Friday, June 5, 2009

Jim Hightower on Obama's Disappointing Coal Environmental Policy

Jim Hightower, author and former Texas Ag. Commissioner, chimes in on Obama's disastrous decision to approve more mountain removal:

There are many ways to mine coal besides blowing up the environment. The question is whether Obama will turn his back on the mountains, the people and his own integrity.

The industry rationalizes its greed in the name of creating jobs for this hard-hit region - but mountaintop removal relies on dynamite and huge machines, not workers. In fact, thousands of mining jobs have been lost as corporations switched to this method. In all of Appalachia, there are only 19,000 jobs connected to every form of surface mining - and the tiniest fraction of those are in mountaintop removal. A much brighter job future is to develop Appalachia's boundless green-energy potential - a blue-green initiative that's supposed to be one of Obama's top priorities.

The good news is that the approval of these 42 permits does not mean the debate is over, even in the White House. Some 200 other applications are pending, involving much larger projects, and it's known that top Obamans are very divided on allowing any more of this crass destruction.

This is a case where public outrage can make a difference. Obama and team snuck out the 42 permits without even notifying the public, but they won't be able to ambush us on the other applications. Rather than throwing up our hands in disgust at their first action, now is the time for us to flex some grass-roots political muscle.

To let him know we expect no more weaseling on his pledge to stop "blowing the tops off mountains," call the White House operator and ask for Nancy Sutley. She heads Obama's Council on Environmental Quality and needs to hear that We the People give a damn: (202) 456-1414.

As someone who's both been in the political game first hand and someone who has been a very worthy journalist for years, Hightower's always a good read. I'm reading this book by him right now.