Wednesday, December 31, 2008
On Dec. 22nd a landslide of 5.3 million cubic yards of coal ash, a waste product of coal burning power plants, contaminated the Tennessee River near Kingston, TN. The river is a source of drinking water for millions of people. To put the size of the spill in perspective, this equals over 1 billion gallons, or 100 times the size of the Exxon Valdez spill.
Coal Ash contains heavy metals including mercury, arsenic and lead, and according to a Dec 13, 2007 article in Scientific American, is more radioactive than nuclear waste.
First Hand Account of the Coal Ash Disaster
On my way up to Ohio at Christmas, we drove through the beautiful mountains of West Virginia and saw several billboards reading "Clean, Carbon Neutral Coal". The true weight of the irony was lost on me, as I was not yet aware of the coal ash landslide.
Website with Facts on Coal Power
Sorry to end the year on a bummer, but with all the political rhetoric over "clean coal" I felt this event was too important. Here's to 2009 being about change and progress.
Saturday, December 20, 2008
Ed Mazria of Architecture 2030 has put together an economic stimulus proposal that could be a win, win, win solution for housing, job creation and the environment. The proposal is a mortgage buy-down program to help the housing and commercial building markets while creating green jobs through energy efficiency upgrades of existing buildings, and reducing carbon and environmental impacts of the Building Sector.
Learn more about the proposal here:
2030 Stimulus Plan
Vote for the proposal at Ideas for Change in America, an organization that identifies and creates momentum around the best ideas for our government to turn the desire for change into specific policies:
Vote for 2030 Challenge Stimulus Plan Here
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Obama's appointments for his top energy and environmental posts are receiving acclaim from environmental groups including the League of Conservation Voters. While the challenges ahead are daunting to say the least, Obama’s advisers "seem united in their concern for the threats facing the planet and unafraid to use the pricing power of the market or the financial power of government to address them."
- Steven Chu, physicist and Nobel prize winner, will run the Energy Department
- Lisa Jackson, NJ enviro-chief, will run the EPA
- Carol Browner, past EPA chief under Clinton, will be the senior White House adviser
- Nancy Sutley, LA's enviro-chief, will lead the White House Council on Environmental Policy
NY Times Editorial
League of Conservation Voters Article
Sunday, December 7, 2008
The Natural Resources Defense Council has persuaded Bank of America to stop providing financing to companies that mine coal through mountaintop removal. The statement came after NRDC took several BofA executives to visit coal sites in Appalachia to witness first hand the destruction the mining practice incurs.
NY Times Article
While the private sector makes progress, our government seems to be moving backwards. The EPA approved a last-minute rule change by the Bush administration that will allow coal companies to bury streams under the rocks leftover from mining. The change would eliminate a tool that citizens groups have used in lawsuits to keep mining waste out of streams.
A 1983 rule prohibited dumping the fill from mountaintop removal mining within 100 feet of streams. In practice, however, the government hadn't been enforcing the rule. 535 miles of streams were buried or diverted from 2001 to 2005 in America. Along with the loss of the streams has been an increase of erosion and flooding.