VirginiaAttorney General Kenneth Cuccinelli is working with coal companies and State Policy Network groups backed by Koch Industries to rollback VA’s voluntary clean energy program.
In states across the country, the American Legislative Exchange Council–or ALEC–and other State Policy Network groups are lining up to roll back clean energy laws, an effort complimented by captured politicians like Mr. Cuccinelli.
Ken Cuccinelli is a former ALEC member, and he’s working with ALEC member company Dominion Resources to end Virginia’s clean energy program. The same Dominion that just gave him $10,000 for his run for governor, on top of almost $46,000 in previous years for other political positions.
While Virginia’s voluntary renewable portfolio standard is far from perfect, it’s neither helpful nor inspiring for Mr. Cuccinelli to scrap the program altogether on behalf of a few vested dirty energy interests.
Rather, as Chesapeake Climate Action Network suggests, Virginia’s law needs to be strengthened in ways that increase clean energy production and the good jobs that come with it. Both Cuccinelli and CCAN agree the law has flaws and loopholes that don’t properly incentivize new clean energy development within the state of Virginia. Some of the law’s weaknesses: Continue reading →
From Guest Blogger Harrison Kirby of Louisville, KY, cross-posted from We Are Powershift on June 5, 2012.
“We aren’t evil, I promise,” said the evil congressman’s intern after he said he couldn’t help stop mountaintop removal coal mining. If you ever become a congressional intern and you find yourself in a situation where you must clarify that you are not in fact a villain, you are probably doing something wrong. If that terrible offense is mountaintop removal mining, you are definitely wrong. Continue reading →
A set of train tracks in rural North Carolina is not the kind of place that brings iPads to mind.
But this railroad is part of the chain that links you and me – and anyone who uses the cloud – to the massive destruction caused by the coal industry. That’s why we’ve chosen this spot, outside Duke Energy’s Marshall coal-fired power plant, which is just 19 miles away from Apple’s iCloud data center, to send a message to both Apple and Duke that the energy revolution can’t wait. Continue reading →
Annalyse: We’re 2/3 Goat, a metrobilly band based out of New York City. Like most artists in NYC, we’re all from different places. I’m the Lead Singer/Mandolinist, and I come from the small town of Inez, KY, deep in the hills of central Appalachia. But the rich, craggy valleys of my homeland are getting shallower as we speak.
Mountaintop Removal coal mining is ravaging the region I call home. Thirty percent of the surface area of my home county has already been leveled by strip mining and mountaintop removal. Mountaintop Removal (MTR) is a violent process of coal mining in which the tops of mountains are blown off to gather the seam of coal within (sometimes the seam can be as shallow as 2 feet), and the leftover material is placed into hollows, deemed “hollow fills” or “valley fills.” Over 500 mountaintops have already been blown off, and over 1500 miles of freshwater streams have already been buried. More and more flooding now occurs due to this, in areas where it never before was a problem. And worst of all, the water supplies of citizens are ruined by heavy metals in the runoff from these MTR sites as well as from coal slurry impoundment releases. The highest cancer rates per capita in the nation, according to the CDC, are found right in the heart of Central Appalachia, right in these communities where MTR takes place.
I grew up around this stuff; I saw mountains being leveled by the side of the highway. Due to a slurry impoundment break in 2000, most in my community don’t drink the water that comes out of the faucet. The majority of citizens buy bottled water to drink; it is the highest selling item in the supermarket, in a county where unemployment and poverty rates are higher than most places. I’ve seen how the coal industry can wreak havoc on a community firsthand. Once I moved away to NYC to pursue my artistic dreams, I began yearning for home more and more. It really sunk in how much of my home was disappearing through MTR. My parents are activists against it. Human rights and environmental & social justice were always a topic of conversation in my house growing up. I was drawn to join the fight against mountaintop removal in full force, and to write a song to inspire others to do so too.
I set out to write a call-to-action song to try and get people fired up about stopping mountaintop removal. I wanted something people could relate to on a lyrical as well as a musical level. I started writing some words, but couldn’t quite find the catchy, driving groove that I wanted. This is where Ryan and I always come together well. I’m always focused on the details, and he’s always looking at the “big picture,” as he calls it.
Ryan (other Lead Singer & Guitarist): I had been working on a new song for a while but I only had the chord changes and structure. I couldn’t figure out what to make the song about, and Annalyse came to me and said, “I want to write something that inspires people to stand up and take control of this MTR situation.” Now I am not from KY or WV, but as my relationship with Annalyse grew, my knowledge and familiarity of MTR grew as well. Her family was the first to inform me of the atrocities that were happening in Appalachia, a place I thought was some of the most beautiful land I have ever seen.
