The terms of Dow Chemical's $10 million gift to the University of Michigan ought to raise eyebrows in universities across the country.
The first time I went to Costa Rica, my daughter and I did what most tourists do: we ran around the tourist track, stayed in hostels and rode in tourist vans. We enjoyed it all -- the giant turtles on the Tortuguero beach, snorkeling at Manuel Antonio, the lava at Arenal, the night hike at Monteverde.
My next trip to Costa Rica, I went alone, and I did something different: I studied and lived with a Costa Rican family.
Trees have already started falling on some of the land at the heart of an I-69 ruling in Monroe Circuit Court last week.
Republican Monroe Circuit Judge Frances G. Hill on March 22 gave the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) what it asked for: a permanent injunction requiring seven local landowners to let INDOT contractors cut trees and otherwise damage their properties.
INDOT argued it needed to carry out hydraulic and other investigative work to apply for needed state and federal permits and finish designing a Monroe County stretch of I-69.
ASHEVILLE – Following up on the White House demonstrations to stop the Keystone XL pipeline, Bill McKibben, founder of 350.org, is already hard at work on the next stage of the movement to rein in reliance on fossil fuels.
On a three-state speaking tour, he is calling for a constitutional amendment to undo the damage the Supreme Court did when it declared corporations as persons and campaign contributions as speech. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce spent more money last election cycle than the Democratic and Republican national committees combined – and 97 percent of that went to climate deniers, he told an audience in Asheville on Nov. 30. The climate change movement has to figure out how to break “the corporate power dominating our political lives.”
After years of writing histories and biographies for young readers, Tricia Shapiro found herself in the summer of 2005 in the thick of a direct action campaign against mountaintop removal. She tells that story in Mountain Justice, a compelling close-to-the-ground account of how an unlikely coalition of anarchists and people who live in the Appalachian coal country came together to try to protect these mountains. She lives now on a small farm in the mountains west of Asheville, N.C., and we talked in Asheville one morning in late fall. – cp
So how did you get involved with the Mountain Justice Summer campaign?
Before that campaign began, back in 2004 for something else I was writing I had come across the topic of mountaintop removal and was going to write a small piece about that in another book. And what I was reading about, I could just not quite make sense of, because I grew up in Appalachia – in the northern end of the coalfields in Pennsylvania, and the mountains aren’t huge – and I was reading about these huge mine sites, so I just went down to see if I could make sense of it.
Mountains are sacred the world over, and when about a thousand of us gathered at the foot of Blair Mountain June 11, you could feel the spirit rising. For five days, several hundred people had walked single file down roads from Charleston, W.V.'s capital. Now, joined by several hundred more, they staked a claim to the historic site of the Battle of Blair Mountain 90 years ago when a faceoff between United Mine Workers and coal companies reached such a peak that federal forces came in to quell the conflict.
So pivotal was that fight that in 2009 Blair Mountain was listed on the National Register of Historic Places, a move that would have protected it from surface mining if coal companies had not succeeded in getting it promptly delisted. We had gathered at the mountain on this hot June day to call for honoring the past by protecting Blair Mountain from mountaintop removal, but we had also gathered to march for the future -- a future, we hoped, when all mountaintops would be safe.
The idea that possible presidential candidate Mitch Daniels represents fiscal restraint sounds like hogwash to opponents of three pricey projects moving forward on his watch as governor of Indiana.
At Edwardsport, construction cost overruns have skyrocketed at a Duke Energy plant that would convert coal into synthetic gas to generate electricity. Consumer groups and industrial customers have balked at the $2.72 billion bill that Duke wants ratepayers to pick up.
To communities opposing biomass power plants across the country, one part of the tax cut package approved by Congress is not good news: the extension of tax grants that will pay up to 30 percent of the cost of developing biomass plants. Biomass project proposals have sprouted like mushrooms in response to federal subsidies -- and have been met with fierce resistance from communities that don't want their trees cut down or their air and water polluted to keep the electricity coming.
Consider, for instance, Jasper, Indiana, a gem of a town with a fine courthouse square, furniture factories and just beyond the factories, a Patoka River walk where residents and occasional tourists stroll under a canopy of trees. Jasper also has an old city-owned coal-fired power plant, and that coal plant has become the crux of significant argument in the halls of power.
I remember my first ride on a new four-lane highway through the Kentucky countryside, and what a fine road it was: smooth, wide and uncrowded. We just floated along in our Chevrolet -- Mother, Daddy, my little brother and me, back home from Nigeria where roads were usually unpaved laterite, and we bounced through clouds of dust, moving over now and then to let herds of long-horned cows pass. It was 1956, and America was zooming full-bore into what looked like a bright future of suburban homes with two-car garages.
I think of that now as state surveyors move into Monroe County to chart the route of an interstate highway -- maybe the last interstate highway that will be built in the United States, if it is built at all, a question I hope still hangs in the air. As our town tries to dig its way out of the mess that 20th-century America has made of itself, we can hardly imagine that what we need now at the dawn of the post-oil age is a highway.
Drawing on hundreds of emails, the Indianapolis Star is providing Indiana with the most unsavory political drama it has seen for a while: the romance between Duke Energy officials and the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
While the IURC has been nailing electric ratepayers for spiraling construction cost overruns at Duke's Edwardsport coal gasification plant, state and Duke officials have bantered back and forth like schoolboys.