Monday, January 26, 2004

Bush and the Leveling of Appalachia

The assault of the Bush administration on the ecology of Appalachia has been relentless, particularly those parts bearing seams of coal. Big Coal delivered him West Virginia in the 2000 election, and now Bush is delivering for them.

The most recent outrage involves the below-the-radar rewriting of regulations by the Office of Surface Mining (a.k.a., the federal agency that's supposed to ride herd on strip mining or mountaintop removal). The New York Times this a.m. cites a proposed rule change by OSM to allow strip miners to dump strip mine waste (former mountaintops) into adjacent streams, something that heretofore was supposed to be illegal but which strip miners were doing anyway, thanks to lax or non-existent enforcement.

The Bush-adoring coal industry also loves mountaintop removal. Why? "The process produces more coal, requires fewer employees and is less costly than other forms of mining." Big profits, Bubba, big freaking profits. And who cares about those god-forsaken hillbilly hills, anyway?

The blatant, we'll-rape-the-environment-right-in-front-of-your-face determination of this administration to pay off their corporate sponsors is just breath-taking. And after the bare mention in the print media that this is even happening -- it won't make it onto the broadcast media AT ALL -- the press will quickly go back to "interesting" topics, like "screaming Dean" ... i.e., the irrelevant stuff that keeps us all cocooned and quiescent in The Matrix.

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