G.R.E.E.N.
Grass Roots Environmental Effort Newsletter

November, 1999

MTR Rider Gets the Shaft Byrd Takes Bath

by Rick Eades

Seventeen West Virginians trekked to Washington, DC on November 3 to voice our opposition to the Robert C. Byrd sponsored rider that would change the Clean Water Act to allow Mountaintop Removal (MTR) mining to dump wastes into streams. Friends of the Earth and the World Wildlife Fund paid our way, Citizens Coal Council led the charge, and US PIRG and 16 other national groups supported the cause. What we found were unsympathetic congressional leaders marching in lockstep into the limelight as another national embarrassment to West Virginia.

In our first meeting of the day, Jay Rockefeller overreacted at a level that rivaled Cecil Underwood. The Senator did not want a return to 21% unemployment in West Virginia, and was solidly behind the rider to protect the approximately 1% of state jobs that MTR miners provide. Jobs? Where's he been for the past 20 years? What about diversifying our economy, slowing MTR expansion that increased production to record levels while obliterating jobs, or protecting the deep miner's jobs lost in northern WV? Hard-wired with the company line, Jay stopped just short of chanting "the sky is falling!"

After displaying Carol Jackson's cemetery (of streams buried by MTR mining waste) on the Capitol grounds with national media attention, we sped to meet the White House staff. Joined by national lobbyists, we drove home our position that we expected the President to honor his promise to veto any environmental riders.

Sen. Robert C. Byrd and staff had ignored our earlier requests for a meeting. Suddenly, five minutes before our White House meeting the call came Byrd's staff was offering a meeting right then. Go figure! After the White House meeting, we split up. Half of our group raced to meet with an aide to an aide of Byrd's who was terse and smug, citing that Judge Haden had directed Congress to change the law. Conveniently, Byrd and his staff ignored the time-honored process for changing federal law, which includes public hearings and input.

The rest of our group descended on Bob Wise. With such a high profile issue at hand, Wise was heavily distracted and of no help. He could not take his eyes off the "Denise Giardina for Governor" button worn by one of our group.

In the days after our trip, The Washington Post, NY Times, LA Times, and papers from Houston, Lexington, Louisville, and Toronto contacted West Virginians in disbelief seeking information and quotes. Like many of us, the press could see corporate America licking its chops. If the Clean Water Act could be gutted to serve one industry in one state, it meant open season on all federal environmental laws. In summary, the national press pounced.

West Virginians delivered a relentless onslaught of calls opposing the rider. National groups pounded Congress and the White House. State groups funneled fact sheets for use in DC and with the press. The press feasted. These combined efforts produced possibly the most embarrassing loss in Byrd's political career. With nothing to gain and everything to lose, 33 US Senators said, in effect, "Fie, Robert Byrd, fie!" and voted against his meaningless continuing resolution on the session's last day. They may suffer his wrath in appropriations bills, but they, like us, were disgusted with his knee-jerk, backdoor methods and told him so.

After our DC visit, thousands of phone calls and e-mails rained down on the White House, Gore's campaign headquarters, and our congressional delegation. Callers noted that the Clean Water Act had not been touched in 27 years, federal law should be changed only in an up front fashion with public input, and that Judge Haden's ruling had been stayed (put on hold until upheld on appeal) and there was no need to rush recklessly ahead. Your voices were heard.

Bob Gates summed up the rider best, saying Byrd and our delegation were trying to "send unknown language, at an unknown time, attached to an unknown bill" to effectively gut provisions of the Clean Water Act. The great defender of the constitution was sneaking through the back door under cover of darkness. No wonder he responded with anger after the rider was defeated - the floodlights of the national media had exposed him in ways he had never experienced.

The knee-jerk reactions can now be put on hold. We have time:

1. to determine where mine wastes can still be disposed (areas of only ephemeral streams). Because neither the DEP or coal industry had a contingency plan for Judge Haden's ruling, guidance or methods to identify ephemeral stream did NOT exist. If only 1% of our surface area is available for legal waste disposal, that would be 155,000 acres. Let's at least take a look. Let's see.the Clean Water Act only allows disposal in ephemeral streams (flow from rain and snow melt only, and flowing less than 6 months/year) and no one knows how to locate or areally define these stretches within valleys? In business, contingency plans are critical. Yet NOTHING existed in DEP or the coal industry to comply with the Clean Water Act if it was enforced. A $4.4 billion/year industry caught with its pants around its ankles. Wow! It shouldn't surprise anyone that the US Army Corps of Engineers, US Office of Surface Mines, United States Geological Survey, and WV DEP at the time of Haden's decision collectively had not 1 sentence of guidance or standards (beyond ambiguous definitions) to identify areas with only ephemeral streams versus those with intermittent. Is anybody home???

2. to determine how MTR permits could be reconfigured to comply with the law. No one has tried so far. But, there's time. If Big Coal is so interested in jobs, wouldn't they be willing to reconfigure a permit say one that could produce $100 million/year in sales to a smaller one with legal valley fills. Maybe the reconfigured permit would ONLY yield $50 million in annual sales. Why wouldn't and industry so concerned about jobs do that?

3. to determine the real decline in coal production AFTER determining areas that can receive mine waste and reconfiguring permits. Not the suppositional guess-work approach of our so-called leaders.

4. to collect measurable information and make informed decisions.

5. to revisit the methods used in West Virginia from 1972 (when MTR started) and 1979. During that period we did NOT fill intermittent or perennial streams with mine wastes, complied with the Clean Water Act and did just fine.

6. to revisit our valley fill methods used from 1972-79, which were the original "rock core" valley fills. That means the material was compacted and a lot more mine waste could be placed in a smaller area.

7. to consider European methods for deep mine waste disposal. For 3 decades, the Germans have disposed of mine wastes underground in old or abandoned mines. We would need to be very careful, disposing only in horizons that were already badly impacted by acidity and metals, but who knows what is possible with time.

8. to honestly assess how much of our current prep plant wastes are NOW being disposed in abandoned deep mines (in southern WV) so we don't in knee-jerk fashion describe Haden's ruling as crippling eastern coal and shutting down prep plants and deep mines.

9. To assess how to dispose of mine wastes underground using hydraulic (slurry) or dry waste underground (existing methods in WV and Europe).

Unfortunately, we will get none of the above. Instead, projections of doom and gloom will hatch from Underwood, the Legislature, the coal barons, and their associations. They will, without the benefit of any of the above information, project sales declines and collateral damage or immense proportions. They will not invest an iota of that level of attention or energy to transitional economic initiatives. Stay tuned.

 

They Stayed on Too Long

He was arguably the greatest, most complete baseball player of this century. Willie Mays, the Sey Hey! kid could run, hit for power and still lead the league in batting average. Mays was also the finest fielding center fielder of his era.

Willie Mays started playing for the Giants the year I was born. He finally retired the year I graduated college. From my earliest memories of baseball, Willie was there as a role model and a hero. I rarely got to watch him play in person or even on TV until he was traded to the New York Mets for what was to be the last two years of his career.

Imagine my excitement at the chance to watch Willie everyday. Sure he had lost a couple of steps, couldn't hit with the consistency of yesteryear and he muffed the ball more often but he was still Willie Mays and I reasoned that an aging Willie was still better than most other ballplayers. I thought! As the season progressed, Willie had occasional flashes of past greatness, but over the course of the season, he disappointed his fans and often embarrassed himself. It was clear that Willie was past his prime, way past his prime. Every time he came up to bat the crowd would seem to hope, even pray for the old Willie to return only to be left saddened by his latest pathetic attempts.

The Mets signed him for the 1973 season out of respect and because even though he wasn't helping to win ball games he was still making the team money with his popularity. The Mets went on to the World Series in spite of Willie, and he finally retired - two years too late. It's a sad story that many people's memories of Willie Mays were tainted by his failure to retire before he became an embarrassment.

The "Willie" thoughts came to me recently after watching Sen. Robert C. Byrd embarrass himself and the state on the Mountaintop Removal issue. Granted, I have more favorable feelings for Willie than the Senator, but both were superstars in their respective fields. Both hurt their legacy by not knowing when to quit.

Judge Haden's ruling that the coal companies have been violating the Clean Water Act for the past 25 years in West Virginia prompted our elected officials led by Cecil and Byrd to completely overreact and attempt to change the very law upon which Haden based his ruling. The White House was initially sympathetic to Byrd, until they got the facts and had heard the other side. Byrd threw a hissy fit on the floor of the Senate and compared Clinton to Judas Iscarot and himself to our betrayed Lord. All this in front of the Capitol newscorps and TV. Byrd lost in his attempt to hold the nation hostage and contributed greatly to the negative image the country has toward West Virginia. These are also things of which legacies are made.

I can forgive Byrd for once being a proud Klansman, after all I was once a coal operator. People can change. I can place in a historical perspective his reactionary stand on the Vietnam war. I can try and understand his opposition to the civil rights laws of the 60's. But as we begin a new century, a time when all humanity is looking for vision and leadership, Byrd's dishonest knee-jerk attempt to invoke his perceived divinity by ridiculing coalfield victims and environmentalists is unforgivable. Byrd has done some really positive and some really lousy things in his political career, but this time he embarrassed us all.

The one thing I thought Robert Byrd stood for was the sanctity of process and the constitutional separation of powers in our government. Yet when coal needed the law changed, the Senator ignored the separate role of our three branches of government. He did not blink and did as they asked.

Now in a PC, polite society, it's not nice to say publicly that a person is past his prime. But Senator Byrd, in trying to bully his way around the democratic process, threw PC to the four winds. He tried to radically weaken the clean water laws of this country for the profits of one industry.

In times of crisis, West Virginia deserves calm, contemplative leadership. What we got last month was the one-sided ranting and bullying of a once respected man. Byrd has brought many good things to our state over the years. Perhaps the thing he should bring next is an apology to the coal field residents whose homes, wells and communities are being destroyed.

There's another apology that is also due. His attack on "environmentalists," the folks that worked within the system to expose illegal activities, was viscious and uncalled for. Calling for a "truce" while he reloads for his next salvo is not an apology. Maybe it's time for the post-Byrd era.

Norm Steenstra

 

Helicopters In the Park?

by Vivian Stockman

He's baaack-with helicopters. John Crites told us he wouldn't log in Blackwater Canyon for the next 15 years. Maybe he had his fingers crossed, or maybe he was only referring to the parts of the Canyon he has already logged. His company, Allegheny Wood Products (AWP), did definitely say it wouldn't log in the viewshed of Blackwater Falls State Park.

Well, talk is cheap. Like a grinch stealing Christmas from a bunch of endangered species, AWP has plans to fire up the chainsaws this winter, with the apparent approval of the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

Letters sent in August and October between AWP and the FWS, obtained under a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request filed by Heartwood, indicate that AWP plans to log another 350 acres in the Canyon adjacent to the National Forest rail-trail and in the viewshed of the state park, marring the area's famed cross country ski trails. Indications are Crites wants to use helicopters for at least some of the logging.

West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and Heartwood filed an Endangered Species lawsuit against AWP. A federal judge said the plaintiffs' experts could go onto Crites' Canyon property and survey for endangered species and their habitat. These surveys are barely underway. Our read of the Endangered Species Act is that the timber company should not proceed in its logging without all the relevant scientific information, a plan to conserve the endangered species in place, and an Incidental Take Permit issued by the FWS. We may have to sue the FWS if they fail to correct what we see as violations of the Endangered Species Act.

Be sure to check our website, www.wvhighlands.org, for ways you can help. Letters to the editor are very useful right now. Of course, all this lawsuit business is expensive stuff, so please remember the Blackwater Canyon campaign in your holiday giving. Don't let helicopters dangling logs be part of your cross country ski trip in Blackwater Falls State Park this winter!

Please earmark donations for the Blackwater Canyon legal fund and send them to WVHC, PO Box 306, Charleston, WV 25321.

 

Wetlands, Passive Treatment of Acid Mine Drainage

Bobby L. Bonnett, Jr.

Heizer-Manila Watershed Organization

Putnam County may not quickly come to mind when we think about acid mine drainage, but the problem certainly exists for Manila and Heizer Creeks near Poca. While Abandoned Mine Lands and the Office of Surface Mining have looked at the problems, members of the Heizer-Manila Watershed Association are working to solve them.

Recent water quality testing of Manila Creek indicated high amounts of iron and acidity in the stream. Wetlands seemed to be the answer. The potential long term benefits of wetlands include a cleaner release of mine drainage (increased alkalinity and reduced iron contents in the stream), a place of interest and learning for the community, and improved wildlife habitat. Another important factor was that a wetland project could be constructed in a non-invasive manner. The location to construct and restore the wetland is another important part of the success of the project. Having the project in a public area would increase awareness about the benefits of wetlands. It was decided to utilize the Amherst Plymouth Wildlife Management Area.

One thing not known at the time of the project's conception was how it would be perceived by the manager of Amherst Plymouth WMA and the Office of Surface Mining. The answer was overwhelmingly positive! Wetlands, when present, are one of the most productive parts of the ecosystem and the lack of such can have a great impact on the overall environmental integrity of an area.

A small dike was built around an existing wetland to create additional surface area, and provide a pathway for the impacted stream to flow into the wetland. Native West Virginia wetland species such as cattails, sedges, and rushes were planted to compliment the species already present in the area. A noticeable difference could be seen almost immediately. It may be some time before a true measure of success can be seen. However, preliminary testing show improvements in the water quality (higher pH and lower iron concentrations). Water from mine drainage is now given a chance to be treated before it trails off into the stream. A wetland holds water like a sponge and helps minimize flooding. After some rain, there has been no impact due to the partial impoundment of the wetland area. Even during one of the driest summers recorded in West Virginia, the area remained lush and green.

Perhaps it is only natural to consider wetland creation and restoration in areas such as Heizer and Manila Creeks. Past treatment methods were costly and offered little or no community involvement. This project offered the opportunity to approach the problem of acid mine drainage through a low-cost, hands-on, environmentally-friendly method.

 

New WV Environmental Council Phone Number

(304) 346-5905

Also, the Green Expressions catalog is finished and available from Denise Poole. Ask for a copy today!

 

Dioxin Down in the Dumps

by Lew Baker

Monsanto used to produce dioxins as an unintended by-product of the defoliant 2,4,5-T, which was heavily sprayed over Vietnam as "Agent Orange." Monsanto's production years for 2,4,5-T were 1948 to 1969, now three to five decades ago. Production was halted after the US Army determined Agent Orange was too toxic for use in chemical warfare.

During the 1950's and 60's Monsanto's 2,4,5-T wastes (with their dioxins) were scattered about the Kanawha Valley's Nitro area in open dumps, often on old strip mines in the Pocatalico watershed, in pesticide dumps on the bank of the Kanawha River, and through wastewater discharges to Armour Creek and the Kanawha.

This is the fifteenth year, or so, of EPA's "Emergency Removal" efforts to have Monsanto clean up some of its dioxin dumps in the Nitro area. Hardly any wastes have been actually "removed" during this glacially slow "emergency" cleanup. Citizens have not yet been protected from the dioxins left at the dumps. But, EPA now proposes to keep on doing more of the same, only better, at the Heizer Creek and Manila Creek dumps.

This is also the fifteenth year the public has been officially warned not to eat the fish in the Kanawha River, due to the fish's dioxin poisoning, yet no warning signs have ever been posted. It is fifteen years since Monsanto's spokesmen claimed there was no way to prove the fish's dioxin came from Monsanto, and EPA still publicly agrees.

Fifteen years ago EPA reported the sediments of Nitro's Armour Creek were "hot" with dioxins, and briefly suggested more studies should be done to determine their source. EPA's data from Armour Creek fifteen years ago included an unmistakable chemical fingerprint for the mixture of dioxins found in 2,4,5-T. In essence, Monsanto's chemical fingerprints were found all over the Armour Creek sediments back in 1986, but the company has yet to be held liable for cleaning up this or any other Nitro area watershed.

In fact, no more dioxin studies of the Nitro area were done by EPA until 1998, and only because the agency had been sued by OVEC, et al, for not doing such studies, which are known in EPA speak as "TMDL assessments." EPA's 1998 "TMDL" assessment of the Kanawha's dioxins failed to mention Monsanto's dioxin fingerprints now also known to occur in the Kanawha River sediments, fish, water, riverbank dumps and the groundwater under them, or the old strip mine dumps.

EPA missed its court ordered deadline to finally do an acceptable dioxin study, and has asked for a one year extension. So far, three months into its extension, EPA has shown no inclination to begin making an honest effort, and now risks being in contempt of court.

Three months into TMDL overtime, EPA has held at least four rounds of public meetings in Nitro. These meetings are to help citizens understand how much better EPA does things than in the past. But no one from EPA has been prepared to talk about the TMDL. The next public meeting is on January 11, about the time the legislators flock back to the Capitol. Please be there (see Calendar) to help EPA understand it is supposed to protect US citizens and the environment, not Monsanto. Please turn out for the next meeting, and/or write, call, e-mail EPA and the news media.

Monsanto's liability for dioxin cleanups in West Virginia could easily total in the hundreds of millions of dollars. Many new jobs could be created in a cleanup effort this big. But State legislators may be expected instead to spread rumors of job loses, and claim to be protecting citizens by legally detoxifying dioxins in West Virginia.

This winter the state's water quality standard may be drastically altered to legalize Monsanto's toxic legacy, and the state's fish standards may be thrown out entirely. EPA may simply praise such legislative fixes, or even recommend them, unless citizens speak louder than Monsanto and its lobbyists.

 

EPA Sues Polluting Power Plants, WV Enviros File Intent

by Jim Kotcon

In an unprecedented move to enforce the Clean Air Act, the EPA filed law suits on Nov. 3 against seven of the biggest and most polluting utility companies in the country. The suits allege that the companies violated the Clean Air Act by failing to install equipment to control smog, soot, and acid rain, while making major modifications to extend the lives of grandfathered plants. Under the Clean Air Act, major modifications to extend the lives of grandfathered plants require installation of the "best available technology" to control pollution. However, these companies didn't.

These suits follow earlier Notices on Intent To Sue by New York's Attorney General and a similar notice by environmental groups, led by NRDC and including the WVEC, OVEC and the Sierra Club. Each of these legal actions targets differing groups of power plants, but all would require utilities that upgrade their generating capacity to also upgrade their air pollution control equipment.

Some of the WV plants targeted have had substantial increases in emissions in recent years as a result of their modifications, but claim to be grandfathered from New Source air pollution standards.

Dirty power plants are the largest industrial source of the air pollution that triggers asthma attacks and cuts short the lives of thousands of Americans each year. In West Virginia, children, senior citizens, workers with Black Lung or other respiratory problems, continue to suffer from the resulting poor air quality. To learn more, call 304-594-3322 or visit the Clean Air Network webpage (www.cleanair.net).

October Interim Report

by Tom Degen

Discussion of the tire bill was mainly on where to get funding without imposing new fees. The REAP program was mentioned as a possible source of funding, but the legislation for it was self limiting. The possibility of using prisoners to clean up tire piles was discounted because tire piles are often not close to prisons and transportation and security would be costly.

Although I feel like I am making headway on promoting the use of tires in products instead of burning, funding seems to be the major obstacle to a tire bill right now. A fee on tires seems the most logical way to fund the program. That way those who create the problem, the tire makers, sellers, and users are paying for it, but there doesn't seem to be the will to override the industry's objections.

The Legislative Rule Making Review Committee (LRMRC) took up the odor rule (45CSR4) that had been mandated by the legislature in response to grandfathering in the two Mascaro sludge operations in the 1998 solid waste bill. During the drafting and public comment period, the Office of Air Quality (OAQ) received several comments pointing out the inadequacy of the rule in addressing odor problems associated with large sewage sludge composting operations. Although the agency ignored those comments, several members of the LRMRC shared those concerns and the rule was laid over until December, so that the agency could consider those concerns. I will be meeting with representatives of the OAQ, the Attorney General's office, and composting experts to try and craft language that will address the odor concerns of those living near sewage sludge composting facilities.

I have been asking around to see if there is support for a bottle bill. I have found one very interested party, but there are a surprising number of questions about bottle bills that get in the way, such as health concerns over re-using bottles, and the effect on areas that border states without bottle bills. I have not yet found a "model" bottle bill to offer, but am still looking. If you have any suggestions, please contact me.

The committee was presented with a second draft of a quarry bill. Some of the major changes from draft one are:

Duration of permits increased from one year to five years;

Pre-quarry analysis of quality and quantity of surface and groundwater required. This seemingly strong language is compromised by the lack of a requirement for follow-up testing, and language elsewhere in the bill (section 10) that says the director may require pre-quarry and periodic testing of water wells;

Specific information required to be in the Class III advertisement notifying the public of a quarry permit application was replaced with "shall contain in abbreviated form the information required by/in/for the application;" This leaves it pretty much up to the applicant as to what goes in the ad.

That a quarry may cause serious adverse impact to aquifers has been added to the reasons for which a permit may be denied;

An operator whose permit has been revoked may get it reinstated by completing reclamation;

The buffer zone now applies to residences, but may be waived by owner (not lessee or tenant);

The section on modifications was rewritten:

An insignificant change or incidental boundary revision (which is not defined) is considered a de minimis modification and requires no public notice.

A minor modification is defined not by specific criteria, but by "would not cause a significant departure from the terms and conditions of the existing permit and will not result in a significant impact in any of the following areas: impact on the environment; public health, safety or welfare; post mining land use; or areas which would not be eligible for a permit under this article." Public notice is still required, but not a hearing.

A major modification is not a minor or de minimis modification and shall meet all requirements for a new permit. Modification of a buffer zone is a major modification.

Permit transfers are to be treated as a modification if modifications are proposed by the transferee. Still no public notice or comment on transfers. A revoked permit can be transferred.

The exceptions for existing quarries, referred to as grandfathering, have been extensively rewritten:

Within two years, existing quarries will submit a plan which will bring the facility into compliance. This plan will include a schedule for compliance. While this language suggests that existing quarries will be required to gradually come into compliance, there is no set date for that compliance. In fact, it is left completely up to the operators as to when they will comply.

Quarry areas that are permitted, disturbed, and stabilized are exempt from the bill's reclamation requirements.

Existing quarries do not have to conduct pre-blast surveys. The rationale for this was that it would be too much work for the quarry. The director may require them when major modifications are applied for.

Groundwater monitoring will not be required if there has been no demonstrable groundwater problems in the last five years. This is a huge loophole-since there has been no monitoring required previously, there will be few demonstrable groundwater problems.

Grandfathering still applies to consolidated permits and renewals.

