6/30/12

derecho



I need to provide a link for this photo, which comes from the blog of a British wine writer, transplanted to Florida, who recently visited Charlottesville for a tasting of Virginia Viogniers.  This post was originally published at 11:02 p.m. on June 30, 2012.  I last updated it at 5:53 p.m. on July 1 to incorporate additional content.  I still need to add some links, so check back.

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Facebook Email Adresses

 I was wondering if we were having the Virginia Viognier wine tasting tomorrow at the home of friends in Roanoke who had lost power.  Another friend, unaffected by the Derecho wind storm that passed through Virginia,  had offered to host the event at her home.  The possible postponement or change in venue was a minor casualty of fallen AEP and Virginia Tech powerlines, due to gusts that reached up to 81 mph here.   Really minor in the face of death that some suffered elsewhere in Virginia.  Or  the devastation, lack of water and gasoline that friends experienced over in WV and Ohio--but more on that later.

To help out the original host and hostess a bit--who were contending with downed trees and lack of power and spoiled food--I thought I'd email the list of guests to keep everyone in the loop.  There were only a couple I didn't know and figured the hosts could forward my content on to those. I had neglected to ever make a list of folks' email addresses.  So, if I hadn't corresponded with them before, I went on facebook to compile the list.  But, when I looked, everyone had mysteriously changed their email providers from gmail or aol or yahoo or hotmail to facebook.


Several days ago,  I had wondered why several of my  friends had opted for a facebook email, when so few had opted for the "new timeline." But I hadn't thought anything of it.  But now the number appeared to be 20 out of 20.  That seemed odd,  given the high percentage of my contacts whom had not gone along with a switch to the "new timeline."


Doh, oh, that's right!   Facebook gave us a choice on whether to switch to the new timeline, at least for now. It turns out that Facebook, without prior permission or even notice,  has seen fit to change real public email that everyone had opted to list to a fake email that actually routes things as a facebook message.


I  hadn't notice any change in my own listing, because I only provide the URL for this blog, which then lists my public email. That in response to my being miffed by the photo-tagging facial recognition debacle, which I've written about.

So, we have yet another high-handed stealth change from Facebook,  after it promised the FCC to do better .  Just one more nail in the coffin of any remaining trust. The attempt to monopolize us within the garden is bad enough, although I can just message folks and ask for their real emails.  But why should I have to take that step?  And how many folks will just follow the path of least resistance?

Facebook email is an inferior product`

Facebook email is actually the same as its messaging, which has, like other functions, an oddly vague time stamp I find useless for communication.  There's the additional problem that Facebook hides most of the content if your chat goes on for a while. So even if I didn't want fb monopolizing my data, for who knows what purpose,  I'd opt out.  Yahoo messaging crashes the whole email system, so I'm still using gchat, which I've used for years.  That, depite Google seeming boldness in  jettisoning of its former promise to its users to "Not Be Evil.

And then there's the new Facebook messenger

If the email switch were not not enough, when I open up Facebook, I am hounded by a message each day uring me to install its messenger, so I can chat from my computer.  That way facebook can track me even when I don't open its website.  Say what?  Can you spell "fugetaboutit?"

As a small consolation Facebook has substituted this for a message telling me how many of my connections are updating to the new timeline.  But that may be because it stalled at a bit over
100 out of 934.   (I have a big list because so many folks use facebook to communicate about the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining.  And then there are relatives, my fellow literary writers,  journalists, and folks I know in the community, who are also here).  

That sent me looking for another illustration, which I had to adapt via Paint to adjust the dimensions to a square, the better to deal with the oddities of the layout on the "new timeline."



The original graphic, which I prefer, came from Eric Qualman and looked like this:



Qualman (email, twitter, bio)  is the author of  Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way
We Live and Do Business (Wiley, 2010, 320 pp). He used the graphic (no attribution) to illustrate his blog post http://www.socialnomics.net/2010/05/20/facebook-privacy-issues-the-irony/ about his concept that "Word of Mouth goes World of Mouth."

He wrote that he believed that
Facebook is smart enough to restore...comfort [about privacy] and restore it soon.If they don’t, it could be their eventual demise.After all, perception is reality, and their own tool can definitely hyper-accelerate perception into reality. Ironic, isn’t it?
Wonder what Qualman thinks now? If I found out, I'll let you know. I'm sharing this with him to let him know I want to use his art work.

6/27/12

When All Else Fails with The BLM Try Street Theater



Photo I cropped from one that appeared at a  2007 article at The Consumerist, "3 Confessions from a former Used Car Salesman." This post at 6:27 p.m. is a first draft to get the news out on tomorrow's protest against the BLM "auction" to Peabody Coal. I revised it at 7:37 p/m. but will be adding other links, so y'all come back, now!

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By now I hope you have read Juliet Eilperin's June 24 article in the Washington Post,
"Powder River Basin coal leasing prompts IG, GAO reviews."

As I wrote in a June 25 update to my original post on June 22,  Eilperin reports on the investigations of BLM "auctions" and also on  The Great Giveaway: An analysis of the United States’ long-term trend of selling federally-owned coal for less than fair market value by Tom Sanzillo (email) published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis on June 25.  Today, even on vacation,  She she tweeted and sent to fb  a link to the June 25 letter to Interior Secretary Salazar, signed by the Greenpeace, along with 21 other groups.  You can follow her @eilperin.

Unfortunately, Eilperin had a mainstream media "exclusive," although criticism of the BLM has been going on for years. If you were to look for coverage of the June 28 "auction" of coal leases to Peabody, you would find it on the websites of environmental groups and public interest law firms. For instance, Joe Smyth (email), of Greenpeace, wrote about the the BLM's coal leasing program on June 22. Theo Spencer (email) got something up on the NRDC on June 25 (after Eilperin's story appeared.)

And it's not just national media.  If you check the daily in Cheyenne, the last article appears to be "Coal leases could bring state billions" by Becky Orr (email) 3/23/2011, when Ken Salazar arrived to announce the leases, accompanied by Gov. Matt Mead, at a news conference at "Cheyenne's new South High School...one of many in Wyoming built with state money from mineral revenues."

That coverage kinda sounds like the stenography I've read by some "journalists" in Appalachia.  At least in West Virginia we have environmental journalist Ken Ward, Jr. and business writer Paul Nyden of the Charleston Gazette and  energy reporters Pam Kasey and Taylor Kuykendall of the State Journal to provide some nuance on the downside of the industry. And we have other good journalists in Bristol, Roanoke, Knoxville and Lexington, KY and in Pittsburgh, PA.

