.

We were not successful at stopping the coal plant but we were able to accomplish a 95% reduction in mercury emissions and we continue to battle over CO2 emissions and the surrogacy of PM 10 for particulate matter of PM 2.5 size. Please visit

Wise County and southwest Virginia need and cry out for a vision other than prisons, power plants, and pollution.

Our elected leaders are short sighted and do not adequately understand the concept of global warming and its consequences. What humans have wrought, humans must work to correct.

Common sacrifice, conservation, and clean, renewable energy supplies are worthwhile goals.

But we need something more than common sacrifice; we need a new energy policy in this country.

Where is that one great leader who will say in his heart, as Thomas Jefferson said, "One man with courage can be a majority."? Or could it be that the leader we wait for is us?

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