Categories: Featured News

Sierra Club: End Coal Fire Plant but Not Mountaintop Removal?

The Sierra Club is one of the oldest, largest, and most influential grassroots environmental organizations in the United States. It was founded on May 28, 1892, in San Francisco, California, by the conservationist and preservationist John Muir, who became its first president. The Sierra Club has hundreds of thousands of members in chapters located throughout the US, and is affiliated with Sierra Club Canada. Sierra Club was given $50 million to end coal-fired electric plants and to return our country to a healthy nation once more by 2020.

But they left one thing out. Ending Mountaintop Removal. The donation from Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg of New York announced that his main charitable organization would donate $50 million over four years to the Sierra Club’s campaign to shut down coal plants and move the United States toward cleaner sources of energy according to the New York Times. Yet nothing in the Times mentions anything about ending Mountaintop Removal.

Bob Kincaid of the progressive online radio show Head On Radio Network: HORN, and an activist for ending Mountaintop Removal is urging Congress to pass the ACHE Act (Appalachian Communities Health Emergency Act) H.R. 5959. According to Kincaid, “Timothy McVeigh used ammonium nitrate and fuel oil explosives when he blew up the Murrah Federal Building. Now imagine 700 Timothy McVeigh explosions in West Virginia everyday…about 5 million pounds of explosives a day.”

Also according to Kincaid, the Mountaintop Removal is taking down the oldest mountains on earth to remove between six inches to one foot thick of coal and this goes on over thousands of acres. Kincaid said, “If we aggregate everything that Mountaintop Removal has done so far, the State of Delaware would be gone. ‘It poisons the air, it poisons the stream, it eliminates community…it devastates economy because it does not require many people to work on it. [All you need is] 14 to 15 people to take down a 5,000 acres in a few years.” And kills according to Kincaid, 3,975 “excess deaths” annually in West Virginia alone.

Kincaid also said that because of Mountaintop Removal, the waste from the removal also produces selenium, arsenic, barium, mercury, cadmium, manganese, magnesium, aluminum, the whole heavy metal spectrum of the periodic table. Did you know that these heavy metal are toxic? These known heavy metals are seeping into the lungs of every man, woman and child living near the Appalachians and are dying.

Because the mountaintops are being blasted, the climate has changed drastically.  West Virginia had a derecho, which is the lowering of the jet stream, and caused havoc all across West Virginia. But not just in West Virginia, but states east of West Virginia.

Here are some facts about the effects of Mountaintop Removal:

The key health effects that we will be sharing information about are as follows:

Babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy HAVE AN 18% HIGHER RISK OF BIRTH DEFECTS; however, babies born to mothers who live in areas with mountain top removal mining HAVE A 26 % HIGHER RATE OF BIRTH DEFECTS.  Additionally, it was found that this risk is 42% higher over the course of the study period from years 2000-2003 and 181% higher during more recent years, specifically for a heart or lung defect.* (Ahern, MM, et al, Environ. Res., (2011), DOI: 10.1016/j.envres.2011.05.19)

Babies born to mothers who live in areas with high levels of coal mining HAVE A 16% HIGHER CHANCE OF BEING BORN UNDER WEIGHT.* (Ahern, et al, Maternal and  Child Health J, DOI: 10.1007/s10995‐009‐0555‐1)

People who live in areas with mountain top removal mining HAVE HIGHER DEATH RATES compared to people who do not live near MTR mining.* (Hendryx, Journal of Health Disparities Research and Practice Volume 4, Number 3, Spring 2011, pp. 44‐53)

People who live in areas where there is mountain top removal mining HAVE HIGHER RATES OF DEATH FROM CARDIOVASCULAR DISEASE, (HEART DISEASE).* (Esch & Hendryx; The Journal of Rural Health; 00; 2011; 1‐8)

People who live in areas with high rates of coal production HAVE HIGHER RATES OF DEATH FROM CERTAIN CANCERS, (BREAST, LUNG, DIGESTIVE, URINARY).* (Hendryx & Hitt; Ecohealth; 2011, DOI: 10.1007/s10393‐101‐0297‐y)

People who live in counties with mountain top removal mining report significantly MORE DAYS OF POOR PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH AND LIMITATIONS OF THEIR ACTIVITY.* (Am J Public Health. 2011;101:848-853. DOI: 10. 2105/AJPH.2010.300073)

Even if all coal-fired plants have ended in the U.S., Mountaintop Removal would continue and coal would be exported out of the U.S. Sadly, the Sierra Club is not funding the ACHE Campaign. Thus far the ACHE Campaign has subsisted on individual donations from people like you. Sierra’s Beyond Coal project does only so much, and it has not recognized to date that ending Mountaintop Removal for the human health disaster science is now demonstrating that it is. Ending Mountaintop Removal once and for all should be AT LEAST as important as shutting down coal-fired power plants.



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