So what are folks to do to stop the BLM auctions in Cheyenne? As I reported, the BLM has continued helping Big Coal, despite  GAO criticism and lawsuits dating back for years.  And BLM is also a friend to the oil and gas companies: Tim DeChristopher is in jail, after successfully bidding at an oil and gas lease auction of 116 parcels of public land in Utah's redrock country.

 What are folks to do?  Out west, they've decided on ridicule.

Bryce Carter--who attended Virginia Tech--is now in Colorado with the Sierra Club. Even in face of the wildfires, he's working with Gina Hardin one of the activists on Coal Swarm's No New Coal Plants and Micah Parkin of 350.org and Kristin Owen Reay of High Country Rising Tide on a piece of street theater: "Get Rich Quick at Public Expense." If you happen near enough that you can join them, email Hardin at ginahardin@msn.com or call (303) 525-3076 or fax (303)539-3978.

Hardin tells me that at 8:30 in the morning tomorrow, June 28th, citizens will converge on the Bureau of Land Management Office in Cheyenne, WY to protest the fire sale of coal to benefit highly- profitable fossil fuel companies and foreign markets.

Some will dress up as used car salesmen and as Vanna White of Wheel of Fortune. Others will greet the BLM staff and its visitors holding a banner that reads “Coal Sale Happening Now: Get Rich Quick at Public Expense.” Other will dispay signs highlighting how the BLM sells leases to coal companies for a little over a dollar per ton for coal, which is then exported to Asia for close to $100 per ton.

All will urge the suspension of the day's "auction" of hundreds of acres and a moratorium of the BLM Powder River Basin coal auctions as a whole, until a comprehensive review and overhaul of the coal leasing process is completed. Besides the groups mentioned, other allies include WildEarth Guardians (who joined Sierra Club in suing the BLM), Jews of the Earth, Greenpeace and CO-FORCE. And of course, you'd don't have to be a member of a group to join in.

Of late, some direct actions against coal in Appalachia have been serious affairs, featuring lockdowns and sit-ins in Congressional offices. Next month RAMPs will plans to shut down a mountaintop removal site.

But, we have a tradition of street theater here, too.

Most recently United Mountain Defense showed up as coal zombies. Klu Klux Klowns of Mountain Justice ridicule the other KKK. The Southern Climate Convergence dressed up as polar bears suffering from the effects of greenhouse gases in Asheville. And Blue Ridge Earth First has sing Christmas coal carols at banks which fund mtr, long before the astroturf group Faces of Coal came up with their own lyrics.

Yesterday, media in Ohio did a good job of covering first-time civil disobedient Madeline Fitch's lockdown to protest fracking. In Ohio, unlike WV, KY, VA and TN, direct action may still be novel. And fracking seems to have more traction than coal protests.

So, I'll be interested to see what Orr and her fellow writers come up with, if anything, to cover tomorrow.

6/26/12

Today's Attack on EPA, Part Infinity: Coal Ash

 

Photo of  the largest coal-ash pond in the United States – the 1,700-acre Little Blue Run site in Pennsylvania and West Virginia for ’s Bruce Mansfield Plant. I started this post on June 26, publishing it at 8:06 p.m.  At that time, I identified it as the start of a post.  "It's been a busy news day, given the fracking protest in Ohio. "  On July 3, I worked a bit to add information on the MACT vote, but  I have more work to do.  The last revision was July 3, 12 at 7:37 p.m.

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 June 19, the WaPost's transportation reporter, Ashley Halsey III (email, archive) filed his latest story on the transporation bill, saying that both Reid and Boehner want it finished by June 30.
Without a conference-committee deal by June 30, Congress will face extending funding levels set in 2005 yet again.
 In an earlier story on June 13, he had reported how

The Republicans have linked three controversial non-transportation issues to the bill: expansion of offshore and arctic oil exploration, approval of the Keystone pipeline and relaxation of restrictions on use of coal ash.
Notice how all three have to do with environmental issues,  which the Republicans had not succeeded  in getting passed as stand-alone bills?  Actually, Halsey, who, after all is not an environmental reporter, didn't quite sum up the coal ash issue accurately to my lights. As Lisa Evans from the public interest environmental law firm EarthJustice explained in an email at 2:13 p.m. today, the proposed provision in the transportation bill:
 would prevent the EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] from ever issuing federal public health safeguards and would allow dangerous coal ash ponds to continue operating.
I'm not sure about the hyperbole that EPA would be prevented from "ever issuing" safeguards.  Any  law can be reversed.  And surely, if this transportation bill does pass, those supporting the EPA will have their work is cut out for them.  And it will be a hard slog, if they can't get enough Senators to stand up to the House. I'm sure they're hoping for a repeat of June 19's Senate rejection of Inhof's attempt to limit the EPA's authority to regulate reduce mercury emissions at U.S. power plants through its MACT regulations.  The opposition claimed the EPA was to bankrupt coal plans, harking back to his supposed hidden interview on coal with the editorial board of the SF Chronicle that the paper's political writer Carla Marinucci (@cmarinucci) debunked with a transript and video on November 2, 2008, when it was sprung as a "November suprise" right before the election.

Senator Rockefeller courageously stood up to Big Coal, leading Politico to calling him a lame duck.  Virginia's senators Webb and Warner voted with the Republicans.

Evans was asking folks to write their Senators and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson (email)

We don’t have much time. We are hearing a decision may be reached as soon as today.
Here's my letter to Senator Webb.  Since Webb is not running for re-election, I decided not to take him to task.
Dear Senator Webb,

Since you are not running for re-election, first let me thank you for your service to Virginia and the nation. As your constituent, I am writing you today to urge that you protect the health and environment of your fellow Virginians and other Americans and oppose a coal ash amendment in the final transportation bill. This is a underhanded legislative maneuver from the allies of moneyed polluters who seek both almost-total constraint on the EPA's authority and special treatment that absolves them of their true cost of doing business.

 The nation's attention has been focused on coal ash, ever since the TVA spill, which I wrote about here. Safe disposal of this waste is necessary for the public health and is an environmental justice issue. In nearly 200 cases in 37 states, coal ash has already poisoned water with arsenic, lead, selenium and other heavy metals. And we especially worry here in the New River Valley, where there is an unlined coal ash dump in the floodplain on the banks of the scenic New River, as reported on by Tim Thornton and which I've written about here. And we are not the only area affected. We've seen our fellow Virginians in Chesapeake become the subject of a 60 Minutes investigation of coal ash poisoning water the Battlefield Golf Course.

