coal mining

Occupying the mountaintop–Tennessee's prayers for the planet

Occupying the mountaintop–Tennessee's prayers for the planet

While those of us following the Occupy movement online or on television may see it as a fairly conventional protest movement, complete with marching and chanting, a quick look at various encampments (or remnants thereof) around the country shows something quite different: alternative communities that value the input of all participants. Those communities themselves are the real protest: by living something quite different, even temporarily, Occupiers are able to highlight the absurdities of the current political structure.

Green tech finds (7/14/11)

Green tech finds (7/14/11)


“Brown” hybrids, super-efficient wind turbines, and a solar-powered golf bag… your green tech finds for the week.

  • Not all hybrids are created equal: Yep, the Prius, the Honda Civic Hybrid, and the Ford Fusion Hybrid all deliver on the value promised by this vehicle platform. But, according to the Union of Concerned Scientists, there are also a number hybrid models that just aren’t worth the cost, and do very little in terms of fuel efficiency… check out the video from CNET above to see the top five “brownest” hybrids.

  • Enterprise, Fed Ex love them some EVs: Yesterday at the National Summit on Energy Security, Andy Taylor, CEO of Enterprise Holdings (which owns Enterprise Rent-a-Car and others) and Fred Smith, CEO of Fed Ex, made impassioned arguments for ramping up vehicle electrification. Marc Gunther has the details…

THE LAST MOUNTAIN: one community's fight against mountaintop removal

THE LAST MOUNTAIN: one community's fight against mountaintop removal


When did you first hear the term “fracking,” the shorthand for hydraulic fracturing, a decades-old natural gas extraction technique that’s come under scrutiny from both activists and governments alike? It was probably around the time of the release of Josh Fox’s GASLAND (which won a Special Jury Prize at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival). No doubt that director Bill Haney and the producers of THE LAST MOUNTAIN (an official selection at Sundance this year) hope their activist documentary will bring similar attention to the practice of mountaintop removal by coal mining companies… another extraction method that’s been in use for years, and received a ton of attention within environmental and activist circles, but that hasn’t hit a tipping point in terms of general awareness of the damage it does to Appalachian communities in West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky (as well as watersheds that feed huge portions of the Eastern US).

Sundance environmental films: activism

Sundance environmental films: activism

Enjoy a good David vs. Goliath story? Or perhaps a tale of a passionate person who lets his/her zeal turn from good to ugly? This year’s Sundance Film Festival has you covered. Both of the environmentally-themed films in the US Documentary Competition address activism and activists… warts and all.

Bill Haney’s THE LAST MOUNTAIN delves into an issue that’s become very hot among environmentalists over the past decade: mountaintop removal by coal mining companies. Focused on West Virginia’s Coal River Valley, the film explores the community’s fight against this practice, which damages both the natural environment, and the people living in the vicinity. Check out the trailer above.

Utah Approves a Mine Next to Bryce Canyon for Coal America Doesn't Need

Utah Approves a Mine Next to Bryce Canyon for Coal America Doesn't Need

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. (Photo credit: AFP/Getty Images)
Imagine: A massive open-pit coal mine next to a wilderness jewel. A scenario like that might have been routine in the past, but this is the 21st century, when many cleaner, more sustainable ways to power our economy abound. We no longer have to sacrifice an iconic landscape in order to burn some dirty rocks.

And yet a mining company got approval last month to open Utah’s first-ever strip mine for coal in the small community of Alton. Few new coal mines have opened in the West in the past decade since most developers focus on expanding existing mines, not reaching into untouched wilderness. And that’s what makes this mine so troubling: it will be located 10 miles from Bryce Canyon National Park.

The truth is we don’t need this coal. The developers claim they have a contract with a Utah utility, but they won’t disclose which one. It’s questionable whether local utilities even have the need for such sizeable quantities of coal. Instead, rumors indicate that a lot of the coal will be hauled to a West Coast port for shipping, possibly overseas. If the company is so confident there is a market for its product, it should name its buyers.

The West has a long history of outside companies extracting local resources, selling them elsewhere, and leaving nearby communities to clean up the mess often at taxpayer expense. No matter what they might tell you, there is no reclamation plan that can return an open pit mine to a natural, wild state. Once that untamed spirit is gone, it’s gone for good.

Some places are simply too special to industrialize. Bryce country is one of them.

The Hazards of Blogging

The Hazards of Blogging

Blogging is a dangerous job, and not for the faint of heart. Not that it involves the physical risks of, say, coal mining or timber cutting, or the mental burnout that a surgeon or stock trader might experience. The hazard is more of a slow-acting moral poison, a soul-crushing spiritual vacuum brought on by repeated…