I am from the Jersey Shore (insert laughter) and I had never heard of Mountaintop Removal. I barely knew anything about underground mining. As I learned more, I immediately wanted to join the McCoys and the rest of Appalachia and stand up to the companies that were profiting off of the death and destruction of some the oldest land and cultures in our country. I knew that most Americans were like me, and if they could just have a chance to see and hear about what was happening, then they too would want to become part of the solution. You see, we all blindly contribute to the problem, from running the electricity in our house to having retirement funds that are vested in coal companies that do MTR. We are all very much involved in this destruction, but none of us are aware that we are doing it. I also learned from many years of Anti-War protesting in the early 2000′s that you can’t change peoples’ minds by screaming at them in the streets. Sometimes you have to just to show that you are strong and willing to take a stand.
But the best way in my mind to educate someone is to lead them to their own decisions. I wanted to write a song that was thought-provoking and made people ask, “What in the world is this song about, what is it they are so passionate about?” Then through our website, or live at shows, we could inform people on where to go to learn about what is happening. I knew that after listeners educated themselves and learned about it, they couldn’t turn their backs to it and would inevitably join the fight. The music video is just another extension of this same idea: We wanted people to watch it and say, “Wow, what are they showing here, what are they protesting here?” Sadly, leadership in our country has failed us in many ways, and certain people we are supposed to look up to and certain people who have the ability to help are now just in it for themselves. We need to rise up as a country, as a culture of informed and educated people in a democracy. We have the opportunity to be the change that the world needs, but we just have to care enough to look a little deeper and think a little more about what we’re doing in our everyday choices.
Annalyse: It can be a scary thing to look around you for the first time, breathe fully, and face the destruction and corruption of corporate greed, no matter what issue you’re talking about. The number and scale of problems and atrocities that occur in this world can be overwhelming. But in the end, it’s liberating and empowering if you do so. You take it one step at a time, one day at a time, and you do what you can. That was our goal with this video. We were just trying to “serve” in the best way we know how. And if everyone does that, that is totally enough. It’s more than enough.
Mr Peabody Coal and Mr. Massey Ferguson were walking down a winding country road in the Mountains of Appalachia. The kind of road John Denver sang about in “Country Road, Take Me Home.” They were talking about which of the surrounding mountaintops they would remove next, when one of them kicked at what looked like a can in the tall lush grass of the roadside. It was heavier than he thought it would be and hurt his toe a little bit and scuffed his Gucci boot.
They both bent over and discovered it was an antique lantern with a spout. Mr. Peabody rubbed at the surface to see if there was a logo or anything to identify it when a genie appeared out of it in a puff of smoke. They were astonished to see such a thing in the middle of a forest in the middle of the day, but before they could recover enough to accuse the genie of trespass on their land, which was everything as far as the eye could see and a bird can fly, the genie offered to grant them three wishes.
They could hardly believe their luck. First they asked for CCS technology, the here-to-for holy grail of the industry. The genie promised that all the CO2 from now on would disappear underground. Rubbing their hands with glee, the coaligarchs carefully considered their second wish, after some minutes in animated conference they turned to the genie and asked that the trillions of acres of toxic fly ash accumulating around their coal power plants could disappear removing the threat of devastating flooding from thousands of miles of watersheds.
The genie nodded his head with some gravity and assented to their wish that this threat to water and land vanish immediately and poof, the ponds were gone. The two megabillionaires thumped each other on the back and lit big cigars in celebration. They thought long and hard and threw out ideas about they could ask for next, maybe get the means to turn coal into gasoline, or to burn in streetlights or right in the engines of automobiles, but then they both focused on what was most on their minds, what they had spent so many millions to advertise and together they turned to the genie and asked them with one voice, “make coal clean.”
The genie looked at them intently for many minutes with a look that shook the exuberance off their bravado and slowly he shook his head. As he did so they were effortlessly transported into the future they had planned for this very part of the lush eastern forest. Their eyes stung in the heat and the dust as giant excavators devastated the dense old growth forest and ripped into the ancient stone of the million year old landscape. Around them the cries of millions of creatures obliterated in the waste of the mountainsides and spoil of the mining operation filling the lush dark valley below. After the quick glimpse of the change from life sustaining forest to toxic desert the genie said “alas, you have wasted your last wish, for not even magic can produce such a thing as “clean coal.”