Both Democrats and Republicans bend over for King Coal, but Bush administration bends further

Known euphemistically as mountaintop mining, the process has enormous machines scrape away ridges to get at the coal seams below. The residual rock and dirt are then dumped or carted down the mountainside into nearby valleys and streams.

In 2002, with the Bush White House firmly in control, the Environmental Protection Agency rewrote clean water regulations to add mine waste to the list of materials that can be used to fill in streams for development and other purposes. In 2004, confronted with the so-called stream buffer-zone rule prohibiting mining within 100 feet of a stream — the Bush administration decided the rule only required companies to respect the buffer zone “to the extent practicable,” giving the green light to further dumping

Studies have identified more benign, though more costly, ways to dispose of the waste. Other studies have warned unless alternatives are found an area larger than Delaware will be laid waste by dynamite and bulldozer by the end of this decade, poisoning water supplies and causing continuous flooding.


It’s not good enough that everyone is scrambling to get at the gazillion barrels of oil under the melting icecap, now they are going to scrape down to every last little Christmas-stocking-sized lump of coal that lies within the Appalachians. Never mind the short-sightedness of the whole scheme, pouring money into a finite resource at a time when we desperately need investment in R&D for alternate technologies. The whole business focuses on the willingness of the US industrial machine to rape and disfigure the planet.

I remain in awe of this administration’s ability to bend over and ask for more from the guys with the money.

Depressing? People want power. There’s enough coal for probably several hundred more years.

Coal will probably continue to provide half of the US’s energy needs until the Greenie’s get over their anti-nuclear hangup.

I take no position on the nuclear power thing, as I am not up to speed on the technology, but I DO believe that we all have to recognize that we are power gluttons and adjust our habits and expectations. At any given moment in any house chosen at random you will find all kinds of things powered up, whether or not they are in use. And don’t get me started on the single occupant vehicles sitting idling on the 401 etc for hour after hour every day! Yeah, people want power, but they waste it shamelessly and are not held accountable. Never was gluttony a more deadly sin, and its flip side is waste! Fern

Fern, if you want to feel guilty and sinful about your wasteful energy usage, that’s fine. Repent. Here’s the thing though: Most Canadians, though they profess to support strong action against AGW, ENJOY using large amounts of energy. Bigger houses, more cars, lots more airline travel.

How does one explain this dichotomy?

It’s no mystery to me that people love bombing around in big, expensive vehicles, escaping winter on a jet to Cuba and having a nice big house that draws lots of power. We’ve grown up in a society in which conspicuous consumption is encouraged, there’s a disposable or drive-through everything, and it’s “left-wing” to point out consequences. The guy with the most toys when he dies wins. I don’t really believe that people will change their habits in the course of a few years – that kind of re-focusing takes generations. But I do know many people who are quietly (or not so quietly) working away to promote alternative technology, car-pooling, mass transit, power conservation – chipping away and gradually changing attitudes, showing by example that it can be done without going back to the cave. I remain optimistic. F

It helps that here in Manitoba (and as well in Quebec and Newfoundland), we have hydroelectricity, which is far cleaner than coal. It’s not a zero emissions source of energy, but it’s much better than it could be.