MAC: Mines and Communities

US update

Published by MAC on 2007-10-11

US update

11th October 2007

DuPont is the world's largest manufacturer of sodium cyanide employed in gold mining. Two years ago it was roundly condemned by the USWA mineworkers union - see:

Last week a jury in West Virginia ordered the company to provide medical monitoring of a zinc smelter waste site for the next forty years, following accusations that DuPont and a predecessor company had deliberately dumped toxic heavy metals in the centre of Spelter township.

In the largest penalty of its kind in US history, American Electric Power (AEP) has been fined nearly US$6 billion and ordered o reduce harmful air emissions from its power plants - nor will it be allowed to escape using so-called "carbon offsets".

Close on the discovery in September of unacceptably high levels of lead in Mattel's toys, Toys "R" Us has now also been found selling toxic toys and backpacks to the public.

In a passionate article against the practice of "mountain top removal", coal company Massey Energy once again comes in for severe condemnation - as do the politicians (led by Bush) who support it.

Jury orders DuPont to provide medical monitoring for contamination from smelter waste

International Herald Tribune

10th October 2007

CLARKSBURG, West Virginia: DuPont Co. must provide medical monitoring for about 7,000 residents who were exposed to arsenic, cadmium and lead contamination from a waste site at a former Harrison County smelter, a jury said Wednesday.

The verdict came in the second phase of the trial of a class-action lawsuit filed by 10 residents of Spelter, West Virginia who accused DuPont of deliberately dumping dangerous heavy metals on an industrial site there.

The jury found that DuPont must finance medical monitoring for the next 40 years, said Mike Papantonio, who represents the residents.

"This provides some security for families and their children that DuPont was unwilling to voluntarily provide," he said in a prepared statement.

DuPont spokesman Tim Ireland said the company will continue to defend itself.

"Under the trial court's prior rulings, the judge will make the ultimate decision on the scope, cost and duration of any medical monitoring program," Ireland said in a prepared statement.

Spelter residents won the first phase of their case Oct. 1, when jurors in Harrison County Circuit Court found DuPont liable for and negligent in creating the waste site. The 11-member jury also found that Delaware-based DuPont created a public and private nuisance and that its pollution trespassed onto private property.

DuPont has already set aside $15 million (€10.6 million) to deal with the lawsuit.

The plaintiffs proposed a 40-year medical monitoring plan that would offer voluntary testing for lung, skin, stomach, bladder and kidney cancer, as well as for kidney function, cognitive problems and lead poisoning. Lead is not a carcinogen but can cause such problems as spontaneous abortions, low birth weight, memory and learning problems, bone fragility and cardiovascular disease.

A third phase of the lawsuit, expected to begin Thursday, will address property damage claims. It is expected to last two to three days, Papantonio said.

The final phase will address whether DuPont's conduct merits punitive damages.

The property owners sued DuPont and New York-based T.L. Diamond & Co. in 2004 over claims the companies deliberately dumped dangerous heavy metals on the industrial site in the heart of their town.

T.L. Diamond ran the plant from 1975 to 2001, when regulators recommended the site be declared an imminent and substantial threat to public health.

DuPont has been involved with the property since 1899 when it bought the land for a gunpowder mill. The company reassumed ownership when the zinc plant closed.

While Diamond is a defendant, the company is not actively participating in the trial. The judge in the case ruled previously that DuPont is responsible for Diamond's conduct because of the 2001 sales agreement.

DuPont is currently funding a medical screening that stemmed from a settlement involving the contamination of public water supplies at another West Virginia operation.

In that case, a court-appointed panel of scientists is conducting medical screening of up to 70,000 West Virginia and Ohio residents to determine if a chemical used to produce Teflon has harmed their health. The chemical, ammonium perfluorooctanoate, known as C8, is used at DuPont's Washington Works Plant near Parkersburg and contaminated their water supplies.

DuPont agreed to fund the health screening in that case and install carbon filters at six water district filtration plants to screen out the chemical.

AEP to Pay $4.6 Billion:

Largest Clean Air Settlement in U.S. History

By J.R. Pegg


9th October 2007

One of the nation's largest electric utilities has agreed to spend $4.6 billion to reduce harmful air emissions from 16 coal-fired power plants, ending an eight year legal battle over alleged violations of the Clean Air Act.

