Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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June 2002

Backstreet Boy
Spotlights Mountain Massacre

Male Suspect Seen Entering OVEC Office

"On the Road to Clean Elections" Debuts in West Virginia

Valley fills, sludge spills, flood chills and judge thrills

MTR Smothering Vital Headwater Stream Systems

Bush to Appalachia: Gee, I Wish I Had the Time to Care

Think Pollution Isn't Costing You?

Politics and the Environmental Impact Statement on MTR - It's Not Pretty

OVEC in ACTION - A Few of the Things We've Been Up To Lately

What's in a Name? Momentary Fame for You, if You're the Winner

Be Sure to Send a Note of "Thanks!" to Judge Haden

THANKS to Our Many, Many Treehugger's Ball Supporters!


For viewing the PDF version

A Letter for Almost Level WV

Bush to Appalachia: Gee, I Wish I Had the Time to Care

by Dave Cooper

During the May bus trip to Washington, many on the bus found themselves frustrated and disturbed by the Bush administrations efforts to over-ride the Clean Water Act and permit illegal valley fills.

For an administration that prides itself on "family values" and "compassionate conservatism," it sure seems to show very little regard or compassion for the families of Appalachian communities that have been flooded by runoff from mountaintop removal sites looming over them, or who have had their drinking water poisoned by coal sludge contamination.

So the idea was formed: Why not invite the President to see flood damage, cracked foundations and ruined communities first hand? Why not invite him to southern West Virginia?

After all, on his last trip to West Virginia he visited Walker Machinery in Belle, to see the economic benefits of the manufacture of coal mining equipment used for mountaintop removal surely in the interest of fairness he will want to hear both sides of the issue!

OK, you can stop laughing now.

So a letter was drafted and signed by representatives of eight environmental groups: Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Big Sandy Environmental Coalition, Citizens Coal Council, Coal River Mountain Watch, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Environmental Council, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and West Virginia Rivers Coalition, inviting the President to visit the coalfields of West Virginia and Kentucky. The letter read, in part:

"Dear President Bush: As residents of the Kentucky and West Virginia coalfields who are greatly harmed by mountaintop removal coal mining and illegal valley fills, and as representatives of organizations working in these areas, we challenge you to visit our area. We implore you to see first-hand the devastation from mountaintop removal including the recent catastrophic floods in West Virginia and the aftermath of the massive coal slurry impoundment spill in Kentucky in 2000.

Our area has experienced two record "100-year floods," deadly floods in the past 10 months. This month, nine southern West Virginia residents have died in these floods."

The letter described the consequences of the Martin County slurry spill and chided the President for the annihilation of mountain streams: "It is starkly apparent that the decision-makers in your administration do not have a full sense of the consequences of their actions."

The letter was signed by Jeremy Muller, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

To no ones great surprise, we received a letter about two weeks later, signed by Bradley A. Blakeman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Appointments and Scheduling.

"Dear Mr. Muller," it read. "I have been asked to respond to your letter to the President inviting him to visit your coalfields.

"While the President would appreciate the opportunity, we are unable to add it to his calendar at this time. I know you will understand that with the tremendous demands on his time and the large volume of similar requests, events such as these are extremely difficult to schedule even though each one is important. However, your suggestion is a good one, and we will keep it in mind should an opportunity present itself in the future.

"I know that the President would want me to thank you for your interest and to send his very best wishes.


Bradley A. Blakeman, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Appointments and Scheduling."


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