SMALL SHIFTS IN THE DIRECTION OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY

Having wandered without hope in the arid desert of George W's environmental policies for the past eight years, even small signs of a shift in the policy winds are as welcome as a long drink of cool water.

Having wandered without hope in the arid desert of George W’s environmental policies for the past eight years, even small signs of a shift in the policy winds are as welcome as a long drink of cool water.

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In recent days, three signs of change wafted over us – all involving mining. The first was the two-year moratorium that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar imposed on new uranium mines adjacent to the Grand Canyon. Yes, the Bushites had opened this sacred national treasure to profiteering corporations eager to sink thousands of uranium mine shafts into the area’s public lands. Salazar’s move can lead to a permanent ban on such desecration.

Second, the winds are shifting on the 1872 mining law, which lets corporations dig into our public land for gold, copper, and other valuables. They extract huge profits for themselves, but – get this – they pay no royalties to us for the treasures they take, nor do they have to pay for cleaning up the poisonous mess they leave behind! At last, the Obamacans are moving the reform of this absurd bit of corporate welfare to the “top-tier” of their legislative agenda.

Third, the despicable mining technique known as “mountaintop removal,” used by thuggish coal giants operating in Appalachia, has drawn opposition from a Republican senator. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has signed on as co-sponsor of a bill to ban this mining method, which is destroying the beautiful, ancient mountains and pristine streams of the Appalachian area. In retaliation, a few mining outfits are trying to bully Alexander by boycotting corporate travel to Tennessee. Undaunted, Alexander replied that tourists come to his state “to see our scenic mountains whose tops have not been blown off.”

Okay, we’re certainly not out of the desert yet, but these small signs suggest a good direction for us.

"The issue isn't just jobs. Even slaves had jobs. The issue is wages." --Jim Hightower


“Ban Set on Mining Claims Adjacent to Grand Canyon,” The New York Times, July 21, 2009.

“Interior to halt uranium mining at Grand Canyon,” www.google.com, July 19, 2009.

“Uranium Exploration Near Grand Canyon,” The New York Times, February 7, 2008.

“137 Years Later,” The New York Times, July 21, 2009.

“West Virginia Coal Miners’ Group Urges Tennessee Boycott,” The New York Times, July 21, 2009.

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