Federal officials called the agreement with American Electric Power, AEP, the largest environmental settlement in U.S. history and said it would dramatically improve air quality in the eastern United States.

The settlement also requires AEP to pay a $15 million civil penalty and spend $60 million on projects to remediate some of the environmental damage from past emissions.

"This settlement fulfills the best hopes of the Clean Air Act and provides a demonstrably better future for our citizens," said Ron Tenpas, acting assistant attorney general for the Justice Department's environment and natural resources division.

The federal government, joined by eight states and 14 citizen groups, filed suit against the AEP in 1999, accusing the company of making major modifications to power plants without acquiring the proper permits and or installing new pollution controls as required by the New Source Review provisions of the Clean Air Act.

The suit alleged that the changes made by AEP to nine facilities in Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Virginia and West Virginia resulted in increased emissions of air pollutants that cause smog and acid rain.

AEP, which provides electricity to more than five million customers in 11 states, denied the allegations, arguing that the modifications made at the plants in question were maintenance activities that are exempted from the New Source Review requirements.

The Ohio-based company maintains that position, CEO Michael Morris said in a statement released today.

"But we have also said that we would be willing to consider ways to reasonably resolve these issues," Morris added. "This consent decree represents such a resolution."

AEP noted that it has already spent more than $3 billion on new pollution controls and plans to spend another $2 billion on additional scrubbers and emission reducing equipment by 2010.

"While we would have preferred that the agreement not include a civil penalty … this settlement is an excellent outcome for our shareholders," Morris added. "It eliminates the potentially significant financial risk of pursuing the litigation to its conclusion while still achieving the environmental improvements that both we and the government want." Tenpas rebuffed the suggestion that AEP had already committed to the activities outlined in the settlement.

"Those things were not in its in the plans in 1999 when this case was first brought," he told reporters at a news conference Tuesday. "Plans change and there is obviously a big difference between a company saying it has plans to do something in the future and a company being bound by an order of the court to take those steps."

A trial on liability was held in July 2005 in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, but no decision has been rendered.

Tenpas added that there are penalties should AEP fail to comply with the settlement, which requires the company reduce and cap sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions by more than 813,000 tons annually.

The agreement calls for a 79 percent reduction in sulfur dioxide emissions, responsible for acid rain, from 2006 levels by 2018.

In addition it requires a 69 percent cut in emissions of nitrogen oxide, a key ingredient in smog, from 2006 levels by 2016.

The result will be cleaner air for mid-Atlantic and Northeastern states and should save some $32 billion annually in public health costs, said Grant Nakayama, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency assistant administrator for enforcement and compliance assurance.

"Less air pollution from power plants means fewer cases of asthma and other respiratory illnesses," Nakayama said. "This is truly an historic day for the United States."

Some $24 million of the money earmarked for environmental remediation projects outlined in the settlement will be distributed among the states who joined the litigation - Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont. Projects include efforts to clean up lands in Shenandoah National Park as well as waters of the Chesapeake Bay.

"This is a significant outcome for the quality of life and health of all New Jersey residents," said state Attorney General Anne Milgram. "Over time, New Jersey has taken any number of regulatory steps to reduce its own sources of pollution. However, emissions from upwind, coal-fired plants such as those impacted by this agreement have continued to pose a safety and health threat. This agreement will result in a substantial reduction in those potentially harmful emissions, and at the same time provide funding for projects that are environmentally beneficial."

Environmentalists praised the settlement, noting that it forces AEP to make improvements at its plants rather than allowing it to purchase pollution credits or allowances.

"After years of trying to evade installing proper pollution controls, AEP is finally cleaning up their old power plants," said Carl Pope, executive director of Sierra Club." The massive reductions in smog, fine soot and acid rain from these plants will profoundly benefit both public health and the environment."

Sierra Club was one of 14 public interest groups that also joined the settlement as plaintiffs, along with Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, United States Public Interest Research Group, Izaak Walton League of America, Ohio Citizen Action, Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Hoosier Environmental Council, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Environmental Council, Clean Air Council, Indiana Wildlife Federation, and the League of Ohio Sportsmen.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2007. All rights reserved.

