Archive for the 'Water' Category

New monitoring efforts to track water quality improvements in KY and 11 other states

A task force of federal and state officials announced Wednesday two new efforts to monitor water quality through reductions in nutrients in Kentucky and 11 other states flowing from farms and other sources into local waterways that reach the Mississippi River and ultimately the Gulf of Mexico.

The Mississippi River/Gulf of Mexico Watershed Nutrient (Hypoxia) Task Force, which began in 1997, set up the Mississippi River Monitoring Collaborative to analyze data from the states to see which conservation practices are working and where “new strategies” are needed, according to a news release.

The monitoring efforts will specifically track nitrogen and phosphorus throughout the watershed, according to the release.

Nutrient runoff from agricultural, urban and industrial sources has polluted waterways for decades and contributed to a hypoxic zone in the Gulf of Mexico – an area of low oxygen that is largely uninhabitable by fish and other marine life, the release said.

The Task Force consists of five federal agencies, 12 states and the tribes within the Mississippi/Atchafalaya River Basin.  For more information, visit http://water.epa.gov/type/watersheds/named/msbasin/index.cfm

 

Worth reading: ’7 billion: What to expect when you are expanding’

As the world’s population expands — a United Nations report says we will reach 7 billion people on Monday — Grist.org has been exploring issues of population growth and the environment with a series titled, 7 billion: What to Expect When You are Expanding.

I recommend some not-so-light reading for the weekend.

They are tackling some heavy topics, from Three’s a crowd: Is it unethical to have more than two children  and We can feed 10 billion of us, study finds — but it won’t  be easy to An indigenous take on family planning and population and much more.

So in between the parties this weekend and the kids’ trick-or-treating, check it out. It’s food for thought, and discussion.

– Linda J.

Life at the bottom of the Dead Sea?

Researchers have found plumes of fresh water at the bottom of the Dead Sea, and with them, life.

Grist.org embedded a YouTube video on their site. If you have a couple of minutes, it’s pretty cool: Plumes of fresh water

If the Dead Sea isn’t so dead, what else might be out there in our wonderful world?

Water and energy audits

Bluegrass PRIDE is offering water usage kits and I’m going to pick one up this week.

We save as much water as we can already:

  • We don’t water the lawn — just the garden that feeds us all year and the trees (which shade the house and would be very expensive to replace).
  • We run full loads of laundry (cold water only).
  • My husband frequently refuses to use the dishwasher and does the dishes by hand. If we are using the dishwasher, which is not energy-efficient, you can bet it’s full before we do.

That all being said, I bet this water-usage kit will help us find more ways to save water and, therefore, money.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

— Linda J.

Town Branch story on Kentucky Educational Television

This just in — from Van Meter Pettit:

At long last we have our documentary complete and ready to air on KET! We are excited to have come this far. We look forward to sharing it with the community. Please check the schedule below and set your recorders, or if you are like me and don’t know how to do that, well, just watch it.

We do have DVD’s for sale if you are interested.

We are also pleased to announce that our partners Bluegrass PRIDE will be using the video and curriculum in classrooms across the region.

Please spread the word.

Thanks all,

Van Meter Pettit

KET scheduling text below:

Town Branch: Lexington’s Historic Watershed

A look at the origins, history, and future of the historic waterway that runs under Lexington, including a local initiative to educate the public about stream health and create a greenway trail for pedestrians and bicyclists.

TV Schedule
Upcoming Airdates:

KETKY: Saturday, July 3 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, July 5 at 5:00 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, July 5 at 4:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Wednesday, July 7 at 8:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Friday, July 9 at 5:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, July 10 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Sunday, July 11 at 4:31 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, July 17 at 1:00 pm EDT
KET2: Friday, July 30 at 10:30 pm EDT
KET: Saturday, July 31 at 4:30 am EDT
KETKY: Thursday, August 5 at 5:00 pm EDT
KETKY: Saturday, August 7 at 9:30 am EDT
KETKY: Monday, August 9 at 6:30 pm EDT
KETKY: Sunday, August 22 at 4:00 am EDT

Cumberland darter considered for endangered listing

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed listing Cumberland darter as an endangered species.

