Posted by: jblevins | June 24, 2009

Continuing a Destructive Practice

Last week, the Obama Administration announced that they were implementing an interagency procedure to review permits for Mountaintop Removal Mining (MTR).  Their press release read, “Obama Administration officials announced today that they are taking unprecedented steps to reduce the environmental impacts of mountaintop coal mining in the six Appalachian states of Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia through a coordinated approach between the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Department of the Interior (DOI) and Army Corps of Engineers.”.

However, as EarthJustice noted in their press release, this is like rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. MTR is a process whereby coal mining companies literally blast off whole portions of mountains.  This exposes the coal located deep within the mountain, allowing it to be extracted more easily.  Excess debris from the explosion is dumped into neighboring valleys and streams, sometimes completely burying them.

On this, the member communions of the NCC are very clear:

From the United Methodist Church: Therefore, be it resolved, that the General Conference of The United Methodist Church, meeting in Cleveland, Ohio in May of the year 2000, implore those state and national governmental and regulatory agencies involved in mountaintop removal mining to halt this practice until scientific study of its long-term effect on human life and the natural environment has been accomplished.

From the Presbyterian Church (USA): It is resolved that the 217th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church USA, urges state and federal agencies that regulate mining practices, as well as coal companies themselves, to abandon the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and work to meet our nation’s energy needs in a manner that is just, sustainable and consistent with Christian values.

From the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America: Resolved, that the Division for Church in Society encourage regions, synods, congregations, and members to contact national and state legislators and prompt them to enact legislation that promotes deep mining rather than strip mining; develops alternative energy resources that do not require cheap coal; and requires land reclamation that renews the environment and restores ecological balance.

All of these communions, and others, realize a practice incompatible with the Christian values of sustainability when they see it. It is time to put an end to this destrucitve practice – not simply try to limit its impacts.  Tomorrow, the Senate Subcommittee on Water and Wildlife will hold a hearing on MTR for the first time in a generation, and there is legislation in both the House and the Senate that would put a halt to the practice.  Encourage your Senators and Representatives to co-sponsor the legislation, and move it through both houses. It is time for renewal of the lands of Appalachia, and to return the lands and communities to a sustainable way of living.

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