Lead Found in Toys, Backpacks in US Stores

PlanetArk US

11th October 2007

WASHINGTON - A Curious George doll bought at Toys "R" Us was found to be tainted with 10 times the legally-allowed lead level, and vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks also had high amounts of lead, the nonprofit group Center for Environmental Health said on Wednesday.

The Curious George doll found with high amounts of lead was made by Marvel Entertainment Group Inc, the Oakland, California-based group said in a statement. A Marvel spokesman said he was unaware of the advocacy group's finding and had no immediate comment.

Millions of toys made in China have been recalled over the last three months due to unsafe levels of lead paint, which is toxic and can pose serious health risks, including brain damage, in children.

The Center for Environmental Health also said it found high lead levels in vinyl lunch boxes and backpacks made by Sassafras Enterprises of Chicago.

The group filed a legal notice accusing privately-owned Sassafras of violating a 1986 California law that prohibits exposing consumers to carcinogens without warning.

A spokeswoman for Sassafras said the company tests its products for lead and that she was unaware of the group's statement. The advocacy group also notified 10 retail store chains that they were selling toys with excessive lead in violation of the California law.

The stores were Toys "R" Us, Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Kmart, Sears, KB Toys, Target, RC2 Corp, Michael's Stores Inc, Costco Wholesale Corp and Kids II Inc.

Michael Green, executive director of the center, said the legal notices were the first step in potential lawsuits against the companies.

"We want companies to test for lead before selling these items," Green said. "The federal government isn't doing its job."

Democrats in the US Senate and House this month introduced legislation that would virtually ban lead from toys and other goods used by children younger than six. Lawmakers have criticized the US Consumer Product Safety Commission for not doing enough to protect children from excessive lead.

The Center for Environmental Health took similar action when it found unsafe levels of lead in vinyl bibs at Wal-Mart and Toys "R" Us stores in California, which resulted in both retailers pulling all vinyl bibs from their shelves nationwide, Green said.

Toys "R" Us is owned by a consortium that includes Bain Capital Partners LLC, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co and Vornado Realty Trust.

(Reporting by Julie Vorman, editing by Brian Moss)


The Government Sanctioned Bombing of Appalachia

By Antrim Caskey, AlterNet

9th October 2007

On a calm, clear morning in the forested mountains of southern West Virginia, 12-year-old Chrystal Gunnoe played outdoors in the green mountain valley where her family has lived for hundreds of years. It was Veteran's Day and a school holiday. Chrystal's mother, Maria Gunnoe, 38, was inside when she heard her daughter yell for help.

Gunnoe rushed outside to find Chrystal coming towards her. Chrystal was coughing and struggling to breath, running from a strange-looking cloud that was moving down the valley and headed towards their house. Gunnoe would later learn the strange cloud came from something known as a "slow burning blast" -- an explosion set at the coal mine above her home that failed to ignite and instead burned slowly, releasing a wet toxic cloud of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.

Gunnoe lives in Bob White, W.Va., where coal companies have become increasingly unfriendly neighbors. Her home is surrounded by thousands of acres where a radically destructive type of coal mining is practiced -- mountaintop removal/valley fill (MTR) coal mining -- and it's turning Maria Gunnoe's life upside down.

In the weeks following, Chrystal suffered from a bronchial infection, a consistent cough, nose bleeds and bouts of painful breathing. Her mother, who was also exposed, "had sores on the inside of [her] nose," she said. "First they take our land, then the water, now the air," fumed Gunnoe who lives in Boone County, W.Va.'s top coal-yielding county, and the epicenter of Appalachian coal extraction, where the dirty business of mining, processing and hauling coal is the main meal-ticket in town.

Coal mining dominates the lives of the people in the remote, coal-rich mountain communities of West Virginia, where coal operators like Massey Energy are waging a remorseless campaign to extract all the coal they can, as fast as they can, before coal is legislated into the past and President Bush is out of office.

Out-of-state coal operators reap billions in profits every year, while residents of southern West Virginia remain among the poorest in the nation. In the coal fields, the imbalance is amplified: while Boone county produces the most coal in the state, 20 percent of its residents languish below the poverty line without sufficient income to achieve an adequate standard of living.

Massey Energy Co., the largest coal producer in Appalachia, grossed $1.78 billion in revenue on coal sales of 42.3 million tons in 2005, while residents have toy drives for the kids around the holidays and often rely on free medical care administered by a global traveling clinic unit that comes around once a year.

