Who Hijacked Our Country

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Brand New Concept at the EPA: S-C-I-E-N-C-E

The mountaintop coal-mining industry has just heard a terrible, heart-stopping phrase, something it hasn’t heard for over eight years: “No. You’ll have to wait.”

Hundreds of permits for mountaintop mining were put on hold today. The Environmental Protection Agency needs to evaluate the impact these projects will have on streams and wetlands.

After eight years of protecting Big Business from those rabid environmentalists, the Environmental Protection Agency is slowly returning to its original purpose — protecting the environment (hence the name).

An EPA spokeswoman said she thinks most of the 150-200 pending permits will ultimately be approved. These permits were issued by the Army Corps of Engineers. The EPA has the authority to veto these permits, but this virtually never happened during what’s-his-name’s administration.

And that’s another dead (for the last 8 years) concept being slowly revived at the EPA: Oversight.

The executive director for the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment said: “If the EPA didn't step in and do something now, all those permits would go forward. There are permits that will bury 200 miles of streams pending before the Corps.”

The reaction from the mining industry was slightly different (and totally predictable).

And in a separate action, the EPA recommended denying permits that the Army Corps of Engineers was planning to issue, which would allow two companies to fill thousands of feet of streams with mining waste.

Science. Protecting streams and rivers. What's going on here? Is this what the Renaissance was like?

cross-posted at Bring It On!

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Blogger J. Marquis said...

This is good news. I was starting to think EPA stood for Every Possible Allowance.

March 24, 2009 at 4:56 PM  
Anonymous Screamin' Mimi said...

This sure is good news. I can't believe the madness that was King W the First is really over -- but this proves it.

There may be a chance for us yet.

March 24, 2009 at 5:56 PM  
Blogger Lew Scannon said...

Maybe next we can have the department of defense defending the country rather than attacking other countries.

March 24, 2009 at 6:08 PM  
Blogger DB said...

Like I have said before, you know we are on the right track when conservatives start crying about tree huggers and regulation. So sad.

March 24, 2009 at 6:26 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

J: And I hope they won't trample any more states that try to pass their own environmental laws. Another Dumbya trademark that I hope is gone.

SM: With the king dead, maybe the rest of us will have a chance.

Lew: That's a thought. And maybe the Justice Department will start living up to its name too, instead of trying to find loopholes in the Constitution and the Geneva Convention.

DB: That's true; the Right's mass pantytwist has to be a good sign.

March 24, 2009 at 8:16 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

EPA oversight is vitally important. I don't envy EPA people for having to decide on some of these projects, because while saying no is good for environmental preservation, it can be hard on people whose livelihood depends on mining.

What makes it especially dicey nowadays is that modern mining projects can be so big and so invasive that they really do level mountains and, with open-pit mining, create craters so big they can be seen from outer space.

Another worrisome thing is that when mining projects are denied here, chances are good similar projects will be undertaken somewhere abroad, often with few or no environmental safeguards.

March 25, 2009 at 12:03 AM  
Blogger Randal Graves said...

Someone (read: an actual terrestrial government) has to stand up at some point for the environment.

March 25, 2009 at 10:33 AM  
Blogger Demeur said...

As this is up my alley so to speak let me give my two cents.
When Bush got in office we had an EPA, rules and the money to clean up polluted sites. Say what you will about Christie White the first EPA director, but I think she was in a no win position. I believe that she really stood for good things but Bush ideology got in the way. I believe but can't prove it that she was pushed out after 9-11. It's my contention that she was given a choice to cover up the air results at ground zero or be replaced. She did as she was told and was pushed out anyway.
Superfund (that's what pays for large cleanups) was no longer funded under Bush effectively eliminating any major clean ups in the U.S during his term.
And from my own perspective all of the rules and laws were still in place under Bush but very few of them were followed. Companies were cutting so many corners with one thing in mind - profit. And during that period a lot of workers were injured but since it was easy to get around reporting laws it was never reported. The only time we saw injuries was when workers died on the job for the lack of following the rules.
Where are we right now? Superfund has been refunded. I hope the EPA is refunded and expanded which I'm sure it will be and we'll get back to science instead of politics and profits.

March 25, 2009 at 10:36 AM  
Anonymous Bee said...

Huzzah! While the EPA spokeswoman quoted said that there are 150-200 permits pending, and most will be approved, at least, at the very, very least, someone is reviewing the damned things.

There was a letter to the editor of my local paper today, from a Chinese scholar doing a work-study thing at William & Mary. He went on and on about how clean America is - he could see stars! And the full moon! the water was clean, you could breathe the air, it was pleasant to take a walk. And he's right, we take it for granted, but agencies like the EPA are there for a reason: to make sure that this country doesn't end up looking and smelling like Beijing. I was in Cairo in 2001 - the moment you walk off the plane, you are enveloped in a cocoon of gasoline and diesel fumes. I hear that Beijing is similar.
So, I say Huzzah! The EPA is at least reviewing these permits! :)

March 25, 2009 at 6:09 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

Demeur, I think you meant Christine Todd Whitman, who became EPA administrator in '01.

March 25, 2009 at 6:51 PM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: It's true, the EPA can be caught in the middle between the environment and people's livelihoods. There are tough choices to be made. Hopefully there will be plenty of jobs created through conservation and renewable energy development, but that won't happen overnight.

Randal: A terrestrial government, you say? We certainly didn't have one from 2001 through the end of '08.

Demeur: I hope you're right that Bush didn't change or delete any environmental laws. This way it'll be easier for Obama to just start enforcing them right away, instead of having to write new laws. I think it's true that Whitman and some other EPA people tried to do the right thing, but were under too much pressure from Bush's campaign donors.

Bee: "...how clean America is - he could see stars! And the full moon! the water was clean, you could breathe the air, it was pleasant to take a walk."

Works for me. I've never been to Cairo, but Ankara and Tehran (in the '70s when I was there) had the most Godawful pollution I'd ever seen.

March 25, 2009 at 7:18 PM  
Anonymous S.W. anderson said...

I've read several times that Mexico City is among the world's worst air-pollution hazard areas.

March 25, 2009 at 10:06 PM  
Anonymous JollyRoger said...

I have a feeling that Rushpublican Jesus does not look kindly on this. Playing Reagan is not a game for mere mortal men...

March 25, 2009 at 10:41 PM  
Blogger Demeur said...

SW you're correct. I was just in a hurry to get posted.

Tom the only thing (rule) they changed was to permit those cheesy paper dust masks to be considered respirators. That's because it would cost a small fortune to provide real respirators to police and other emergency people. Again profits before personnel safety. Hopefully we in the business can get that changed.

March 25, 2009 at 11:06 PM  
Anonymous Carlos said...

What? Environment? Science? Good stewardship? Surely you jest!

March 26, 2009 at 3:01 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

SW: I've heard the same thing about Mexico City.

JR: Ah yes, the Attack of the Rushpublican Jesus. Coming soon to a theater near you.

Demeur: Paper dust mask as respirator, LOL. If some of those corporate deskjockeys ever had to get a real job, the safety standards would go way up quickly.

Carlos: True, it almost sounds like a fantasy. Maybe the 8-year nightmare is actually over.

March 26, 2009 at 3:37 PM  
Blogger Martin said...

Great news, Dark Age of Mr. Bush administration is over for EPA, they finally can do what they were meant to do and actually present a result.

Take care, Lorne

March 27, 2009 at 7:17 AM  
Blogger Tom Harper said...

Martin: Yup, that's great news.

March 27, 2009 at 3:10 PM  

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