Why Wind Energy Is Booming in the U.S.

The Motley Fool

Why Wind Energy Is Booming in the U.S.

Falling costs aren’t the driver of wind energy’s resurgence in the U.S. — there are two more important factors driving the installation boom.

Travis Hoium, TMFFlushDraw      October 29, 2017 

The U.S. wind industry has had a resurgence in the last few years as utilities and companies search for new renewable energy generation. That demand could be filled by solar energy just as easily as wind, but there’s a good reason wind energy is the power plant of choice in the U.S. right now. Capacity factors are up over the past decade, and subsidies favor wind over other renewables.

As companies like Amazon, Alphabet Inc, and renewable energy yieldcos look to expand their generation, we’ll se even more wind power plants built.

https://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/460457/wind-turbines-on-farm_large.jpg Image source: Getty Images.

Where wind energy stands today

The chart below shows just how big wind energy has become in the U.S. Through the end of 2016, 82.1 GW of wind has been installed, and that figure will only grow over the next five years.

https://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/460457/capture_1501523071042_1_large.JPGImage source: AWEA U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report and Quarterly Market Reports.

Improving technology and subsidies are working together to make wind an attractive energy source for developers today as well.

Technology is getting better fast

What’s interesting about wind power is that turbines aren’t actually getting cheaper on a cost-per-watt basis. The chart below shows the cost of projects since 1982; you can see that the early part of the 21st century saw projects installed for much lower cost than they are today.

https://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/460457/wind-project-costs-by-year_large.png Image source: U.S. DOE’s 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report.

What’s changed is that wind projects have a higher capacity factor, meaning each watt of wind generation installed is generating more electricity per year. Think of it like a new wind turbine spinning more often than it did in the past. From 1998 to 2001, capacity factor was 25.4%, and projects built in 2015 had a capacity factor of 42.6%. Each watt installed generated 67% more electricity.

https://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/460457/wind-capacity-factor-by-year_large.pngImage source: U.S. DOE’s 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report.

On top of the higher capacity factor, wind projects are benefiting from a more advantageous subsidy environment than competing solar projects.

Subsidies play into wind energy’s hands

Wind and solar have both seen their cost of electricity fall over the past decade, but wind has a hidden advantage right now, and it’s because of the subsidy it gets from the federal government. Wind gets a production tax credit, and solar gets an investment tax credit; here’s how that creates an advantage for wind energy.

If a solar system’s cost is $1 per watt, has a 25% capacity factor, a 25-year useful life, and investors required a 7% rate of return, it would have a cost of 3.92 cents per kWh of electricity. A wind project with a cost of $1.80 per watt, a 45% capacity factor and the same life and return profile would have the same electricity cost of 3.92 cents per kWh.

The difference is that the solar subsidy is a 30% investment tax credit, effectively lowering the cost of a project by 30%. The result would be an electricity cost of 2.74 cents per kWh. Wind power is given a 2.4 cent credit for its production, meaning the developer would only need to charge 1.52 cents per kWh to break even.

By virtue of having a production subsidy rather than an investment subsidy, wind has a big advantage over solar in the U.S., even if their underlying unsubsidized costs for electricity are identical.

This subsidy will slowly sunset, starting with projects that began construction in 2017 when an annual 20% reduction in the subsidy begins until it’s gone. But projects that began construction last year can still be built with the full subsidy, which we’ve seen recently at the second-biggest wind farm in the world that won’t be completed until mid-2020.

The companies dominating wind in the U.S.

If wind turbine manufacturers can continue to cut costs and increase capacity factor, the industry will continue to grow. The companies with the most to gain are General Electric, Vestas, and Siemens, who are top three in market share in the U.S.

https://g.foolcdn.com/editorial/images/460457/biggest-wind-manufacturers_large.pngImage source: U.S. DOE’s 2016 Wind Technologies Market Report.

With the booming demand for renewable energy and improving technology of wind turbines themselves, I think investors should be bullish on the future of wind energy.

Solar Windows Could Meet Nearly All of America’s Electricity Demand


By Global Citizen

https://resize.rbl.ms/simage/https%3A%2F%2Fassets.rbl.ms%2F12688750%2Forigin.jpg/1200%2C630/RuMTuraxEIOryVT1/img.jpg Transparent panels can be used as windows while they generate electricity. Michigan State University

Solar Windows Could Meet Nearly All of America’s Electricity Demand

By Joe McCarthy     October 25, 2017 

There’s an estimated 5 to 7 billion square meters of glass surfaces in the U.S. For windows on homes, cars and buildings, these glass surfaces perform a few basic functions—letting light and fresh air in when open, and blocking bugs and keeping the cold out when closed.

Now they could all serve another, altogether revolutionary, purpose—generating electricity.

A new paper in the journal Nature Energy describes how transparent solar panels could be placed over all windows and transparent surfaces in the U.S. to generate energy and decrease reliance on fossil fuels.

If that happens, nearly all the electricity demands of the U.S. could be met in conjunction with rooftop solar panels, and as long as storage capabilities are improved.

“Highly transparent solar cells represent the wave of the future for new solar applications,” said Richard Lunt, leader author of the report at Michigan State University, in a press release. “We analyzed their potential and show that by harvesting only invisible light, these devices can provide a similar electricity-generation potential as rooftop solar while providing additional functionality to enhance the efficiency of buildings, automobiles and mobile electronics.”

Lunt’s team at Michigan State University created a plastic technology called a transparent luminescent solar concentrator. You simply place the plastic over a glass surface—a house or car window or even a cellphone screen—and it begins to convert sunlight into electricity.

The plastic doesn’t obscure visibility because it’s harvesting invisible wavelengths from the sun. This energy is then passed onto strips of photovoltaic solar cells that exist on the outer edges of the sheet.

The technology is currently far less efficient than traditional solar panels—5 percent efficiency versus around 15 percent to 18 percent efficiency—and it isn’t market-ready, but Lunt and his team believe the technology will become just as efficient and ubiquitous as normal panels in the years ahead.

