Archive for West Virginia

SCOTUS To Hear GOP Plea To Allow Chemical Poisoning

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Coal Ash Spillcoal ash spill's destructive aftermath

By now we've all heard of the coal ash contaminants that have been wreaking havoc in North Carolina. If all goes as it appears, even GOP Governor McCrory might be going to jail when the dust settles. Carcinogenic-contaminated dust.

Over in nearby West Virginia, we've all heard about the multiple chemical spills by Freedom Industries, polluting the water in that state.

And these are just two of the more recent cases. There have been other chemical waste issues all across the country. And these aren't really accidents in the normal scheme of things. It's not like someone forgot to shut the door. It's worse than that. It's not the absence of adequate regulations. It's intentional.

Why?

Because the state governments have been under GOP anti-regulation delusion. They think that regulating chemical waste and storage is interference and that it affects the businesses' bottom lines. Forget what it does to the workers and the innocents who live in those areas. Just so long as it doesn't interfere with the cost of doing business, the GOP is all for it. Damn the people -- full profits ahead.

Turning their back on the safety of their state-wide constituents, the Republicans are setting course for harming or potentially killing all of us. They want to do away with safety regulations and restrictions over clean air and gas house emissions. Can't you just hear those Neanderthal Republicans? "Regulations... Baaad!!!"

HUFFPO:

WASHINGTON (AP) — Industry groups and Republican-led states are heading an attack at the Supreme Court against the Obama administration's sole means of trying to limit power-plant and factory emissions of gases blamed for global warming.

The court is hearing arguments Monday about a small but important piece of the Environmental Protection Agency's plans to cut the emissions — a requirement that companies expanding industrial facilities or building new ones that would increase overall pollution must also evaluate ways to reduce the carbon they release.

The importance of this case is astronomical -- almost literally. The Republican Party is determined to poison us with deregulation. If they can't stop people from voting, or better yet, voting against them, they seem to be taking another attack,-- just plain kill us. What they overlook in their ignorance is that they're killing themselves at the very same time. See what having no customers does to your bottom line.

air pollution

The air belongs to all of us equally -- and if you're going to pollute my air, you better be prepared for the consequences. As global warming and the greenhouse gases' various other effects are felt, we can't sit by and wait until it too late. Hopefully the SCOTUS will rule that way as well.

The Government has used eminent domain to confiscate property and condemn areas -- for the greater good.  The most common uses of property taken by eminent domain are for government buildings and other facilities, public utilities, highways, and railroads; however, it may also be taken for reasons of public safety. Isn't that what we're talking about here?

Maybe we should start looking at those companies who don't comply with the EPA regulations, which pollute and condemn our health and safety with the same "for the better good" doctrine. Confiscate them and sell them off at public auction, not to be reopened until they meet safety standards.

Monday's case, for which the court has expanded argument time to 90 minutes from the usual 60, stems from the high court's 2007 ruling in Massachusetts v. EPA, which said the agency has the authority under the Clean Air Act to limit emissions of greenhouse gases from vehicles.

Two years later, with Obama in office, the EPA concluded that the release of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases endangered human health and welfare. The administration used that finding to extend its regulatory reach beyond automobiles and develop national standards for large stationary sources.

Hopefully the mentally- and scientifically-corrupted and deficient Republican position will be defeated once and for all by the Supreme Court. It's wishful thinking that the GOP won't continue to attempt to retry and re-litigate this for years to come. But maybe they'll succumb to the dangers they have wrought upon all of us before any more innocents become afflicted or victims of global warming and chemical spills.

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Sunday Links

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Dead Turtle Coal Ash Dan River West Virginia

Dead Turtle as a result of coal ash spill in Dan River, West Virginia Photo: Greenpeace via Dan River Basin Association

Bed of Dan River is Poisoned by Coal Ash for 70 Miles: Turtles Emerging & Dying

The Rochedale Canal

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Thursday Links

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Photo: nola.com

Photo: nola.com

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Biggest Stinker In Congress

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stinker

HuffPo:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The company that owns the facility that leaked 10,000 gallons of chemicals into the water supply of hundreds of thousands of West Virginians last month was a no-show at a congressional hearing on the spill Monday.

Freedom Industries, which owns the storage facility that leaked chemicals into the Elk River, did not have any representatives at a hearing of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee held in the state capital Monday morning. The company's president, Gary Southern, had been invited to testify.

I think we all know what's wrong with Freedom Industries, they were left to their own devices and not properly regulated. They ignored common sense and even a single ounce of prevention thus allowing a massive chemical spill. This accident just happened to poison and sicken hundreds of thousands in West Virginia. This didn't go unnoticed by our Congress. Au contraire. Our Congress is "Johnny on the spot."

They invited  the company's president Gary Southern, the man who should have some answers to this ongoing crisis to come in for a chat. They didn't subpoena him. They didn't demand his presence to answer questions. They didn't invoke sworn testimony. They invited him for tea.

"He chose not to be here today to answer for what his company has done to the people of West Virginia. And I find that extremely telling," said Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.). "Freedom Industries' decision not to testify today compounds its gross misconduct, and is an absolute affront to every person impacted by its spill."