As you know, the coal ash amendment would prevent the EPA from enacting federal standards for the safe disposal of toxic coal ash. Please protect the public good, rather than siding with polluters.

Respectfully submitted,

Beth J. Wellington
P.O. Box _________ Blacksburg, VA 24062
I decided to confront Warner, however, although I tried not to antagonize him.

BTW, I heard back quickly, but only from Webb's Chief of Staff:

Thanks for your note. I shall share this with Senator Webb and Courtney Weaver, who handles these issues on the Senator’s staff.


6/22/12

Mr. Peabody's coal train wants to haul it away



 This photo  of mining in the Powder River Basin of Wyoming came from Peabody Energy (via Bloomberg).  I originally published this post on June 22, 2012 at 7:10 p.m. and last updated it at 10:45 a.m. on June 25, so that I could add this reference for you:  The Great Giveaway: An analysis of the United States’ long-term trend of selling federally-owned coal for less than fair market value by Tom Sanzillo (email), Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, June 25, 2012.  

H/T to the WaPo's terrific environmental reporter Juliet Eilperin (email, article archive) for helping me locate the report and for her June 24, 2012 article:  "Powder River Basin coal leasing prompts IG, GAO reviews."

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John Prine could have been singing about Peabody  in Wyoming in when he performed  his song "Paradise" on the January 2, 2010 episode of the Marty Stewart Show.
(2:00) And then the coal company came with the world's largest shovel
Well, they tortured the timber and they stripped all the land
They dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
And then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.
Of course, Prine was singing about Kentucky:
And daddy won't you take me back to Muhlenberg County
Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
Well, I'm sorry my son, but you're too late in asking
Mister Peabody's coal train has hauled it away
But, just as in Appalachia, Peabody and other big coal companies are hauling away parts of the West, using the Powder River Basin as a a sort of colony, from which it can strip mine taxpayer-owned coal and ship it to the lucrative Asian market. For this, you can thank the  U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which in 1990 moved to de-certify the the Basin as a coal producing region – even though it’s the source of almost half the coal mined in the US.

The de-certification means that on June 28,  2012,  BLM will “auction” an additional 721 million tons in the Powder River Basin (announced in the Federal Register on May 25).  And Peabody can again low-ball its bid knowing that it can just submit another one, should the BLM balk (ever so slightly.)

I say again because Peabody Energy  leased 402 million tons of coal reserves in five square miles adjacent to its North Antelope Rochelle mine in Wyoming, as the only bidder in an  "auction"  by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM) on On May 17, 2012.  The company paid $1.11 per mineable ton in a sealed "lease by application". It had previously bid just $0.90 per ton on February 29, which resulted in the "do-over."  In addition to the Peabody lease, BLM sold another to Arch Coal Inc., owner of Black Thunder Mine, the largest coal-mining complex in the world, according to the company's website.

On April 24, Congressman Ed Markey called for another  Government Accountability Office examination of the BLM’s coal leasing practices. Tom Sanzillo holds that , the BLM’s methods dramatically undervalue the coal, so much so that it has amounted to a $28.9 billion subsidy over the last 30 years. As early as 1984, subsequent to the controversial Powder River Basin coal lease sale of 1982,the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of the Interior found that the "reports and related investigative work were "inadequate and incomplete. Numerous leads were either dismissed or not pursued to reasonable conclusions, and serious discrepancies were never resolved."

On May 2, the Sierra Club and WildEarth Guardians filed in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., (Civ. No. 1:11-cv-00670-CKK) saying the federal Bureau of Land Management failed to consider the impact of greenhouse gases when 2 billions tons of coal is burned from four government mineral leases in the Wyoming portion of the Powder River Basin.

The environmental groups argue that the BLM broke federal laws and agency rules by neglecting to analyze fully the global impact of carbon dioxide and other pollutants released by power plants and want a federal judge to suspend the government's plan to lease and mine coal from the tracts at least until the BLM completes a supplemental analysis on the environmental impacts.

On May 10, Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly  dismissed the case without prejudice for lack of standing, adding in a further blow that she didn't have the purview to reign in the BLM's actions:
if Plaintiffs had standing, the Court would adhere to its prior holding that “the question of when and where to establish coal production region s is a matter that has been committed to the BLM’s discretion by law and lies beyond the ambit of judicial review .” WildEarth Guardians v. Salazar, 783 F . Supp . 2d 6 1, 74 (D .D .C . 20 11) . To the extent circumscribed judicial review of the BLM’s discretion is called for in the context of a petition under 5 U .S.C . § 553(e), the BLM “has adequately explained the facts and policy concerns it relied on and [the Court is satisfied] that those facts have some basis in the record .” Defenders of Wildlife v. Gutierrez , 532 F .3d 9 13, 9 19 (D .C . Cir . 200 8) (internal quotation marks omitted); see also Am . Horse Prot. Ass’n, Inc. v. Lyng , 8 12 F .2d 1, 4 - 5 (D .C . Cir . 1987) . When “agency action is committed to agency discretion by law ,” 5 U .S.C . § 70 1(a)(2), the dismissal must be for failure to state a claim , see Sierra Club v. Jackson , 64 8 F .3d 84 8, 853-54 (D .C . Cir . 20 11), which is an adjudication on the merits. Therefore, although the end result would for all practical purposes be the same, the Court cannot rely on this ground as an alternative basis for its decision .
In a June 8 email, Frank Zaski, a retired Chrysler Manager in Franklin, MI, who is active with the Sierra Club analyzed the BLM's October 2011  "Record of Decision" for the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for Peabody's  North Porcupine Coal Lease Application (WYW173408 ):
In the North Porcupine EIS, the BLM stresses the US will need a lot of coal thru 2035 and they are only looking out for our future energy needs. Using dated assumptions, the BLM went out of their way to minimize the charge that leasing this track would contribute to climate change.
Zaski points out that while the BLM stated in its EIS that studies “were consistent in finding that coal-fired electric generation would represent 52-58 percent of the electric generation portfolio by 2030, as compared to the current 51 percent” and that "“coal use continues to be projected as the largest portion of the domestic electric fuel mix.”
Coal's share of total net generation actually dropped to 34% in March 2012. [according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.]
He adds that while the BLM argued that denying the lease "would deny the mine operator the ability to compete with other operators in an open market for a future coal demand that is projected to continue until at least 2035," the agency
didn't mention that many PRB [Powder River Basin] mining companies already have up to a 30 year supply and big export plans.
He  questions the BLM statement that “the key determinant of energy consumption is population" and that "Fossil fuels and clean technology coal will have to be part of the mix if the U.S. is able to have enough energy in the future," asking
Why is the BLM leasing these rights as fast as they can? At the current (and declining) rate of use, the miners probably a have 40 - 50 year supply of coal in the ground. Is BLM selling these coal leases while they can before natural gas, EE, RE, EPA, increasing strip ratios and diesel costs really kill coal?
He points to  the BLM's website statement that its "managed land contributed more than $130 billion to the U.S. economy and supported more than 600,000 American jobs. The Bureau is also one of a handful of agencies that collects more revenue than it spends," stating,
[T]he BLM appears to think of themselves as a profit center on a mission.
I'd add that the BLM's mission is supposed to be, according to its own statement, to

sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of America’s public lands for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.
We know about the impact of coal mining and burning on public health, not to mention how little is left after strip mining of public lands for us to use and enjoy. WildEarth Guardians’ 2009 report “UnderMining the Climate” found that over the last 20 years, only 3 of 21 lease by applications to mine coal on public lands had more than one bidder.

You'd think we'd want to lease to the highest bidder and reserve our coal for our own country's use, when nothing cleaner will do.  If we can't count on the administration or on the Courts, it would seem our last hope rests with a Congress, which to date has been too friendly to Big Coal.

BLM's  de-certification and current auctions make me wonder just how long we're going to let our government  help Mr. Peabody with his hauling.



6/15/12

Michael Chapman at Gillies with the Twigs




Photo of Michael Chapman by his  "partner and muse," Andru from my friend (and fellow journalist)  Mike Gangloff of the Black Twig Pickers 's photo essay on Facebook.  For those of you who don't have access, let me know and I'll ask Mike if I can email you a copy or quote from it here when I have more time.  This was originally published on June 15, 2012 at 8 p.m. and last updatedat 6:20 pm on June 30, when the Twigs had another gig playing at The Cellar.


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How great is this?  I got to see The Black Twig Pickers and Michael Chapman @ Gillie's on Thursday night with Sally Morgan. If you want an encore, come to Community Center in Newport, Virginia at 7 on Saturday night, June 16, where they'll be playing again at the Jamboree, along with the Porch Loungers.

You can also listen to Tad's interview podcast of Chapman, which includes selections from his music.  



And here's a video of Rainmaker:

Here's Tad's video of the Twigs playing the Old Time tune "Boatman"




And here's his video on Chapman playing his song, "In the Valley."



6/9/12

Nat Reese, ¡Presente!


Photo of Nat Reese from the website of  West Virginia Culture Fest, held at the  Appalachian South Folklife Center in Pipestem. As you'll see in the comments the photographer was John Maeder, who took it in Nat's living room in Princeton, WV.

This post was first published on June 9 at  6:45 p.m. and then updated as additional material became available.  The current version was published at 4:05 p.m. June 15. H/T to  Mike Gangloff and Dana Stoker Cochran for helping me hunt down recordings.  And to fellow poet Edison Jennings, whose new-found enthusiasm for Reese spurred me to continue writing on this post.  Also to Jon Lohman and John Maeder for their encouragement.

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The late West Virginia blues and gospel wonder Nat Reese had Virginia connections

Nathaniel H. ‘‘Nat’’ Reese  was born March 4, 1924 up the road from here in Salem, Virginia on Water Street --where his father worked for the coal and ice company in Roanoke and did custodial work at Hollins College. Reese maintained his musical links with our area, playing often in Roanoke (where he was often the highlight of the Blue Ridge Blues Society's Blues and BBQ Festival), Blacksburg (where he played with Doc Herling at the Cellar) and Floyd (at FloydFest and the Pine Tavern.)

Now comes  sad news of his death on June 8 from Jon Lohman, director of the Virginia Folklife Program (VFP) (email) of the Virginia Foundation of the Humanities.

Seaver Funeral Home in Princeton says the service there will be open to the public, with Reverend Barry Early of Harvest Outreach Center, Princeton, officiating:

11 a.m., Saturday June 16
Seaver Funeral Home
1507 North Walker Street
Princeton, WV

Memory book

Goldenseal Magazine,which has posted wonderful photos on fb.  One of my favorites shows Reese with his grandson in 1987 taken by Mike Keller, used courtesy of Goldenseal.


Virginia Folklife Program and Reese

Reese's most recent recording, "Save a Seat for Me, " is still available as a CD from VFP. John Maeder (email, fb portrait business page) wrote the  bio for the CD and  Jon Lohman included Reese's explanation for each song.  I've included the explanations with each videos I was able to locate, which you'll find below. I've got the track list at the bottom of this post.


In "A Man and a Half," Lohman writes,
One of his favorite lines to sing was “If you make it into Glory before I do, save a seat for me.”

I have no doubt they did.
So, in Reese's memory, here's a video from the Virginia Folklife Program of Reese singing the title cut  from the VFP CD.
 
"Save a seat for me"
 


On the liner notes for the CD Reese says,
That was from Archie Brownlee with the Five Blind Boys out of Mississippi, not the ones from Alabama. He died in 1955 in New Orleans, Louisiana. Archie’s real name was Wickerson, I mean his blood people. He was raised by the Brownlee family in Shady Side, Michigan. Archie would come up to Detroit every year to sing in that quartet contest downtown. Archie would come over to the house three and four days a week and just set around and play music and sing. He was sitting there singing The Lord’s Prayer and he said, “I got a good song!” He sung it over and over again. One of his buddies was a baritone. So Archie started singing it again and he started singing that baritone part and I started singing tenor and playing the guitar. Then it began to kind of sink in a little bit. I began to like it. Then I fell in love with it. And that’s how I learned it, singing it with Archie in my house. That was on Mullet Street in Mt. Clemens, back in 1955.
"Too Many Bad Habits"

Lest you think Reese had only heaven on his mind, Reese's repertoire included this  bawdy song by Johnny Nicholas, who owns and runs a cafĂ© outside of Fredericksburg, Texas.  Here's a video of Reese performing the number at the 2010 Floydfest:


Reese, on the liner notes explains that he only sings this song in adult company:
I was awful cautious never to use profanity in my songs. I don’t use it. I do a family show, and you can bring your children to my show. Too Many Bad Habits is as far as I ever bend over with a song.  And a lot of times I won’t do it until the last part of my concert, and if I see a child in the audience I won’t sing it.I know that might make me too of a high-handed of a guy, but that’s just the way I am. And I won’t change on that.
Here's a 9 1/2 minute video of a version I like even better of Reese performing "Too Many Bad Habbits"  at the Blues and BBQ Fest on July 21 2007  It come via Hoppy Vaughan (email, website)  who is playing with Reese,  my friend from New River Free Press Days, Rich Rittenhouse of  Chicken Wings and Gravy (website) and Red Ricks. Rich posted an short excerpt at YouTube here.