After all, the technology is new and could follow the same rapid arc of efficiency improvement that traditional panels followed.

“Traditional solar applications have been actively researched for over five decades, yet we have only been working on these highly transparent solar cells for about five years,” Lunt said in the press release. “Ultimately, this technology offers a promising route to inexpensive, widespread solar adoption on small and large surfaces that were previously inaccessible.”

In recent years, advances in solar and wind power technology have made renewable energy more competitive as countries around the world strive to uphold the Paris climate agreement.

In the U.S., for instance, the price of solar has dropped by 60 percent in less than a decade and this decrease is expected to continue as China invests enormous amounts of money into research and development of solar technology.

Offshore wind power has recently become a viable investment, and has the potential to provide all of the world’s energy needs, according to a recent study.

According to The Global Wind Energy Council, Denmark gets more than 40 percent of its energy from wind power, and China and the U.S. get around 4 percent to 5 percent, which is closer to the global average. Solar, meanwhile, generates around 1.3 percent of global electricity demands.

Fossil fuels still account for the vast majority of electricity generation—but with advances like transparent solar sheets, that could soon change.

Global Citizen campaigns on the Global Goals, which call for the use of renewable energy. You can take action on this issue here.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Global Citizen.

Northern California may need years to recover from wildfires

Associated Press

Northern California may need years to recover from wildfires

Kathleen Ronayne, Associated Press     October 29, 2017


SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — It will take at least months and likely years to fully recover from devastating wildfires that ripped through Northern California earlier this month, destroying at least 8,900 structures and killing 42 people, Sonoma County officials said Saturday.

“We don’t control these things, and it makes you realize how small you are in the world when something like this happens,” Sheriff Rob Giordano said. “I don’t think we understand the level at which it is going to impact lives, and the community will be different.”

Giordano spoke before hundreds of people gathered at a college in Santa Rosa, one of the hardest-hit cities, for a memorial service to honor the lives lost in the deadliest series of wildfires in California history. The fires sparked Oct. 8, eventually forcing 100,000 people to evacuate.

Before a bell rung 42 times to commemorate the dead, Giordano and other officials praised the ordinary and extraordinary acts of heroism by first responders and community members as the firefight raged on for more than a week. Some firefighters worked days on the front line, refusing to take breaks, while sheriff’s dispatchers continued taking calls even as the fire came close to taking out their building.

“The night of Oct. 8, we were all tested,” Santa Rosa fire Chief Tony Gossner said.

U.S. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and five members of Congress spent Saturday attending the memorial, touring the fire ravaged areas and gathering advice from federal, state and local officials on what Congress can do to aid the recovery efforts. In a briefing in Santa Rosa, officials asked them to ease red tape that will make it easier to erect temporary housing and to ensure the Environmental Protection Agency has the resources it needs to clean up any hazardous material before it infiltrates the water supply.

The EPA has assessed 740 properties so far, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency has given out $6 million worth of rental and other assistance to displaced Californians, officials said. Officials estimate the cleanup of debris and other hazardous materials will last into early 2018. The losses are estimated to be at more than $1 billion.

Pelosi and U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, who represents Santa Rosa, said they must make their fellow lawmakers in Washington understand the unprecedented nature of the fires, the deadliest in California history. They drove through a neighborhood near Coffey Park where entire streets are wrecked, with only burned-out cars and charred remains of once-standing houses lining the streets.

“It was just unfathomable the amount of destruction that we saw,” Pelosi said. “My colleagues will have to understand this is different from anything else, many times over.”

But Pelosi said Northern California’s response to the fires can serve as a national model for disaster response if done right. She urged her colleagues in Congress to think beyond the incremental rebuilding needs to consider the big picture of helping the region better prepare for and mitigate damage from future disasters. Obtaining the appropriate amount of relief money will require detailed documentation of homes lost and other destruction, she said.

Santa Rosa alone lost five percent of its housing stock, Pelosi said.

“What would we like to see the result be? Let’s engineer it back from there,” she said of the rebuilding efforts.

Thompson and other members of Congress, meanwhile, were asked to look at ensuring immigrants living in the country illegally are not at risk if they contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency. They were also asked to look into improving the system for alerting people of pending disasters, a more difficult task now that more homes rely on cellphones instead of landlines.

Trump is guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman


Trump is guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman

The Uniform Code of Military Justice has something to teach the commander in chief

Lucian K. Truscott IV          October 28, 2017


It was the spring of 1970, and I was in a shitload of trouble in the Army when the powers that be at Fort Carson, Colorado, decided to charge me with Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, “Conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman.” They were looking for a way to run me out of the Army because I had had the temerity to suggest after I had lost two soldiers in my platoon to heroin that we had a real problem with hard drugs in the Army. Soldiers were coming back from Vietnam with heroin habits, and the Mob was moving into the towns near Army posts and supplying this new market with the drug the addicted soldiers craved. One soldier in my platoon had been shot in the stomach with a sawed-off shotgun because he was dealing, and the Mob didn’t want rogue operators like him poaching on their market.

After two guys in my platoon died, another of my men came to me and admitted that he was addicted and wanted to get detoxed and rehabilitated. I put him in my car and drove him to the post hospital and together, we went to check him into their rehab unit. When the nurse asked him how much he was drinking, he explained that alcohol wasn’t his problem. He was addicted to heroin. The nurse picked up the phone and called the MPs. Within an hour, he was under arrest and in the stockade going through withdrawal cold turkey.

The offense I committed was to suggest to the commanding general at Fort Carson, (then) Major General Bernard Rogers, that he should order an amnesty program so that soldiers seeking treatment for heroin addiction could get rehabbed, not arrested. In a meeting in his office, Rogers told me if he instituted such a program, he would lose his career. I told him I wasn’t really interested in his career, because I had two guys in my platoon who hadn’t lost their careers, they’d lost their lives.

