COAL CASE: Black Warrior Riverkeeper has once again requested that the University of Alabama (UA) Board of Trustees refuse to allow land owned by the UA system to be used for a new coal strip-mine near Cordova, according to a news release from the group. Riverkeeper made its request in a letter earlier this week, after the Alabama Surface Mining Commission issued a permit to Shepherd Bend LLC to begin mining the first increment of Shepherd Bend Mine, which consists of 34 acres owned or leased by the company. To go beyond those 34 acres, the company will need to reach an agreement with other landowners, including the UA. Riverkeeper, the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) and the Birmingham Water Works Board have all expressed concern that toxic discharges from the mine into the Mulberry Fork of the Black Warrior River could harm drinking water consumed by 200,000 people. Riverkeeper and the SELC have also appealed to the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) wastewater discharge permit previously issued to Shepherd Bend by the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). Riverkeeper urges citizens to share their concerns about the mine with the Tuscaloosa office of the UA System at (205) 348-5861. Learn more about Riverkeeper at www.blackwarriorriver.org.
ANOTHER COAL CASE: Non-profit environmental advocacy group Tennessee Riverkeeper is taking legal action over what it says are 2,052 pollution violations at the Meredyth Coal Mine, located on Highway 243 near Haleyville. According to a news release from the group earlier this week, they served notice on October 9 of their intent to sue Hope Coal Company, the operators of Meredyth Mine, for violations of the federal Clean Water Act. According to Riverkeeper, the mine violated its NPDES permit by illegally discharging excessive amounts of iron and total suspended solids between August 2008 and June 2010. Hope Coal received the permit from the ADEM in 2007. To learn more, visit www.tennesseeriver.org.
CHEVRON + YES MEN = MEDIA VAUDE- VILLE: Oil giant Chevron has been accused of creating all sorts of environmental havoc in Third World countries. The Yes Men are a couple of media-savvy tricksters and performance artists who just LOVE to make fun of corrupt business people, especially when the environment and human rights are endangered. So this week, when Chevron was about to launch what smells like a massive attempt to “greenwash” itself—the new “We Agree” ad campaign—the Yes Men put out some phony (but very funny) news releases that tormented the oil firm and embarrassed some media outlets. According to Chevron.com, their campaign “describes the actions the company takes in producing energy responsibly and in supporting the communities where it operates.” But mere hours before Chevron formally announced their campaign on Monday, the Yes Men released their own satirical version of the campaign under a very believable Chevron banner. The Yes Men satire highlights what it calls Chevron’s environmental and social abuses—the abuses that Chevron is apparently trying to spin. And after Chevron responded angrily to the Yes Men’s provocation—carried out with the help of Rainforest Action Network and Amazon Watch—the Yes Men put out their own phony version of the Chevron response. You with me here? Media outlets throughout the day on Monday, according to Yes Men, posted strange mash-ups of “real” Chevron and “phony” Yes Men press materials, including Fast Company magazine’s web site and Energy Digital, an online source providing news for energy executives. To learn more about Chevron’s actions, visit www.chevrontoxico.com or www.changechevron.org. To check out the Yes Men “punking” of Chevron, go to www.chevron-weagree.com. To see the “real” campaign, visit www.chevron.com.
REMEMBERING HAITI: A California filmmaker is making a movie about the deadly earthquake that struck Haiti in January, with the film’s proceeds going to help quake victims. Writer and director David de Vos documented the work of a medical response team dispatched to Haiti just days after the 7.0-magnitude quake hit and has now written a fictional story based on those experiences. The film is called Eyes to See and depicts the aftermath of the disaster through the eyes of a photographer forced to choose between helping people and doing his job. All of the royalties, according to a news release from the filmmaker’s PR firm, will go to Hope Outreach International, a nonprofit set up by a Haitian doctor whom de Vos met at an orphanage after the earthquake. For more information, go to www.eyestoseemovie.com.