Carbon Footprint? I’ll show you a biggun
Ever listen to PRI’s ‘Living On Earth’? Or for that matter any countless earth friendly broadcasts on public radio or the vast number of television shows. Carbon footprint is the buzzword on everyone’s lips now. Shoot, even home makeover shows on HGTV talk about reducing carbon footprints even though some of those shows are sorely misguided (i.e., earth friendly paint on the walls of a media room housing big screen tv’s, stereo’s, etc.). The PRI show is one that really presses the issue. They had a recent interview with a European scientist studying the methane release (farts) of cattle and how destructive that was to the environment and what can be done about it. Did you know that grain fed cattle produce vastly more methane than grass fed cattle? Does this matter to a southern WV coal miner? Ah, now that’s a concept worth visiting!
It is no secret to us living here in Wild & Wonderful, West By God, The Mountain State that while a giant tourism industry is firmly linked to clean water, vast forests and beautiful mountains the public policy makers tend to be the most environmentally unconscious group this side of Beijing. Let’s take a good look: In 2001 legislators passed Antidegradation law that compromised the Clean Water Act to allow 10% point source degradation on waters of special concern – wild trout streams, state park waters – as opposed to the national standard of ‘Tier 3.0 No Degradation’. After seven years of trying, they are currently slithering around under the gold dome in Charleston trying to pass a watered down implementation of that rule that would only protect less than 108 of the 800+ wild trout streams in WV. A completely arbitrary act performed at the will of the Farm Bureau, Forestry Association (both of which are not regulated by this act despite their horrible documented impacts to these streams), the Chamber of Commerce, the Coal Association and a vast number of ‘dirty water’ interests. Even the DEP removed a number of streams from the initial 444 Tier 2.5 list due to arbitrary “dirty water” interests such as “planned or ongoing development”, “coal permit issued” or similar matters. A classic example is Big Spring Fork of Elk River which contains all 3 species of reproducing trout in WV – browns, rainbows and native brook trout (the supposed official state fish) – which was removed from protection so that the Public Service Commission could proceed with their imminent domain taking of the Sharp’s Farm lying on the Karst spring of said Big Spring Fork and build a waste treatment plant under the interest of the corporate behemoth Snowshoe Mountain Resort.
Southern WV might possibly be the most littered region of the entire United States, yet legislators will not pass a Bottle Bill that would encourage recycling due to grocery store interests. Mountain top removal mining dumps overburden into streams burying them in the process. The ‘Friends of Coal’ spends millions of dollars spreading lies about this practice that it does not environmental harm and legislators are wrapped nicely around their little fingers. The Dept. of Environmental Protection who is operated under a Governor appointed secretary has a sordid history of lax enforcement of the coal industry. Particularly when you compare enforcement of that industry to other industries. The Corps of Engineers, whose 1999 adopted prayer includes the phrases “making rough places smooth, crooked ways straight and . . . our calculations accurate” rubber stamps any permit the coal industry wants pushed through and it has often taken federal judges to bridle this out of control agency.
Take all of that and then consider the top-down or bottom-up theories. The top down goes like this, our elected officials don’t give a hoot about the environment if they believe it will cut into business profit margins and therefore affect employment levels (which are quite poor, but likely moreso due to a terrible public education, poor infrastructure, and so on, but I digress). So if they don’t value our fish and wildlife habitat, why should we? Think like this: If you are a coal miner making $50,000/year to peel, maim and obliterate all living things in order to procure a mineral and your company makes a large profit, one that you are vested in through stock dividends, by barely meeting lax reclamation standards and never going above and beyond those standards – then you probably don’t give much of a care when you chuck that McDonald’s bag out the window, shove that pickup truck load of old washing machines and Mad Dog bottles over into a trout stream or any other “small change” environmental stewardship. Would you care? If you worked in a factory killing dogs all day you probably wouldn’t come home and snuggle up to your dog and show much affection. The carbon footprint in the WV coalfields makes attempts by California yuppies to green up their kitchens seem laughable. Imagine great big inefficient Yuke dumptrucks, coal trains, parking lots filled with Ford F350’s with ‘Git R Done’ and ‘Friends of Coal’ stickers plastered on the backglass; shoot the thick layer of coal dust covering residences, businesses and streets alone makes PRI’s show seem silly. By silly, I mean do these folks have any concept of what goes on outside of their $600,000 two bedroom lofts, er, bubbles? Good for them, fretting about the manufacturing of their toothpaste and making green choices about what deodorant to wear, but for God’s sakes come out of the shell and take a look. Devise a little better strategy.
But what about bottom up theory? Maybe it is the poorly educated run amuck that feeds the system of hierarchy. Man, that makes the thought of correcting the system even more complex doesn’t it?
Think you’ve got it bad? This photo taken on a southern WV wild rainbow trout stream…Oh, by the way, this stream won’t see any protection from Antidegradation law either. Suprised?