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Thu, 2011-01-20 10:28Brendan DeMelle
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Coal Money And Violent Rhetoric Hold Appalachia Captive to Dirty Energy

While Rep. Gabrielle Giffords continues her amazing recovery in the wake of the tragic Tucson shootings, the coal industry and its captive members in Congress and the right wing media continue to talk about a “War on Coal.”

The industry front group Friends of Coal issued “A Call to Arms” yesterday announcing the “Rally for Coal” taking place this afternoon at the West Virginia capitol and featuring the state’s top politicians. Acting Governor Earl Ray Tomblin’s office quickly labeled the “Call to Arms” rhetoric “an unfortunate use of words,” but wouldn’t confirm whether Tomblin had any plans to discuss the use of such violent rhetoric with the coal industry.

Mon, 2011-01-17 13:47Brendan DeMelle
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Oil Supermajors Desperately Chasing a Tar Sands Pipe Dream

The six major oil companies that for decades enjoyed phenomenal profits and power over the world’s oil supply now find themselves fighting over the dirtiest and most dangerous oil left - Alberta’s climate-wrecking tar sands and the dangerous deepwater deposits in the Arctic, Gulf of Mexico and other difficult to reach areas. Geoff Dembicki reports today in The Tyee that the oil supermajors once known as the “Seven Sisters” now control a tiny fraction of the world’s dwindling oil reserves - just seven percent - while state-owned oil companies and national governments control 93 percent.

That shift in power has left the six Anglo-American oil majors sparring fiercely for control of the remaining dregs to feed our oil addiction.  Dembicki writes that:

“aggressive oil sands development appears to be one of the few viable growth strategies left for ExxonMobil, BP, Royal Dutch Shell, Total, ConocoPhillips and Chevron. These six energy giants are among the top-earning private companies on Earth. Yet their continued corporate existence, at least in its current form, is far from assured.”

In their race to the bottom, these six oil companies are all vying for control of Canada’s dirty tar sands. Dembicki notes that:

“all the supermajors own – or plan to develop – huge operations in Alberta’s oil sands. Canada is one of the few countries left on Earth offering unbridled private sector access to major known oil reserves (in this case, the planet’s second-largest).”

Tue, 2011-01-11 18:27Brendan DeMelle
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David Koch Denies Climate Change, Appears Bewildered When Asked About Citizens United by ThinkProgress

Lee Fang from ThinkProgress had the chance to conduct an impromptu interview with billionaire polluter magnate David Koch of Koch Industries last week in Washington.  Despite the best efforts of Americans For Prosperity president Tim Phillips to end the interview by pestering Fang and his cameraman continously, Fang succeeds in getting Koch to answer several questions.  In part one, Koch acknowledges there are “some extremists” in the Tea Party, but that most of them are “normal people like us” - where “us” equals the handful of people worth $21.5 billion or more.

In part two, when asked about Americans For Prosperity’s work to confuse public understanding of climate change, and about his own grasp of climate change science, David Koch delivers a barely comprehensible response demonstrating his need to brush up on the usual climate denier arguments.

FANG: Why does Americans for Prosperity focus so much on the science of climate change? I’m just curious why they spread so much information that denies the existence of climate, of global warming?

KOCH: Well… I think it’s uh, regulating CO2 excessively is going to put — uh really damage the economy.

FANG: Do you believe in climate change yourself, Mr. Koch?

KOCH: Climate does fluctuate. It goes from hot to cold. We have ice ages.

FANG: But do you believe carbon pollution affects climate change? [Koch shrugs]

Watch:

Tue, 2011-01-04 18:09Brendan DeMelle
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Remembering Judy Bonds, Heroic Organizer Who Fought Mountaintop Removal With Everything She Had

Judy Bonds, the fearlessly outspoken activist and community organizer who devoted her life to saving her native Appalachian mountains from the ravages of mountaintop removal coal mining, passed away Monday.

The daughter of a coal miner, Julia Bonds was fiercely dedicated to the cause of ending dangerous coal practices and combatting the myth of ‘clean coal,’ which she could often be heard pointing out is a “dirty lie.”

She was an inspiration to me personally, and I’m fortunate to have met and talked with her often over the years.  She will be dearly missed. But her legacy lives on in the thousands of lives she touched, and her memory will serve as a continuing inspiration to everyone who wants to see America and the rest of the world end our addiction to dirty coal.

Jeff Biggers has a wonderful tribute to Judy on the Huffington Post, and JW Randolph has another tribute at Appalachian Voices.  WTRF in West Virginia reports that Coal River Mountain Watch, the group that Bonds led, is planning a memorial service but a date has not been set yet.

Mon, 2011-01-03 15:20Brendan DeMelle
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Future of Coal Dims Further in 2010, But Dying Industry Still Killing and Polluting

2010 was a dark year for the dirty U.S. coal industry, with the deaths of 48 coal miners – the deadliest year in nearly two decades – and widespread recognition of the threat posed by hazardous coal ash waste to waterways nationwide. 

2011 hasn’t started off very well either, with a New Year’s Day article in the Washington Post noting the industry’s failure to begin construction on a single new coal-fired power plant in the United States for the second straight year.

An excerpt from the Post story:

“Coal is a dead man walkin’,” says Kevin Parker, global head of asset management and a member of the executive committee at Deutsche Bank. “Banks won’t finance them. Insurance companies won’t insure them. The EPA is coming after them… . And the economics to make it clean don’t work.”

Not only are the coal barons failing to build new plants, but their aging fleet is also facing a huge wave of coal-plant retirements thanks to new and emerging EPA regulations, as Grist’s Dave Roberts summarized last month. 

Nevertheless, the coal industry’s best efforts to flood Washington with lobbyists and dirty PR tricks seem to have crippled President Obama’s campaign pledge to end mountaintop removal and stalled out EPA administrator Lisa Jackson’s momentum towards regulating coal ash as the hazardous waste it surely is.

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