West Virginia has always been a coal state, and the coal industry has had unfettered access to the state's low-sulfur coal since mining began in earnest in the late 19th century. In the early days, underground coal miners used pick axes to dig out coal and put it in wooden buggies drawn by mules. Today, coal mining is highly mechanized, using a few men and enormous machines the size of skyscrapers to take the tops off mountains in order to get the increasingly harder-to-reach coal.

Pure greed drives the coal operators to rape and pillage Appalachia for profit. But mountain communities are standing up against King Coal -- lawsuits, citizen protests and national lobbying efforts are bringing the voices of the oppressed Appalachians to the nation.

Working within the system, citizen activist groups have garnered widespread support for the restoration of legislation that was written to protect our waterways -- legislation that the Bush administration has proactively maligned since he came into office.

When King Coal hits home

The Gunnoe home-place sits on about 24 acres in a beautiful mountain hollow, surrounded by deciduous forest. Their family-built home sits on a manicured lawn, nestled along the valley slope. But their home and health are in serious peril. Since 2001, seven floods have taken almost five acres of Gunnoe's family farm; two vehicular access bridges have been washed away forcing the family to cross a rickety bridge, then active railroad tracks to get into their house; and their well water has been so contaminated that Gunnoe now must spend $250 per month on bottled water.

Big Branch Creek, the headwater stream that flows from the mountains through her property, is now termed a "National Pollution Discharge Elimination System" stream by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP). "There is no enforcement in Big Branch hollow," said Gunnoe.

All this damage and heartache has been the result of mountaintop removal/valley fill (MTR) coal mining, a highly mechanized process of a coal extraction that has gained favor with Appalachian coal operators over the last two and a half decades. With this method, massive machines are able to harvest coal in remote mountain ridge regions traditionally considered inaccessible to coal mining operations.

The first step in MTR coal mining is to clear-cut the forested peaks of valuable hardwood trees. The trees are bulldozed into the valleys below and/or burned. Next, machines push tons of earth -- the blasted mountaintops or "overburden" in mining parlance -- into the valleys below to form valley fills. These decapitated mountain peaks are being used to build more than 4,000 valley fills in the state of West Virginia.

Once the first layer of rock is exposed, massive blasting stages are drilled and filled with explosives. Three million pounds of explosives are used every day in West Virginia alone. Layer by layer, mountains are blasted away, revealing seams of rich, low-sulfur coal, found in horizontal layers like the icing between cake layers. The coal is removed by giant earth moving machines called draglines, which replace the labor of hundreds of men and cost between $50 million and $100 million each.

MTR is big business requiring copious amounts of capital and very few coal miners. Since the onset and legislative streamlining of MTR permitting, the traditional underground coal miner work force in West Virginia has plummeted. The number of men mining coal underground currently hovers around 12,000 employees, and in July 2007, sank to a mere 5,475 underground coal miners. according to the West Virginia Office of Miners' Health, Safety and Training.

MTR coal mining is eliminating jobs and killing Appalachia: taking down the mountains, burying streams, dirtying the air and devastating every living thing in its path. Entire communities, still vividly alive in the memories of the local people, have been obliterated, because they stood on top of vast coal reserves.

Systematic attacks on such communities have leveled mountain hamlets like Twilight, Cazy, Laurel, Blair and hundreds of others. Towns, communities and family cemeteries have been burned, bulldozed and buried because they stood in the path of King Coal.

MTR coal extraction not only annihilates some of the most biologically diverse temperate hardwood forest habitat in the world, but it also destroys and displaces entire human communities, destroying the unique mountain culture of West Virginia. Many Appalachian families have continued to live on the same land since the late 1700s.

Residents want to retain their home-places, their heritage. Mountain communities have an extraordinary relationship with the land and all that it provides -- visually, physically and spiritually. Many have fought to the last moment before they are forced from their homes by blasting, flooding and/or illness. Often, by the time the coal mining becomes a threat to a community, families find it impossible to move: Their homes and land have been rendered worthless, and they simply cannot afford to leave.

