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July 22, 2014     Post 49
Lakes and Mountains

What does Mountain Top Removal in Appalachia have to do with Lake Ontario? More than you think.

Consider the fact that June 2014 world wide was the hottest ever on record.

Consider the wide ranging impacts of climate change on our Great Lake that include;
increased frequency of blue green algae blooms,
more intense down pours and runoff containing pollutants from fields and storm sewers,
increased shoreline erosion from strong lake storms,
more snow,
more frequent botulism outbreaks and lots more dead birds and fish
and other impacts on human and animal health.

Burning fossil fuels contributes to the problem, and mountain top removal is one of the worst methods of extracting coal from a green house gas emissions viewpoint. Not only does it take millions of pounds of explosives (derived from fossil fuel in part) and millions of gallons of diesel fuel for heavy machinery to produce the coal but it also destroys hundreds of thousands of acres of forest land. Forest lands are known to be an excellent trap or 'sink' for carbon, sequestering it from becoming CO2 and entering the atmosphere.

Human health effects in Appalachia from mountain top removal are numerous. Babies born to mothers who live in areas with mountain top removal mining have a 26% higher rate of birth defects. That compares to babies born to mothers who smoke during pregnancy who only experience an 18% higher risk of birth defects.

This is not only a 'social justice' issue. This is not simply a question of morality. If you are a bean counter and a tax payer this is a pocket book issue for every American who pays taxes. Sick people in mountain communities cannot work. They cannot pay taxes. They cannot thrive. They must try to seek medical help. Do you want to support a few oligarchs who own the mines while also trying to support the people who can no longer work their land to create wealth and independence? That is not a healthy society.

My good friend and neighbor Roland Micklem went to West Virginia in early July to begin a 'vigil' outside the governor's office. As I write this on July 22 he had consumed only juice and water and was beginning the third week of what others called a 'fast for the mountains'. He and thousands of others in the region are calling on the U.S. Congress and the West Virginia governor to put a moratorium in place on mountain top removal while human health studies can be conducted. The legislation is known as H.R. 526.

The APPALACHIAN COMMUNITY HEALTH EMERGENCY (ACHE) campaign is a collaborative grassroots effort advocating for government action and protection of the public from the health crisis in mountaintop removal communities. The ACHE Act is a response to more than 20 peer-reviewed scientific studies published on the human health impacts of mountaintop removal and calls for a moratorium on mountaintop removal coal mining permits until health studies are conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services.

This issue impacts all of us. By contributing to higher green house gas emissions and by creating an ever growing area of poverty and poor health and low economic productivity. We need to stop this practice and we need to reduce our use of all fossil fuels ASAP. For the sake of our lake and that of our nation as a whole we need to pass H.R. # 526 ASAP.

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