This was not the way a second lieutenant was supposed to talk to a major general, and after spending every one of my 22 years on the earth in the Army and having a general for a grandfather, I knew it. I had had more men die in six months than a typical platoon lost in the same amount of time in Vietnam. I knew that I had just signed the death warrant for my Army career, but I didn’t give a shit. I was finished being a good little West Point graduate and lieutenant. The Army I had grown up in wasn’t the Army I was serving in. It was coming apart at the seams. Fifteen percent of the 5th Mechanized Infantry Division was addicted, and Rogers knew it. The Pentagon knew the problem was a huge one, not only in Vietnam, but all over the Army. They weren’t going to do anything about it because it would be bad for the Army’s image.

The easiest way to get me out of the Army was to charge me with insubordination and court martial me. But the officer to whom I had been insubordinate was Major General Rogers, and he didn’t want to testify at a court martial in which he could be questioned about the details of the insubordination I was charged with. They knew I would take the opportunity of the court martial to put the Army’s drug policy — and the way Rogers was implementing it — on trial. So the word was passed down to the brigade commander to get me on something under the Army’s catch-all charge. “Conduct unbecoming” could be anything they said it was.

It just so happened there was a Specialist Fourth Class (Spec-4) who had recently been caught with marijuana, so the brigade commander told my battalion commander to offer him a deal. They would drop the charges against him if he reported that I had flashed a peace sign at him instead of saluting when we passed in the battalion area. The Spec-4 got word to me through one of the cooks in the mess hall that I was being set up. Sure enough, I was called into the battalion commander’s office and charged with conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman. The charge was that I had formed a “V” with my forefingers and flashed the peace sign when the Spec-4 saluted me. And what do you know, but they had pressured two of the other lieutenants in my company to say that they had witnessed this grave offense against the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Late that day I met with the Spec-4 and my fellow lieutenants. They wanted to know what they should do. I told them to just play along, that I had something up my sleeve. The next morning I was informed that an “Article 32” hearing would be held that afternoon. They were in a hurry. This was the Army’s equivalent of a grand jury, when evidence would be presented establishing that there was sufficient cause to hold a court martial. My friends and the Spec-4 would be called to testify at the Article 32 hearing.

By this time, I had been made aware by a friend of mine in division headquarters that there was a first lieutenant assigned to the battalion who was in reality a military intelligence agent looking for “subversion” in the ranks, and that the main subversive he was spying on was me. I knew this guy had a direct pipeline to the powers that be at Fort Carson, so I invited him over to my mess hall for a cup of coffee. I told him as soon as we finished our coffee, I was getting in my car and driving over to the provost marshal’s office and charging the brigade commander with theft of government property, since I had it on good authority that he had ordered a sergeant I knew to steal wood that was supposed to be used to build dugouts for the Little League field, so he could use the wood to put up a waist-high stockade fence around his headquarters. In fact, there was a brand new stockade fence that we could see out the window of the mess hall, and a couple of soldiers were in the process of painting it white.

The first lieutenant quickly finished his coffee and fled the mess hall in the direction of the parking lot. A couple of hours later, I was called in by the battalion S-1, the personnel officer, and told that my Article 32 hearing had been cancelled. No explanation was given.

Article 133 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice reads: “Any commissioned officer, cadet, or midshipman who is convicted of conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.” The Manual for Courts Martial defines conduct unbecoming as lacking “moral attributes” involving “acts of dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty.”

Broadly defined? Just a tad. But not so broadly that they would charge me subsequently with “lawlessness” I actually engaged in by blackmailing my way out of that court martial. They abandoned using the law and turned instead to a chapter in the Army’s personnel regulations that allowed separation “for the good of the service.” I was entitled to a hearing, but waived my rights and was discharged administratively a couple of months later.

I was 22, and I was an arrogant hothead, but I was right. A year after I left the Army, the Pentagon sent a brigadier general and a chaplain to Capitol Hill to testify before the House Armed Services Committee, where they announced that the Army was beginning an amnesty program designed to deal with its burgeoning problem of heroin addiction, which now involved at least 10 percent of the force. All three of the others involved in the Great Peace Sign Court Martial were out of the Army by that time. A couple of years after that, in March of 1973, the last American combat troops pulled out of Vietnam. The draft was ended that June, and on July 1, 1973, the “all volunteer” military was instituted.

Donald J. Trump, with four draft deferments for college and a designation as medically unfit (4-F) for a bone spur on his heel, was never subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Article II, Section 2, of the Constitution states that “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States.” I’m still an arrogant hothead, and I am among those who say that as commander in chief, he should be subject to military law today. Article 133 would seem to be tailor-made for Donald Trump. Lacking “moral attributes” involving “dishonesty, unfair dealing, indecency, indecorum, lawlessness, injustice, or cruelty” — the Uniform Code of Military Justice could have been written with Trump specifically in mind.

At the very least, it is the duty of any leader to set an example for others to follow. Trump hasn’t so much set an example as become a poster boy for all of the behavior proscribed by Article 133. He hasn’t even bothered to be subtle about it. One of the first things his lawyers did after he took office was to assert that the laws regarding ethical behavior by officers of the Executive Branch of our government did not apply to him.

Well, that’s now an argument before the courts. But the commander in chief who orders soldiers into harm’s way, the man whose orders soldiers are following when they give their lives, has an obligation not to engage in conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman whether he is subject to military law or not. It’s the least he can do for those he leads, not to embarrass them every time he opens his mouth or twiddles his thumbs, not to send them into battle with their heads hung in shame.

Uniform Code of Military Justice

Lucian K. Truscott IV, a graduate of West Point, has had a 50-year career as a journalist, novelist and screenwriter. He has covered stories such as Watergate, the Stonewall riots and wars in Lebanon, Iraq and Afghanistan. He is also the author of five bestselling novels and several unsuccessful motion pictures. He has three children, lives on the East End of Long Island and spends his time Worrying About the State of Our Nation and madly scribbling in a so-far fruitless attempt to Make Things Better. He can be followed on Facebook at The Rabbit Hole and on Twitter @LucianKTruscott.

