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Author Topic: SENATE BILL: The Atlasian Mountaintop Removal Ban Act (Law'd)  (Read 3438 times)
Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« on: May 03, 2012, 01:12:47 pm »
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The Atlasian Mountaintop Removal Ban Act

Section 1.)
The Senate of Atlasia hereby acknowledges:

  • That mountaintop removal is considered an 'extreme form' of mining that should be replaced by alternative means of energy production
  • That mountaintop removal hurts biodiversity
  • That mountaintop removal reduces workers
  • That mountaintop removal is a threat to the public health
  • That mountaintop removal is detrimental to the citizens of mountains which are affected

Section 2.)
The Atlasian government shall not distribute any permits to coal-mining industries whose practices would result in the topographical alteration and/or removal of a summit, summit ridge, or significant portion of a mountain, hill, or ridge.

Section 3.)
Mining industries that partake in this practice will be fined at a maximum of $2,000,000.  The final amount shall be determined in a court of law.

Section 4.)
The appropriate funds shall be allocated for enforcement of this bill.

Sponsor: Scott
« Last Edit: May 24, 2012, 08:36:01 am by Senator North Carolina Yankee »Logged

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Senator North Carolina Yankee
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« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2012, 01:13:16 pm »
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Scott, you have 24 hours to advocate for this bill or else. Tongue
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Scott
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« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2012, 02:46:37 pm »
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Statement on proposal of 'The Atlasian Mountaintop Removal Ban Act'

In keeping up with my campaign promise, I have proposed a national ban on the practice of mountaintop removal mining, taken from an earlier version of this bill that I authored as a Northeast Representative.  This particular procedure, as many of us know, is unlike traditional mining in that it involves removing the coal seams by fully removing the overbearing layer atop them, thereby exposing the seams from above.  Studies have shown that this style of mining negatively impacts the health of our environment and those who live nearby these mining sites.  When a significant portion of mountain is destroyed through this process, those areas see hunting and fishing activities vanish.  Because this is mostly done by machines and not human labor, the jobs market does not benefit from this in any way.

I urge the Senate to consider this proposal and put the needs of Appalachian residents first.
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« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2012, 02:52:26 pm »
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The Whig platform now includes a line that God gave us the Earth to protect and for future generations to inherit...I voted for that clause and I am proud to act on it here by supporting this bill
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Citizen Alfred
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« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2012, 06:08:10 pm »
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I don't generally support blowing things up, except when they're horrible dictators.
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« Reply #5 on: May 04, 2012, 05:41:30 pm »
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Seeing as how I will be taking the AP Environmental exam on Monday, this is a no-brainer.  I fully support this legislation.
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« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2012, 07:47:27 pm »
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The Administration fully supports this measure.
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« Reply #7 on: May 05, 2012, 09:45:30 pm »
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I think this is a great idea.  Is this truly qualitatively differently from other forms of mining, though?  We should make sure we're not allowing for any gray areas.
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« Reply #8 on: May 06, 2012, 09:55:26 am »
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To quote myself from earlier:

This bill is not only silly but also harmful.  Coal mining is inevitably a process which causes environmental damage, and obviously mining more coal would cause more damage.  However, it is ridiculous to say that coal should only be sourced from many small mines (all of which are environmentally-damaging eyesores), as opposed to a few big mines.  The level of environmental damage is going to inevitably be the same or even higher since only less-efficient methods are allowed to be used.

All this does is raise the price of energy, which will impact low-income individuals the most, and makes our mining industry uncompetitive compared to other countries which do not have these restrictions.  The 'mountaintop removal' will simply travel elsewhere, as well as the blue-collar unionized mining jobs that go with the coal mining industry.

If environmentalists are truly so concerned about this, then they are perfectly free to put their money where their mouth is and purchase said mountaintops from coal mining companies to be made into whatever sort of nature preserve they like.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 09:57:41 am by Native American wormyguy, first minority Senator »Logged
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« Reply #9 on: May 06, 2012, 10:14:54 am »
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And to quote myself from earlier:

Regular mining does not result in the damage of approximately 1,200 miles of streams, destroyed forests on some 300 square miles of land, contaminated drinking water, flooded communities, or destroyed wildlife the way mountaintop removal does.  The companies will be allowed to use other methods of mining, but not kinds that are capable of such destruction and environmental harm.  Inhabitants of places like rural Pennsylvania are directly impacted by the decisions of these coal-mining industries.