The quarrying and reclamation plan does not have to be prepared by a professional engineer or licensed land surveyor. The current law requires that such plans be prepared by a professional engineer or a person approved by the director. Dropping the requirement that the plan be prepared by a person approved by the director means that anybody could submit a quarrying and reclamation plan. Final slope gradients shall be certified by an engineer or other approved professional specialist, but approved professional specialist is not defined.

The time period for reclamation has been changed from two years to a requirement that the operator describe how reclamation will minimize total land disturbance and keep reclamation contemporaneous with the advance of the quarry. Although it is understandable for reclamation plans to be site-specific, there should be some kind of quantifiable requirement here, such as defining "contemporaneous."

A provision was added prohibiting the director from supervising or regulating a quarry providing water to a governmental entity, and releasing the quarry from liability for the water after it leaves the quarry.

The director is given the right of entry to quarries.

The director may reinstate a revoked permit if the circumstance causing the revocation has been abated and won't reoccur.

Some changes still missing are:

The right of citizens to sue the agency if the director fails to discharge his/her duty has not been carried over from the existing act;

A Public notice or hearing on transfers;

A rebuttable presumption like the one in the oil and gas statute;

The exemption from the groundwater act is still in the bill;

There is no requirement for highwall reduction;

There is nothing addressing noise;

There is nothing addressing compliance with zoning ordinances.

It should be noted that Senator Snyder mentioned requiring the siting of new quarries be subject to zoning ordinances. However, he also said that he did not think operations of existing quarries should be subject to zoning ordinances.

The quarrying and reclamation plan does not have to be prepared by a professional engineer or licensed land surveyor. The current law requires that such plans be prepared by a professional engineer or a person approved by the director. Dropping the requirement that the plan be prepared by a person approved by the director means that anybody could submit a quarrying and reclamation plan. Final slope gradients shall be certified by an engineer or other approved professional specialist, but approved professional specialist is not defined.

The time period for reclamation has been changed from two years to a requirement that the operator describe how reclamation will minimize total land disturbance and keep reclamation contemporaneous with the advance of the quarry. Although it is understandable for reclamation plans to be site-specific, there should be some kind of quantifiable requirement here, such as defining "contemporaneous."

A provision was added prohibiting the director from supervising or regulating a quarry providing water to a governmental entity, and releasing the quarry from liability for the water after it leaves the quarry.

The director is given the right of entry to quarries and may reinstate a revoked permit if the circumstance causing the revocation has been abated and won't recur.

Some changes still missing are:

The right of citizens to sue the agency if the director fails to discharge his/her duty has not been carried over from the existing act;

A Public notice or hearing on transfers;

A rebuttable presumption like the oil and gas statute;

The exemption from the groundwater act is still in;

There is no requirement for highwall reduction;

There is nothing addressing noise;

There is nothing addressing compliance with zoning.

It should be noted that Senator Snyder mentioned requiring the siting of new quarries be subject to zoning ordinances. However, he also said that he did not think operations of existing quarries should be subject to zoning ordinances.

Click here to read Tom's November Interim Report

 

Looking Ahead with Optimism

by Liz Sampson, Outgoing President

 

WVEC moves toward 2000 with a new slate of officers. They are Don Garvin, President; Elizabeth Sampson, Past President; Bob Hamburg, Secretary; and Linda Mallet, Treasurer. Our newly-elected vice president declined the honor and the next Board meeting will take action to fill the position.

Positive actions at the October 23rd meeting were taken by the Board of Directors that will make WVEC even stronger and more effective.

Every county in West Virginia continues to have representation on the Board. Of the eight regions, there are only two Board vacancies, one in the Eastern Panhandle and one in the Southern Region. It is anticipated those vacancies will be filled very soon. Putnam County has been placed in the Capitol Region and Tucker County in the Highlands Region.

The Board unanimously voted to continue the process of seeking its own office space. The concept of a local "Green House" seems to be the favored direction. The Site Committee (consisting of Kim Baker, Linda Mallet, Gary Zuckett, Denise Poole, Tom Degen, and Liz Sampson) will begin working on plans for that eventual move. In the meantime, WVEC will continue to graciously accept Citizen Action Group's (CAG) generous in-kind contribution of office space. CAG, of course, continues to have a representative on the Board of Directors. Office space on the first floor at the Virginia Street address has been designated as the WVEC office. A new dedicated phone line has been installed (see below).

Other positive actions by the Board include reactivating all Standing Committees as provided by the By-Laws. Those Committees are Finance (Linda Mallet, Denise Poole, and Judy Rodd); Governmental Affairs (Don Garvin, Gary Zuckett, Chuck Wyrostok, Liz Sampson, and Norm Steenstra); Membership, (Denise Poole, Liz Sampson, Mary Ellen O'Farrell, Linda Mallet, Judy Rodd); and Publications Committee (Gary Zuckett, Linda Mallet, and Janet Fout).