And video of the same song from 2011, with an introduction from Jon Lohman.  Reese is playing solo in a a bit more melancholy style  at Floyd Fest.  It comes from the Roanoke Times channel at You Tube via the paper's music reporter Tad Jenkins at his cutNscratch blog.  I've just been in touch with Tad and he's planning to write something on Reese for the paper.



"Just A Dream"

Here's video of Reese performing at the 2010 Floydfest.


Reese comments:
I was about 18 years old and I heard a song almost like “Just a Dream” and I never could get the right tone and the right sound of the verse so I made up the rest of it.  It wasn’t that version, it was another song, but it ended up what I call “Just a Dream.”
He describes the song as a "blues and a love song combined in another this video of a 1995 performance in Germany  in which his long-time partner "Louie Bluie" Armstrong, plays not fiddle, but mandolin and does back-up vocals.  Contrast these versions with those of the songwriter, "Big Bill Broonzy" performing it in the film Low Light and Blue Smoke by Belgian filmmaker Jacques Boigelot.  


And one last version, a (slightly mistitled)  video of a performance at Gary Bowlings House of Art in Bluefield, WV uploaded to YouTube in 2008.

 

"Ain't Nobody's Business If I Do"

In this video, Reese sings at Culture Fest in Pipestem in 2009.  According to Maeder he learned the song off a Billy Holiday recording. (Maybe 1951?)  For contrast, here's Bessie Smith's 1923 version and Eric Clapton's re-creation. The reference to "ham and bacon" seems to be from Jimmy Witherspoon, but Reese sings a version that talks about sharing money with his lover, rather than fighting and shooting her, that can be found there and in other versions.


"Exactly like you"

This video is from the same gig of another romantic song, according to Maeder from the 1930 Broadway production “International Revue.”  He says that Reese learned it from several 78rpm recordings by different bands.



Slippin' Around

B.B. King wrote this as “Sneakin’ Around With You.” Jon Lohman noted that Reese always sang the lyrics as "slippin' around," which I find interesting because country star Ernest Tubb used that expression in his own song about infidelity. Here is a video Reese with Chris Sutton of C and S Railroad behind the cultural center at the Vandalia Gathering which Sutton posted to YouTube in 2008.


I got that from one of BB King’s shows I saw on TV.  My grandson recorded it for me.  It’s one of the songs BB likes to sing.
Other songs not on the CD

Here's a  video of Reese in Huntington singing, "WV Blues Man" at the 2010 Diamond Teeth Mary Blues and  Arts Festival.


I love this video of  Reese performing  "Since I Fell for You"  with Phil Wiggins at the 2010 Richmond Folk Festival, when the theme was "From Maritime to Mountain Time."



My absolute favorite, though,  is Reese on mandolin in the video below performing "John Henry" with Howard "Louie Bluie" Armstrong playing an extraordinary fiddle. (Armstrong is singing and Graham Anderson is on contrabass.)


Reese talks about the move to WV and coal mining

 In this  interview with Michael Kline of Elkins, WV  (email, website),  published in Goldenseal Magazine in 1987, Reese recounts his life up until 1981. Reese had been in West Virginia since 1928, when his father moved the family to Itmann in Wyoming County because coal jobs were plentiful there.
You know how rumours go - you can shake money off the trees! So he decided he'd kind of like to shake a couple of these trees. He came out here and worked on the Virginian Railroad for about 58 years, and he still didn't find that money tree.
In early 1934, his family moved to Princeton in Mercer County, where he was living at the time of his death.

Once in Princeton,  Reese musical ranging from big-name jazz musicians to local black musicians to the country performers on radio shows such as the Grand Ole Opry. He learned to play guitar, as well as piano, organ, bass, and string harp.  After classes at Genoa High School, he'd work in the mines. As he told Kline,
Oh, I first went in about 17 or 18, somewhere along in there. I would work a while and then I would go to school, and then I'd work a while and then go to the railroad. I guess I had about eight years in the mines, something like that. I worked in a lot of small mines up this way, you know, these little one- and two-horse mines up here in Matoaka.

Back, say, in the early '40's and back in there, boy, you had to do your own shooting. You'd blow your holes, cap up your own powder, and boy, that put out a smoke and a gas that was hard to inhale. And you'd have to get that out and move that rock. Oh, you'd have to go back on that powder. You shoot it and then you take your shovel, a No. 4 shovel, and fan the smoke, to go back in there so you can hurry up and start loading, set your timber and start loading, you see.

And you had to do your own brattice work. Brattice is nothing but burlap, you've seen burlap bags. It was cut in great big sheets and you would nail it on the posts, on your timbers, and that's how you got air to the coal face where you worked. And it didn't work good. Now, I'll just tell you, it didn't work good.

Well, now they got a law, said you must have 10 years, or better, or you wouldn't have black lung. Well, two could be loading in a place, and that dust would be so bad 'till I couldn't see you over there. I know you're over there because I can hear you shoveling, but I can't see you.

And, oh my God! you cough that stuff up. I bet you the last mine I worked in, it was three years afterwards that I was still coughing up black. And I don't know how many years that it was just brown, just like I was chewing tobacco, or something. Two or three years of that is black lung. I've got it now. I passed my test for it.
A few more biographical notes

Reese played jazz and blues on Bill Farmer’s Saturday night show on radio station WHIS Bluefield and attended Bluefield State College for two years. During and after his college years, he was part of a dance band that played jazz, polkas, and blues throughout the southern coalfields.

Reese only left West Virginia to serve in the army during World War II and then in the early 1950's to work construction jobs in Michigan. He returned to West Virginia in 1959 to work for the State Road Commission and then  as a photographic silkscreen printer at Rockwell International’s aviation plant in Princeton from 1962 until 1975

Reese's discography

 According to the online WV Encyclopedia, recordings by Reese include Just a Dream and West Virginia Blues by the West Virginia Blues Man [sic].

