Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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Winds of Change
November 2002


Life Near a Massey Mine is No Picnic

Not Throwing Caution to the Winds

Legacy of MTR - ANOTHER Round of Flooding

And The Winner Is ... NOTA?

Winds of Change - OVEC Switches to Wind Power, So Can You

The Smell of $$$$$ = Business as Usual in WV

The People Win Round 1 in Coal Truck Weight Battle

WV May Tell Coalfields: If You Don't Like It, Move!

OVEC in Action!

Homer III Wants to Blacken Peytona

Invoking Some 'Higher Authority' in the Fight Against MTR

What Can We Say But THANKS for Everything!

Norton Trys to Use Enviros as Poster Children at Sham Celebration

Regulator's Motto: If You Don't Do It Right, It Doesn't Take As Long

GlassWorks of Weston to Produce OVECs 2002 Christmas Ornaments

Norcross Wildlife Foundation Awards OVEC Grant for New Computers

Action Alert Miscellany

Other Miscellany

For viewing the PDF version


Norton Trys to Use Enviros as
Poster Children at Sham Celebration

(related press release)

On July 26, Office of Surface Mining (OSM) chief Jeffrey Jarrett called WV Highlands Conservancys Cindy Rank. He wondered if environmental groups would want to meet in Charleston for 30 minutes on Aug. 1 with his boss, Department of the Interior Secretary Gale Norton.

Besides visiting with enviros, Norton would fly over mountaintop removal/valley fill mining sites. By July 28, activists from seven environmental groups were aware of the offer. Many of us met on the 29th to discuss it and review Nortons environmentally hostile record.

Someone said at the meeting, "I smell a rat." Norton supported the Bush administrations efforts to gut the Clean Water Act to legalize valley fills at mountaintop removal (MTR) operations. So we told OSM we would meet with Norton under these conditions: 1) More time; 2) We set the agenda; 3) We have a representatives aboard during her flyover.

It wasnt until after our meeting that we learned that Nortons visit was timed to coincide with the OSMs commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the federal Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA), a poorly enforced act under Norton and her predecessors. Norton is on record as saying she believes the act, written to protect people from coal industry abuses, is unconstitutional.

The OSM response to our counter-offer came the next day: 1) Sure, set the agenda; 2) We can maybe get you 40 minutes; 3) Nope, you cant come on the flyover.

It was insulting to be offered so little time and to be so obviously used as part of DOI/OSMs publicity stunt. We could see it clearly: Checkmark "Met with enviros on SMCRA Anniversary." That, coupled with a "maybe" on an extra whopping 10 minutes and a no go on the flyover equaled no deal.

OVEC staffer Vivian Stockman researched and composed a letter for the groups to sign and fax to Norton. She composed a press release to go out with the letter. The letter listed many reasons why we could not meet with Norton to "celebrate" SMCRA.

According to environmental groups in Washington, DC, the letter raised a bit of a stink. Indeed. Soon after we faxed the letter, OVEC received not one, but three rapid-succession phone calls from Jarrett. First, he said he could get us 2 hours with Norton. That would have allowed about 18 hours notice to get the coalfield residents to the meeting. It would not have been in the coalfields, as our letter requested, and it still would have made us part of their publicity stunt.

Jarrett called back two more times, frantically trying to get us to to get us to meet with Norton.

We offered to meet with her on that day if the DOI/OSM would enact a moratorium on mountaintop removal until, at the very least, the long-delayed MTR Environmental Impact Statement was released.

At that time, we didnt know Norton would announce a further delay in the EIS to a smiling WV Coal Association crowd. Jeff Jarrett, enforcer of SMCRA (not!) did not agree with that condition and did not call back.

Press reports of Nortons visit revealed we would have been squeezed in between her meetings with coal industry lackeys.

Our letter extended an offer to Ms. Norton to meet with coalfield residents in the coalfields for a reasonable amount of time, and to accompany us on a tour of mountaintop removal/valley fill mines.

But, make no mistake about it, we wont be part of a publicity stunt aimed at convincing the public Norton and OSM actually regulate the excesses of the coal industry.


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