The darter is only found in the upper Cumberland River system above Cumberland Falls in Kentucky and Tennessee. Historically, this species inhabited 21 streams in the upper Cumberland River system. Now, the Cumberland darter survives in short reaches of less than one mile along 12 streams.

Copies of the proposed rule are available by contacting Mary Jennings, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 446 Neal Street, Cookeville, Tennessee 38501 (telephone 931/528-6481, extension 203; facsimile 931/528-7075). The proposed rule also is available on the Fish and Wildlife Service’s websites at http://www.fws.gov/cookeville/ or http://www.fws.gov/policy/library/2010/2010-15240.html

Written public comments on this proposed rule to list these five fish species as endangered must be received or postmarked by August 23, 2010, within 60 days of publication in the Federal Register. Public hearings regarding this proposal will be held if requested. Requests for a public hearing on this proposal must be received by August 9, 2010, within 45 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register.

Public comments must be submitted August 23, 2010, by one of the following methods:
1. Electronically via the federal eRulemaking Portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Follow the instructions for submitting comments. Follow the instructions for submitting comments on Docket No. FWS-R4-ES-2010-0027.
2. U.S. mail or hand-delivered to Public Comments Processing. Attn: FWS-R4-ES–2010-0027, Division of Policy and Directives Management, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 4401 North Fairfax Drive, Suite 222, Arlington, VA 22203. All comments, including personal information, will be available at http://www.regulatioms.gov.

Canoe the Green River — and leave it cleaner

Here’s a chance to see Kentucky’s beautiful Green River from a canoe and leave it ever more beautifulL

On June 19, The Nature Conservancy – with help from Crystal Light and Big Buffalo Crossing Canoe & Kayak – will host The Green River Fest, an organized clean-up of the Green River at Thelma Stovall Park in Munfordville.. Event participants will receive a canoe and trash bags to help clean up the river’s shore as they paddle along. Each canoe will cover a 10-mile stretch of the river.

Organizers promise entertainment, a chance to win prizes, T-shirts and refreshments.

To find out more, and reserve a spot, go to www.bigbuffalocrossing.com

Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video

A 5-minute video shows the effects of plastics on the planet, from drilling oil and how plastics are produced to the littered bottles and plastic bags strewn along roadways and beaches, in the oceans and mountains, to the detriment of fish and animals alike.

Watch it here, from the Wild Green blog on UTNE Reader: Our Plastic Nightmare, Now on Video. How does it affect you? Will you stop and think about it the next time you are buying a bottle of water?

How many human-made products can you name that don’t contain any plastic in the product or the packaging or both?

Can you, or will you, stop buying things that contain plastic?

That’s going to be much harder for all of us, isn’t it?

— Linda J.

Protesters arrested at Massey meeting

Massey protest 5/18/10

Massey protest 5/18/10

This from the arrestees’ peeps:

Update: Two mountain justice supporters arrested at site of Massey Energy stockholder meeting with shouts, banner

“Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People” said banner

Richmond, VA – Two activists were arrested at the location of the Massey Energy stockholders meeting after unfurling a banner from the mezzanine above the elegant grand foyer of the Jefferson Hotel in Richmond, Virginia. The banner reads, “Massey: Stop Putting Profits Over People.” The arrests occurred toward the beginning of the meeting. The activists were reading an open letter (below) to Massey Energy demanding that the company cease mountaintop removal coal mining, a practice that is destroying central Appalachia. Several hundred mine workers and environmentalists are rallying outside the building on the street to demand that Massey Energy value mine safety.

The two individuals, Kate Finneran, 22, and Oscar Ramirez, 25, both members of the environmental group Rising Tide DC, were brought to Richmond City Jail at 501 North Ninth Street. According to Ramirez and Finneran, who were able to make phone calls from the jail, both were to be released this afternoon on their own reconnaissance and charged with a misdemeanor trespass charge.

