OVEC
OVEC Press Release: July 28, 2014

Press Release                                                                                  July 27, 2014
Contact:  Vivian Stockman, 304-553-1962, vivian@ohvec.org
Vernon Haltom, 304-952-4610, vernoncrmw@gmail.com

Grassroots Groups Team Up, Head to EPA Carbon Hearings

GLEN DANIEL, W.Va. — Like many West Virginians, Paula Swearingen is thinking about the impact on her family and state of a rule proposed by the Obama Administration, a rule aimed at reducing carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants.  

Swearingen, a mother of four boys aged 21, 18, 16 and 12, is so worried about the EPA’s “Clean Power Plan” proposal that she’s heading to Pittsburgh, PA this week to speak out at one of several field hearings on the rule.

“I’m worried the rest of America won’t know that there are many people in coal-mining communities who support the EPA’s regulatory authority to protect human health, yet we see this rule as only a starting point. We need it to go farther, faster, for the sake of our children. Those of us living in the shadow of mountaintop removal coal mining operations are living on one of the front-ends of climate change, and it’s already killing off communities.”

Swearingen, a volunteer with the Huntington, W.Va.- based Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC), will head to the hearing in Pittsburgh. OVEC is part of nationwide coalition of grassroots groups organizing for the American Clean Energy Agenda (ACEA) that are sending people to this week’s field hearings on the rule in Denver, Co, Pittsburgh, PA and Atlanta, GA.

Also heading to Pittsburgh is Vernon Haltom, executive director of the Naoma W.Va.-based Coal River Mountain Watch, also part of the ACEA. “The EPA needs to limit emissions for both the health of our planet and our local communities, but not to continue dirty energy business as usual with nuclear, fracked gas, offshore drilling, or industrial bio-mass. These rules very plainly do little about mountaintop removal, the health effects of which are devastating to communities, so we still need the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) Act,” Haltom said.

“States whose government is controlled by a dirty energy lobby, such as West Virginia, have a horrible enforcement record of existing laws and regulations, have vowed to fight these proposed rules tooth and nail, and cannot be expected to voluntarily comply. The rules need teeth to compel compliance,” Haltom added.

The groups in the ACEA network are working to end the nation’s current “business-as-usual” energy trajectory. The citizen groups work in their own communities to address health and environmental issues stemming from coal mining, frac sand mining, gas fracking drilling and waste disposal operations, nuclear power and industrial-scale biomass. They are united in pushing for wide-spread, rapid adoption of localized renewable energy projects as the key to protecting the health and safety of their local communities.

“By citing the impact of smokestack emissions on public health, the EPA is highlighting the so-called ‘externalities’ of fossil fuels, nuclear power and industrial-scale biomass. However, these costs are far more extensive when calculated at each of the stages of the fuel cycles of coal, natural gas and nuclear power.  This rule should be the beginning of an EPA assessment of the entire fuel cycle, from drilling and mining, transportation, waste management, as well as the harms from smokestack emissions,” said Janet Keating, OVEC’s executive director.

“You are going to hear a lot of howling from the coal industry about this rule,” Swearingen said. “Any time there’s a move to rein in coal industry’s abuses of the air, land and water and even its workers, the industry screams bloody murder.

“But global warming dictates that we must transition away from fossil fuels as if our lives depended on it, because they very well may. It’s not going to be easy, but we are already on our way. The U.S. now has more people employed by the solar industry than by the coal industry. For my kids’ sake, for everyone’s sake, I am really happy about that.”

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Photos available for download/publication:
Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/88388404@N03/sets/72157638805726253/
John Amos Power Plant:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/88388404@N03/sets/72157645560722839/
(more photos to be posted in this set over the next few days)
Please credit: Vivian Stockman / www.ohvec.org. If the photos are aerial, please also credit: Flyover courtesy SouthWings.org.
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Among the grassroots activists headed to the Denver hearings are Robin Blakeman, an organizer with OVEC; Chuck Nelson, a former underground coal miner who volunteers with OVEC; Stanley Sturgill, a former underground coal miner with Kentuckians For The Commonwealth; Martha Doyle, a social worker and teacher at Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, IA (Doyle took part in community health surveys in West Virginia); Marshall Johnson, a member of the To Nizhoni Ani grassroots organization, based in northeast Arizona on the Navajo (Dine) Reservation; and Ken Schmidt, Pat Popple and Heather Anderson, all of whom are working on the frac sand mining issue in Wisconsin.
Among the grassroots activists going to the Pittsburgh hearings are Dustin White, an organizer with OVEC; Paula Swearingen, an OVEC volunteer and Vernon Haltom, executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch.
Some Members of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth will attend the Atlanta hearings.
Contact Vivian Stockman at vivian@ohvec.org for direct phone numbers for Denver and Pittsburgh hearing participants.
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More info:
Proposed EPA Climate Rule — Too little, too late: US needs new energy strategy
http://ohvec.org/action_alerts/2014/EPA-Climate-Plan-Fact-Sheet.pdf

EPA info:
http://www2.epa.gov/carbon-pollution-standards

Health impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining:
http://ohvec.org/issues/mountaintop_removal/articles/health/

Health impacts of some of the gas-fracking-related activities:
http://www.dangersoffracking.com/

More jobs in solar than in coal mining:
http://www.politifact.com/rhode-island/statements/2014/jul/06/sheldon-whitehouse/there-are-already-more-american-jobs-solar-industr/