All the costs are externalized in the form of damaged health and the environment.  And, as previously stated, mountaintop removal takes away jobs.  On top of all that, hunting, fishing, and other activities flourish in these sights.  My bill would not have a high impact on jobs and, if anything, would reduce costs in the long run.  But right now, we are choosing between cheaper energy and the quality of life for Appalachian residents.

I would be very open to purchasing nature preservations if such a proposal is made.

And on top of that, residents of the states in which this method is used the most strongly oppose this practice.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 10:20:21 am by Senator Scott »Logged
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« Reply #10 on: May 06, 2012, 10:33:37 am »
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Regular mining does not result in the damage of approximately 1,200 miles of streams, destroyed forests on some 300 square miles of land, contaminated drinking water, flooded communities, or destroyed wildlife the way mountaintop removal does.  The companies will be allowed to use other methods of mining, but not kinds that are capable of such destruction and environmental harm.

No, regular mining is every bit as environmentally damaging for the amount of coal produced, and more so in the aggregate since it is a less efficient form of coal extraction, and so more mining would be required to produce the same quantity of coal.

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Inhabitants of places like rural Pennsylvania are directly impacted by the decisions of these coal-mining industries.

They certainly are, since those places are where the mining industry fuels the local economy and created those communities in the first place.  Attempts such as your own to destroy the only source of prosperity in those communities will cause their unemployment and poverty rates to skyrocket and quality of life to markedly decrease.

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All the costs are externalized in the form of damaged health and the environment.

Then sell off state-owned land surrounding mines to private owners who are entitled to sue for property damages.  Bingo, no more externality (which are caused by deficiencies in property rights; negative externalities are the damaging of another's property without consequence).

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And, as previously stated, mountaintop removal takes away jobs.

No, it's more efficient, so fewer workers are required to produce the same amount of coal.  Your argument is essentially the same as saying that mass production "takes away jobs" because single artisans are uncompetitive with it.  If domestic producers are forced to use inefficient methods of producing coal, they will not be able to compete with foreign producers and they will go out of business, destroying jobs.

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On top of all that, hunting, fishing, and other activities flourish in these sights.  My bill would not have a high impact on jobs and, if anything, would reduce costs in the long run.

Oh, really?  How do you know?  Are you an expert on this subject?

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But right now, we are choosing between cheaper energy and the quality of life for Appalachian residents.

Cheaper energy, so that poor people don't have to live in the dark and in the cold, and the quality of life that the mining industry has created in Appalachia, the only reason many Appalachian communities exist in the first place, and that would turn Appalachia into a giant appendage of the Rust Belt if it were to disappear.

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I would be very open to purchasing nature preservations if such a proposal is made.

Yeah, how about by environmentalists, who tend to be much wealthier than average and count many prominent celebrities and billionaires in their ranks, who could certainly afford to purchase whatever mountaintops they wish if it were truly so important to them.

And on top of that, residents of the states in which this method is used the most strongly oppose this practice.

I don't think we need to take (multi-state!) push polls from special interest groups all that seriously.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 10:35:43 am by Native American wormyguy, first minority Senator »Logged
Scott
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« Reply #11 on: May 06, 2012, 11:21:18 am »
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No, wormyguy.  Mountaintop removal is a very different form of mining that is more extreme and does even more damage to mountains than normal mining.  Normal mining does not result in the same amount of damage because it is less severe, even if it is used more frequently.  Please, do your research on this.  You are clearly not an expert on this in any way.

This bill will not have any negative impacts on the economy in those states because mountaintop removal is done by machines and, if anything, hurts jobs - it reduces the need for human labor and makes activities such as hunting and fishing impossible because of the environmental damage it creates.

In West Virginia alone, coal employment has dropped from 150,000 workers in the 1960’s to 15,000 today.  The fact is that the mining industry extracts coal worth several billions of dollars, but the wealth does not stay in Appalachia. The top 15 coal producing counties in West Virginia also suffer from some of the worst poverty levels in the nation, even though they produce 15% of the nation's coal.  Obviously, keeping mountaintop removal legal has not helped the jobs market in any way.  And quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with regular mining; businesses will still be allowed to produce electricity, but the environment will be better off as a whole if the extreme forms of mining are prohibited.

On the issue of costs, this type of mining has, obviously, made life more expensive for residents of these communities than helped.  The availability and low-cost of alternative energy sources- including energy efficiency, renewable sources such as wind power and low-impact hydroelectric, natural gas, and coal from other sources- would minimize any impact on electricity prices from restricting mountaintop.  Appalachia can only tap into alternative energy sources if these areas remain in tact.  State budgets are impacted by it, too.  Those costs include increased road expenditures, operating mining-specific health and safety systems, supporting training and research and development for the industry- all at the cost of the taxpayer.  And that alone doesn't include costs for healthcare, loss of home values, and the need for water treatment.

