Former vice-president Al Gore made a surprise appearance at Netroots Nation and took some questions.
wvblueguy of WVaBlue asked him about mountaintop removal and coal-to-liquid technology.
Gore's take on MTR?
"Mountaintop mining is an atrocity. It is an outrage."
"It's all done in automated way. That's why the coalminers lost all of their jobs. When we make this transition to renewable fuels, we have to keep them in mind. We ought to guarantee a good job in the fresh air and sunshine for every single coal miner who has been affected by the transition over to renewable fuels."
Sen. John McCain on Monday called for a $300 million prize to whoever can develop a battery that will "leapfrog" the abilities of current hybrid and electric cars.
Sen. John McCain wants someone to develop a battery that can "leapfrog" those available in current electric cars.
Citing high oil prices, the Republican presidential candidate said he wants his offer to "deliver a power source at 30 percent of the current costs."
Why invest in a national effort following the model of the Apollo Program and focus government research and development on solutions when you can give a massive jackpot to some guy working in his shed?
"When John F. Kennedy decided that we were going to put a man on the moon, he didn't put a bounty out for some rocket scientist to win -- he put the full resources of the United States government behind the project and called on the ingenuity and innovation of the American people," the Illinois senator said in a speech in Las Vegas. "That's the kind of effort we need to achieve energy independence in this country, and nothing less will do."
Apaprently Obama didn't pick up on the gaming spirit while he was in Vegas.
Why should McCain stop with the energy crisis?
- Why not give away a Hawaiian vacation to the person that comes up with a way out the housing crisis?
- Find a way to achieve stability in Iraq and this washer/dryer combo can be yours!
- And finally, erase our staggering national debt by offering $500 million and a lifetime supply of Cool Whip to the first American to create a working time machine!*
*Don't worry about how such a prize would add to the debt. Once we go back in time and give officials the winning Powerball numbers, happy days will be here again! (or maybe they already are - because technically if you go into the past from the future, said changes would already be in effect in the present ... I think. Time travel confuses me)
- While the oil companies are pushing for more drilling, the Petroleum Marketers Association of America, which represents the distribution end of the business, has launched a site Stopoilspeculators.com, offering a different solution to the gas crisis.
On a campaign stop in Greensdale, Wisconsin, the Senator suggested that turning to the nation's coast for energy needs would be something of a waste in time and effort and do little to resolve America's broader energy needs.
"I believe it is time for the federal government to lift these restrictions and to put our own reserves to use," he said on Tuesday, "as a matter of fairness to the American people, and a matter of duty for our government, we must deal with the here and now, and assure affordable fuel for America by increasing domestic production."
Sounds like someone is pandering to the rightwing radio guys.
Mr. Bush was critical of Al Gore in the 2000 campaign for being part of “the administration that's been in charge” while the “price of gasoline has gone steadily upward.” In December 1999, in the first Republican primary debate, Mr. Bush said President Clinton “must jawbone OPEC members to lower prices.”
Yeah, he really followed through on that when he got in there.
AP Photo: A motorist fuels her vehicle prior to the Memorial Day weekend in Detroit, Thursday, May 22, 2008.
On his last live broadcast, Air America's Sam Seder had a few guests of note to our region.
In addition to regular panelist, W.Va. resident and Firedoglake blogger Christy Hardin Smith, he interviewed filmmaker David Novick, whose documentary "Burning the Future" has been airing on Sundance this month (It comes out on DVD in June).
In Burning the Future: Coal in America, writer/director David Novack examines the explosive forces that have set in motion a groundswell of conflict between the coal industry and residents of West Virginia. Confronted by an emerging coal-based US energy policy, local activists watch the nation praise coal without regard to the devastation caused by its extraction. Faced with toxic ground water, the obliteration of 1.4 million acres of mountains, and a government that appeases industry, our heroes demonstrate a strength of purpose and character in their improbable fight to arouse the nation's help in protecting their mountains, saving their families, and preserving their way of life.
Audio of the interview is below.
Photo courtesy of West Virginia Highlands Conservancy Mining at Kayford Mountain in Raleigh County, W.Va., draws some of the harshest criticism from mountaintop removal opponents.
My estimate of the crowd was about 3,000. A good mix of ages, gender and ethnicities. Lots of young people. Obama was introduced by Jay and Sharon Rockefeller.
Sen. Rockefeller said to expect more Obama visits to southern WV and the state in the month leading up to the WV primary.
Obama's effectiveness as a speaker is something that has to be seen in person. Quick on his feet and informal, he holds the crowd in the palm of his hand. The comparison to a rock concert is pretty accurate.
