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Gayle in MD
02-20-2011, 12:04 PM
<span style='font-size: 17pt'> Two, Among Many, Many Others! </span>

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/opinion/20House.html

Op-Ed Contributor
My Polluted Kentucky Home
By SILAS HOUSE
Published: February 19, 2011

Berea, Ky.

LAST weekend I joined 19 other Kentuckians in a sit-in at the office of Gov. Steve Beshear. We were there to protest his support of mountaintop removal, a technique used by coal-mining companies that, as its name implies, involves blasting away the tops of mountains and hills to get at the coal seams beneath them.

Since it was first used in 1970, mountaintop removal has destroyed some 500 mountains and poisoned at least 1,200 miles of rivers and streams across the Appalachian coal-mining region. Yet Governor Beshear is so committed to the practice that he recently allied with the Kentucky Coal Association in a suit against the Environmental Protection Agency to block more stringent regulations of it. In court his administration’s lawyers referred to public opposition as simply “an unwarranted burden.”

The news media and the rest of the country typically think of mountaintop removal as an environmental problem. But it’s a human crisis as well, scraping away not just coal but also the freedoms of Appalachian residents, people who have always been told they are of less value than the resources they live above.

Over the past six years I’ve visited dozens of people who live at the edge of mountaintop removal sites. They bathe their children in water that has arsenic levels as high as 130 times what the E.P.A. deems safe to drink.

Their roads are routinely destroyed by overloaded trucks; their air is clouded with pollutants. Their schools sit below ponds holding billions of gallons of sludge. Their children lose sleep worrying that the sludge dams will break, releasing the sludge down upon them. It happened 40 years ago at Buffalo Creek, W.Va., killing 125 people, and it could happen again today.

It’s a horrible way to live. And yet, as it does in many other impoverished quarters of America, the news too often avoids covering Appalachia as if it were a no man’s land.

When a 3-year-old Virginia boy was crushed to death in his crib after a half-ton boulder was accidentally (and illegally) dislodged by a mining company, it barely made the national news. Many people around here believe the omission reflected that the child lived in a trailer home in the heart of coal country.

In 2000, 306 million gallons of sludge — 30 times more than the volume of oil spilled by the Exxon Valdez — buried parts of Martin County, Ky., as deep as 5 feet. Yet hardly anyone outside the region remembers the disaster, if they ever heard about it.

More recently, my friend Judy’s grandson was playing in a creek when he was suddenly surrounded by dozens of dead fish. Tests later proved that a coal company was releasing polyacrylamide — a cancer-causing agent used to prepare coal for burning — into the creek. When Judy complained to the state, no one replied. She recently died of brain cancer.

I’ve heard dozens of stories like these, but they rarely make it beyond the mountains. Is it any wonder then that Appalachian residents feel invisible?

In fact, invisible is how we’ve been taught to think of ourselves since coal was first discovered here. When I was little, teachers would stand over my desk and tell me that I had to change my accent if I wanted to get ahead in the world. Never mind that I had nearly perfect grammar and spelling.

We were also told the success of the mines mattered above all else, that if we complained about the dust, noise and disrespect pumped out by the mine in our community, people would lose jobs.

The coal companies, the news media and even our own government have all been complicit in valuing Appalachian lives less than those of other Americans. Otherwise, it might be harder for them to get that coal out as quickly and inexpensively as they do.

Those of us who protest mountaintop removal do it for the environment, but we’re also fighting to prove we are not unwarranted burdens. Our water and air are being poisoned, but the most dangerous toxin is the message that people don’t matter.

As a child I once stood on a cedar-pocked ridge with my father, looking down on a strip mine near the place that had been our family cemetery. My great-aunt’s grave had been “accidentally” buried under about 50 feet of unwanted topsoil and low-grade coal; “overburden,” the industry calls it. My father took a long, deep breath. I feel that I’ve been holding it ever since.



http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/opinion/20Dubinsky.html?ref=opinion



Op-Ed Contributor
Money Won’t Buy You Health Insurance
By DONNA DUBINSKY
Published: February 19, 2011
Redwood City, Calif.

THIS isn’t the story of a poor family with a mother who has a dreadful disease that bankrupts them, or with a child who has to go without vital medicines. Unlike many others, my family can afford medical care, with or without insurance.

Instead, this is a story about how broken the market for health insurance is, even for those who are healthy and who are willing and able to pay for it.

Most employees assume that if they lose their job and the health coverage that comes along with it, they’ll be able to purchase insurance somewhere. The members of Congress who want to repeal the provision of last year’s health insurance law that makes it easier for individuals to buy coverage must assume that uninsured people do not want to buy it, or are just too cheap or too poor to do so.

The truth is that individual health insurance is not easy to get.

I found this out the hard way. Six years ago, my company was acquired. Since my husband had retired a few years earlier, we found ourselves without an employer and thus without health insurance.

My husband, teenage daughter and I were all active and healthy, and I naïvely thought getting health insurance would be simple.

Why did we even need insurance? First, we wanted to know that, if we had a medical catastrophe, we would not exhaust our savings. Second, uninsured patients are billed more than the rates that insurers negotiate with doctors and hospitals, and we wanted to pay those lower rates. The difference is significant: my recent M.R.I. cost $1,300 at the “retail” rate, while the rate negotiated by the insurance company was $700.

An insurance broker helped me sort through the options. I settled on a high-deductible plan, and filled out the long application. I diligently listed the various minor complaints for which we had been seen over the years, knowing that these might turn up later and be a basis for revoking coverage if they were not disclosed.

Then the first letter arrived — denied. It never occurred to me that we would be denied! Yes, we had listed a bunch of minor ailments, but nothing serious. No cancer, no chronic diseases like asthma or diabetes, no hospital stays.

Why were we denied? What were these pre-existing conditions that put us into high-risk categories? For me, it was a corn on my toe for which my podiatrist had recommended an in-office procedure. My daughter was denied because she takes regular medication for a common teenage issue. My husband was denied because his ophthalmologist had identified a slow-growing cataract. Basically, if there is any possible procedure in your future, insurers will deny you.

The broker then proposed that the three of us make individual applications. Perhaps one or two of us might be accepted, rather than the family as a group.

As I filled out more applications, I discovered a critical error in my strategy. The first question was “Have you ever been denied health insurance”? Now my answer was yes, giving the new companies reason to be wary of my application. I learned too late that the best tactic is to apply simultaneously to as many companies as possible, so that you don’t have to admit to a denial.

I completed four applications for each of the three of us, using reams of paper. I learned to read the questions carefully. I mulled over the difference between a “condition” and “something for which you have sought treatment.” I was precise and succinct. I felt as if I was doing a deposition: Give the minimum true information, and not a word more. I was accepted by exactly one insurance company. So was my daughter, although at a 50 percent premium over the standard charge for a girl her age. My husband was also accepted by one insurer but was denied by the company that approved me.

Our premiums, which were reasonable at first, have increased substantially over the last six years; the average annual increase has been 20 percent. I now am paying premiums that are more than double what they were initially. And because these are high-deductible policies, we still are paying most of the medical bills ourselves.

The new health care reform legislation is not perfect. Nothing that complex could be. But I have no doubt that the system is broken and reform is absolutely essential. If we are not going to have universal coverage but are going to rely on employer plans, then we must offer individuals, self-employed people and small businesses a place to purchase insurance at a reasonable price.

If members of Congress feel so strongly about undoing this important legislation, perhaps we should stop providing them with health insurance. Let’s credit their pay for the amount that has been paid by the taxpayers, and let them try to buy health insurance in the individual market. My bet is that they all would be denied. Health insurance reform might suddenly not seem to them like such a bad idea.

LWW
02-20-2011, 04:46 PM
I actually agree with Gee on the issue of mountain top removal.