In addition, a By-Laws Committee was formed to review any need for changes. Jim Kotcon, Frank Young and Kim Baker head up that Committee. Please contact them with any suggestions you may have. First draft of any proposed changes may be brought up at the December llth meeting.

It is important that all Board Members and membership know that their input is important. You can call WVEC at its new phone number - 304-346-5905. Anyone desiring to serve on these Committees or who has ideas to share please do not hesitate to call the office and leave information for the specific Committee.

The Governmental Affairs and the Membership Committees have already met. Lobbying plans are being put together and membership drives and fund raising activities are being discussed. Both committees would appreciate your input. The By-laws committee has begun to receive ideas and comments also.

Also, remember to check your address label. The date contains our last record of you membership renewal. If you haven't sent in your renewal for the GREEN and Membership, please do so soon. Any additional donation will help as we continue to promote and work for a cleaner environment for West Virginians. Together we can make it happen!


A Fish Story

by Don "Troutguy" Garvin, WVEC president

As the newly elected president of the WVEC board of directors, it seems appropriate for me to tell you a little about my involvement in environmental issues and about what I hope to contribute to WVEC in the next year (actually, I was ordered to write this by co-editor Linda Mallet!!).

Shortly after I moved to West Virginia in November, 1982, a young man at a gas station in Buckhannon asked me if I liked to fish for trout. He seemed to know that I was a trout fisherman. I had only just met him, so he couldn't possibly have known that earlier in my life I had moved to Oregon, just so I could be near western trout streams. Surely he couldn't have known of or even sensed my passion for the clear, cold waters that trout call home.

He told me I ought to join Trout Unlimited and invited me to attend a meeting of the local TU chapter. So in January, 1983, I attended my first meeting of the Mountaineer Chapter of Trout Unlimited. That night I agreed to be the group's secretary and newsletter editor. And the rest is history. I served as MCTU secretary for 15 years, a position I would still hold had I not missed a meeting last year. In my absence, all my dear "friends" in the chapter elected me president. I will never forgive them.

Another dear "friend," Norm Steenstra, insists on referring to me publicly as "fish guy" or "guppy breath." But I will forgive him for that, because I must admit that the color of my blood isn't your normal red it's TU blue and green. And just so you know, Trout Unlimited is NOT a fishing club. It's the largest coldwater conservation organization in the world.

The TU mission is to conserve, protect and restore our coldwater fisheries and their watersheds. And that's the basic position from which I approach all environmental concerns and activities, whether as a member of the Mountaineer Chapter of Trout Unlimited, or in my capacity as a board member of the WV Rivers Coalition or WV Highlands Conservancy. To paraphrase a Clinton campaign slogan, "It's the fish, Stupid!" Or more aptly, it's the water.

It was Cindy Rank who first involved me in the larger environmental movement and taught me the value and necessity of working with other groups (that's a good story, but for another column). Which brings me to the E-Council. Two MCTU members attended the original WVEC organizational meeting at Ripley. And from that time forward, the Mountaineer Chapter of TU has been among E-Council's biggest cheerleaders. We have also done whatever we could to support the Council's effort financially.

Until now I have been content to remain in the background of WVEC activities, in my supportive cheerleader role. However, as the anti-green, anti-enviro rhetoric has heated up in the last few years, it has become apparent to me that the WVEC concept is more important than ever. So I have decided to take a shot at helping us become the most effective and most cohesive voice for the environment that we can possibly be.

It's really quite simple. Folks, if we ever expect to be effective advocates for positive changes in the protection of our water, air, and land (and just as effective opponents of the negative changes that emanate seemingly endlessly from the State Capitol these days), we must stand and work together, and in ever increasing numbers.

I don't intend to be an issues spokesperson for this group. Others can do that much more eloquently than me. Instead, my role will be more as a facilitator to help us reach out to other groups and to each other for support, to help us raise more money for the cause, and to help us communicate with each other more effectively. I have a few ideas in that regard, and let this be your official notice that I am actively seeking YOUR ideas and suggestions (call me any time at 304-472-8716 or send e-mail to troutguy@msys.net).

In the coming months, I am going to try to help us all remember two things:

The first is that WE have a vision, and the bad guys don't. Our vision is really a blessing in its simplicity clean land, clean air, clean water.

The second thing I will be reminding us of is our diversity. We are a coalition of diverse groups and individuals with diverse backgrounds and priorities ("there are many shades of green" and "we all live on a dot"). If we remember to be respectful of our diversity, it can be a blessing, too.