“Coal mining is dangerous. It’s dangerous for our workers, dangerous for surrounding communities, and dangerous for the future of our planet. It’s time we move off of our dependency on coal and transition to a just, safe, clean energy future.” said Kate Rooth of Rising Tide DC. “Massey Energy is notorious not only for putting their bottom dollar over people’s safety, but for driving people out their communities and poisoning their drinking water.”

Massey, a company with a terrible track record of safety violations was also responsible for the April mine disaster at Upper Big Branch mine in Montcoal, West Virginia which resulted in the death of 29 workers. In 2008, Massey made a $20 million settlement with the EPA for 4,500 Clean Water Act violations filed between 2000 and 2006. Now, in 2010, they are back in court for polluting America’s waterways again, this time for 971 Clean Water Act violations in 2008 and 2009.

The activists occupied the mezzanine level in the main foyer of the Jefferson Hotel and the banner they unfurled was a 10’ x 10’ hand-painted banner.

Over 500 mountains in the US have already been destroyed by mountaintop removal coal mining.

For more information on mountaintop removal coal mining and Massey Energy, please see http://dcrisingtide.blogspot.com/.

# # #

OPEN LETTER

Dear Massey Energy,

We interrupt this meeting of Massey Energy’s Shareholders in order to spotlight and oppose Massey’s terrible safety, environmental and human rights violations. It is our responsibility to stand in firm opposition to Massey’s corporate behavior. We are willing to face the legal consequences of our non-violent action, for we know we are not alone; millions in Appalachia and across the nation are coming to see Massey for what it is. Whether it is the mountains of Appalachia, the lives of underground miners deep inside them, or the wellbeing of communities living below, Massey continually puts profits over people. It is time for the people of Appalachia and America to reject Massey and work together to create something better in its place.

“Violations are, unfortunately, a normal part of the mining process,” Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey, has stated. In 2008, Massey made a $20 million settlement with the EPA for 4,500 Clean Water Act violations filed between the year 2000 and 2006. Now, in 2010, they are back in court for polluting America’s waterways again; this time for 971 Clean Water Act violations in 2008 and 2009. A 2006 fire at Massey’s Aracoma mine killed two workers. Massey settled wrongful death lawsuits for an undisclosed sum and paid civil and criminal penalties of $4.2 million. It is clear that neither the EPA, criminal, nor civil fines, can sufficiently motivate Massey, or Blankenship, to adopt a culture of responsibility in their business practices.

When it comes to mountaintop removal and coal sludge , there is no responsible course but to ban them entirely. Mountaintop removal is the practice of demolishing Appalachian peaks, in order to scrape out their coal seams. It fills neighboring valleys and streams with the resultant rubble, and damages the health of nearby communities. Coal sludge is the liquid byproduct of washing coal in a carcinogenic chemical bath to remove impurities, such as heavy metals including arsenic, mercury, lead, and others. We call for the abolition of both.

These two practices meet at Massey’s Brushy Fork sludge impoundment on Coal River Mountain.

The Brushy Fork Coal Sludge Impoundment is the tallest earthen dam in the Western Hemisphere, permitted to hold 9 billion gallons of sludge. Massey’s “sunny day” casualty estimation is that if the dam were to break, the flood would kill 998 Coal River Valley residents.

Coal sludge impoundments have failed in the past. A Massey-operated sludge impoundment in Martin County, KY broke in 2000, spilling 306 million gallons of toxic sludge into the tributaries of the Tug Fork, Big Sandy, and Ohio Rivers, killing wildlife, and contaminating 27,000 people’s drinking water. Brushy Fork sits above a honeycomb of abandoned underground room and pillar mines in which 31 pillars are of insufficient strength to reliably support the mine roof, let alone the mass of 9 billion gallons of sludge. Brushy Fork could also break through bottom failure, causing sludge to gush from abandoned mine entrances into the surrounding, populated valleys.

The peril of Brushy Fork is compounded by Massey’s mountaintop removal operations on the Bee Tree Permit , which surrounds the impoundment. Each day, Massey blasts within hundreds of yards of the impoundment. Every mine blast sends high and low frequency vibrations into the mountain. High frequency vibrations are the visible blast, launching fly rock and dust, and dissipate over a short distance. Low frequency vibrations, however, cause structural damages, often foundation cracks, miles from the blast site. Brushy Fork’s earthen dam structure is within hundreds of yards of blasting operations. Thousands of lives are at risk.

Massey must be stopped—that is why we are putting ourselves on the line today.

Shareholders – you have the power to intervene. Use your institutional power to demand Massey cease its mountaintop removal operations and production of coal slurry. Responsibly decommission the Brushy Fork Impoundment. Also, we ask that you join with the coalition of nine public institutional investors that are asking Massey to withhold support from Don Blankenship and Board of Directors Baxter F. Philips, Richard M. Gabrys, and Dan R. Moore “because they have failed to carry out their duties on the Safety, Environmental, and Public Policy Committee.”

Americans – coal from the mountains of Appalachia is burned all over the United States . It heats our homes, powers our factories, and illuminates our schools and offices. It is sometimes difficult connect one’s energy consumption to a struggle hundreds of miles away, but we urge you to take responsibility for that power and stand in solidarity with the people of Appalachia. We know that not everyone is able to put themselves at risk, but we firmly believe that all Americans can–and must– stand up and say: Massey Energy, Stop Putting Profits Before People!

Signed,

People of the Earth and Appalachia

Environmental groups, paddlers challenge Kentucky mining permit

GROUPS CHALLENGE CAMBRIAN COAL SURFACE MINING PERMIT

Here’s the press release:

ELKHORN CITY, KY The Sierra Club, Appalachian Citizens Law Center and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, joined by outdoor enthusiasts and paddlers, are challenging a permit submitted by Cambrian Coal Corporation that would allow for a new surface coal mine near Elkhorn Creek in Pike County. Cambrian Coal proposes to discharge mining waste into tributaries of Elkhorn Creek, Marrowbone Creek and Pond Creek, all of which run into Russell Fork, a major destination for many paddlers.

“For the past 7 years, I have participated in the Russell Fork Whitewater Rendezvous,” said Bill Pierskalla, a Sierra Club member and whitewater paddler. “If the proposed mine goes forward, I am concerned that people like myself will stop visiting Elkhorn City and paddling Russell Fork out of concern that the mining has polluted the water beyond safe limits.”

According to the groups, the 791-acre Cambrian Coal surface mine would severely jeopardize creek quality as well as land preservation, making recreational use of the area a less attractive option for tourists.

Aquatic biologist, local resident James Stapleton said, “I grew up along Elkhorn Creek, Ive hiked and fished in that area for years. As a child I used to swim in the creek, but now I am concerned that surface mining in this area has started to degrade the water to an unsafe level.”

Recently the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released new water conductivity standards in order to protect water and the health of surrounding communities. Water testing downstream of Cambrians existing mines in the area has found the water to be far above EPAs conductivity standards.

“I see no way this proposed mining operation could meet the requirements of the recent EPA guidance concerning conductivity. Already the area is above the recommended federal clean water standards,” said Rick Clewett of the Cumberland Sierra Club. “We should not be adding pollution to the area but cleaning it up. Additional mining could potentially eliminate the prospects for that community being able to succeed in their current efforts to develop and expand an economy based on water recreation and fishing.”

“Water is the back bone of our economy here in Elkhorn City. And at the end of the day, we need people to keep visiting our area to recreate and support our local businesses,” said Stapleton.

The Sierra Club is now taking legal action against Cambrian Coal to ensure that the affected waterways and community are protected from mine pollution. Attorney Mary Cromer with Appalachian Citizens Law Center is representing the Sierra Club.

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