Just a Dream



(Elkins, WV: Augusta Heritage Records, 1988)

With  with his late partner "Louie Bluie" Armstrong on fiddle and Ralph Gordon
on bass (whom you  may know from Trapezoid and Freda and the Acoustic Attitude.)
  1.  Just a dream
  2. There'll be some changes made
  3. Since I fell for you 
  4. Ain't nobody's business
  5. Hello baby
  6. You left me
  7. The preacher and the bear
  8. Darlin' I love you 
  9. Key to the highway
  10. Shanty town

West Virginia Blues Man

I could only find the mention online of this CD through an archived copy of the website for Fiddletunes out of Logan West Virginia. I'll check with Keller, who has worked on the Encyclopedia to see if he knows what happened to the company.  Here's a picture of the album cover and the tracklist:


  1. Ain't Gonna Throw This Away
  2. Don't Leave Me
  3. I Got a Sweet Little Angel
  4. Tired Of Slippin' Around
  5. It's Your Time Now (It'll Be My Time After a While)
  6. Shanty In Old Shanty Town
  7. Sick and Down
  8. The Lonesome Laundromat
  9. Since I Fell For You
  10. Ain't Nobody's Business
  11. There'll Be Some Changes Made
  12. Key To the Highway
Always Lift Him Up



Reese played "Black and Blue Blues" on this 2007 album.

Save a Seat for Me


  1. The Preacher and the Bear--George Fairman (1881-1962)  of Front Royal Virginia (audio)
  2. Just a Dream--William Lee Conley “Big Bill” Broonzy (1893-1958)
  3. Exactly Like You--Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh
  4. There’ll Be Some Changes Made--Billy Higgins and W. Benton Overstreet
  5. Take My Hand, Precious Lord--Thomas Dorsey (1899-1993)
  6. Down And Out Blues--Arthur L. Sizemore
  7. ‘Tain’t Nobody’s Business If I Do--Porter Grainger and Everett Robbins
  8. Juice Headed Woman-- RL Jones of North Carolina a.k.a. “Guitar Gabriel.” (audio)
  9. Laundromat Blues Sandy Jones Jr. 
  10. I Ain’t Gonna Throw It Away--Howard Armstrong(fiddler and Reese's late performing partner)
  11. Key To The Highway-- Big Bill Broonzy 
  12. Too Many Bad Habits--Johnny Nicholas of Fredericksburg, Texas.
  13. Don’t Deceive Me (Please Don’t Go)--Chuck Willis
  14. On The Sunny Side of the Street-- Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh
  15. Slippin’ Around--B.B. King
  16. Save A Seat For Me-- Clifford Driver
Honors

 Reese received the John Henry Award in 1988 and the Vandalia Award (West Virginia's highest folklife honor) in 1995.

In 2003, Reese was one of the featured performers at the Smithsonian's 37th Annual Folklife Festival on the National Mall, Washington in DC.   The Smithsonian Institution's Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage had chosen as one of the festival's themes "Appalachia: Heritage and Harmony," in celebration of the  75th anniversary of the "Bristol Sessions."

In 2009, the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame inducted him as a member. Here's a video from the Hall of Fame which goes into greater detail than I have and includes some of his music.  At the site, there's also an audio recording of "Blues Jumped a Rabbit."



So let's  close the video section of this post with a (fuzzy) one of another performance of "Save a Seat for Me."  Below, on the occasion of his induction in the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame in Charleston, Reese performs with harmonica virtuoso--and one of my favorite musicians--Phil Wiggins (email, website). (Warning turn down the audio--the applause will deafen you if you're wearing earphones.)





Reese and Cephas and Wiggins at Augusta

Wiggins, of course, played with guitar player John Cephas, who died in 2009.  Both of them knew Reese from the annual Augusta Heritage Arts Workshops at Davis and Elkins College where they all taught.

On the liner notes for the cut of "Down And Out Blues" Reese told  Maeder that Cephas once told him at Augusta,
You got one of the most original blues voices that I ever heard in my life. There’s something about your voice that I ain’t got and a lot of these other guys ain’t got either.
Reese replied,
Well, I come from old stock and somewhere I learned something from somebody or stole something from somebody. But I got it and I’m using it!
If there's a heaven, I'll bet Reese is using that blues voice with Cephas right now...

6/7/12

If Trees Fall in the Forest...


Scott Parkin, in DC to lobby Congress to put an end to mountaintop removal,  posted this picture yesterday to facebook.  He captions it "Standing Up For Tennessee's Mountains By Sitting-In" and writes, "Vickie Terry and Jack McNelis were arrested today for refusing to leave Rep. Duncan's office. Rep. Duncan refuses to acknowledge that mountaintop removal even exists in Tennessee."  This post was first published at 1:36 p.m. on 6/7/12 and last updated at 6:45 p.m. on 6/13.

*
Out of the  21 (or 22) arrests yesterday, at least six and probably seven occurred at the office of our own Ninth District's Morgan Griffith.  Another two were of folks sitting-in at the office of  TN's John Duncan.  So here are my questions:

Why are the media outlets in Virginia and Tennessee running a story datelined  KY? 
Why is there more attention on that "coal porn story" than the destruction and how to stop it?

If Jeff Goodell of Rolling Stone can take the time to write a piece which includes information on why are the media outlets in Virginia  and Tennessee running an AP piece by Dylan Lovan datelined Louisville KY?

There's plenty of material online if reporters want to cover yesterday's protest at Congressional offices to end the destruction of mountaintop removal.  Just got to twitter and search on the hashtags #endmtr and #Apprising.

I've  heard from both Vickie Terry and Jack McNelis that it's fine to use their picture, shown above, which wasn't part of the Appalachian Rising photo pool.  Press releases from Appalachia Rising included Terry's statement.
I told my Congressman that he should know better than to get between a mother and the safety and health of her children. I am so frustrated they continue to destroy our mountains and our health, and I would do anything to protect the health of my children and grandchildren.
McNelis just emailed me from a friend's laptop to add his own take on things:

It's disgraceful that congressman duncan shows such disrespect to his constituents and the health of tennesseans. he proved his cowardice to me personally by making up excuses for not meeting with us, accusing honest members of the communities in his district of being rude and making personal attacks at him when in actuality it was the other way around. our action isn't going to get through his thick head that he is allowing us to be poisoned but it may show the voters that he could care less how much he really cares about us.
 The reason I ask is two-fold. 

First, folks don't get arrested just so their friends will know.  They want to get a message out to the general public. I'm guessing those members of the public want to follow what's happening in  their own state. A Virginia (or Tennessee) headline with all the quotes about Hal Rogers seems a bit of a bait and switch.  And an AP story--especially one from out of state-- seems like what it is, an easy fix--better than nothing but...

