Tuesday, August 30, 2011

100 Year Storms Need Not Apply

Here in Virginia we've just experienced Hurricane Irene.

Below you can see some of the damage.

Wind blown debris:


Tree limbs down:


Gas station awning twisted from the wind:


And flooding:


This was not a hundred year storm, just a regular ol' Category One hurricane.

Why does that matter?

Because, according to Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), the coal ash landfills (some of which are located in floodplains) are rated for one hundred year storms.

Pshew! Good to know.

I was worried that material, which is the consistency of baby powder, piled seven stories tall over hundreds of acres, would take off in hurricane force winds.

Or less.

I mean, these people say it regularly blows out of ponds over their community:

But rest easy, naysayers!

And know that we've got the expert's final word on the matter:

"There will be zero fly ash emissions."

- David Smith, Director of Environmental, Health and Safety Services, ODEC

Testifying before the Surry Co. Planning & Zoning Commission

Nov. 23, 2010

Given the damage we've just seen, that sounds perfectly reasonable, right?

Given that ODEC told the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) there would be "fugitive emissions" and "wind erosion" of fly ash, that sounds in keeping, right?

Given that Mr. Smith could not explain to the Commission how ODEC would seal a 7 story tall mound of ash in a synthetic liner, that sounds like an educated assertion, right?

Nothing to worry about, right?

Yeah. Right.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Why I Fight

Why-I-Fight Fridays -- A glimpse into what's keeping me fighting this fight.

What keeps you fighting? Leave a comment or a link to your blog.

Solidarity, baby!

 * * * * * * *

Because every child should be able to swing on a tire swing

in the fresh air and sunshine

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

(Not So) Disguised Blessings

While the coal plant proposal has brought its fair share of strife, trauma, and general badness there have been some positives.

Not the least of which have been meeting and developing friendships with some of the most amazing people.

The other night we were lucky enough to have a few of them over for dinner.

A few who have become much more like family than just acquaintances or friends.

A few who have:

Spent hours playing with our children,

shared countless meals with our family,

educated us on activism and a host of other issues,

and been some of the most supportive and helpful allies my community and I have seen.

I mean, really, had it not been for the coal plant would I have ever met someone like Becks Kolins? An amazing young person who just spent two weeks 80 ft. up in tree on a mountain top removal coal mining site?

Nope. Probably not.

So as I sat in my dining room--with one little boy asleep on my lap and the other one asking Becks about the first-hand experiences of living in a tree to fight for a cause you believe in--I had to think, "This coal plant thing...it's been a real blessing."

Monday, August 22, 2011

For Sale or Best Offer

Does this look like a "For Sale Sign" to you?

It might if you were 5 years old

I might if you were 5 years old and your home was 1800 feet from a proposed coal plant site.

And your parents made the heart-wrenching decision to sell the only home you've ever known. All so you would never have to live 1800 feet from the largest coal-fired power plant your state.

Would you cry and beg your mama to not to put that sign in the yard at your new home?

Because you don't want to move again.

And leave behind your friends.

And your swing set.

And the house that has your height marked off in pencil on your closet door.

When you are five and live on the front lines of coal, a simple yard sign can mean absolutely everything.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Breaking Ground

Welcome to the official groundbreaking of my new blog!

:: insert fancy ribbon cutting ceremony here, complete with awesome giant scissors ::

My hope is to create a space to explore and share my life as an (accidental) environmental activist and a mom of two amazing people.

Three years ago a proposal for a coal-fired power hit in my small community.

Not just any coal-fired power plant--it would be the largest coal-fired power plant in the entire State of Virginia.

Needless to say, the past few years have been an experience:

Lots of tears,

lots of unity,

lots of learning,

lots of uncertainty,

and one big


Through it all my children have been my biggest cheerleaders and driving forces.

I will not raise my children in the shadows of coal stacks.

And I have come to believe that no one's children should be raised there either.

I hope you will join me on the journey to make that happen!

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