Mary Miller of Sylvester, W.Va., a retired postmaster, has seen her fine two-story brick home depreciate in value to a mere fraction of its original worth because of a coal dust-spewing Massey Energy-owned coal processing plant that moved into the once idyllic town of Sylvester in the early '80s. No one wants to leave. Those who remain face life-threatening problems, including contamination of drinking water, damage to homes from blasting, severe flooding, the threat of coal sludge impoundment failures, and breathing problems related to blasting. Many people simply have no choice -- they are forced to take a stand.

Domination of the coal fields by the coal industry is plainly visible while driving through Appalachia. From southwestern West Virginia's Raleigh, Boone and Mingo counties to southeastern Ohio, one can recognize an informal "Coal Industrial Zone" consisting of coal extraction operations in West Virginia and the power plants they feed just over the Ohio River in Meigs County, Ohio. And then there's the destruction that is difficult to see.

In an effort to get rid of billions of gallons of toxic coal slurry, which is the waste by-product that comes from chemical cleaning of coal, this sludge (not sewage) is pumped underground into abandoned mine works, contaminating the drinking water of the vulnerable communities in between.

"They've destroyed our lives -- our health, our past, definitely any chance of a future," explains Gunnoe.

A dirty business

Coal has always provided employment in West Virginia, but compared to the corporate profits exiting Appalachia, miners' salaries serve more as an enabler to a dangerous, sick, indebted future than a promising career. Union mines are virtually extinct in West Virginia, and dependable medical coverage and pension funds are precarious at best.

In fact, the much touted jobs in today's coal mining industry are at best temporary -- one year, maybe two. Coal miners are forced to work in unsafe conditions and abrupt layoffs are the norm.

But coal has maintained its hold and flourished in the region because of politics. The coal industry and politicians have always had a close business relationship. According to a 2006 midterm election report on CNN, the efforts of Massey's CEO -- in the end, unsuccessful -- to win the state legislature for Republicans was describe as this: "Massey Energy Co. CEO Don Blankenship has spent more than $1.8 million to promote 41 GOP candidates through contributions and his personal political action committee, And for the Sake of the Kids."

Blankenship is infamous for his greed and callous attitude towards people, but also for his efforts to stack the deck politically in his favor, using strategic donations. In return for such acts of party-line economic kindness, Bush has aided and abetted the coal barons in their selfish plan with a complete disregard to its effects on the environment and impact on global climate change.

While the world determines how to take action against the dangers of global warming, Bush is blithely backing coal, completely indifferent to the threat of CO2 emissions -- the leading global warming gas -- to the earth's atmosphere. He has used the Department of Interior's Office of Surface Mining to streamline the permitting process for the most radical and destructive form of coal mining, mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining, to serve the needs of the coal industry.

West Virginia helped Bush into office by voting Republican for the first time in decades in 2000. In total, nine of the 13 Appalachian states voted for Bush in 2000. In 2002, Bush's first payback to the coal industry was a small but devastating "executive rule change" to the Clean Water Act that reclassified mining "waste" as "fill" so that the mountaintops of Appalachia could be dumped into waterways, burying thousands of miles of vital headwater streams. That legislation is helping to flatten the coal-rich Appalachian mountains.

On Friday, Aug. 24, 2007, the Bush administration insulted the American people again by handing his coal cronies more spoils. The Department of the Interior's Office of Surface Mining has proposed another rule change that will further declaw the Clean Water Act by institutionalizing valley fills. The proposed rule change nullifies the "100 foot stream buffer zone" rule that prohibits mining within 100 feet of a stream. In the past, the buffer zone has been easily bypassed with a simple waiver request by coal operators. This proposed change will eliminate all barriers to burying Appalachian streams.

If the buffer zone rule is eliminated, coal operators can more freely dump crumbled mountaintops into valleys, burying thousands of miles of headwater streams. Joe Lovett, executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment in Lewisburg, W.Va., called Bush's latest environmental assault a "parting gift from this administration to the coal industry."

Since the late 1990s, and especially after the 2002 rule change to the Clean Water Act by Bush legalizing the burying of streams with valley fills composed of former mountaintops, MTR coal mining has become an enormous and immediate threat to the region. The most biologically diverse temperate forest in the world, whose capacity at natural carbon sequestration cannot be underestimated, is being rapidly destroyed.