 Second,  no reporter is calling Griffith or Duncan and holding them accountable.  If we're not reaching a larger audience, why should folks want to get arrested?  Why should folks want to send in money to bail them out?  If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears...

Contrast this the coverage by the other two Appalachian states cursed with mtr

 In West Virginia, , as pointed to by Jeff Goodell, you'll find a  a podcast and transcript by Glynis Board of West Virginia Public Radio.  Board includes interviews with Dana Kuhnline and Maria Gunnoe, with most of the other information gleaned from a news release. Ken Ward, Jr., however, in his reliably enterprising fashion, has a piece up at his Charleston Gazette blog, The Coal Tattoo entitled "Rahall and coal:  What's a W. Va congressman to do?"

In Kentucky, Bill Estep of the Lexington Herald Leader took the time to not only write a story last night, but update it this morning. He includes an interview with KFTC's Canary Coalition organizer Kevin Pentz, who was one of the (non-arrested) folks sitting in at Rep. Hal Rogers of KY's office.  Estep also includes the results of calls he made to Roger's office and to the Capitol Police.

Could we use the eyes balls on that other story, please, to hold politicians accountable?

Goodell  uses the arrests as a frame for his interview with Maria Gunnoe on the story with more buzz.  Yeah, you know the one.  As I wrote him and others, it sure would be nice if all these eyeballs on the porn story would actually call and write and tweet and fb Congress and the Obama administration and Romney about their outrage at the lack of will put a stop to the destruction. (of maybe not lack of will, but a matter of political contributions?)

Brandon Hill's (website, email) video of Virginians occupying Griffith's office features Jane Branham talking about how folks were handed back the signs they tried to use to "redecorate"including, "We can't afford to buy our own politician."

The treatment of the current controversy is especially ironic if you remember the Dylan Lovan story on the billboard featuring mtr opponent Ashley Judd that went up at a coal tournament sponsored by the  Friends of Coal and the Pikeville-based Coal Operators and Associates.  The  billboard (for which no one would claim credit) included a semi-nude picture of Judd accompanied by the slogan, "Ashley makes a living removing her top. Why can’t coal miners?”

 Here's how folks from all over can join the fight.  

If you want to help you can click here  using your zip code to confirm the name of your representative. Then check to see if he or she is a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act..  If so, thank them.  If they are not, here's a script to ask them to sign up from the organizers at Week in Washington:

Hello, my name is ______________ and I live in ______________ . I’m calling to request that Representative ______________ cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1375), a bill that would help to end mountaintop removal coal mining — an extreme form of coal mining that has already destroyed over 500 mountains in Appalachia and over 2,000 miles of streams. A number of recent scientific studies have also shown that mountaintop removal poses serious health risks to local citizens. I urge Representative ______________ to cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act today.

This Congress, the Clean Water Protection Act has 124 cosponsors (check current number here...1 sponsor _ 123 co-sponsors = 124). Please become a sponsor by contacting Tuley Wright in Congressman Pallone’s office or Michelle Tranquilli in Congressman Reichert’s office.

They also suggest that you add something personal.  Mentioning a local treasure that you would not like to see destroyed.  For instance you wouldn't want to blow up Mt. Rushmore for coal. Similarly, our mountains in Appalachian are a national treasure that the whole country must work together to preserve.

And you can actually become part of the Congressional Record through June 15, 2012

The Congressional Record is officially open through Friday, June 15, 2012 according to the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, where Maria works. As such, you can send an email via naturalresources@mail.house.gov  to the The House Committee on Natural Resources, its Chairman "Doc" Hastings, The Subcommittee  on Energy and Mineral Resources and its Chairman Doug Lamborn.  Ask for a public apology to the family of the young child in the photo, the photographer and to Maria Gunnoe, whom the committee detained for police investigation because she wanted the committee to see the photo of a little girl force to bathe in toxic coal pollution. Make sure you include this at the beginning, if it is to be included in the official record:
I wish to submit the following letter for the public Congressional record of the Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources Oversight Hearing on Friday, June 1, 2012, at 10:00 AM, entitled “The Obama Administration’s Actions Against the Spruce Coal Mine: Canceled Permits, Lawsuits and Lost Jobs.”
You'll be in good company, as Lexington Herald-Leader's Editorial Board and the staff of the Goldman Environmental Prize.  In fact, you just might want to point that out in the letter, or  Jeff's article and/or any others that you've read.  If you need to find some articles, just Google (or Bing or DuckDuckGo "Maria Gunnoe + Katie Falkenberg."

Oh, and if you want to help just a bit more, why not add a comment at the posts and say what you've done and invite them to do the same.



Will you lend a hand? Trees are literally falling in Appalachia

They are being cut and dumped into valleys as part of the "overburden" that gets in the way of mtr mining.  That leads to flooding.  And the crushed  mountains dumped in the same valleys release toxic chemicals that poison the water , as shown that picture.

 I'm not sure why mtr hasn't gained the traction of the Keystone pipeline, despite coverage by Goodell and others, but we need more than luck or the courage he writes about.

Scientific studies have shown we need to act now to prevent future destruction and to protect Appalachia for future economic opportunities.

6/6/12

Appalachians Occupy Congress!


Photo of retired underground coal miner Stanley Sturgill from Kentucky, whose op-ed, "The Cost of Being Number One in Mountaintop Removal" appeared in The Hill on 6/4/12.  Appalachia Rising reports that Sturgill was one of 22 arrested--of the approximately 4 dozen deployed--2 from VA, 7 from WV, 7 from KY and 6 from TN.

*

In a continuation of the direct actions I last reported on from West Virginia on May 24, this morning at 10:34 residents from my home state of Virginia,  joined those from three other states severely impacted by mountaintop removal coal mining to conduct a sit-in in protest of their Congressmen's  refusal to protect their communities in the offices of  Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Nick Rahall (D-WV), Hal Rogers (R-KY), and Jimmy Duncan (R-TN).