Where we differ is that I see the issue from having been raised in the commonwealth and still owning property there, which gives me a fact based first hand knowledge of the issue.

OTOH Gee has her typical stilted, partisan, spoon fed, denialist insanity ... and nothing more.

Since mountain top removal started in the 1960's, Kentucky has had 13 governors since 1960. Eleven were democrooks, 2 weren't. Mountain top removal began under a democrook. In the same time period West Virginia has had 11 governors, seven of which were democrooks.

For the democrooks to shift blame for another of their disasters off onto the other party is typical, to believe it without question is hyperpartisan.

Gee has been, again, hoist by her own petard.

OH DEAR! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Governors_of_Kentucky)

OH MY! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mountain_top_removal) 4

GOOD GOSH! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_West_Virginia_Governors)

LWW

cushioncrawler
02-20-2011, 05:32 PM
Two good reasons why unfettered capitalizm shood be stopped.
mac.

LWW
02-20-2011, 05:52 PM
Unfettered capitalism becomes/requires unfettered statism ... but I think we agree.

IMHO if someone owns the mountain they have every right to do whatever they want with it. They also should be responsible for whatever the results of that are, including runoff and air/water contamination.

Companies cannot poison the area and destroy the landscape with impunity unless they have a willing partner in the state. Kentucky has long been ran by the democrooks at the state level.

At the local level, the rural areas are heavily conservative and have been fighting Frankfort and it's coal baron masters over this.

Gee is on the right side of the issue, but is too brainwashed by her leftist handlers to realize she is an unwitting tool of what she is against.

IOW ... this is just another Gee rant.

LWW

llotter
02-20-2011, 06:18 PM
I have zero confidence in the environmentalist rants about the problems of mountain top mining. Wouldn't it be better to modify the practice through procedural changes than to scrape what is evidently a cost effective technique.

We are already costing our economy dearly by essentially putting off limits huge amounts of our energy resources for very questionable reasons. I suppose there could be some tidbits of truth to the environmental rants but I get the feeling of being steamrolled by a totally leftist agenda...green on the outside, red on the inside.

LWW
02-21-2011, 01:55 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: llotter</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I have zero confidence in the environmentalist rants about the problems of mountain top mining. Wouldn't it be better to modify the practice through procedural changes than to scrape what is evidently a cost effective technique.

We are already costing our economy dearly by essentially putting off limits huge amounts of our energy resources for very questionable reasons. I suppose there could be some tidbits of truth to the environmental rants but I get the feeling of being steamrolled by a totally leftist agenda...green on the outside, red on the inside.

</div></div>

I agree with that ... but mountain top removal is no longer cost effective if proper repair of the environment is required.

As to the damage done to the region and it's health impacts ... trust me, they are very real.

Also, trust me, big coal has had the democrook governors of WV and Ky bought and paid for ... along with two senators you may have heard of named Rockefeller and Byrd. I'm not familiar with Mantian that much, but I suspect he carries on the tradition.

LWW

pooltchr
02-21-2011, 06:45 AM
<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: LWW</div><div class="ubbcode-body">
I agree with that ... but mountain top removal is no longer cost effective if proper repair of the environment is required.


LWW </div></div>

Actually, it can be very cost effective to some. I lived in eastern Kentucky for a year, and learned some of the ins and outs of the industry. If a mining company happens to own a land reclaimation company, (which many do) they can clear the top of a mountain, and then pay their subsidiary company to go in and repair the damage.

Steve

Qtec
02-21-2011, 07:12 AM
Only two?

Q

Gayle in MD
02-21-2011, 07:14 AM
You must have missed this, lol... /forums/images/%%GRAEMLIN_URL%%/wink.gif

<span style='font-size: 14pt'>Two, Among Many, Many Others!

</span>

LWW
02-21-2011, 05:06 PM
Run away from the truth Gee ... run away, the truth is closing in on you!

LWW