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Coal Company Tells Workers Not to Vacation in Tennessee

In the latest sally in the war between pro-coal-at-any-cost and anti-mountaintop mining (MTR) advocates, Arch Coal subsidiary Coal-Mac, Inc., of Holden, West Virginia, has “recommended” that its 300 employees not vacation in Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains. It’s also asking other coal firms to enforce the (dare we call it) ban.

The move is reportedly in response to testimony given at a recent U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on MTR, a form of coal mining that rips the tops off mountaintops to get at the underlying coal, destroying entire ecologies, poisoning water supplies and leaving the landscape devastated.

At that hearing, Tennessee Dept. of Environment & Conservation’s Deputy Commissioner, Paul Sloan, said he supported legislation, co-sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), to ban MTR.

Lucas Says Mountaintop Removal Is An Appalachian Community Service

I’m digging deep, and maybe even stepping on a few toes, but a Guardian report via ThinkProgress (or is it vice versa?) cites coal industry spokesman Joe Lucas as saying that mountaintop removal in Appalachia performs a civic function by creating flat earth.

Whoever scooped it hasn’t gotten nearly enough coverage, so let’s revisit with envy and ask how she, or he, got Lucas to step on his own tongue, as it were.

Allen Doing Coal’s Dirty Work

In 2006, at a campaign rally in Virginia, when former Republican Senator George Felix Allen was running against James Webb, Allen got called out by none other than the Washington Post for repeatedly calling a Webb campaign volunteer a “macaca” (you can see the quoted text here).

The word reportedly derives from Bantu, and means “monkey”. In the Belgian Congo, the word is used to refer to the native population. Allen’s persistent repetition of the word earned him the reigning championship in the xenophobe category, and the term itself was awarded the status of “most politically incorrect” word of 2006 by Global Language Monitor, a nonprofit entity that studies and tracks word usage and dialect.

Ingraham vs. Gore; Half the Truth Is the Same as a Lie

During the May 1 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, talk-radio guest host Laura Ingraham used a well-known Republican tactic to smear Al Gore, former Vice President, climate activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner. Ingraham took only those parts of Gore’s Waxman-Markey testimony that supported her contention and ignored the rest.

Ingraham may consider this balanced reporting, but here in the real world we call this a convenient and highly unscrupulous oversight.

Gore’s testimony, from the April 24 House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing (on the 2009 American Clean Energy and Security Act), clearly stated that “every penny” he earned from his climate-change advocacy (i.e., books, movies, and investments in renewable energy) has gone into his nonprofit organization, Alliance for Climate Protection, which aims to persuade Americans to adopt comprehensive solutions to the approaching climate crisis.

Glacial Melting Redraws Italian-Swiss Border, Hints at Future Water Wars

Once the shape of nations was guided by war, as losers ceded land to winners.

That is no longer true, and today Italy and Switzerland are negotiating a new border in the Alps to accommodate the world’s newest victor; global warming.

The territory in question is the Monte Rosa massif, a portion of the Italian-Swiss Alps whose watershed, determined by nine glaciers, sets the invisible line between Switzerland and Italy, as it has since 1861.

The biggest, manmade change to this imaginary line came in 1970, when a stream diversion was allowed to permit construction of the Lugano-Como motorway, with the two countries exchanging territory to facilitate development.

Now, thanks to climate change and the shrinking of these glaciers, the watershed has shifted – up to 100 meters in places – and the two nations are preparing yet another accord.

Wellinghoff, Adams, Obama; Is Hope Dangerous?

Just in time for ABC’s quote from environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. calling President Barack Obama an indentured servant of the coal industry (and Kennedy’s later retraction), comes the pronouncement from none other than the chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), Jon Wellinghoff (who joined the FERC under Bush), that the U.S. may never need another coal plant. Or nuclear plant, Wellinghoff added, noting that the concept of baseload capacity (i.e., coal-fired power plants running 24.7) may become a thing of the past.

Wellinghoff seems to suggest that renewable energy can be used in a complimentary fashion; wind kicking in on cloudy days, solar taking up the load on calm days, biomass filling the interstices and technologically advanced energy storage systems balancing the load. Currently, the U.S. has more than 10 percent of its power mix in renewables – and that includes a whopping 6.6 percent in hydroelectric (January 2009). But throw in advanced energy efficiencies, demand-side management (DSM; think crowd control for delivery), and some truly revolutionary advances like molted salt technology, and one begins to see the possibilities.

Global Warming Deniers Down Under Get Plimer Promotion

In the U.S., we have our own little group of global warming deniers.

They include George Will, Rush Limbaugh, Robert Samuelson, Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), and the aptly named Marc Morano, all of whom go about hacking schoolbooks, science and the thinking public’s sensibilities to extort the facts and figures they need to support their decidedly uninformed viewpoints.

Down under, in Australia, they have their own little coterie, and their dash to the rear is currently being led by Professor Ian Plimer of Adelaide University, whose newest book - Heaven and Earth: Global Warming the Missing Science – is over 500 pages long and, according to reviewer Paul Sheehan, “a product of 40 years research”. Plimer, a geologist, says that 96 percent of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor.

Inhofe’s Take on EPA CO2 Ruling Typical Denialism

It’s no surprise that Sen. James Inhofe’s (R-OK) take on the recent EPA decision (that carbon dioxide is a danger to public health and must be regulated) is negative.


Inhofe, ranking minority member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, doesn’t believe in anthropogenic global warming, and has called the EPA’s stance the beginning of a regulatory climate which will destroy American jobs, raise consumer energy prices, and make it impossible for the U.S. to complete in a global economy.

Inhofe’s position, that Congress should pass legislation to stop the EPA ruling in its tracks, is typical of global warming deniers, who prefer bombast, manufactured evidence and creating hysteria to actual fact. All have, at one time or other, parroted their misinformed “proof” that Obama’s green economy plan will cost every American family $3,128 per year in rising energy costs.

Congress and Renewables, Going Whichever Way the Wind Blows

A recent Forbes’ article on Vestas Wind’s CEO, Ditlev Engel, and his determination to make wind energy succeed in America, brings to mind the real problem behind renewable energy in the U.S; Congress tends to swing whichever way the wind blows (pun intended).

Vestas came to the U.S. in the wake of the OPEC oil crisis/embargo in 1973. Then, when oil prices dropped in the 1980s, Vestas – like many other renewable energy startups – went bust because the government let renewable energy tax incentives lapse for lack of interest. This effectively dried up venture capital.

Obama’s Cap and Trade Costs vs. GOP’s Lies, Damned Lies and Statistics

The quote (lies, damned lies and statistics) is from 1840’s British statesman Benjamin Disraeli, but the political scene remains unchanged 170 years later. The Republicans would have you believe that President Barack Obama’s proposed cap-and-trade emissions plan will cost the average American family $3,000 a year if implemented.

If, as they say, a lie oft repeated becomes the truth, Fox News, CNN, Politifact and Roll Call are clearly in the business of “retruthing” the administration’s cap-and-trade proposals by parroting the GOP’s lie. Shamelessly, in fact, since none of the above-mentioned media sources (or their reporters) even bothered to question the figures presented them like so much frosting on a truly toxic fossil-fuel cake.

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