More than 4,000 valley fills in West Virginia alone have buried or severely impacted over 2,000 miles of vital headwater streams -- the source of the southeastern United States' drinking water. Wrapping coal in the flag and the war-time mantra of becoming "energy-independent" is confusing the realities about coal, the dirtiest fossil fuel.

Americans use coal for more than 50 percent of their electricity needs. Coal-fired power plants produce 40 percent of U.S. annual CO2 emissions, the primary global warming gas. With plans for 129 new coal-fired power plants on the drawing board, the coal industry, in collusion with the federal government and a wide array of industry partners, is ushering in a new tax payer-subsidized era for coal, making unwitting American tax payers the co-authors of this destruction. American tax payers are bottom-lining the construction of new cross-country transmission lines, funding billion-dollar coal tech projects -- the citizens are paying to develop and construct new plants and the means to transport the product so that the consumer can have the luxury of buying the energy.

A people-powered solution

Only the American people can help stop MTR coal mining. Because politicians are beholden to coal companies and industry partners through political contributions, only a grassroots movement can alter the energy agenda. To restore the Clean Water Act to its original intentions, the Clean Water Protection Act (CWPA) was introduced to Congress on May 8, 2002, by Rep. Frank Pallone, D-N.J., and Rep. Christopher Shays, R-Conn., to amend the Federal Water Pollution Control Act so as "to clarify that fill material cannot be comprised of waste."

The CWPA was then referred to the committee of jurisdiction -- the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee will be the first to deal with this legislation. Year by year, the bill gained more co-sponsors. Currently, the Clean Water Protection Act (HR2169), has 99 co-sponsors. If passed, valley fills and thus, MTR, would be made illegal by preventing the disposal of mining waste into headwater streams -- the protection that the Bush administration stripped from the Clean Water Act in 2002.

The CWPA is an easy bill to sign on to: Lawmakers are committing to keeping waste out of our waterways. That it has taken years in the House to garner 99 co-sponsors is a testament to the power of the coal industry. But the tide seems to be changing against coal and towards clean, sustainable energy. The number of proposed coal-fired power plants for the United States recently dropped from 150 to 129 -- due in large part to public outcry and threat of lawsuits because people are more aware of the hazards of coal.

Appalachian mountain communities have been radicalized by the headlong path the coal industry is wreaking in their backyards, propelling many people on to local and national advocacy campaigns to save the land and people of Appalachia from a profit-driven rape.

Maria Gunnoe, who is a trained medical assistant and used to work as a waitress to support her family, is now a full-time mountain community organizer with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OHVEC) and there are others in her community who've taken up this work full time.

"People here are now unable to deny the impact of mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining. They are learning about it through personal experience and personal impact -- even the strip miners will tell you that there's going to be a big washout next time the rains come," explained Gunnoe. "They've robbed my children of their childhood. They robbed me of my motherhood. That's all I ever wanted, to be a mother and wife. I just wanted to lie in my little hollow and be left alone. I wanted to teach them what my parents taught me. They've taken that away."

Community members like Gunnoe who speak out against MTR risk losing friendships and jobs, peace of mind, family pets or even their life. Many people are too frightened to talk about how coal mining has adversely affected their lives -- this kind of talk can easily cost a relative his job with one of the offending coal companies.

The coal companies turn communities against each other by telling their employees that the environmentalists want to take away their jobs. In the way they always have, "the mine bosses sit with the younger miners and put something in their ear -- something to get worked up about," explains Ed Wiley, of Rock Creek, W.Va. Unfortunately, as community resistance builds and lawsuits alleging gross injustice finally come to trial, the stage is set for a clash. Whereas the effects of underground mining in the past were far less drastic and coal extraction operations were underground and out of sight, MTR coal mining is a ferocious, in-your-face type of mining that affects every part of your life, if you live nearby.

The chronic relationship between coal operators and politicians in Appalachia, America's most underdeveloped region, continues to this day. Coal serves only a few while condemning local residents to unhealthy lives and uninhabitable homes and the rest of us to dirty energy and a warming planet. Now is the time to stand up and demand clean, renewable energy.

Antrim Caskey has been reporting on the human and environmental costs of mountaintop removal/valley fill coal mining since May 2005. Caskey is a Brooklyn-based independent photojournalist whose work focuses on community and social justice issues.

(c) 2007 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.

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