We All Live Downstream: Act NOW!

I am not in the best situation for blogging this morning but must make you aware of this final Bush-era gift to Big Coal, one of his last insults to the people of Appalachia and Planet Earth. 

Read this short explanation below of the pending legislation, find out everything you need to know. Link

In one of the first of what will likely be many terrible Bush Administration last minute decisions as his term comes to an end, they are trying to force through the Stream Buffer Zone (SBZ) rule change. Last year, you may recall grassroots groups from across the US teamed up with national groups to send between 40,000 and 70,000 comments to the Office of Surface Mining, Reclaimation, and Enforcement (OSMRE) asking them to block the rule change – which would legalize and expand the worst abuses of mountaintop removal.

Please read and sign the petition to the EPA administrator; petition text  (subject to your additions or not) is included below.

I am writing to urge you not to approve the Office of Surface Mining’s final recommendation to repeal the Stream Buffer Zone rule. This rule is critical for the protection of aquatic life and safe drinking water for Appalachian communities.

It is the duty of the Environmental Protection Agency to protect the environment, not to allow coal companies to permanently destroy flowing streams.

The Office of Surface Mining’s recommendation would overturn an existing ban on mining within 100 feet of streams that has been in place since 1983. The Stream Buffer Zone rule is one of the only habitat protections for Appalachian ecosystems.

Rather than enforcing the rule to protect water quality, the Bush administration and the OSM are giving coal companies permission to permanently destroy streams. Over 1,200 miles of streams in Appalachia have already been devastated by mountaintop-removal coal mining.

As EPA administrator, it is your responsibility to protect the streams, habitats, and communities of Appalachia by not putting this rule change into effect.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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