Must-read report: The decline of Central Appalachian coal

Ken Ward, jr., Charleston Gazette
That’s the take-home message from a major new report issued today by the Morgantown consulting group Downstream Strategies. The report is called, “The Decline of Central Appalachian Coal and the Need for Economic Diversification.”

It’s must-read material for anyone who cares about the future of the Appalachian coalfields, and especially for elected officials who keep hoping that the next coal boom is just around the corner.

Authors Rory McIlmoil and Evan Hansen make the case that a host of factors — competition from other coal-producing regions, rising interest in natural gas and renewable energy, and the depletion of Central Appalachia’s best reserves — has prompted a decline in regional coal production that is unlikely to be reversed. In fact, they report:

After strong and increased production through the mid-1990s, regional production last peaked in 1997 at 290 million tons. Even as national production continued to grow, by 2008, Central Appalachian production has fallen 20 percent to 235 million tons.

Recent projections indicate that — despite substantial coal reserves — annual production may decline another 46 percent by 2020, and 58 percent by 2035, to 99 million tons…
(20 Jan 2010)
The report can be accessed here

How Anti-Immigration Groups Are Hijacking the Environmental Movement

Amy Mehta, alternet
Masked is the word that comes to mind when I think of anti-immigrant organizations that claim to be concerned about the environment. As we move into a new month, year, decade and closer to the 30th anniversary of Earth Day, we must be mindful of environmental issues and especially of those who are considered legitimate environmental experts. Conscious and informed environmentalism is imperative to solve dire environmental problems.

However, politically extreme organizations that purport to care about environmental preservation/conservation are using this alarming issue to promote their anti-immigrant agendas. They are employing several aggressive tactics, some of which are outright attacks on mainstream environmental organizations for not taking an anti-immigrant stance. Other examples include TV and radio advertisements that falsely implicate immigrants in environmental degradation. Fear-mongering and bullying are the anti-immigrant movement’s favored tactics.

Jerry Kammer, a senior research fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies wrote a paper attacking the Sierra Club, saying it has “retreated timidly from the national debate over immigration policy….” Kammer also attacks Carl Pope, the executive director of the Sierra Club, for saying that if the organization favored reduced immigration it would be perceived as assisting people whose motivations are racist. What Kammer referred to as a “smear campaign” was in fact a great example of how an environmental organization was able to detect and expose anti-immigrant extremists who were trying to hijack an environmental organization…
(13 Jan 2010)
related: Should Climate Activists Support Limits on Immigration?

If Corporations Were Human

Scott Klinger, Common Dreams
Yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case removes all limits on large corporations to finance and influence federal elections. In its ruling the Court reverse a decades old ruling barring companies from using their general funds to fund political campaign, and guts pieces of the popular McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation. In so doing the Court implicitly embraces a 125 year-old precedent in the case of Santa Clara v. Santa Fe, where the Court first developed the legal doctrine of corporate personhood, explicitly granting corporations the same political and civil rights granted to human beings. Our nation’s founders would be shocked to learn that their revolution had resulted in non-human entities like corporations being endowed with the same hard fought rights secured for citizens.

But what if we accept corporate personhood as the current reality and instead focus on changing the rules such that corporations would also have to be bound by other limitations of humanity? How would corporations be different if they were indeed human-like?

If corporations were human, they would pause for sleep and recreation…

…If corporations were human, they would acknowledge their dependence on a healthy community for their well-being and contribute financially to the vibrancy of the community through payment of taxes…

…If corporations were human, they would recognize that their brains are only one of many vital organs…

…If corporations were human, they would be accountable to society when they break the law and would be punished with a loss of their freedoms…

…If corporations were human, they would one day die…
(22 Jan 2010)