Until Friday: Sample Cut and Paste Letter to Subcommittee

To follow up on yesterday’s post, here’s a sample letter to copy and paste if you haven’t time to write your own.

Please add your name below (before the reprinted editorial) and e-mail this letter to:


Dear Representative Lamborn, Representative Hastings and Subcommittee staff and members:

I wish to submit the following letter for the public Congressional
record of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight
Hearing on Friday, June 1, 2012, at 10:00 AM, entitled “The Obama
Administration’s Actions Against the Spruce Coal Mine: Canceled
Permits, Lawsuits and Lost Jobs.”

Dear Mr. Lamborn:
After your subcommitttee forced Maria Gunnoe to endure 45 minutes of
police questioning for alleged child pronogrpahy, you and Doc Hastings
need to issue a public apology to Maria Gunnoe, the family of the
young child in the photo, and the photographer.

What is dirty about the photo you refused to allow in the record is
the water – and the practice of mountaintop removal that is making
people sick and destroying their water. You can deny that reality all
you want but that won’t make it go away.

I hope you saw the editorial of June 10 in the Lexington (KY) Herald Leader
(reprinted below). I ask that you include this editorial in the
hearing record.


Lexington Herald-Leader Editorial

Editorial: EPA should hang tough in coalfields

Published: June 10, 2012

federal enforcement is best hope for protecting kentucky’s water

U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., and his staff owe an apology to
award-winning environmentalist Maria Gunnoe of Boone County, W. Va.

Although, really, in the scheme of wrongs perpetrated against
coalfield residents, a false accusation of child pornography is no

Compared with poisoned water, elevated rates of cancer and birth
defects, floods, blasting, ubiquitous dust, close encounters with coal
trucks, poverty and the knowledge that anyone who protests the abuses
is taking a personal risk, the harassment Gunnoe suffered recently at
the U.S. Capitol is just about par for the course.

Someone in Lamborn’s office sicced the Capitol Police on Gunnoe, who
was there to testify before Lamborn’s House Natural Resources
subcommittee. Her offense? She wanted to include in her slide show a
photograph of a Kentucky pre-schooler in a bathtub in the child’s Pike
County home.

The photo stands out from countless family photos of youngsters in
bathtubs because of the water: It’s a nasty burnt orange caused by
pollution of the family’s well by among other things, arsenic, from
nearby coal mining.

Although the family and photographer Katie Falkenberg had given their
permission for the photo to be shown to the committee, they did not
want it reproduced here. Not because they think there’s anything
pornographic about it, but to protect the child, now 9, from any
possible repercussions, in light of the brouhaha.

The episode serves as a perfect metaphor for what we have seen time
and again: Those in power, notably elected officials but also state
regulators, refuse to see what extreme mining is doing to people and
the region.

They’d rather trump up distractions or sling around contrived catch
phrases like “war on coal” than talk about how to ameliorate the
destruction. They have no plans for diversifying the economy.

They shut off concerned citizens such as a delegation of Kentuckians
who tried to meet with U.S. Rep. Hal Rogers last week at his
Washington office to talk about mountaintop removal. Seven of them
were arrested.

Our so-called leaders would rather blame President Barack Obama for
what competition from cheaper, cleaner natural gas is doing to demand
for Appalachian coal than engage in an honest discussion of how to
mine without ruining water.

That dynamic was on full display in Kentucky last week at public
hearings in Frankfort and Pikeville that the Beshear administration
requested from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

At issue are 36 surface mining permits being blocked by the EPA on
what the Beshear administration and industry contend are invalid
grounds. (For perspective, there are 355 active, pre-final reclamation
surface mining permits in effect in Eastern Kentucky right now; the
EPA has not shut down mining.)

Rather than providing a forum for discussing standards for protecting
Kentucky’s water from the toxic fate of the Pike County pre-schooler’s
well, Kentucky pols just wanted to beat up the EPA on the coal
industry’s home court.

So much lame vitriol was spewed against the EPA and those who want to
drink clean water it’s hard to know where to start. One of the zaniest
has to be House Speaker Greg Stumbo’s assertion that the burial of
hundreds of miles of mountain headwaters by the coal industry is
justified by this newspaper’s failure to protest the burial of a creek
in downtown Lexington more than a century ago.

Dig through all the chest-pounding, and you arrive at the central
question: Can Kentucky’s state government be counted on to enforce
coal industry compliance with clean water and other environmental

Decades of evidence tell us the answer is no.

After questioning Gunnoe, Capitol Police determined no crime had been
committed. Still, she deserves an apology for what she rightly terms
as an attack on her character.

Likewise, the people of the mountains deserve real enforcement of
clean water laws. The only possibility of that happening is for the
EPA to hang tough

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