Last Night in Wise Co, Va



Last night in St. Paul, VA — ground zero for Dominion Virginia Power’s
proposed Wise County coal plant — over 100 citizens raised their
voices to question members of the Department of Environmental Quality.
Residents raised a variety of concerns. The hearing was organized for
DEQ to get input on their ‘draft permit.’ Well, input they got. And a
lot of it!

The meeting started with a short technical presentation from the head
of DEQ for SW Virginia. In essence, he explained how DEQ felt that the
plant was going to be “clean coal” and that is met all requirements.
Honestly, it was pretty boring, and everyone was eager for the Q&A.

Kathy Selvage from the Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards kicked
off the Q&A by asking about mercury.
How much mercury will the plant emit?Just over 70 pounds a year, but
don’t worry, its all “within regulation”.
But don’t 1 in 6 women of childbearing age have unsafe levels of
mercury in their blood? Don’t worry, it’s within regulation.
Kathy pointed out that just 1/70th of a teaspoon can contaminate a 25
acre lake. “We’re doing the best we can”

A minister from a neighboring community grew quite emotional when he
asked why they chose to build the power plant less than a mile from
the local elementary school. “Our modeling shows that all the of
pollution will be at ‘protective limits’. They kept using this term
‘protective limits. Personally, I think NO POLLUTION is the most
protective limit.

Tom Cormons from Appalachian Voices echoed concerns raised by the
National Forest Service about the plants impact on Linville Gorge
Wilderness in the Pisgah National Forest. People at the hearing ranged
from high profile names like the local celebrity Frank Taylor who
repeatedly asked about pollution levels and the cumulative effects of
the multiple power plants upwind from St. Paul, to concerned parents
who have children attending St. Paul schools (the schools are all less
than a mile away from the construction site).

While the DEQ had plenty of specific answers when it came to the
amount of pollutants the power plant would emit, they maintained that
they could not comment on the effects they might have. According to
EPA data, the CARBO coal-fired power plant, also located in St. Paul,
is responsible for 59 premature deaths each year. How many will occur
from the proposed plant? DEQ couldn’t say.

A resident who lives right off the main road asked about pollution
from transportation. Dominion estimates that the plant will require
six hundred diesel coal trucks a day to feed coal for the plant. Will
it lead to more mountaintop removal coal mining? More smog? DEQ
couldn’t say.

In fact, the DEQ maintained throughout the question and answer period,
that their realm of study only pertains to how the pollutants of this
plant would relate to the legal limits of pollutants. Basically, the
DEQ claims that it is beyond their ability to do anything about the
plant’s potential This inability to give a straight answer on so many
important issues seemed to only cause the local citizens to want to
ask more, harder hitting questions. In the end, only two or three
defenses of the coal industry were voiced by attendants.


Before the DEQ briefing, Matt Wasson of Appalachian Voices held a
“community briefing” to give citizens a chance to hear another side of
the story. Word of our presentation was spread through talking to
folks who came to the earlier DEQ question and answer period, and
through the efforts of Kayti Wingfield from Sierra Club and myself
hitting the town, going from business to business to reach out the
locals, and we were surprised to hear so many residents concerned
about the power plant. About thirty people showed up to the basement
of St Therese Catholic Church around the corner from the elementary
school. As folks gathered and got settled, free pizza and soda in
hand, it was obvious that these families were excited to learn more.
Matt’s presentation used images of the existing power plant in Russell
County, mountaintop removal in Wise, and Google earth imaging to paint
the picture of exactly what the Coal industry has done and will
continue to do to south west Virginia if allowed to continue with
plans to build this power plant. It showed that Wise County is the
second most heavily strip mined county in all of Appalachia with 25%
of the land being destroyed. It showed that unemployment, poverty,
suicide rates, and the number of disabled citizen’s all correlate
directly with mountaintop removal mining. It showed that there is not
much coal left in SW Virginia, and how this plant would require much
more mountaintop removal. The picture of what will come should this
power plant be built is clear, and is damn ugly. Those who came and
saw the presentation wanted more to do, and some were ready to come to
the SCC hearing in Richmond on January 8th.

-Josh Tulkin (CCAN) and Mike McCoy (Appalachian Voices)



lets ignore the difference in dates between this post and the last. just move on. If you wanna see more on this blog, be part of the chopping. let me know if you want to write/post.

Like this post? Like Freegans? Read Dumpster Diving, an Ethnography, right here on the small axe!


So… sunday night on wxjm , The Sounds of Planet Earth focused on Freeganism, as well as $300,000 truffles, the ovulation of strippers and skallywagging. We got the bulk of the show recorded, and you can check that out here.

So what is a Freegan? From

Freegans are people who employ alternative strategies for living based on limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources. Freegans embrace community, generosity, social concern, freedom, cooperation, and sharing in opposition to a society based on materialism, moral apathy, competition, conformity, and greed.”

This topic seemed particularly relevant considering the holiday push to show your love through exceedingly rediculous and unnecessary purchases, 30% of which ends up in attics if they’re lucky, thrown in trash heaps somewhere “away” if their fate is like the “more than 96 billion pounds of Edible Food Lost by Retailers, Foodservice, and Consumers in 1995”. 1995 was a long time ago.

Freegans, and many others (Off the gridders, Earth First!ers, Food not Bombers, and Freedom Mountain Academy, come to mind) are attempting to opt out of a society that they recognize as not only exploiting our environment/natural resources/ inter-dependent-life-systems , but that also exploits other humans in the outrageous quest for the never ending profit.

A Freegan recognizes that by spending money on a thing, one is supporting the processes and the system that brought that thing to you. Freegans denounce the violence, the pollution, the unsustainable nature of the system that brings most things in most stores to us, and so strive to remove themselves, their activities, their money etc. from that system as much as possible. For those of us who have read Ishmael, its hard not to think of the concept of pyramid builders walking away from the building of pyramids.

We also read an excerpt from an out of print work called “Why the Village Movement”, by Gandhian philosopher and economist J. C. Kumarappa. It goes something like

“If the raw materials for making cocoa are obtained from plantations on the
West coast of Africa which use some form of forced native labour, are
carried by vessels on sea routes monopolised or controlled by violence,
manufactured in England with sweated labour and brought to India under
favorable customs duties enforced by political power, then a buyer of a tin
of cocoa patronises the forced labour conditions in the West coast of
Africa, utilizes the navy and so partakes in violence, gains by the low
wages or bad conditions of the workers in England and takes advantage of the
political subjection of India. All this responsibility and more also is put
into a little tin of cocoa!”

So this year, when you’re shopping till you drop amongst the fields of listless Zombies at your local consumer bazaar, think a little about what your money is supporting, think about where its going, and what those piles of plastic bags, broken gadgets and useless widgets is doing to that far off place called “away”


Eric MCdavid

Eric is just one of many folks effected by the GREEN SCARE an FBI opperation to stop this pesky little green movement going on. Obviously we have these folks scared so lets keep up the fight! any way i have been reading up a lot on erics case, and the more i read the more i feel like any one of my friends could soon be put in the same situation. he did absolutely nothing other than think a certain way. and they call him the “leader” of his elf cell b.c he facilitated a meeting, does that mean that im the leader of any group b,c i have facilitated a meeting? please check out his website :

i think it would be very worth while for some folks to write letters in support, and to maybe have a fundraiser, he needs money for a new lawyer. also send him books and pictures that you have drawn or poems that you’ve written, flood him with positivity to keep him on the positive mind set. put your self in his shoes and do what ever you think would make some one feel better.