That's appalling. Did they really think he'd show up if he didn't have to? And how truthful would his answers have been if he wasn't sworn in before testifying?

So what is Congress really trying to do with this phony outrage? It's been a month since the toxic spill. If they wanted to really get down to the bottom of this, they'd have chosen to demand his presence and before a month had gone by. How many more people are going to be sickened by this ineffectively soft action by Congress?

It's a trick question. The real answer is all of us, not just those in West Virginia. We're paying the salaries of these jerks to hold meaningful investigations and they've let us down, again. So if you want their names, click HERE.

But get this -- who chairs this committee? Who's the man (yes, man because Republicans chair all committees in the House and they're all men) who should be most adamant about getting to the bottom of this West Virginia catastrophe? The chairman himself, Nick J. Rahall II (R-West Virginia). And all he could do is issue an invitation to appear? Does it sound like either the Chairman or the Republicans who are against the EPA all together or chemical storage regulations on any level really want to get to the bottom of this? That answer is a big, fat 'no'. They're too busy protecting the dirty coal industry.

Time to use common sense -- something Congress is woefully devoid of. Issue subpoenas and demand the appearance of the parties responsible for this mass poisoning. If this were a wounding of hundreds of thousands by gunfire, you would have seen an congressional subpoenas flying from Congress so fast it would make the NRA demand limits on clip/subpoena capacity. And it would be from something more than some low-ranking committee.

Killing people by poison is no less of a death than by by shooting. So it's time to take some action and demand some answers. Don't pussy-foot around with genteel party invites. Dirty coal and government support don't belong in the same cesspool.

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Whose Fault Are These Toxic Spills? Ask The Anti-EPA Advocates.

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toxic blame game

Mitch McConnell approved this message as you'll hear at the end:

My heart goes out to anyone who's worked their entire life thinking their workplace environment was safe while. as it turns out, it was not. To hear this commercial and the little bit that's left of cancer victim Robert Pierce's voice, you'd think what Mitch McConnell did for Kentucky was a valiant thing. He rode in on a white horse to save the day, or in Pierce's case, his life.

But lets boil it down a bit and see how the Senate Minority Leader's actions were really nothing more than mopping up spilled milk after he was warned the container wasn't safely stored in the first place. This was an accident waiting to happen and McConnell (and other elected GOP officials) turned a blind eye toward it.

Here's why I find Mitch McConnell's ad disingenuous. HuffPo reports:

Other Paducah residents who suffered illnesses from poisoned wells and plant watchdogs who repeatedly warned of the hazards will likely disagree with Pierce's assessment.

For more than 15 years in office, as The Huffington Post chronicled in a profile of the senator, McConnell all but ignored the problems at the plant. Mark Donham, who had served as chairman of the Paducah Citizens Advisory Board, which monitored plant safety, told HuffPost, "McConnell never stood up and lobbied for an investigation" into the plant's hazards.

Sadly, people like Mitch McConnell are really just mops, not guardians of our safety. They're reluctantly willing, when it's politically expeditious, to step in but only after it's too late. Would Mr. Pierce have come down with throat cancer had the proper procedures been taken to ensure his safety? We'll never know. But warnings were given and McConnell ignored those calls.

Freedom Industries

Now we have a similar situation in West Virginia.

Two weeks ago chemicals leaked into the Elk River and the local drinking water reservoirs. A warning went out for the locals to not drink the water, shower in it or use it in any way other than to flush their toilets. People were becoming sick, some even ending up in the hospital. After a few days the people were told the water was safe to drink again. That was a lie. The perpetrators of this falsehood were Gary Southern and his Freedom Industries, the chemical leakers, who feared financial ruin. So they went into bankruptcy to save their offending company, and only after they received Chapter 11 protections, came out with the second warning that water really wasn't all that safe to use. Especially for pregnant women.

But it didn't stop there. Under bankruptcy protections they then revealed one thing they forgot to mention earlier. There was another chemical stored on their facility that also leaked into the water table.

Bloomberg Business Week:

So now we learn that there was a second coal-processing compound mixed into the West Virginia chemical spill that contaminated Charleston’s water system. The good news is that the experts think—maybe—the second chemical wasn’t any more dangerous than the first. Small comfort to the 300,000 people who lost their water and the 300 residents who had to seek medical help. The bad news is that the belated revelation reaffirms that the company behind the spill is truly out of control.

What was the official response when asked about the additional spill? Mr. Southern commented, "that it's a bad day for Freedom Industries."

Really? How about for the people in West Virginia and other states affected by the runoff of deadly chemicals?

Railing at Freedom Industries is no more responsible than railing at Kentucky's uranium plants. Anger needs to be placed at the feet of the elected officials who fought against any form of EPA enforcement or safety checks which could have nipped this in the bud. None of these plants had been checked in years. As a matter of fact, the state of West Virginia wasn't even aware that the second coal processing chemical was even stored at Freedom Industries. Why? The politicians claim this sort of monitoring and controls would cost jobs and money for the coal and uranium enrichment industries. No mention of the words, 'worker's safety.'

