Must read viral response by a prominent West Virginian to the recent chemical spill that poisoned the Elk River. Visceral as the essay is, one must still ask: What changes can we make and how? I’d like to hear your thoughts on this, msg me here.
To hell with you.
To hell with every greedhead operator who flocked here throughout history because you wanted what we had, but wanted us to go underground and get it for you. To hell with you for offering above-average wages in a place filled with workers who’d never had a decent shot at employment or education, and then treating the people you found here like just another material resource—suitable for exploiting and using up, and discarding when they’d outlived their usefulness. To hell with you for rigging the game so that those wages were paid in currency that was worthless everywhere but at the company store, so that all you did was let the workers hold it for a while, before they went into debt they couldn’t get out of.
To hell with you all for continuing, as coal became chemical, to exploit the lax, poorly-enforced safety regulations here, so that you could do your business in the cheapest manner possible by shortcutting the health and quality of life not only of your workers, but of everybody who lives here. To hell with every operator who ever referred to West Virginians as “our neighbors.”
To hell with every single screwjob elected official and politico under whose watch it all went on, who helped write those lax regulations and then turned away when even those weren’t followed. To hell with you all, who were supposed to be stewards of the public interest, and who sold us out for money, for political power. To hell with every one of you who decided that making life convenient for business meant making life dangerous for us. To hell with you for making us the eggs you had to break in order to make breakfast.
To hell with everyone who ever asked me how I could stand to live in a place like this, so dirty and unhealthy and uneducated. To hell with everyone who ever asked me why people don’t just leave, don’t just quit (and go to one of the other thousand jobs I suppose you imagine are widely available here), like it never occurred to us, like if only we dumb hilljacks would listen as you explained the safety hazards, we’d all suddenly recognize something that hadn’t been on our radar until now.
To hell with the superior attitude one so often encounters in these conversations, and usually from people who have no idea about the complexity and the long history at work in it. To hell with the person I met during my PhD work who, within ten seconds of finding out I was from West Virginia, congratulated me on being able to read. (Stranger, wherever you are today, please know this: Standing in that room full of people, three feet away from you while you smiled at your joke, I very nearly lost control over every civil checkpoint in my body. And though civility was plainly not your native tongue, I did what we have done for generations where I come from, when faced with rude stupidity: I tamped down my first response, and I managed to restrain myself from behaving in a way that would have required a deep cleaning and medical sterilization of the carpet. I did not do any of the things I wanted to. But stranger, please know how badly I wanted to do them.)
And, as long as I’m roundhouse damning everyone, and since my own relatives worked in the coal mines and I can therefore play the Family Card, the one that trumps everything around here: To hell with all of my fellow West Virginians who bought so deeply into the idea of avoidable personal risk and constant sacrifice as an honorable condition under which to live, that they turned that condition into a culture of perverted, twisted pride and self-righteousness, to be celebrated and defended against outsiders. To hell with that insular, xenophobic pathology. To hell with everyone whose only take-away from every story about every explosion, every leak, every mine collapse, is some vague and idiotic vanity in the continued endurance of West Virginians under adverse, sometimes killing circumstances. To hell with everyone everywhere who ever mistook suffering for honor, and who ever taught that to their kids. There’s nothing honorable about suffering. Nothing.
To hell with you. This is the one moment in my adult life when I have wished I could still believe in Hell as an actual, physical reality, so that I could imagine you in it.
Bump in corn grown for ethanol has polluted water and wiped out 5 million acres of conserved land, AP finds
Five million acres of land — more than in Yellowstone, Everglades and Yosemite national parks combined — have been pulled from conservation on Obama’s watch, according to Agriculture Department figures.
What’s more, from 2005 to 2010, corn farmers increased their use of nitrogen fertilizer by more than 1 billion pounds. More recent data isn’t available from the Agriculture Department, but because of the huge increase in corn planting, even conservative projections by the AP suggest another billion-pound fertilizer increase on corn farms since then.
Some of that fertilizer has seeped into drinking water, contaminating rivers and boosting the growth of enormous algae fields in the Gulf of Mexico; the algae eventually decompose, sucking oxygen from the water and leaving behind a huge dead zone, currently covering 5,800 square miles of sea floor where marine life can’t survive.
That dead zone is just one example of a peculiar ethanol side effect: As one government program encourages farmers to plant more corn, other programs pay millions to clean up the mess.
Obama is no environmentalist. He’s helped increase fracking, expanded off-shore oil drilling, continues to stealthily approve parts the Keystone XL Pipeline, weakened endangered species protection, and will sign off on Alaska’s horrifying Pebble Mine gold mine.
The oil sands industry is in the throes of a major expansion, powered by C$20 billion ($19 billion) a year in investments. Companies including Syncrude Canada Ltd., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Exxon Mobil Corp. affiliate Imperial Oil Ltd. are running out of room to store the contaminated water that is a byproduct of the process used to turn bitumen — a highly viscous form of petroleum — into diesel and other fuels.
By 2022 they will be producing so much of the stuff that a month’s output of wastewater could turn an area the size of New York’s Central Park into a toxic reservoir 11 feet (3.4 meters) deep, according to the Pembina Institute, a nonprofit in Calgary that promotes sustainable energy.
To tackle the problem, energy companies have drawn up plans that would transform northern Alberta into the largest man-made lake district on Earth. Several firms have obtained permission from provincial authorities to flood abandoned tar sand mines with a mix of tailings and fresh water.
One big concern surrounding end-pit lakes is that the contaminated water will spread through the boreal ecosystem, the tract of trees and marshland that stretches around the top of the world from Canada to Russia and Scandinavia. Boreal forests store almost twice as much carbon as tropical forests.
Firefighters battling some of the most destructive wildfires to ever strike the state were focusing on a major blaze near the town of Lithgow, which is burning on a 190-mile front.
The United States Geological Survey (USGS) is moving to create a registry of climate change vulnerability to better protect wildlife, ecosystems and dams.
The registry will collect and display information on climate change adaptation projects underway across the country, Laura Thompson, a biologist with the USGS National Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center, told The Hill. It will pool from federal, state, local and tribal governments, she said.
It comes amid a second-term climate change push by President Obama. The president is leaning on federal agencies to address the issue, and part of his plan calls for greater collaboration with state and local governments.
The notice to gather information for the registry will be filed in Wednesday’s Federal Register.
The intent of the registry, Thompson said, is to improve planning as governments embark on climate change mitigation efforts to protect species, habitats and water infrastructure.
Read more: The Hill
The EPA confirms 18 new sites where coal ash is contaminating local waters across the U.S. right after House Republicans pass a measure that would weaken federal oversight of the pollutant.