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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.

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.

Coal Lobbyist Grinches Stole 2010 As Obama Transparency Initiative Falters

Despite President Obama’s campaign pledges of government transparency and limiting the influence of K Street lobbyists on policymaking, coal industry lobbyists got their stockings stuffed with wishes this year in Washington.  Climate and energy legislation is dead, the Environmental Protection Agency is entering its 21st year of failing to regulate mercury emissions from coal plants, coal ash regulations are delayed indefinitely, mountaintop removal mining continues, and the myth of “clean coal” is alive and well thanks to continuing praise by President Obama and Vice President Biden.

Happy Holidays!  Here’s a lump of coal, no two, and some coal ash slurry to wash it down with.  Don’t worry, it’s “clean coal!”

The Coal Grinches aren’t here to steal Christmas gifts from Whoville residents.  They’re here to steal a safe climate, clean water and breathable air from every American man, woman and child. And we won’t know when they’ve come and gone, thanks to the White House’s apparent neglect (or shutdown?) of the “open government” records of its meetings with lobbyists.

Tyee Series On Canadian Tar Sands Interests Meddling In U.S. Politics

The Tyee has launched a new series exploring the efforts of Canadian tar sands interests to undermine low carbon fuel standard (LCFS) policies in the U.S. that could some day threaten to wipe out Alberta’s greenhouse gas-intensive oil sands industry. 

Climate change policies being implemented in California and currently under consideration in 23 other U.S. states seek to favor lower-carbon transportation fuels. Since Canada’s tar sands are widely known to be among the dirtiest and most carbon-intensive sources of oil on the planet, the tar sands would of course fall out of favor rapidly if enough U.S. states passed the low-carbon standards into law. And since laws passed by large states like California are often used to pressure Washington to set federal policies, tar sands interests have a lot at stake in battling early adopter states.

As a result, The Tyee reports:
“A sophisticated lobbying effort led by Canadian officials, fossil fuel lobby groups and several of the world’s largest oil companies is targeting policymakers and consumers across the United States.”

Dirty Energy Is Playing Full Contact So Is Cleantech Ready To Do The Same?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, president of TigerComm, cross-posted from

Cancun - When I started working on solar energy issues several years ago, I heard it repeatedly: “Everyone loves solar.” Back then, many people in solar and other cleantech sectors saw long-term meritocracy in the energy business. Public demand, technological advances and aninevitable price on carbon were going to drive cleantech to dominance over time. “Renewable energy,” it was often said, “will soon become just plain ‘energy’.”

From the gridlocked global warming treaty negotiations here in Cancun, however, the picture seems starkly different. The Congressional climate bill fight ended in disaster, the recession tightened credit markets, and the coal and oil industries bought themselves a new Congress last month. And that global carbon market many were counting on? The most optimistic note Thursday night from a top U.S. treaty negotiator, Jonathan Pershing, was “maybe next year.”

Want To Be The Next CEO of Massey Energy As Don Blankenship Retires?

Sierra Club pranksters have posted on Craig’s List an all-too-honest job description for anyone hoping to apply for the CEO job at Massey Energy to replace retiring CEO Don Blankenship.  Think you’re qualified to fill the shoes of one of the worst polluters in America? 

Here is the Craig’s List job description:

Massey Energy Seeks CEO

Date: 2010-12-06, 5:33PM EST
Reply to: [email protected] [Errors when replying to ads?]

Massey Energy seeks a new Chief Executive Officer to carry on its important work destroying the environment and jeopardizing the health and safety of its employees. This position will oversee all Massey Energy operations (but don’t worry - stringent or really any oversight is not a corporate priority).


Key responsibilities:

-Ducking responsibility for grave accidents and enthusiastically (and with a straight face) shifting the blame to government agencies created to prevent such incidents.

-Denying climate change, hating the environment and hating anyone who might enjoy the environment.

-Trading campaign cash for congressional favor.

-Threatening members of the media.

-Personally persuading workers to abandon union organizing.


New Ad Asks President Obama To Stop Keystone XL Tar Sands Oil Pipeline

The proposed Keystone XL pipeline would carry oil extracted from Canada’s dirty tar sands over 2,000 miles through two provinces and six U.S. states to Gulf Coast refineries. Unless it is stopped, the U.S. and Canada are set to continue guaranteeing decades of mutual, self-inflicted oil addiction.

House Global Warming Committee Axed By GOP Climate Zombies

The GOP’s anti-science climate zombies claimed their first victim late this week, with House Speaker-designate John Boehner (R-OH) announcing his intent to shut down the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming when Republicans take control of Congress in January.

Rep. Boehner claims he is wielding the axe in order to “save several million dollars” by shoving the climate issue back into the exclusive purview of the House Committee on Science and Technology.  In fact, Boehner is proving to the public that the GOP fails to recognize the serious consequences for America’s economy, national security, public health and future generations posed by climate change.

While the Democratic leadership of the waning 111th Congress failed to get legislation passed into law to address climate change, the House global warming committee, led by Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), convened dozens of important hearings and briefings featuring top climate scientists and national security experts to educate Congress and the public about the need for swift action to secure America’s energy independence, create clean energy jobs and mitigate climate change emissions.  Markey’s committee also played a key role investigating the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico, demonstrating its role as an important polluter watchdog in Congress.

With climate issues now shoe-horned into the House Committee of Science, there is simply no way climate change will receive the critical focus it deserves, since climate science will compete with all other scientific matters for attention from Congress.

Alberta Tar Sands Have Irreversible Impact on Indigenous Culture

The Alberta tar sands are increasingly recognized as a major threat, not only moving us in the opposite direction from where we need to go to solve the climate crisis, but also with the enormous environmental and public health risks that tar sands development entails.  However, another major negative and irreversible consequence of the tar sands’ gold rush is often overlooked - the tremendous impact on the culture and legacy of northern Alberta’s indigenous peoples.

As this amazing multimedia presentation by acclaimed climate change photographer Robert van Waarden demonstrates vividly, the tar sands are leaving an indelible mark on First Nations’ communities, whose livelihoods and culture are threatened by the tar sands.  Watch this, then please share it with your family and learn more about the tar sands.  This destruction can be stopped, but not without major public pressure.

Have We Found the Real “Climategate” Scandal?

This is a guest post by Mike Casey, cross-posted from
Despite overwhelming evidence that anthropogenic climate change is real, potentially catastrophic, and accelerating, the theft of the East Anglia emails a year ago was turned into “Climategate” by the dirty energy lobby.  This non-scandal was nothing but a bunch of hot air, perpetrated by “deniers,” and to a large extend funded by the leading dirty energy (coal and oil) industries. (For more on this subject, see the superb book, “The Climate War,” by Eric Pooley.)

Congressman Joe “Apologize to BP” Barton of Texas was among those honking on the “Climategate” horn the loudest. The problem is that Barton lacks intellectual integrity of his own. As Salon reports:

A couple of years ago, Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas, asked a statistician named Edward Wegman to produce a report that would cast doubt on climate change science, because Barton – then the chairman of the House energy committee – is less a citizen legislator than the whims of the oil and gas industries made animate and elected to Congress.

The report criticized some statistics used to prove that the last century was the warmest one in centuries, which means it proved that global warming is pretend, in the eyes of most Republicans…

The only problem, other than the fact that the report is overwhelmingly without merit, is that it was largely plagiarized.