Well how much is this cleanup going to cost in lives, jobs and money?  Only time will tell. These disasters might have been prevented if politicians had done their jobs. And how interesting that most of these state politicians are Republicans. It does make you wonder how much they're really looking out for their constituents. Jobs are important. But so is job safety. McConnell and his kind have let down their states. Maybe this is what we should be reminding the Republicans in Washington who have made it their mission to eliminate and disembowel the Environmental Protection Agency.

Instead of thanking McConnell for making healthcare funds available to Mr. Pierce to fight his cancer, he should be asking the Kentucky senator why McConnell let this cancer happen to him in the first place.

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Don't drink the water! Wait...what? 'Almost Heaven'?

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WestVirginiaWaterBathtub

Note: the image above is from here

Growing up years ago, I remember reading stories of travelers who advised you not to drink the water in foreign countries. One alternative was to drink bottled water, soft drinks, whisky, anything but water from the tap. But that was 'other places' - not anywhere in the US. Here we prided ourselves on our environment, where we sang '

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Apparently those 'other places' where you should not drink the water if you want to stay healthy now include West Virginia.

But how can *that* be?

Later one of the songs I sang included 'This Land is Your Land'

Some of those lyrics were:

This land is your land, this land is my land
From California to the New York Island
From the Redwood Forest to the Gulf Stream waters
This land was made for you and me.

And then came John Denver's 'Country Roads' the lyrics of which include:

Almost heaven, West Virginia
Blue Ridge Mountains
Shenandoah River -
Life is old there
Older than the trees
Younger than the mountains
Growin' like a breeze

So how did we get from that to this? (via Daily Kos)

West Virginia Governor on Drinking the Water: 'It's Your Decision, I'm Not a Scientist' ?

Oh, that's right...someone sold out to the 'rape the earth' contingent.

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Sunday Talkers Shame Themselves

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Sunday Talk Shows

The only thing missing from yesterday's Sunday talk show openings was the Rod Stewart and Dolly Parton singing the duet of, "Baby It's Cold Outside." It's actually quite a good rendition. You can see it here.

But are these chatfests, Meet the Nation, Face the Nation, This Week, Fox News Sunday, etc. really doing their jobs -- providing a public service? Bringing us unfiltered news? I think not.

Yesterday they all began with a moment about the cold weather, then immediately went into full Chris Christie coverage. What everyone of these shows ignored was this:

HUFFPO:

The emergency began Thursday following complaints to West Virginia American Water about a licorice-type odor in the tap water. The source: the chemical 4-methylcyclohexane methanol, which had leaked out of a 40,000-gallon tank at a Freedom Industries facility along the Elk River.

Here it is, Sunday, four days later, and over 300,000 West Virginians were still without clean tap water. They can't drink the contaminated water, can't bath in it, can't cook with it, can't do wash in it, and yet how much coverage did it get on the public service shows? Zilch.

But doesn't this crisis meet national standards? If a spill like this can happen in W.V. it can happen anywhere. Should we be investigating how it happened and seek out safeguards? Evidently not if the victims are in West Virginia.

The network news talkers are treating this less than a throw-away story. If mentioned at all, it's like "Entire neighborhood all paint their houses the same color of grey." What they leave out is that all of these houses were painted in lead-based paint and everyone in the neighborhood is going to die of cancer. If it's not a Republican or Democratic attack, it's not worthy of the Sunday talkers. And that's why these supposed news shows should be embarrassed and reprimanded. They owe everyone an apology for spitting on the urgent and legitimate problems of one of our fifty states. A chemical spill effecting so many IS NEWS.

Now the EPA is constantly coming under attack on Sunday GOP talkers as an example of over-regulation. Republicans use this ruse almost almost as much as the concern over voter fraud in their Red states or the damage same-sex marriage is causing their "normal" marriage. Yet when a disaster strikes, why the crickets? Why not demonstrate what the EPA does? If it wasn't for them, these innocent people, victims of a dangerous chemical spill might be glowing in the dark or have three ears by now.

What's equally startling is that there isn't even an adequate clean-up plan in force to allow such a vast sum of people to be provided with bottled water and food to get them through this crisis time. This Elk River, where the chemicals spilled, runs for hundreds of miles, reaching both the Mississippi and Ohio Rivers. We're talking potentially half of our nation being affected.

To me that's news. Grumpy Chris Christie playing dumb or lying about his part or knowledge in his bridge-gate scandal is news, and should be covered, but so should the plight of the victims half of our nation. When a hurricane displaces and damages vast swaths of land, the press is all over it. But in old West Virginia, not so much.

Beltway news is noisy, to say the least. But is it urgent or more important than pressing news about half our nation facing a possible poisoning? Hardly.

Maybe next time stations come up for licensing, lets remember that Meet the Press and the other talkers are just paid political content masquerading as public service. Maybe locally qualifying shows should be produced, (improving local economies) and demanded in their place if they're being done to meet the FCC public licensing obligations.

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