Coal Tattoo

Friday roundup, March 5, 2010


Rescuers pass the entrance to Luotushan Coal Mine in Wuhai, China, where at least one person was killed and 31 were trapped in a flood earlier this week, in a photo from the Xinhua news service, via China Daily’s Web site.

Rescue teams continued to work to try to reach 31 coal miners trapped after a mine flood in Northern China earlier this week.  China Daily reported that a preliminary investigation found problems with the detection and control of groundwater at the site.

Last week, 17 miners were killed a coal mine explosion and collapse in Turkey, and this week, 4 more more died in an explosion in a Georgian coal mine.

There’s been a lot of coverage in the last few days about West Virginia Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s legislation to block EPA from regulating global warming pollution. But much of that coverage — from outlets ranging from The New York Times and The Washington Post to the Bluefield Daily Telegraph — did not point out a pretty significant thing about the Rockefeller bill: West Virginia’s Senior Senator, Robert C. Byrd, declined to co-sponsor it, saying:

I am continuing to have significant discussions about how to ensure the future of coal as a long-term energy resource.  I am reluctant to give up on talks that might produce benefits for West Virginia’s coal interests by seeming to turn away from on-going negotiations.  I will continue to negotiate with all who are earnestly engaged in the pursuit of a proper balance between saving jobs, protecting the environment and ensuring the health of our communities.

American Coal MSHA Lawsuit

In this Feb. 21, 2002 AP file photo, coal miner Ron Bryant Jr., right, hoses off his safety boots after working a full shift in the American Coal Company’s Galatia Mine in Galatia, Ill.

A federal judge has tossed out Murray Energy subsidiary American Coal’s lawsuit accusing mine regulators of abusive oversight and quota-driven citations targeting its southern Illinois operation, ruling that the company didn’t sufficiently make its case.

Mannix Porterfield at the Beckley Register-Herald continued to promote the coal industry line, with this story touting the WVU-Marshall “study” of coal’s economic impacts.  The story makes no mention of the report’s major shortcoming, which were addressed previously here on Coal Tattoo.

Several media outlets covered the big congressional hearing about the coal industry’s efforts to plug up the MSHA enforcement process by challenging just about every citation and fine issued to them. Those with stories included the Salt Lake Tribune and the Louisville Courier-Journal.

The New York Times continued its series on Toxic Waters with this story examining the way court rulings have hampered EPA efforts to protect many waterways across the country. If you’re interested in how this impacts coal and mountaintop removal, you might check out this report from Earthjustice.

Kate Sheppard at Mother Jones had a piece about one utility, Progress Energy, quietly dropping out of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity.

And The Christian Science Monitor had a commentary by Jon Gensler, an Iraq War veteran who now crusades for clean energy.

Finally, Jeff Biggers at The Huffington Post did a piece promoting what he called the “Green Concert of the Year,” and anti-mountaintop removal music event featuring, among others, my friend Kathy Mattea and the great Emmylou Harris. Here’s some video Jeff included of Emmylou singing one of my personal favorite songs: