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Articles by Jessica Tzerman

A born and raised southerner, Jessica Tzerman graduated from the University of South Carolina in 2003. She currently resides in Manhattan, where she is an editorial assistant at Food & Wine magazine.

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  • Motivation aside, the ad’s still true

    West Virginia Dems Rep. Nick Rahall and Sen. Robert C. Byrd are fighting mad over some "despicable" anti-coal ads that have appeared in major publications recently.

    The ads, underwritten by a natural gas company called the Chesapeake Energy Corp, show faces smudged with make-up meant to resemble coal dust under a headline reading: "Face It, Coal is Filthy."

  • More on coal in West Virginia

    OK, here's some rare good news in the fight against mountaintop removal mining. Last Friday, Judge Robert "Chuck" Chambers, a federal judge in West Virginia, ruled that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers broke the law in issuing MTR mining permits that would allow streams to be buried. This means that, finally, the Corps, which approves mining permits, will have to recognize and uphold the Clean Water Act!

    They've been called out for illegally issuing permits that destroy vital streams, ecosystems, and the environment around mining sites. Never mind that they're supposed to be the ones in charge of protecting the environment and preserving the integrity of the streams and rivers that run through the all-but-devastated Appalachian Mountains. Now they actually have to do their jobs, not facilitate the kind of environmental destruction they purport to fight.

    Hard to believe it took a federal judge and months of appeals and public outcry to make the Army and the government keep their word. Makes me wonder what else we should be holding their feet to the fire for. How does this affect Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine, which I wrote about at the end of January? Well, it sounds like it'll take more time in court to come to a conclusion, so stay tuned. Friday was a great day, though; Judge Chambers decision set a remarkably important precedent.

    Now for the bad news.

  • From the hills of West Virginia

    My good friend Peter Slavin just published the most up-to-date article on mountaintop-removal mining out there.

    Here's some information on developing MTR stories:

    The Appalachian Coal Field Delegation will be attending the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Conference for the second time this year. The conference runs from April 30-May 11, but Bo Webb learned from experience last year that corporate execs and the bigwigs that matter usually only attend the last week, so this year he and the other delegates will, too. They want to go beyond linking to NGOs with similar interests and goals to form a common language with which to (hopefully) influence U.N. policy. To bring attention to their efforts, the Coal Field Delegation, along with friends and supporters, will host an event in New York. Should attract some pretty big names from what I hear.

  • Arch Coal gets the go ahead for record-size strip mining permit

    Eight years after a federal judge prevented Arch Coal Inc., one of the biggest and most active players on the West Virginia coal mining scene, from obtaining a permit to mine 3,113 acres near Blair, WV in Logan County, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued the permit instead. Though slightly smaller in size at 2,278 acres, the "dredge-and-fill" permit nevertheless allows Arch's Spruce No. 1 Mine to bury nearly seven miles of streams and is the largest permit ever issued in the history of mountaintop-removal mining in West Virginia.