I first posted at 10:47 a.m. and am updating this,  having heard back at 3:53 pm from Lieutenant Kimberly Schneider of the Capitol Police that
Names aren’t yet available and defendants are currently being processed @ U.S. Capitol Police Headquarters. 
She provided an outline of places, times and number of arrests, all 21 for unlawful entry.  The number is off by one and the allocation by state is rearranged from what Appalachia Rising reported, so I'm checking back:
  • Longworth Bldg., Room 1108, approx. 11:30 am  is the office of Morgan Griffith
    7 arrests (v.s.2)
  • Rayburn Bldg., Room 2406, approx. 12:26 pm is the office of Hal Rogers
    6 arrests (v.s. 7)
  • Rayburn Bldg., Room 2307, approx.. 12:58 pm is the office of Nick Rahall
    6 arrests (v.s. 7)
  • Rayburn Bldg., Room 2207, approx. 1:49 pm is the office of John Duncan
    2 arrests (v.s. 6)
Here's a (blurry) screen shot (at 58 seconds) of this of several live videos posted at about 2 p.m.  It shows the eventual arrest of West Virginian Larry Gibson by Capitol Police.  Folks were singing  John Denver's "Take Me Home, Country Roads."



And here's a screen shot  (at 17 seconds  in this video) of Jane Braham, a retired nurse who lives in Wise County and a member of  Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards.  She's standing outside Morgan Griffith's office and folks are singing her original song, "Stop Tearing the Mountain Down."


Jane explained her participation in the sit-in to Dana Kuhnline of the Alliance for Appalachia before it started:
We have no choice...My health is failing; we have some elderly people with us today. It is very hard for us to come all this way. But we are here fighting for our very survival.

 Her fellow member Laura Miller,  a retired professor who was not arrested, told Kuhnline, 
What I’d really like to see is for Griffith to get his head out of the sand and represent the people of our district instead of selling his soul to the coal industry....I’m fighting for a future and a hope that we can have a sustainable economic situation in the areas of Appalachia that have suffered because of coal. I’d like to see future generations able to stay in the homeplaces where our families have been here for centuries. We need to stop mountaintop removal YESTERDAY.

Ken Ward, Jr. of the Charleston Gazette has written in an eloquent essay about coal politics and how it seeks to ignores "[t]he solid scientific consensus about mountaintop removal’s damage to our environment — not to mention the growing evidence of its impacts on public health."

MTR's  "strip mining on steroids" results in staggering public health costs and districts with mountaintop removal face some of the highest poverty rates in the United States.  More than similar counties with no mining. Branham and the others list of demands for Representative Griffith are that he:

1. Schedule a visit before October to tour Wise County with residents of communities affected by mountaintop removal  (including Inman, Roda, Andover, Exeter, and Appalachia)

2. Cease attacking the EPA because that agency is the only one enforcing the regulations designed to protect Appalachian communities.

3. Stop slandering constituents who are working to defend their communities against the adverse impacts of mountaintop removal.

4. Represent the people in his district, rather than the coal companies, by signing on to co-sponsor HB1375, the Clean Water Protection Act.

The demands for Rayhall, Rogers and Duncan are similar.

Why do I think Griffith won't listen?  Is it because he (and Democrat Rick Boucher before him) would rather represent the coal companies?    When Griffith was running against Boucher, I wrote him on 7/29/2010:
I don't expect that you'll remember me, but I was the founding Executive Director of New River Community Sentencing and we chatted once about railroads at some judicial function. I'm wondering what your position will be on the EPA's regulation of fly ash and on supporting the Clean Water Protection Act, to stop the dumping of top soil, trees and mine waste resulting from the current methods used in mountaintop removal coal mining.

This is one place where you might distinguish yourself from Mr. Boucher and win support in the northern part of District 9, as well as a significant number of folks living in the coal fields who do not like their mountains being blown up.

 I didn't hear back until August and then it was from campaign staffer and subsequent executive assistant Mary Stafford, who wrote on 8/25,
I appreciate your email to Morgan - and I apologize that I have just now found it. We had a major email error that would not allow us to access the email account to which you wrote.

Morgan believes in a balance of protecting the environment but not to the point of onerous regulations making it difficult to do business. Fly Ash is an interesting topic to understand and treat responsibly. Do you have a more specific question I can pass on to Morgan for you?

I appreciate your patience, and again apologize for the response time.

I wrote back that same day,
Thanks for getting back in touch...my questions are as follows:
1. What is Morgan's position on the Clean Water Protection Act which seeks to stop the dumping of waste from Mountaintop removal in streams?
2. What is Morgan's position on regulation of fly ash as a hazardous waste by the EPA.
If he needs more information on these issues I will be glad to send it to him.
That was almost two years ago. I'm still waiting for Morgan Griffith to respond...

6/5/12

Sick of Soot: Is EPA close to settling?

Photo  from Earthtimes.


First ozone and now soot.  The EPA's failure to issue standards on particulate matter has been costly in terms of public health.

According to  Sick of Soot, recent data shows that updated standards could have prevented more than 35,000 premature deaths each year and reduced health care costs by $280 billion. I propose to interview medical experts, lawyers, members of Congress and staff at the EPA about why the Agency has failed to regulate particulate matter  as mandated by Congress.

 American Lung Association v. U.S.Environmental Protection Agency (12-cv-00243) filed February 14, 2012 by  attorneys David S. Barron (email) and Paul Cort  (email) includes the  National Parks Conservation Association, as well as states-- including  New York, California, Maryland, Oregon and Washington--as parties to the suit U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia.

In response,  the EPA asked Judge Robert Wilkins to allow a  August 15, 2013 to adopt new standards, almost two years past the legal deadline.  EPA  issued its last standards in 2006 and a federal appeals court ruled that the existing standards were deficient and should have been updated by October 12, 2011. May 31, Judge Wilkins gave the EPA one week to sign a proposed rule and scheduled a hearing for June 11 on a December 14 deadline for final regulations,  the date proposed by the plaintiffs.


Today, the EPA the asked Judge Wilkins to give it until June 14 to sign the proposed rule. Paul Billings, vice president of the American Lung Association opposed the motion for delay, according to  Mark Drajem<mdrajem@bloomberg.net>.  The parties did, however, file a joint request that the Judge allow an extension so that the two sides can work out an agreement on the final regulations. See documents provided to me by Drajem here and here.

Of course December 14 is still 14 months late.  Earth Justice had filed a brief  May 11, complaining that there was no acknowledgement of the human costs of delay. The EPA had asked the Court "to endorse its decision to flout the law," on the grounds that its proposed schedule is more "reasonable"  in violation of the separation of powers.


Congress has dictated a time frame for reviewing national ambient air quality standards. EPA has ignored that schedule...[I]t is up to the Court to ensure compliance with the directive of Congress. An agency may not “avoid the Congressional intent clearly expressed in the text simply by asserting that its preferred approach would be better policy.” (reference).