U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law by issuing mountaintop removal mining permits

The devastation of mountains and valleys in West Virginia may slow down (maybe).

Link: Earthjustice Statement on Mountaintop Removal Mining Court Decision: Earthjustice: Environmental Law.

"Today, we applaud the ruling in federal court stating that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers violated the law by issuing mountaintop removal mining permits that allowed vital headwater streams to be permanently buried.

"The federal government has been illegally issuing such permits. Doing so has led to widespread and irreversible devastation to the streams, mountains and lands across Appalachia. The judge has made it clear that the Corps must now comply with the Clean Water Act and stop issuing illegal permits.

"This decision does give the Corps another chance to try and show that they can issue permits for valley fills in streams without violating the law. But the evidence to date shows that the Corps has no scientific basis — no real evidence of any kind — upon which it bases its decisions to permit this permanent destruction to streams and headwaters. They have shown no evidence to support their claims that this destruction can simply be ‘fixed’ through mitigation. In fact, as the court opinion correctly notes: "The Corp’s witnesses . . . conceded that the Corps does not know of any successful stream creation projects in the Appalachian region."

"Mountaintop removal mining valley fills cannot comply with the Clean Water Act without strict environmental limits. We hope the Corps recognizes this fact and realizes that approving illegal mountaintop removal mining permits does nothing to protect the environment, violates the law and is destroying the lives and culture of the people of West Virginia and the region."

The video below is from I Love Mountains:

via Fred First at Fragments from Floyd

Akiane, Child Artist

Akiane painted the picture below and wrote the description at age 11. Here’s a link to her story – Akiane.

Family

This is a portrait of a leopard family – an allegory about the human family.

Safety, love and growth are the branches that a happy family rests on.

The thickest branch is the branch of love.

And the branch that goes up is the branch of growth.

The branch in front that keeps them from falling is the branch of safety.

The fathers’ paws are on the branch of safety symbolizing that it is he who can protect and provide for the family best. The growth branch is positioned also on his side.

At first glance one can not notice the baby leopard, and it is because I tried to blend him into his mother. I believe the young animals just like human babies are so connected with their mothers that they cannot live happily without each other. They are part of their mother. That bond lasts as long as the memory.

via Joanne Starodub

Sensing Danger

Fred is one of my favorite bloggers. He lives away from civilization in a beautiful valley in the mountains near Floyd, Va. There are no other houses near his home. He found himself in an tense, potentially lethal situation recently. Here’s one of his observations:

…I ought to remember I am not invincible just because I am on my own property.

I have encountered strangers with guns many times in the woods, and it can be unnerving (even if you haven’t seen Deliverance).

Here’s the link: Big Angels

Long ago, in what seems like a dream, Bob Bushnell, Neil Hauck, Jack Lester and I encountered two deer hunters on a backpacking trip in West Virginia. They were waiting in tree stands in a grove of apple trees deep in the Monongahela National Forest.

They were very angry — they said that we had ruined their hunt and we shouldn’t be there. I apologized that we had walked into their hunting area; I also said that we were in a National Forest and had a right to be there. Then they disappeared down a trail deeper into the forest. Even though it was mid-afternoon, the situation felt very ominous as the daylight was fading due to a snow storm moving in. We decided to not to spend the night in the forest.

We hiked several miles to the parking area and unloaded our backpacks. Big flakes of snow were falling as we prepared for the long drive back to Charlottesville in the dark. As we drove out of the parking area, the deer hunters emerged from the forest.

It was one of the strangest days I ever spent in the woods.