Your EIS Comments -
Big Brother at OSM Is Watching Us!
Law student Nathan Fetty used the Freedom of Information
Act to get information on the development of the draft Mountaintop
Removal Environmental Impact Statement.
The FOIA info included one e-mail from the Office of
Surface Minings Michael Gauldin to loads of his co-workers, as well
as people at the WV Department of Environmental Protection,
Environmental Protection Agency, Army Corps of Engineers, US Fish and
Wildlife Service and the Department of the Interior, which summarized
environmental groups comments about the draft EIS.
The e-mail said, "Attached is my summary of the
published criticisms of the EIS. It looks like they fall into about four
or five general themes. If anyone wants to take a crack at drafting a
response to any or all of these, Im accepting contributions."
The quotes he summarized were from newspaper articles
quoting staff of OVEC, Coal River Mountain Watch, the Appalachian Center
for the Economy and the Environment, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth,
Earthjustice and Trial Lawyers for Public Justice.
Fortunately, we had worked together to make certain our
statements did get published. If the press had
only used the multi-agency press release on the
mountaintop removal EIS, then the public would have only read about how
the MTR permitting process needs to be streamlined.
Gauldin told his colleagues that our comments fell into
"The real purpose of the EIS is to help coal companies get their
mine permits faster and easier."
"The EIS says nothing about protecting the environment and
"The EIS eliminates requirements for individual permits for
operations that propose to fill 250 acres or more of a valley."
"The Bush Administration wants to eliminate the Stream Buffer
"Steve Griles, Deputy Secretary of the Interior, refocused the EIS
toward streamlining permitting."
Unsupported rhetoric, such as Judy Bonds comment: "The study
shows that mountaintop removal is socially evil and environmental
Its nice to know the agencies are watching what we
say, even if Gauldin wants to call some of our observations
It would be even nicer to know that the
"regulators" are watching both what the coal industry does and
how the agencies themselves are failing to enforce the laws.