I'm not opposed to letting private landowners sue when their property is damaged, of course.  But I don't see how we can reduce such property damage if we continue to keep mountaintop removal legal.

This bill does not ban any other form of mining, which will still be in existence after this law is passed.  And frankly, if the people who live in these coal mining states really thought that this would hurt jobs, why are they solidly opposed to it?  Oh, that's right- the poll I posted is junk because you don't agree with it.
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« Reply #12 on: May 06, 2012, 12:42:04 pm »
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No, wormyguy.  Mountaintop removal is a very different form of mining that is more extreme and does even more damage to mountains than normal mining.  Normal mining does not result in the same amount of damage because it is less severe, even if it is used more frequently.

Since you are so adamant about this, please provide statistics regarding the environmental damage per tonne of coal produced by "normal" mining and MRM.  Mining, no matter what the scale, is essentially the digging of holes and the extraction of desired materials from those holes.  MRM is significantly more efficient than "normal" mining at the extraction of said materials, that is to say significantly more desired material can be extracted compared to the earth excavated, such that it fairly obviously has a lower aggregate environmental impact than "normal" mining.

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Please, do your research on this.  You are clearly not an expert on this in any way.

I never claimed to be an expert on this, but I do know that my arguments are rooted in fact rather than unsubstantiated statements, most of which are following the Luddite Fallacy.

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This bill will not have any negative impacts on the economy in those states because mountaintop removal is done by machines and, if anything, hurts jobs - it reduces the need for human labor and makes activities such as hunting and fishing impossible because of the environmental damage it creates.

The Luddite fallacy strikes again; increases in efficiency due to technological change do not cause economy-wide unemployment or negative growth.  That Ford and GM's mass-production method put Auburn out of business, or that the lightbulb destroyed the gas lamp and candle industries, does not mean that people were worse off from their inventions.  Quite the contrary, people now had automobiles affordable to the middle class and a safe, reliable, bright, and efficient light source, respectively, both of which were great boons to the economy.

I'll take the next section somewhat out of order.

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In West Virginia alone, coal employment has dropped from 150,000 workers in the 1960’s to 15,000 today.  The top 15 coal producing counties in West Virginia also suffer from some of the worst poverty levels in the nation, even though they produce 15% of the nation's coal. ... Obviously, keeping mountaintop removal legal has not helped the jobs market in any way.

What has been the major change in the coal mining industry since the 1960s?  It isn't MRM; that was around back then, too.  It has been the introduction of wide-ranging environmental regulations that have significantly increased the costs of mining in this country such that it is no longer nearly as competitive on the world market as it once was.  In the regulatory environment of the 1960s, both "normal" mines and mountaintop removal mines in the US were cost-competitive on the world market.  With the massive barriers to entry imposed by newer, far-reaching environmental regulations, only MRM remains cost-competitive compared to coal extraction in other countries.  If MRM is banned in addition to existing regulations, that will surely be the final death-knell for the Atlasian mining industry.

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The fact is that the mining industry extracts coal worth several billions of dollars, but the wealth does not stay in Appalachia.

Plenty of that wealth is paid to employees, who in turn invest it in their communities.  Not only that, but to mine on land in a free market system a mining company has to purchase said land in the first place for its discounted potential value (the market value of the resources it contains minus the cost of extracting those resources plus an allowance for some profit).  In addition, the low-cost coal that Appalachia produces allows for increased efficiency and competitiveness in the American economy and the world economy at large, ultimately decreasing costs for Appalachian consumers when they purchase products and services.  You're essentially subscribing to the protectionist fallacy here (or, rather, it's equally silly* opposite, that exports are bad).

*Actually somewhat more silly, since net exports are a component of GDP.

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And quite frankly, there is nothing wrong with regular mining; businesses will still be allowed to produce electricity, but the environment will be better off as a whole if the extreme forms of mining are prohibited.

See above.

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On the issue of costs, this type of mining has, obviously, made life more expensive for residents of these communities than helped.

No, it has not.  These communities exist in the first place because the mining industry makes them economically viable.

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The availability and low-cost of alternative energy sources- including energy efficiency, renewable sources such as wind power and low-impact hydroelectric, natural gas, and coal from other sources- would minimize any impact on electricity prices from restricting mountaintop.  Appalachia can only tap into alternative energy sources if these areas remain in tact.

