Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Removing Mountain Top Removal

Readers of California Greening should know that I have been very critical of Mountaintop Removal Mining, of House Committee on Natural Resources Chairman Nick Rahall, and very supportive of the efforts of the Green Party affiliated Mountain Party of West Virginia's efforts to stop that practice.

Ken Ward's Coal Tatoo post today provides a very good run down on what Rahall could be doing about the problems of the coal industry... but isn't.
As I’ve written before, Rahall is in quite a fix on mountaintop removal, and his position on it is certainly in conflict with his great leadership on so many other environmental and conservation measures:
Ward goes on to list the things that are not being done, the leadership that is not being shown.
And Rahall isn’t doing many of the things that he could … as chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee, Rahall has jurisdiction over the Department of Interior and he could use that position and that committee to hold some interesting hearings and push some tough legislation. I often wonder why he doesn’t do things like:
  • Call in Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and OSMRE Director Joe Pizarchik for a committee hearing, and demand to know why they haven’t yet started writing a tougher and more clear definition of the approximate original contour reclamation standard. And if the Obama administration won’t take on the task, Rahall and his committee could put forward legislation to do it themselves.
  • Haul some coal executives — maybe he could start with Blankenship — before his committee and ask them to explain why so few flattened mountaintop removal sites are being developed for new businesses or other community assets.
  • Schedule another hearing with Salazar and Pizarchik, and demand to know how in the heck OSMRE is going to accomplish the tougher enforcement oversight it has promised given the budget cuts proposed for the agency by President Obama.
This is just one more example of the failures of Washington to match action to rhetoric and the result can only be a growing cynicism about the ability of Washington to do anything that has a time horizon beyond the next election. Even those Senators who appear to be bulletproof, like California's very senior Senator Feinstein, seem almost to go out of their way to kowtow to entrenched corporate interests, leaving most of the public to wonder who is running whom.

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