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Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Save Tennessee's mountaintops from coal mining - a request from CBD

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Please help protect a national treasure from mountaintop-removal coal mining. We have a unique opportunity to prevent the beautiful Cumberland Mountains in eastern Tennessee from being dynamited and dumped into streams to access coal. 
The state of Tennessee has petitioned the federal Office of Surface Mining to set aside 505 miles of ridgeline in the Cumberlands as "unsuitable" for surface coal mining. This means that more than 67,000 acres of mountaintop would be protected from mining, which would preserve habitat for rare species, protect drinking water and provide land for recreation and wildlife dispersal. 
This is the first time in history a state has attempted to safeguard public lands by seeking the "unsuitable for surface mining" designation. Coal corporations are fighting this proposal and Tennessee needs your support to make this happen. 
Please send comments to the Department of the Interior today asking that the entire petitioned area be designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining.
SAVE TENNESSEE'S MOUNTAINTOPS FROM COAL MINING
Your help is needed to protect a national treasure from mountaintop-removal coal mining. We have a unique opportunity to prevent the beautiful Cumberland Mountains in eastern Tennessee from being dynamited and dumped into streams to access coal.
The state of Tennessee has petitioned the federal Office of Surface Mining to set aside 505 miles of ridgeline in the Cumberlands as "unsuitable" for surface coal mining. This means that more than 67,000 acres of mountaintop would be protected from mining, which would preserve habitat for rare species, protect drinking water and provide land for recreation and wildlife dispersal.

This is the first time in history a state has attempted to safeguard public lands by seeking the "unsuitable for surface mining" designation. Coal corporations are fighting this proposal and Tennessee needs your support to make this happen. 
Please submit comments to the Department of the Interior today asking that the entire petitioned area be designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining.
Here is a draft by CBD for your letter. Please see and take action.
Dear LUM Petition Administration Officer:
I am writing in support of the Cumberland Area Lands Unsuitable for Mining Petition to ask that the entire petitioned area be designated as unsuitable for surface coal mining operations as proposed in scoping Alternative 1.
Designating the entire petitioned area as unsuitable for surface mining would protect hundreds of rare, threatened and endangered species, would safeguard drinking water supplies, and would preserve the recreational, cultural and scientific value of Tennessee's public lands.
There is a growing body of research showing the harmful effects of mountaintop-removal coal mining on wildlife and public health, and demonstrating that the devastation caused by mountaintop removal is permanent and irreversible. Mining the Cumberland ridgetops would destroy wildlife habitat, undermine the "Connecting the Cumberlands" initiative, and cost Tennessee millions of dollars in future revenue based on tourism and recreation.
An environmental impact statement should be prepared that analyzes the full array of rare, threatened, and endangered species that occur in or downstream of the proposed area; the importance of headwater streams in watersheds; the cumulative impacts of past surface coal mining in the region; the negative effects of surface coal mining pollution on biodiversity, air and water quality, and public health; the value of mature hardwood forests in the ecosystem; the negative effects of forest fragmentation; the value of an intact view shed; and the revenue and jobs derived from tourism in eastern Tennessee.
The approval of this forward-thinking petition provides a unique opportunity to safeguard the Cumberland Mountains, a special part of our nation's natural heritage. The Office of Surface Mining should grant the state's request and protect the entirety of this important area for future generations.
Thank you for your careful consideration of my comments.
MISSION OF CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY
At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature — to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters and climate that species need to survive.
We want those who come after us to inherit a world where the wild is still alive.
STORY OF THE ORGANISATION
The Center for Biological Diversity was founded beneath the ancient ponderosa pines of New Mexico’s Gila wilderness, where Kierán Suckling, Peter Galvin, and Todd Schulke met while surveying owls for the U.S. Forest Service. All three were in their early twenties, with a passion for wild places; Kierán was a doctoral student in philosophy, Peter was training in conservation biology, and Todd had a background running outdoor-education programs for high-risk kids. When their surveys turned up a rare Mexican spotted owl nest in an old-growth tree, and they found out that same tree was part of a vast area slated to be razed in a massive timber sale, they took their findings to the local Forest Service manager. The Forest Service had been entrusted with shielding sensitive species from harm, but it soon became clear the agency was more invested in its relationship with big timber than in its commitment to the public to protect forest wildlife. The timber sale would go forward, in violation of the Service’s own rules.
The three young men promptly took the story to a local paper.
In the end, that big old tree never fell to the chainsaws, and Kierán, Peter and Todd became personae non gratae at the Forest Service. Along with Dr. Robin Silver, an emergency room doctor, nature photographer, and grassroots advocate who had written an Endangered Species Act petition to protect the Mexican spotted owl — and joined by a growing group of other activists as word of mouth spread — they formed the group that would eventually be known as the Center for Biological Diversity. Tackling cattle-grazing abuses on the public lands where they lived, they leveraged protection for species like the southwestern willow flycatcher into orders to remove cows from hundreds of miles of vulnerable desert streams; with their campaigns to protect goshawks and owls, they shut down major timber operations throughout Arizona and New Mexico and brought an end to large-scale industrial logging in the heritage public lansds of the arid Southwest.
And that was just for starters.
The Center’s innovation was to systematically and ambitiously use biological data, legal expertise, and the citizen petition provision of the powerful Endangered Species Act to obtain sweeping, legally binding new protections for animals, plants, and their habitat — first in New Mexico, then throughout the Southwest, next through all 11 western states and into other key areas across the country. With each passing year the Center has expanded its territory, which now extends to the protection of species throughout the Pacific and Atlantic oceans and international regions as remote as the North and South poles. As our range grew, and first tens, then hundreds of species gained protection as a result of our groundbreaking petitions, lawsuits, policy advocacy, and outreach to media, we went from living and working on a shoestring to having offices around the country — from relying on donated time from pro bono attorneys at large firms to building a full-time staff of dozens of prominent environmental lawyers and scientists who work exclusively on our campaigns to save species and the places they need to survive. 
We’re now fighting a growing number of national and worldwide threats to biodiversity, from the overarching global problems of overpopulation and climate change to intensifying domestic sources of species endangerment, such as off-road vehicle excess. Based on our unparalleled record of legal successes — 93 percent of our lawsuits result in favorable outcomes — we’ve developed a unique negotiating position with both government agencies and private corporations, enabling us, at times, to secure broad protections for species and habitat without the threat of litigation. Now in our twenty-first year, we look forward to a future of continued expansion, creativity, and no-holds-barred action on behalf of the world’s most critically endangered animals and plants.
Annual Report of CBD for 2009
The Center won standout victories for endangered species in 2009, including a proposal from the federal government to protect 120 million acres for the polar bear, the reversal of 51 illegal Bush-era endangered species decisions, vital new protections for jaguars and Mexican gray wolves, and an Environmental Protection Agency decision marking the first time in history that the Clean Water Act has been invoked to address ocean acidification.

Key Words: mountaintop-removal coal mining, Tennessee's public lands., Cumberland Mountains, Environmental Protection Agency, jaguars and Mexican gray wolves

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