 

What's Granny D's Walkabout?

by Gary R. Zuckett

GrannyD's given name is Doris Haddock, and her walkabout will hopefully affect us all. Her issue is "dirty money" in politics, i.e., campaign finance reform. She's now in Ohio, having walked from the Pacific Ocean, starting last winter. Walking ten miles a day, 89-year-old GrannyD has been getting rave reviews as she speaks in towns and cities across the country. You can browse the list of cities and read some of her speeches at www.grannyd.com.

"It is my belief that a worthy American ought to be able to run for office without having to sell his or her soul to the corporations or the unions in order to become a candidate. Fundraising muscle should not be the measure of a candidate - ideas, character, track record, leadership skills: those ought to be the measures of our leaders." GrannyD, 7/23/99, Reform Party Convention, Dearborn, MI.

What kind of reform is GrannyD promoting? A ban on "soft" money is one. Actually, it should be called "slush money," for it can flow in the direction of any candidate from the coffers of the state or national parties. Unlike campaign contributions to candidates, "soft money" is limited only by the depth of the pockets of the donors. Slush money from the National Republican Senatorial Committee was laundered through a Virginia bank and spent in the final days of our last governor's race on libelous attack ads targeting Charlotte Pritt, the Democratic nominee. This was the pits of dirty money politics.

GrannyD (and others - see www.publicampaign.org) has a plan. It has overwhelming support from the American people in poll after poll across the nation. It's been passed as a ballot initiative in three states and made it through one state legislature. It's simple and it works: public financing of political campaigns.

If citizens fund the campaigns of those elected to public office, then they will remember who they are working for when they run the government. It is a voluntary and constitutional way for candidates to run for office using a parallel track of "clean money." Candidates can concentrate on issues and platforms instead of begging for fat cat support.

GrannyD will walk into Parkersburg on December 18th. She will traverse Rt 50 to Clarksburg then up to Morgantown and across I-68. Support is needed for overnight accommodations. Everyone is invited to walk with GrannyD. The People's Election Reform Coalition will help coordinate her stops. Contact Janet Fout at 522-0246 or Gary Zuckett at 659-3193 for details.

 

Heritage Forest Campaign

The Heritage Forests Campaign is a coalition of local and national groups with the goal of gaining permanent protection for 60 million acres of pristine roadless areas in our National Forests-America's Heritage Forests. Its website, www.ourforests.org, is the main point of contact between many environmental activists and the Heritage Forests campaign. It is here that the Campaign has an opportunity to mobilize the public, to compel ordinary citizens to do something extraordinary to save the environment.

In the past few months, over 186,000 Americans have, through the group's website, ourforests.org, sent an e-mail message to the Clinton-Gore administration, asking the president to implement a policy of permanent protection for all of America's Heritage Forests. With this innovative use of the internet, this important environmental issue is gaining national attention. The group is constructing a National Forest Preservation Directory which will be manifest in a clickable map. Interested people will be able to click on their state and receive information about local forest and environmental groups.

 

Kanawha State Forest Coalition Meeting

Open Forum Meeting

Wednesday, December 8, 1999

Asbury United Methodist Church

501 Elizabeth Street, Charleston

7:00 to 9:00 PM

This is a Coalition created recently to address the proposed Kanawha State Forest timbering issue.The Coalition is hoping to have as many state legislators as possible in attendance. If you are concerned about the Kanawha State Forest's future, please attend this important meeting so that our state legislators may better understand and appreciate the concerns of the citizens.

WVEC Elects New Officers

At it's October Meeting, the West Virginia Environmental Council elected officers for the 2000 term.

Don Garvin - President

Bob Hamburg - Secretary

Linda Mallet - Treasurer

A future election will be held for Vice President

 

Membership Committee

Your newly-revitalized WVEC membership committee has met twice since our rebirth at the last Board meeting. The following topics were discussed:

Updating WVEC mission statement and brochure;

Drafting a fund-raising letter to mail to members, well-wishers, and friends later in the holiday season;

Contacting organizations that might benefit from WVEC membership, attending meetings, and offering speakers to describe WVEC mission and activities;

Providing displays about WVEC, and staffing those for a variety of local, regional, and statewide events;

Encouraging regional meetings of WVEC Board members, in order to facilitate communication about local concerns from all WV regions.

Committee Member Names (home number first):

Mary Ellen O'Farrell, Chair, 346-3303, 348-4164; Denise Poole, WVEC membership coordinator, 522-8409, 346-5891; Liz Sampson, WVEC Past President, 286-2204; Judy Rodd, WVEC and Highlands Conservancy boards, 265-0018, 345-7663; Linda Mallet, Treasurer & WV-CAG rep., 776-3258, 346-5891

Please contact us with your ideas/suggestions/comments and dreams about a healthier, safer, and more equitable future for our state and its residents.