Saturday, November 08, 2014

What is a traveling penguin doing in West Virginia?

I just logged my 31st night in hotels this year.  West Virginia has lots of natural beauty, the Appalachian Mountains dominate the landscape of much of the state.  There are a couple of navigable rivers in the state, bringing with them hydro electric power, bringing with it energy intensive industries of steel making and chemicals.  West Virginia has a lot of coal - increasingly mined using open pit, also known as surface mining, also known as mountain top removal mining.  I was reminded as I drove across WV that you only get one chance to do coal mining, and the results remain for a long-long-long time.  Sometimes it is done well, other times it leaves scars on the landscape.  There is a big push underway to enforce the surface mining act that was passed 30+ years ago, I believe it was signed into law by President Reagan. Because the enforcement of the act began under President Obama, he gets blamed for forcing people to comply with a law that they have known about and ignored for decades.  If Congress does not like the effect of the Act on mining, they should amend or repeal it, not blame the administration for enforcing a law that should have been enforced 30 years ago. The EPA gave the mining industry time to come into compliance, like 30 years to adjust. What am I doing in West Virginia.  There is still a lot of logging in West Virginia.  A lot of the land is to steep to farm, but growing trees works.  Properly managed, timber farming creates a long term sustainable resource.  Selective cutting, planting and regrowth, and over time the forests regrow.  The hardwood of today is third or forth growth for much of the state.  Earlier I passed through the region of the state that had a major chemical spill into the water supply last year, leaving hundreds of thousands drinking bottled water for weeks.  The chemical company responsible, was a tiny corporation, shielding the investors from liability, that as I recall filed for bankruptcy before lawsuits were filed, leaving the injured with nothing to compensate them for their loss.  If you are going to endanger the water supply to a few hundred thousand people, shouldn't you have to have assets at risk, or and insurance company willing to protect the bystanders? Apparently not in WV. What am I doing here?  Passing through. It is between home and home.