5 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Greasy Food


5 Things That Happen to Your Body When You Eat Greasy Food

Jamie Ducharme,Time         October 25, 2017 


Sometimes, a juicy cheeseburger and an order of hot, crispy fries simply call your name. (Greasy foods are so beloved that they have an entire day devoted to them; National Greasy Foods Day is October 25.) While it’s fine to give in to your cravings now and then, it’s important to know how your nutrition choices, and those greasy foods in particular, affect your health.

Does greasy food cause acne? Why does it make your stomach feel weird? And why is greasy food bad for you, anyway? We consulted Ayla Barmmer, a Boston-based registered dietitian, to find out. Here’s what eating greasy foods does to your body.

It strains your digestive system

“When we eat greasy foods like fried food, the sheer volume of fat puts a lot of pressure on our digestive system,” Barmmer said in an email to TIME. Of fat, carbs and protein, fat is the most slowly digested, and it requires enzymes and digestive juices, like bile and stomach acid, to break it down, she says. Everything from stress to medication can lower levels of these digestive juices, so many people are deficient to begin with, Barmmer says. Add in fat, and your digestive system will be working overtime, often leading to bloating, nausea and discomfort.

It makes you run to the bathroom

The most common symptom of digestive strain is an unpleasant one. “Not only will food just sit in your stomach, but it may enter the intestines inadequately digested,” Barmmer says. “Sometimes you wind up seeing greasy or oily stools in these cases.” Many people also experience diarrhea and stomach pain after eating greasy food.

It throws your gut bacteria out of whack

More and more evidence suggests that what you eat affects your gut bacteria, also known as your microbiome. Downing a cheeseburger and fries, Barmmer says, isn’t doing those microorganisms any favors. “Greasy foods do not contain the nourishing, healthy fats that we find in things like avocados, fish, extra virgin olive oil and even butter,” she says. Eating more refined vegetable oils than nourishing fats, she says, tips the body’s balance of fatty acids, which in turn may throw off everything from hormone levels to immune health.

Greasy food may cause acne

You may not see zits directly after a big meal, but Barmmer says that greasy food likely does play a role in acne. “The effect is indirect, occurring over time and as a result of a dietary pattern of eating,” she says. “Acne is largely caused by hormonal imbalances and/or bacterial imbalances, so greasy foods cause acne by way of harming gut health.”

It raises your risk for heart disease and diabetes

If your diet consistently includes greasy foods, Barmmer says, you’ll likely see your risk for chronic conditions—particularly heart disease—go up. A 2014 study from researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health found that people who ate fried foods between four and six times per week saw their risk for Type 2 diabetes climb 39%, and their risk for coronary heart disease increase by 23%. For people who ate it every day, those percentages only got higher.

Study By MIT Economist: U.S. Has Regressed To A Third-World Nation For Most Of Its Citizens

The Intellectualist

Study By MIT Economist: U.S. Has Regressed To A Third-World Nation For Most Of Its Citizens

by Yossarian Johnson     October 21, 2017

America divided – this concept increasingly graces political discourse in the U.S., pitting left against right, conservative thought against the liberal agenda. But for decades, Americans have been rearranging along another divide, one just as stark if not far more significant – a chasm once bridged

America divided – this concept increasingly graces political discourse in the U.S., pitting left against right, conservative thought against the liberal agenda. But for decades, Americans have been rearranging along another divide, one just as stark if not far more significant – a chasm once bridged by a flourishing middle class.

Peter Temin, Professor Emeritus of Economics at MIT, believes the ongoing death of “middle America” has sparked the emergence of two countries within one, the hallmark of developing nations.

In his new book, The Vanishing Middle Class: Prejudice and Power in a Dual Economy, Temin paints a bleak picture where one country has a bounty of resources and power, and the other toils day after day with minimal access to the long-coveted American dream.


In his view, the United States is shifting toward an economic and political makeup more similar to developing nations than the wealthy, economically stable nation it has long been.

Temin applied W. Arthur Lewis’s economic model – designed to understand the workings of developing countries – to the United States in an effort to document how inequality has grown in America.

The parallels are unsettling. As noted by the Institute for New Economic Thinking:

In the Lewis model of a dual economy, much of the low-wage sector has little influence over public policy. Check. The high-income sector will keep wages down in the other sector to provide cheap labor for its businesses. Check. Social control is used to keep the low-wage sector from challenging the policies favored by the high-income sector. Mass incarceration – check. The primary goal of the richest members of the high-income sector is to lower taxes. Check. Social and economic mobility is low. Check.

Temin describes multiple contributing factors in the nation’s arrival at this place, from exchanging the War on Poverty for the War on Drugs to money in politics and systemic racism. He outlines the ways in which racial prejudice continues to lurk below the surface, allowing politicians to appeal to the age old “desire to preserve the inferior status of blacks”, encouraging white low-wage workers to accept their lesser place in society.

“We have a structure that predetermines winners and losers. We are not getting the benefits of all the people who could contribute to the growth of the economy, to advances in medicine or science which could improve the quality of life for everyone – including some of the rich people,” he laments.

The antidote, as prescribed by Temin, is likely a tough sell in today’s political climate.

Expanding education, updating infrastructure, forgiving mortgage and student loan debt, and overall working to boost social mobility for all Americans are bound to be seen as too liberal by many policy makers.

Until the course is changed, he warns, the middle class will continue to fade and America will remain unsustainably divided.

Two Ohio Women, ‘lifelong Democrats’, voted for Trump


Two Ohio Women, ‘lifelong Democrats’, voted for Trump

In October, CNN did a special on two Ohio women who intended to vote for President Donald Trump instead of Sec. Hillary Clinton because in the words of one of them, Mrs. Clinton was “conniving“.


Sixth months later, one of the women, Krista Shockey, is shocked to learn that the President intends to make massive cuts to Social Security disability and food stamps, two government programs that she depends on to survive.

It’s my only income. I couldn’t live. There’s no way I could go back to work. I’ve got a lot of problems. I’m crippled in my feet, knees, back, hands,” said Ms. Shockey.

CNN Money also followed up on Trump supporters in America’s “poorest town”, Beattyville, Kentucky. Beattyville has received a lot of media attention due to its endemic poverty that seems to symbolize the hopeless of American’ rust belt.

In 2016, Beattyville voted overwhelmingly for the President.

One of its residents, Barbara Puckett, has been on Social Security disability since the 1990’s due to multiple sclerosis. When asked how she felt about Mr. Trump’s supposed cuts, “I am still happy with President Trump.”

The President’s budget calls for $800 billion in cuts to Medicaid over the next decade, a 21% budget reduction for the USDA (they administer SNAP), and $70 Billion from SSDI over the next decade among other draconian cuts as well.


CNN Money

I voted for Trump. Now he wants to cut the aid I need

by Heather Long          May 24, 2017

Krista Shockey voted for President Trump in November. Now she’s one of the people who might get hurt under his plan to cut safety net programs for the poor and disabled.

Shockey is on Supplemental Security Income (SSI), a program to help low-income Americans who are disabled. The monthly payment is just over $700 a month.

“It’s my only income,” Shockey told CNNMoney in the fall, when we first met her at Diner 23 in Waverly, a small town in southern Ohio that’s seen better days. “I couldn’t live” without it.

She was stunned to hear the president wants to downsize SSI. She hadn’t heard about it until CNNMoney called her.

When releasing Trump’s budget Tuesday, the White House hailed it as a “taxpayer first” plan. Trump’s goal is to get millions of people off welfare and into full-time jobs. For Shockey, that won’t be easy.

“There’s no way I could go back to work,” Shockey said this week. “I’ve got a lot of problems. I’m crippled in my feet, knees, back, hands.”

Trump has proposed dramatic decreases in funding for food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, student loans, welfare (known as TANF) and disability programs like SSI and Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI).

“Honestly, I haven’t been following much (news). I’ve got so much going on with my family. My mother died,” she said.

CNNMoney reached out to about a dozen Trump voters who either rely on government aid to live or who work closely with the poor. Most were surprised.

Related: Trump’s first budget: Trillions in cuts

Krista Shockey at Diner 23 in Waverly, Ohio. She relies on Supplemental Security Income.

Surprise at Trump’s proposed cuts

For instance, America’s “poorest white town” — Beattyville, Kentucky — voted overwhelmingly for Trump. Any cuts to the safety net would be felt acutely by its residents: 57% of households in Beattyville receive food stamps and 58% get disability payments from the government.

“I am still happy with President Trump,” says Barbara Puckett, who lives in Beattyville and has been on Social Security disability since the late 1990s because of sclerosis. But she says she would worry if the budget becomes law and she loses her benefit.

For now Trump’s budget is just a proposal and Puckett’s benefits are still the same.

William Owens is a pastor in Beattyville. He’s the type of person who pitches in wherever he’s needed. In addition to leading a church and youth center, he’s also a volunteer fire chief and chairman of the local school board.

Owens, a Trump supporter, said the president just wants the states and local governments to have more control over how welfare money is spent.

Related: Trump’s budget: Big gifts for the rich, big cuts for the poor

Some Trump voters embrace the cuts

What Owens is referring to is the thinking of Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s budget director. A former state lawmaker in South Carolina, Mulvaney is a big believer that states are better at crafting safety net programs than the federal government.

“We would see this program come down from Washington with all of these instructions on how to use it, and say, goodness gracious, this won’t work in South Carolina,” Mulvaney said.

William Owens is a pastor in Beattyville, Kentucky.

Pastor Owens has made it his life’s mission to lift people out of poverty. He runs the Kentucky Mountain Mission, which has a bowling alley and gym where a lot of teens hang out after school. He can see both sides of the debate on government aid.

He grew up in an extremely poor family as one of 14 kids. They got “about $300 a month” in Social Security because his father was disabled and couldn’t work. He works with families today that truly need the aid, but he also sees some that get dependent on it.

“I think some of it should go away,” he told CNNMoney in January when we visited him. “I believe in a hand up and not a hand out.”

Some people on food stamps do work

Any cuts to food stamps and Medicaid will hurt Tyra Johnson’s family.

Tyra Johnson also lives in Beattyville. She’s a 39-year-old mom who receives food stamps.

When CNNMoney reached Johnson Tuesday, she was at work. She’s earns $8 an hour as a housekeeper at a hotel. She’s “not earning enough yet” to get off food stamps.

Johnson isn’t alone. Nearly a third of families on food stamps have a working member, according to an analysis of government data by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. They don’t earn enough money to be able to afford to put food on the table and get out of severe poverty.

“As of right now, I don’t know what I would do” if Trump cuts food stamps and Medicaid, she says. Her two children also receive government-funded health care.

‘I’m still trying to process all of this’

Johnson was one of the few in Beattyville who did not vote for Trump. But she’s actually doing what he wants: She found a job recently and has come off some government aid. After a car wreck, she received $700 a month from Social Security Disability Insurance for a long time. That aid is gone now, but she says she still needs food stamps.

About 44 million Americans are on food stamps today. Enrollment spiked during the Great Recession as people lost their jobs. It has come down a bit since the peak in 2013, but it’s still far higher than the 26 million who were in the program before the financial crisis hit.

“Common sense dictates that programs like these return to a sustainable, pre-Obama trajectory,” says Oren Cass, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute.

But advocates for the poor say a big part of the reason so many people remain on food stamps now is people like Johnson who have jobs but don’t earn enough to support a family.

Trump’s budget isn’t a done deal.

Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas has already called the plan “basically dead on arrival.” Congress has the final say on what programs gets more or less money. Lawmakers it will almost certainly make changes to what Trump has proposed.

But for many in Trump country, Johnson sums up the feeling right now: “I’m still trying to process all of this.”


I’m sure she too will sing a different tune once reality hits home. Terrible how some people vote against their own interests.


all I can say is they knew what they signed up for! trump has been an evil lying crook and proved it even before he ran for president. Fact not alt facts.


She is STILL happy? Hmmm. Pain is a patient teacher. How are you going to feel when you have to get out of bed and work?


Blissfully ignorant before the election. Blissfully ignorant during the election. Blissfully ignorant after the election. Happily, they have their god.


The woman in pink, may just as well have addmited that she didn’t vote Obama, because she is a racist. Not ready for what?


Old but not wise. They both cut off their noses to spite their faces. It is so sad that they allowed one man’s hate, envy and jealousy of another man cloud their judgment and now they are up the creek without a paddle.


Oh c’mon, you didn’t vote for Obama simply because he’s black. Hope you feel better for voting for Trump because he’s white while he and the Republicans do their best to end social programs enacted by Democrats that you depend on. You deserve the reaming you’re going to get.

She says an Obama Administration program saved her home but she wouldn’t vote for him. Go figure. Guess ditching blind bigotry is a near impossibility for these folks.


these have got to be the stupidest women on the planet they cut their own noses to spite their face they are racist and sexist and don’t want to see minorities and women succeed and yet they don’t know where their next meal will come from they have benefited from democrats and yet voted for this trainwreck they deserve every bad thing that trump does and I don’t feel sorry for them in the least


I really do feel sorry for these people. They have no education, religion that causes nothing nothing but fear. There are no jobs. Now most people look down on them. You don’t realize that this is generation after generation of inbreeding. People having to quit school at 16 to help the household. What they don’t realize is that it is going to get much, much worse. Many of these people are going to die as a result of the evil of 45. Don’t criticize them until you walk a mile in their shoes. And, if you are not a millionaire, you may be in trouble too.

In the Era of Trump, Illusions Are Not Reserved for Halloween

The Nation

In the Era of Trump, Illusions Are Not Reserved for Halloween

Be afraid.

By Patricia J. Williams    October 26, 2017

https://www.thenation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/trump-mask-halloween-rtr-img.jpg?scale=896&compress=80A vendor holds a rubber mask of Donald Trump at a shop in Sao Paulo, Brazil, January 2017. (Reuters / Nacho Doce)

It is a tribute to the strange unreality of our time that among the children’s Halloween outfits being sold online, there was this: an Anne Frank costume. “100% polyester,” read the product description. “Easy to put on and take off. Visits to the toilet made easy thanks to Velcro fastening.”

“All the kids love it,” another blurb promised. “This outfit can be worn for many different occasions such as World War times, Evacuee times and also as a street urchin.” Happily, the pushback was immediate, strong, and condemnatory enough that the costume’s name was changed. It is now being sold as a “World War II Evacuee…Fancy Dress Costume [for] Girls.”

The thought of children dressing “up” as Anne Frank to trick-or-treat as part of the Christian celebration of All Hallows Eve is surely bizarre enough. Yet I suppose it isn’t any more shocking than the proliferation of dead Trayvon-Martin costumes that proliferated a few years back, or the recurring phenomenon of fraternity blackface parties, or the odd use of tiki torches to symbolize the white-hot flames of neo-Nazi power. To be fair, some of these masquerades are concocted for supposedly educational purposes, such as a Georgia middle school’s Civil War Dress-Up Day (guess who gets to be a plantation owner, who a slave), or the recent documentary on Britain’s Channel 4, My Week as a Muslim, in which a “frightened” white woman dons a hijab and brown makeup in order to “experience” racism and discover “why they live like that.”

There is a fiercely reiterated colonialism in these little morality plays, something habitual about this leaping out of our lives to become someone else. I wonder, too, if there isn’t a peculiar kind of trauma hiding in plain sight in these reenactments, this desire to “pass” as something we are not, to blend in even as we perform otherness, whether exoticizing or demonizing. It is curious the degree to which we so easily assume we can walk in the moccasins of another by literally buying the shirt off the back of that other (as well as those absolutely darling hand-stitched moccasins). I don’t wish to rain on anyone’s parade; I believe that the rituals of role reversal can serve important psychic and cultural functions. But when we have no consciousness of the narratives we are performing, then I worry that it becomes indistinguishable from living a lie.

I am not alone in worrying about the prevalence of public lying right now. Dissembling is so widespread that we seem ensnared by the proleptic expectation that nothing is ever as it seems. Consider the irresistibly surreal assertions of one Joe Vargas, a manufacturer of hemp syrup. In a tweet that went viral, he maintained that Melania Trump—as seen in a photo taken of the first couple touring a Secret Service training center in Maryland—was not really Melania Trump. The Twitterverse went wild, applying biometrics to measure her height, her nose, the jib of her jaw. Some even pointed to what appeared to be split ends on the alleged body double’s alleged wig: The real Melania would never have split ends! (If only that laser scope of surveillance were applied to the rest of our political world.)

Perhaps it was the very assertion that there is such a thing as hemp syrup that beguiled us down the fairy-tale path toward the lure of impersonation. I found myself yearning for the big reveal: Syrup Salesman Uncovers Body-Snatching Aliens Inhabiting the White House. It would explain so much.

As we approach the one-year mark of the Trump presidency, I cannot shake the sense that we have well and truly entered Lewis Carroll’s alternative universe on the other side of the looking glass. With every 3 am tweet that may or may not be entered into the National Archives, it feels as though we are conversing about a United States that exists only as a figment of the Red King’s dreams. As Tweedledum explained it to Alice with such eloquence: “If that there King was to wake, you’d go out—bang!—like a candle!”

Even as I write, the news is heavy with mourning and confusion, vengeance and ventriloquism; nothing is what it purports to be. Facebook and Twitter are said to have provided a platform for the Russian government to create an unholy host of “fake Americans” whose viral messaging, it was hoped, would influence our elections. According to The New York Times, the “phony promoters” of one of those sites, DCLeaks, “were in the vanguard of a cyberarmy of counterfeit Facebook and Twitter accounts, a legion of Russian-controlled impostors whose operations are still being unraveled.”

Phoniness defines us now; all is smoke and mirrors and very bad magic. For proof, we have only to consider the stream of nonsense, misrepresentation, and outright lies that issues daily from the president of the United States: Prior presidents never called the relatives of dead service members. The Chinese created the concept of global warming. Barack Obama’s birth certificate is a forgery. Inoculation causes autism. No one has done more for people with disabilities than Donald Trump. No one has more respect for women than Donald Trump.

And the moon is made of hemp syrup.

I believe that we are experiencing a concerted and intentional assault upon our collective memory. If “Never again” was the phrase that until recently conveyed our refusal to forget the horrors of the Holocaust, we have now entered an age guided by a new imperative: “Never remember.” Beneath the weight of such corruption, someone passing as Melania Trump (bewigged with split ends or not) frankly seems less peculiar than her husband’s dressing up as president. And as for Anne Frank? Her memory has been diminished to a “blue dress with peter pan collar. Brown saddle bag and green beret complete the look. Ideal for indoor events.”

Tweedledee put it best: “Contrariwise, if it was so, it might be; and if it were so, it would be; but as it isn’t, it ain’t. That’s logic.”

A plastics factory in West Virginia has been on fire for 5 days and no one knows the health impacts


A plastics factory in West Virginia has been on fire for 5 days and no one knows the health impacts

Governor hopes EPA experts will help West Virginia deal with disaster.

Mark Hand           October 26, 2017

https://s.yimg.com/lo/api/res/1.2/wsJCwASnrjHTyr1zGGTJYw--/YXBwaWQ9eW15O3E9NzU7dz02NDA7c209MQ--/http://l.yimg.com/yp/offnetwork/914ccab6d6b4652c9b56867b237202e0A fire burns at the former Ames plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia. The fire started on October 21, 2017. CREDIT: Creighton Linza/YouTube screenshot

It’s been more than five days since a major industrial fire started at an old warehouse in Parkersburg, West Virginia, and state officials still have not been able to put together a list of the potentially toxic materials that were stored in the 420,000-square-foot facility.

West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice (R) declared a state of emergency in Wood County, where public schools have been closed all week due to the poor air quality and health concerns from the fire. Local and state officials are struggling to determine the potential long-term impacts from the fire. “We don’t really know all the specifics about as far as the endangerment to our people,” Justice said at a press conference Tuesday.

Air quality tests are not finding significant pollutants in the air coming from the warehouse, known as the Ames plant, officials said. Residents as far as 30 miles away in Wood County, West Virginia, though, have complained about the smell from the fire. Parkersburg, a town of about 31,000 residents located on the Ohio River, is the county seat of Wood County.

The WVU Medicine Camden Clark Medical Center in Parkersburg has treated 50 to 60 patients in its emergency room for fire-related symptoms since Saturday. Patients complained of respiratory issues, headaches, sore throat, eye irritation, coughing, and shortness of breath, according to news reports.

In Texas, after Hurricane Harvey flooded the southeastern part of the state, the owners of a chemical plant allegedly downplayed the health impacts of explosions at the plant. Officials from plant owner Arkema Inc. held press conferences where they repeatedly denied the chemicals were harmful to the public or first responders. As it turned out, more than a dozen first responders fell ill in the middle of the road and were sent to the hospital.

At Tuesday’s press conference, it was noted that some of the firefighters who responded to the warehouse fire in Parkersburg were not wearing gear to protect them from the potentially harmful smoke.

The Parkersburg warehouse, owned by Intercontinental Export-Import Inc., was being used to store recyclable plastics. Intercontinental Export-Import is a subsidiary of SirNaik, a company founded in 1987 for the purpose of purchasing and selling recycled plastics.

The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued an order on Thursday requiring Intercontinental Export-Import to “immediately provide a detailed inventory of all materials that were burned” at the Parkersburg warehouse. In the order, the DEP said Intercontinental Export-Import operates large warehouses and recycling facilities in and around Parkersburg that “are known to contain several polymer materials in the form of pellets, flake, strand, beads, plop, dust, granules, and resins.”

The Charleston Gazette-Mail reported Wednesday that DEP inspectors visited the warehouse earlier this year and found violations that indicated continued problems at the facility that two local volunteer firefighters had warned nearly a decade before could be at risk of a major fire. The DEP employees inspected the warehouse in February, concluding that the facility’s “general housekeeping” was “unsatisfactory,” according to Gazette-Mail reporter Ken Ward.

Although state and local officials have been unable to identify the products inside the warehouse, a list of products that were potentially inside the plant at the time of the fire were PVC, nylon, titanium dioxide, fibergalass, formaldehyde, teflon, according to the sheriff’s office of Washington County, Ohio, located across the Ohio River from Parkersburg.

The West Virginia governor said he is “enormously” concerned over the potential long-term problems from the fire. He is hoping that experts from the federal Environmental Protection Agency who “may know something that we may miss” will “come and assist us.”

“We have done multiple, multiple, multiple testings of the air and so far, the multiple testings are OK. But there may be some expert that’s out there that knows there’s something that’s not OK,” Justice said.

Earlier this year, Justice joined President Donald Trump at a rally in West Virginia to announce that he was switching his party affiliation from Democrat to Republican. Justice has been a strong supporter of Trump since he assumed the presidency.