Some highlights: - Asked about mountaintop removal during the Q&A by environmental activist, Larry Gibson, he said that the clean water act needs to be enforced, called for a balance between economic gain and preserving the environment and stressed the importance of being stewarts of the land and leaving it for future generations. When I talked to them afterwards, MTR opponents seemed cautiously optimistic about his answer.
Beckley gave Obama a taste of the complexities of West Virginia politics when Chad Foreman of Fayetteville asked the candidate a question about mountaintop removal mining. Obama’s answer didn’t give much red meat to either environmentalists or coal supporters, both of which had loud contingents in the audience.
He stressed the need for a balanced approach between environmental concern and preserving jobs.
“I’m not just going to take a bunch of contributions from the coal industry and do their bidding, any more than I would only listen to the environmentalists,” Obama said. “I want to listen to everybody.”
He did, though, come out in favor of clean coal technology, something many environmental activists find to be a misleading name.
- Pledged to sit down with West Virginia's Congressional delegation and work out a mine safety plan.
- Said that he would pay for his programs by ending the war, making the top 1% pay their fair share in taxes. Said he would use a pay-as-you-go approach, rather than the current administration's tactic borrowing from "The bank of China."
- Said that he would use force to strike enemies if necessary for defense, but would advocate more diplomacy in foreign affairs, with both friends and foes. As to the claim by Bush, McCain and Clinton that he can't meet with hostile nations, "Just watch me.," he said.
- On gas prices, said instability in the Mideast is a cause, but the "hard truth" is that the country hasn't developed an efficient energy policy since the 70s. Would invest more in renewable energy, raise fuel efficiency standards.
Video of his answer to one of the energy questions here:
Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., waits behind the curtain to speak at a town hall meeting at Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center Arena in Beckley, W.V., Thursday, March 20, 2008.(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
The West Virginia Senate Energy Industry and Mining Committee is meeting Wednesday to discuss SB 588, a bill introduced by Sen. Jon Blair Hunter, which would ban valley fills.
The committee will hear first from representatives of the WV Coal Association who oppose the bill.
They will be followed by the bill's supporters, including attorney Joe Lovett, novelist and former Mountain Party candidate for governor Denise Giardinia and West Virginia Highlands Conservancy mining chair Cindy Rank.
Faithfull at WVaBlue points out that Obama, an anti-mountaintop removal candidate, is leading in the coal state of Virginia.
Virginia is showing that not only can a candidate who opposes mountaintop removal be competitive...but two seperate polls are showing that Senator Barack Obama is up by 15+% in a mountaintop removal state. Two polls have confirmed Obama over 50%, and Clinton under 40%.
W.Va. Senator Jon Blair Hunter, a Democrat from Monongalia County, has introduced legislation to end the practice of valley fills, in which thousand of miles of streams are buried under the rubble created by mountaintop removal coal mining.
From a press release: “I introduced Senate Bill 588 because I fervently believe that God did not intend for us to destroy the mountains, the streams, the forests and His people in order to mine coal,” Sen. Hunter said.
“Senator Hunter's bill would stop mountain top removal operators from continuing to use West Virginia's mountain streams as giant garbage cans to dispose of billions of tons of mining waste,” said Joe Lovett executive director of the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment. “West Virginians overwhelmingly oppose mountaintop removal, and I hope that the Manchin administration and others in the Legislature will stand with Senator Hunter to stop the permanent destruction of a huge swath of one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. It is time for the madness of mountaintop removal to come to an end, and Senator Hunter's bill is an important step in that direction.”
Bio on Hunter from Sen. Byrd's Web site:
Jon Blair Hunter was elected to the West Virginia Senate from the 14th District in 1997. He was recently appointed co-chair of the Senate Education Subcommittee on Productive and Safe Schools. Senator Hunter is a native West Virginian, born in Richwood and raised in Nitro. He served in the U.S. Army and earned a bachelor's degree in sociology and a master's degree in social work at the University of Wisconsin. His professional "hats" have included college professor, community organizer, and administrator and executive director of numerous community and senior citizen organizations and programs. He served as Executive Director of the Region VI Area Agency on Aging from 1981 to 1991, coordinating senior citizen programs in north central West Virginia. He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and has served on the boards of many other civic organizations.
Heath Harrison is a writer whose work has appeared in Bejeezus magazine, Freepress.net, The Herald-Dispatch and West Virginia Blue, among others. He is a former student activist, campaign worker and graduate of the master’s program at Marshall University. In addition to writing, he is a published cartoonist and photographer and Herald-Dispatch page designer.