THE MASSEY MINING DISASTER, THE BP OIL SPILL AND THE FUTURE OF CHEAP FOSSIL FUEL
Last month, an explosion at the Upper Big Branch Mine in West Virginia resulted in the worst mining disaster in four decades. The mine is owned by Massey Energy. This company is notorious not only for committing numerous and flagrant safety violations in their mining operations, but also for pursuing mountaintop removal mining throughout Appalachia. The mining disaster has raised new awareness about the true costs of "cheap" coal. Since the last time we discussed this subject on Locus Focus, the Obama administration has taken some steps to regulate mountaintop removal mining, but how effective will these new regulations be? This week Judy Bonds, co-director for Coal River Mountain Watch, returns to Locus Focus, to talk about the aftermath of the mining disaster and how it is changing the national conversation around our use of coal. We also compare what's happening in the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil rig explosion and massive oil leak with the attitudes and arrogance that contributed to the Massey mine disaster.
Julia "Judy" Bonds is a coal miner's daughter, granddaughter. She is an Appalachian American and her family has lived in the Coal River Valley in West Virginia for 10 generations. Julia has been fighting for social and environmental justice for Appalachian coalfields since 1998. Julia and others at Coal River Mountain Watch have embarked on a road show to educate America about the clean water act and to educate and motivate Americans about where their electricity comes from and who pays the true price. Julia says that this road show also serves to dispel negative Appalachian stereotypes.
Julia worked on safety issues on overweight coal trucks and is on the Governor's Safety Committee for commercial trucks. She was named the "Earthmover Award" in GEO Magazine and on Organic Style Magazine's Environmental Power list. She was recently featured in the Marsh issue of National Geographic, the first "green" issue of May's Vanity Fair and in the July issue of O, The Oprah Magazine. The O Magazine issue focused on tough West Virginian women.