If such sources were so inexpensive, then people would already be using them instead.  Rather, even with massive government subsidy, they are still not nearly cost-competitive with coal.  People who do not need to worry about their electricity costs can have such flights of fancy all they want, but a significant increase in electricity costs has a disproportionate impact on those poorest among us.

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State budgets are impacted by it, too.  Those costs include increased road expenditures, operating mining-specific health and safety systems, supporting training and research and development for the industry- all at the cost of the taxpayer.

I see no reason why the taxpayer should have to foot the bill for the mining companies' costs of doing business.  Rather, they should have to pay for themselves.

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And that alone doesn't include costs for healthcare, loss of home values, and the need for water treatment.

I'm not opposed to letting private landowners sue when their property is damaged, of course.  But I don't see how we can reduce such property damage if we continue to keep mountaintop removal legal.

Once again, people should be allowed to sue for damage to their property caused by MRM or anything else.  Ironically, environmental regulations work both ways in a sense.  As long as a company is in compliance with them, then people whose health or property was negatively impacted by their emissions/runoff etc. are not entitled to legal recourse.  Allowing property-owners, as was the legal regime 100 years ago before environmental regulations were first created for the benefit of corporations, to either charge for the use of their property or sue for damages if they are not paid, would prove a far better deterrent than any government action.

A good example of this would be with elephants, back in the 1970s in both Kenya and what was then Rhodesia.  In 1978, Kenya banned the hunting of elephants and instituted heavy penalties for doing so, which was followed only by even more depletion of the elephant population (previously, commercial elephant hunters abided by government restrictions on the number of elephants that could be hunted, whereas poachers had no such qualms).  One year later, in 1979, Rhodesia made elephants the property of whomever's land they were on.  The result was that they soon found themselves with too many elephants.

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This bill does not ban any other form of mining, which will still be in existence after this law is passed.

See above.

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And frankly, if the people who live in these coal mining states really thought that this would hurt jobs, why are they solidly opposed to it?  Oh, that's right- the poll I posted is junk because you don't agree with it.

Regarding said poll, it's by a fly-by-night operation I've never heard of, commissioned by a special interest group (making it an internal poll), asked biased push-poll-style questions, and is of several states without breaking it down by state (much like those useless "Romney leads Obama in Florida, Ohio, and Indiana" polls).  It's practically the definition of a junk poll.
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« Reply #13 on: May 06, 2012, 02:01:53 pm »
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I already explained the differences.  Traditional mining, unlike MTR, does not result in such harsh environmental destruction and damage to the public health.  Both carry the same objective, but not all forms of mining involve the blowing up the mountaintops in order to expose and locate coal deposits, then filling water resources with dirt and pollutants and contaminating the air with the coal dust.  Traditional mining is never a good thing for the environment or a person's health, but it clearly isn't as detrimental and hasn't been proven to be.

Unfortunately for you, the facts disprove your claim about increases in 'efficiency'.  People are worse off because of mountaintop removal and this has been proven by the loss of jobs.  In the case with the car companies and mass-production, people did live better off, as a result.  But mountaintop removal has not improved anyone's life, health, or financial situations because the costs so abundantly outweigh the savings.  This method of mining has been one of the most profitable since the 1990s, but the workers simply haven't benefited from it and, therefore, could not invest in their communities.
And no, MTR has not been around forever because it started in the 1970s, which is around the time when West Virginia started to lose all these mining jobs.  Why are you so concerned about the competitiveness or profitability of the companies if it hasn't actually helped these communities or kept jobs?

As I have already explained, the costs have far outweighed the benefits of permitting MTR in these communities.  The payment that miners receive from the companies is not enough to cover the loss of home value, clean water, health services, and taxes that inevitably have come as a result.  Cheap energy has not balanced these costs in any way.  And I find it ironic that you're considering these communities "economically viable" when these are some of the poorest areas of the country.

Because MTR inevitably causes damage to the communities, it should not be permitted in any way.  Then there wouldn't be a need to sue for damages because those damages would have been prevented.  Also, it really wouldn't matter if the land is privately owned by the industry since people who live nearby the sight have to live with the effects whether they are the owners or not.  Valley fill impacts are especially predominant in the coalfields of eastern Kentucky where flooding has increased, and the streams near the valley fills contain high levels of minerals in water which have decreased aquatic biodiversity.

Uh, yes they did break the numbers down state by state.  And... push poll?  Do you even know what that is?  There is nothing to prove that this organization is less credible simply because it's with a cause and you are making a very weak case against it.  If support suddenly rises for the method, let me know.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2012, 02:33:41 pm by Senator Scott »Logged
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« Reply #14 on: May 07, 2012, 10:40:08 am »
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I'm going to follow your method of just responding to you as a block, since you've gotten somewhat repetitive.

It is clear that you have little understanding of traditional mining, which is an extremely water-intensive process that produces a great deal of runoff, as well as generating an enormous amount of coal dust both inside and outside of the mine shaft, to which miners are directly exposed in closed quarters and which has contributed to an epidemic of Black Lung Disease among former miners.  MRM is mostly an open-air process in which human exposure to coal dust is significantly less than in traditional mining situations.  Furthermore, I have no duty to prove a negative; you have made the assertion that MRM produces more pollution per unit of coal produced.  Since you are so confident in that assertion, I asked you to provide statistical proof.  You have not.

Frankly, Scott, the facts do prove my claim about increases in efficiency.  If MRM were not more efficient, then nobody would be doing it.  The Luddite Fallacy is the assertion that increases in efficiency cause unemployment because they reduce the labor cost per output, and it's a fallacy because, well, it's wrong.  Correlation does not imply causation.  Take, for example, Detroit.  Detroit is an extremely poor city with very high crime and unemployment.  In fact, even in the heyday of the auto industry during the 1960s, Detroit was still one of the poorest and highest-crime cities in America.  However, it would be absurd to claim that the auto industry, it's major economic driver, ever made Detroit worse off.  If the auto industry were to disappear, quite obviously, Detroit would be even worse-off than it is now.  In fact, without the auto industry, it's almost certain that Detroit would never have been a major city in the first place.  Without the auto industry as a major investor and employer, it never would have been economically viable as a major city (which is what I mean by "economically viable").  Likewise, many parts of Appalachia and mining.

On a related note, the use of robots in automobile assembly lines began in the 1970s, the same decade that Detroit and the auto industry began declining.  It's also true that robots replaced human workers.  But the increased efficiency from automated assembly made auto manufacturing more profitable than it otherwise would have been, letting the American auto manufacturers be better off than they otherwise would have been, retaining more of their workforce than they otherwise would have.  It's true that Detroit and the auto industry declined as robots on assembly lines became more prevalent, but that is correlation and not causation, and it's the Luddite Fallacy to claim otherwise.  The decline of the auto industry and of the city of Detroit depended on other factors (respectively, the oil shocks and stagflation, from which the Big 3 never fully recovered, and white flight caused by the 1967 riots and the disastrous mayorality of Coleman Young combined with the aforementioned decline of the auto industry).

Of course, all of this would only be relevant if there really were correlation that you could imply is causation, but there isn't.  MRM has been around since the 1960s, like I said ("Mountaintop removal began in the 1960s, but has gradually become more popular").  Not only that, but as MRM has become more prevalent, mining has experienced a rennaissance of sorts in Appalachia, as for the first time in many years mining companies have begun opening new mines and hiring new workers, so the correlation actually runs in quite the opposite direction and appears quite causal.

What did come about around the time Appalachian mining went into decline were a plethora of new regulations - Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, Endangered Species Act, OSHA etc. that made the costs of doing business in mining much higher and rendered traditional mining in Appalachia increasingly uncompetitive with both foreign and other domestic (Wyoming, etc.) coal suppliers.  This isn't my evil right-wing position, it's common sense.  Even quite leftist Keynesian economists will agree that increases in productive efficiency are helpful to an industry while increases in regulation harm it.  These are broadly-accepted, self-evident economic facts.

And yes, allowing landowners to sue for damages to their property is an effective deterrent.  If a business can expect to have to face a lawsuit for engaging in a certain activity, it will be [strongly] discouraged from engaging in that activity in the first place.  Businesses are not moustache-twirling Captain Planet villains, they're profit-seeking entities that will avoid possible loss (such as loss from lawsuits) like the plague.

Regarding your poll, I fail to see how your link increases its credibility.  It says that it weighted its sample such that 42% of its sample was from Virginia and 29% from Tennessee, while only 21% was from Kentucky and 8%(!) from West Virginia, the latter two having expressed much higher support for all mining-related activities asked about in the poll than the former two (although their samples were too small to produce any statistically-valid results).

Not only that, but the survey broke its samples in half and asked each half a different question, the first half was asked a neutral question about their opinions of MRM yielding 24% in favor, 38% opposed, and 38% don't know.  The other half was asked an a loaded question describing the perceived environmental impact of MRM yielding 20% in favor, 57% opposed, and 23% don't know.  The neutral question received a fairly neutral/unfamiliar response, indicating a lack of familiarity with the matter (unsurprising, "mountaintop removal mining" is a technical term), while the loaded question received a strongly negative response, as one might expect from a push poll, which this one was by definition.  You would get the opposite response if you had a survey question asking people if they'd support banning MRM even if it might cost jobs.  This is probably the worst survey I've ever seen a member of this site insist was genuine.
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« Reply #15 on: May 07, 2012, 02:59:59 pm »
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No.  You have little understanding of traditional mining, because you fail to understand the difference between the two methods or what comes as a result of both of them.  I am not trying to argue that traditional mining is, in any way, healthy or environmentally friendly because it is not.  However, it has caused nowhere near the amount of damage MTR has created.  MTR is worse for not just miners, but the inhabitants and animals nearby because it exposes more dust and thus reduces biodiversity in the air as well as. especially, the water supply, whereas regular mining does not- that is how I am proving my assertion.  Thousands of families throughout Appalachia have had their wells contaminated or dewatered due to the blasting process.

Much of the mining waste includes heavy metals such as mercury, cadmium, and nickel.  An irreversible kidney disease known as Balkan endemic nephropathy has been connected to the leaching of toxic organic compounds in groundwater, which is ingested by the local population- unlike traditional forms of mining, this affects more than just the miners themselves because this occurs at a much broader level.  One study found that children in Letcher County, Kentucky, suffer from an alarmingly high rate of nausea, diarrhea, vomiting, and shortness of breath, which are symptoms related to blue babe syndrome.  This was linked to sedimentation and dissolved minerals that have drained from mine sites into nearby streams.  This is the proof I am providing as evidence.

I'm not claiming that MTR is less efficient.  It is very efficient- in fact, despite how this method only accounts for 5% of mining activities, it's shown to be one of the most profitable methods used for the mining companies and not for, of course, the workers. I've already proven to you, however, that this came at the cost of the miners and Appalachian communities.  In comparison to several decades ago, the mining industry has lost workers over time.  You continue to bring up the auto industry in your anecdotes, but this doesn't touch the underlying issue.  Traditional mining communities have disappeared as jobs are no longer needed.  Given that dynamite is a cheaper source than miner labor, the industry of mountaintop removal does not create new jobs.  Thus, the only people that have actually profited from using this method are the ones who own the large mining industries, and no one at the bottom has seen any of it.  If any new jobs were actually being created, then West Virginia wouldn't have lost 148,500 jobs in the coal industry.  Your logic, unfortunately, simply does not apply here because the facts have proven contrary.

I also reject your assertion that the environmental regulations which were passed during that time have anything to do with this; economists as well as the Office of Management and Budget concluded that benefits of the regulations exceeded the costs by large ratios.  It is totally absurd to claim that Keynesian believe that increases in regulation hurt business, especially since facts say otherwise.  But once again, the top companies have become more profitable than ever before, even with these regulations in place, yet the miners continued to lose jobs.

You seem to believe that people in these communities should only sue for the results of MTR, not MTR itself.  I find this absurd.  Property damage is already illegal, but MTR is not and continues to be used to this day.  If the companies were truly concerned about facing lawsuits or causing the health and financial declines of people in these communities, they wouldn't be using the method at all.

The percentages may vary for population reasons, but I still don't believe that the state-by-state breakdowns are very relevant to the poll since it was specifically asked of people from the coal-mining region, not just individual states.
What "loaded question"?  There was nothing mentioned in these questions that is untrue about MTR.  Merely summarizing the process itself in the question does not make it biased.  In fact, the questioners presented both sides of the issue in their questioning and then asked if the arguments changed their minds.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2012, 03:04:05 pm by Senator Scott »Logged
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« Reply #16 on: May 07, 2012, 03:58:10 pm »
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Scott, I have asked you twice now to provide me hard statistics showing that MRM produces more pollution per unit of coal produced compared to traditional mining.  You have not done so and have responded only with a series of anecdotes (all of which are equally true of traditional mining) and hysterical appeals to emotion.  I can only conclude that there is, in fact, no hard evidence for your position, which makes sense, as more efficient methods of production almost universally produce less pollution per unit.



As you can see, nearly all job losses in West Virginia coal mining occured well before the invention of MRM (and your figure of 150,000 for the 1960s is wildly inaccurate).  I am also correct in saying that since the 1990s, when MRM became prevalent, employment has begun to increase again.  Furthermore, there is another large decrease following the passage of of several far-reaching regulatory bills within a 1-year period; OSHA (1976), the Clean Air and Water acts of 1977, the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act of 1977, and the creation of the Department of Energy (1977).  While economists do disagree as to the effect of certain regulations on the overall economy, you won't find any who will say that regulations *on the coal mining industry* are helpful *to the coal mining industry,* which was my point.

Furthermore, you are mistaken in your assumption that property damage due to pollution is illegal.  Provided that the polluter complies with federal regulations, property-owners are not entitled to sue for damages due to said pollution.  This is why big business advocated for the creation of environmental regulations in the first place.

If changing the question from a neutral statement to a "descriptive" one causes such a large change in results, it is by definition a push poll question.  If you do not see how that is, I've got a bridge in Brooklyn and a poll showing that 85% of New Englanders oppose partial-birth abortion to sell you.  I'm not going to argue with you further about a push poll commissioned by special-interest groups conducted by fly-by-night operations of a sample that is almost entirely outside the area of interest.
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« Reply #17 on: May 07, 2012, 04:38:38 pm »
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The point I am trying to make with my anecdotes is that illnesses are more widespread when MTR is used than traditional mining because a broader mass of people are exposed to the effects of it.  Mining has never been, nor ever will be, a health-orientated career to pursue, but it is significant that the methods of mining which cause greater topographical changes harm more people than other methods, such as those who don't even partake in the mining.  This draws a much greater contrast; they are not equally true in any way.  I fail to see how you could reasonably depreciate these as 'appeals to emotion.'

Nice chart you got.  Here's a better one.



The fact that you posted that and claimed employment in the coal industry has gone up is laughable.  Currently, the mining industry has seen losses that haven't even remotely been recovered since MTR started being used more frequently.  Now what's funny is, both our charts show a slight increase in coal mining employment after the time those laws were passed.

Now, hypothetically, you would only be able to sue for property damage if you could provide evidence that the actions of a coal-mining industry directly resulted in said damage, a scenario that would be highly unlikely.  But basically what you are saying only proves my point; if property owners usually cannot sue on these grounds, we would be better off prohibiting activities that lead to such excessive damage so that there would not be any in the first place.

As I've already explained, the "push poll" you are referring to provided both sides of the argument and mentioned both the concerns of environmental damage as well as job loss.  To no-no a poll that gives participators a sample of both arguments of an issue is ridiculous and unfair.  However, I shall respect your decision to not discuss this further.
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« Reply #18 on: May 07, 2012, 05:54:59 pm »
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Mountaintop Removal will ensure that Appalachia will never have a population boom/density increase despite having some positive environment qualities(hills).
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« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2012, 10:56:15 pm »
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Scott - I've asked you, three times now, to provide actual, numerical evidence that MRM produces more pollution per unit of coal mined than "traditional" mining.  You still have not done so, which seems to indicate that, of course, there is no such data.

Here is a picture of Linfen, China:



That's not fog or even smog, that's coal dust.  Coal dust produced from large-scale traditional mining.  There is absolutely nothing about traditional mining that makes it an even relatively environmentally-safe process.  To claim that archaic methods of coal mining as practiced in Linfen are superior to more efficient, modern methods, where one cannot even tell a mine existed once it is depleted and the land reclaimed, is ridiculous.  Coal mining is not an environmentally-friendly activity by any means but its environmental impact has never been lower relative to the amount produced.

I'm failing to see the point of the graph you posted.  Here is a different graph:



As you can see, in manufacturing in general, production has tended to increase while employment has tended to decrease - this is because of improved efficiency due to increases in technology.  There would surely be full employment in West Virginia if the government were to import a group of North Korean commissars and have the local population mine coal with shovels and pickaxes, but people would most certainly not be better off.  In fact, the reason North Korean commissars would be required is because if the government banned mining except with shovels and pickaxes, then no private mining would occur whatsoever because it would not be worth the investment.  Mining with shovels and pickaxes was rendered obsolete by the ages of steam and the internal combustion engine.  Once those cats were let out of the bag, they could not be let back in - and that was a good thing, because they enabled vast increases in productive efficiency and therefore national prosperity.  Likewise, manufacturing jobs have not been lost because of increases in productive efficiency, which have helped to preserve jobs by keeping US manufacturers in business, they have been lost despite increases in productive efficiency.  MRM is actually such an increase in productive efficiency that Appalachian mining employment has indeed once again started inching upwards, though of course a full recovery to 1940s or even 1970s employment levels is unlikely.

