Tag Archives: Big Coal

July 9th, 1970 – Nixon, under pressure, establishes the EPA

President Richard ‘I am not a crook’ Nixon works with Congress to establish the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a new Federal agency primarily responsible for United States environmental policy.

Under extreme pressure!

It was this sort of ‘cave-in’ that compelled business to get its game face on from the early 1970s onwards.  Ooh, look, here comes neoliberalism.

Also on this day
2001 Paula Dobriansky, Undersecretary of State and Don ‘Climate Council’ Pearlman meet
2008 Bush at G8 says “Goodbye from the world’s greatest polluter”

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

May 30th 2007 Australian Labor Party promises big climate action. Oh dear.

“The Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd, promised a more progressive approach. It pledged to ratify the Kyoto Protocol, establish a target of reducing Australia’s emissions by 60 per cent on 2000 levels by 2050 and create an emissions trading scheme by 2010.”

(Macintosh, 2008 :52)

  1. Rudd An Action Agenda for Climate Change, Annual Fraser Lecture, Belconnen Labor Club, Canberra, 30 May 2007 (Australian Labor Party, Canberra: 2007).

It all went very very wrong, of course.  See Chubb, (2014) for one account of how and why.

Also on this day

1990 Midnight Oil concert in New York, outside Exxon HQ
1995 Australian Mining Industry Council (soon to become the Minerals Council of Australia) shifts its posture, if not its actual position at its AGM, after getting Geoff Allen to do a review, which concluded they were on the nose… – see Davis, M. (1995) MINING COUNCIL DOES POST-MABO REVAMP BRW 29 May
1996 Flak letter about Ben Santer to IPCC chair Bert Bolin et al from the Global Climate Coalition(Bolin 2007, 130)

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.

Jan 2, 2006: West Virginia coal mine explosion kills 12

On January 2nd, 2006 an explosion kills 12 miners at the Sago mine in West Virginia. You can read about the rescue, the media and the aftermath at the wikipedia page.

Context: Coal mining is a dangerous business, though safer at present in the United States than it has been for a long-time, partly thanks to a much smaller workforce. We latte-drinking liberals in big cities, distant from the point of extraction and production, forget that, very very easily.

Mining disasters are common in other countries, not least in China, Russia, Turkey. The world wants energy…

Meanwhile, there are slower, more insidious dangers lurking. It isn’t just the people who go to work one day and don’t come home who matter. Sadly though, the state appears reluctant to fulfil its obligations.

In 2009, the NSW state government agreed to install 14 monitors to check dust levels, but only three of them are designed to measure the tiniest (2.5 micron) and most dangerous particles. It is worse in Queensland, where only two of the 29 dust monitors are installed by the Queensland government are in mining districts, the rest being in major towns. The one monitor in a mining area operates in Moranbah in the Bowen Basin, but its results are not publicly released.

(Pearse et al.,2013:28)

And don’t even start me on the air quality in Beijing, as tweeted by the US embassy…

Pearse, G, McKnight, D. and Burton, B. (2013). Big Coal: Australia’s Dirtiest Habit. Sydney: NewSouth.


See also: Big Coal: The Dirty Secret behind America’s Energy Future by Jeff Goodell, Coal: A Human History by Barbara Freese

Other things that happened on this day:

1999 – A brutal snowstorm smashes into the Midwestern United States, causing 14 inches (359 mm) of snow in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and 19 inches (487 mm) in Chicago, Illinois, where temperatures plunge to -13 °F (-25 °C); 68 deaths are reported.

As ever, see the disclaimers, help the project and comments policy.