Speaking of those levels:



As you can see, I am once again in fact correct in saying that mining employment in West Virginia started its decline, sharply and immediately, after the passage of several wide-ranging environmental regulation laws in 1977.  While correlation does not imply causation, like I said, the popularizing of MRM correlates with a partial reversal in the downwards job trend while the introduction of said environmental regulations correlates with a sudden and sharp trend downwards that persisted into the 1990s and destroyed almost all remaining coal-mining jobs.

Your push poll, which I will quote myself in describing

commissioned by special-interest groups conducted by fly-by-night operations of a sample that is almost entirely outside the area of interest.

presents "both sides of the argument" only after pre-biasing the sample by presenting one side of the argument first.  This is a standard method used to establish that push polls are in fact "unbiased."  I'm not sure why you continue to insist on arguing about that, since there's nobody on this site unsophisticated enough about such matters they'd take a poll like yours seriously.
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« Reply #20 on: May 08, 2012, 06:50:15 am »
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I didn't notice this in any of the posts, but I could be wrong. My question is will this effect CMM extraction? Right now, it's a fairly large portion of employment and revenue in PA, WV, and OH.
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My parents are pretty good about smelling a rat. 
Let me put this as clear as I can (saying this to myself, as well, so I can see it): I WILL get a job with CADD and I WILL keep the job.
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« Reply #21 on: May 08, 2012, 02:03:42 pm »
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Again- I've already provided evidence to prove that MTR causes more harmful health and geographical effects to Appalachian communities.  There may not be numbers that compare "pollution per unit of coal" between methods, but every other statistic proves that these topographical alterations have caused greater impacts.  Coal is coal; all units release pollution (a single unit releases, I have found, 2lbs C02).  But when mountaintops are totally removed and broad plateaus are left, more coal is released into the air and water supply, thus increasing pollution, and making the land area more susceptible to floods and mudslides.  This is never reclaimed.


Here is a picture of what you don’t believe is any more damaging than traditional mining.  You cannot hunt in, breathe in, or survive in an area like this.

Now, basically you’ve proven my point that employment in the mining industry has dropped in spite of increased efficiency.  I’ve already explained how this new method created unemployment.  And I’m skeptical of your claim that private mining would simply no longer occur because of this restriction.  MTR only accounted for less than 5% of US coal production as of 2001.
The charts alone disprove your claim that this method increased employment, in any way.  Obviously, the decline started way before any of those regulations were passed, and none of these regulations have kept these industries any less profitable because facts show that they have only become more profitable.

More falsehoods.  None of these questions have any bias in them.  At all.  The questions asked if the public supported MTR, supported politicians who want regulations on MTR, and then provided two statements for and against MTR.  They also provided a brief description of what MTR is, which is factually correct.  I don’t know if you’re either trolling or are really this illiterate, but this is getting old.
Also, I thought you said you were done discussing this poll.  Trolling again, I presume.

So I guess the question the senators will be faced with when voting time comes (hopefully soon) is, what’s more important?  “Increased efficiency”, which made for cheap coal, but raised other costs and lowered the quality of life in these communities, or the workers and families who have to live in this region?

I didn't notice this in any of the posts, but I could be wrong. My question is will this effect CMM extraction? Right now, it's a fairly large portion of employment and revenue in PA, WV, and OH.

No.
« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 06:19:11 pm by Senator Scott »Logged
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« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2012, 02:16:34 pm »
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Does MTR lead to the same respiratory hazards as underground mining for workers? It would seem safer to me than sending people underground.
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« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2012, 02:21:54 pm »
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Does MTR lead to the same respiratory hazards as underground mining for workers? It would seem safer to me than sending people underground.

Both are hazardous, of course.  But mountaintop removal has made health conditions in these communities worse and created a wide range of health problems, and essentially MTR leads to respiratory hazards for every person living in the communities.

« Last Edit: May 08, 2012, 02:38:01 pm by Senator Scott »Logged
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« Reply #24 on: May 08, 2012, 02:35:46 pm »
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Does MTR lead to the same respiratory hazards as underground mining for workers? It would seem safer to me than sending people underground.

I would think this impacts the communities surrounding the mine in addition to the miners themselves. And it's not just air quality, but also the runoff from these mines going into the water supply. Blowing up mountains will also change the hydrography of the area, possibly making it more susceptible to flooding. And lastly it completely ruins one of the more beautiful areas in America. Traditional mining does not do that. Imagine if miners in the west had blown up mountains in the 1800s while extracting minerals. Some of the most beautiful places on this planet would have been destroyed and not preserved for future generations. Should we not preserve the Appalachians for future generations to enjoy as well?
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