Under Trump’s proposed 31-percent budget cut for the EPA, the resources to respond to emergencies such as the Parkersburg fire, along with much of the other state-level work performed by the agency, would be eliminated or sharply reduced. EPA staff and scientists at its regional offices across the country regularly respond to emergency calls from city and state officials. Funds to respond to many of those calls, including from West Virginia officials, would no longer be available under Trump’s budget.

Behind West Virginia’s Massive Chemical Spill, A History Of Poverty And Pollution 

West Virginia has a long history of industrial and environmental disasters. In early 2014, up to 300,000 residents in the Charleston, West Virginia, area were without access to potable water for several days after a major chemical spill. State environmental officials estimated as much as 7,500 gallons of a chemical used to process coal  —  crude MCHM  —  spilled into the Elk River, a tributary of the Kanawha River.

The state is home to the worst industrial accident in U.S. history when 750 workers drilling the Hawk’s Nest Tunnel in the early 1930s died from silicosis. Workers were forced to break through 99.4 percent pure silica in Fayette County, West Virginia, as part of a hydroelectric project. The silica the workers inhaled created extensive and fibrous nodules on the lungs. The workers found it harder to breathe and, ultimately, they suffocated to death.

In Parkersburg, fire officials said they are making progress in fighting the fire but are unable to provide an estimate of when the fire will be out. Once the fire is extinguished, fire marshals will be able to investigate the cause of the blaze and state officials will have a better opportunity to determine what materials were housed in the facility.

More than 100 firefighters from 40 fire stations, including stations in Ohio, have been on the scene since Saturday. Specialized Professional Services Inc., a hazardous materials and environmental emergency company, has been helping with the emergency.

With the fire still burning, officials with the Mid-Ohio Valley Health Department issued a statement Thursday recommending that residents “avoid contact with the smoke and remain indoors if possible, with windows and doors closed until the smell is no longer detectable.”

Behind West Virginia’s Massive Chemical Spill, A History Of Poverty And Pollution


Behind West Virginia’s Massive Chemical Spill, A History Of Poverty And Pollution

Emily Atkin, Katie Valentine         January 22, 2014

https://i1.wp.com/thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/02Sa4jlUWSzsu87u2.jpg?resize=1280%2C720px&ssl=1The Pond Fork River in Boone County, West Virginia after a 2,500 chemical spill turned it white in September. CREDIT: MARIA GUNNOE

CHARLESTON, WEST VIRGINIA — Maria Gunnoe remembers a time when the rivers in Boone County, West Virginia ran clear.

“In my childhood, I fished these streams, I spent time in these streams,” Gunnoe, who lives in Bob White, a town in Boone County, said. “That’s what we did. Nobody needed a pool; the streams were our playground.”

In September, the stream where she used to fish and play as a child turned white. The culprit was 2,400 gallons of a chemical called DT-50-D, which is used to cover coal and rail cars to cut down on dust. It had leaked into the river from the Eastern Associated Coal prep plant, and to Gunnoe, it was just one more example of how the coal and chemical industries have polluted West Virginia — the second poorest state in the nation — over her lifetime.

This happens all the time. The coal companies are using stuff here that would absolutely eat the skin off of your body.

Industrial pollution, like what turned the Pond Fork River white, is a constant worry for many West Virginians, but Gunnoe said it took a major chemical spill like the one that polluted the water of 300,0000 West Virginians to get the nation to notice.

“This happens all the time. The coal companies are using stuff here that would absolutely eat the skin off of your body,” she said. “This time, it ended up in the water supply, and the world knows about it now. But it happens all the time.”

A Culture Of Poverty And Pollution

In a state where 17.8 percent of the population lives in poverty and 47 percent of children live in low-income families, many West Virginians depend on jobs from the chemical or coal industries — the same industries responsible for polluting the state’s water. Coal mining in West Virginia, a state that in 2011 ranked 49th out of 50 in terms of median household income, supports more than 88,000 jobs, while the chemical industry supports about 12,000.  Any attempt to put strict regulation on those industries is therefore met with hostility from those whose families have for generations depended on the jobs to get by, Paula Clendenin, a lifelong West Virginia resident, said shortly after the spill. Without that strict regulation, she said, spills become more likely.

“If you keep people poor, you keep them desperate,” Clendenin said. “It’s a vicious cycle.”

https://i2.wp.com/thinkprogress.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/0uh2J42jE576APJfq.jpg?w=629&crop=0%2C0px%2C100%2C369px&ssl=1The poorest in West Virginia are those who live in rural counties, which house much of the state’s coal mines and associated jobs. In those counties, like Boone, the poverty rate is 20.4 percent, five points higher than the urban poverty rate. Out of the nine counties affected by last week’s chemical spill, six are considered rural. Four of those rural counties are considered “mostly or entirely” hosts to mountaintop removal activity — a process largely considered to be the most efficient, but also the most destructive method of extracting coal.

“[Poverty] goes hand-in-hand with the fact that it’s the coal industry that’s polluting,” said Laura Merner, who has spent the last five years at the Alliance for Appalachia testing groundwater in West Virginia and surrounding states.

People who have their water running orange year round, you internalize that pollution as something that’s OK because you’ve been in it your entire life.

Merner tests groundwater across southern West Virginia for communities reliant on coal fields. She’s seen faucet water run black year-round, and bathtubs filled orange. She’s measured water with high levels of lead, arsenic and strontium. The media generally focuses on isolated areas of West Virginia when reporting on contamination, she said, but the reality is that one in every five streams she tests have been spoiled.

“People who have their water running orange year round, you internalize that pollution as something that’s OK because you’ve been in it your entire life,” she said.

Lida Shepherd, who runs a youth group for low-income teenagers in Boone county, said many of the kids she works with live “literally right below” mountaintop removal sites. Their communities have significantly higher total poverty rates and child poverty rates every year compared to other counties, according to a recent peer-reviewed study from Michael Hendryx, a professor at West Virginia University. Shepherd’s kids, she said, weren’t surprised to hear of the water ban that was enacted January 9.

“These kids are no strangers to not being able to drink their water,” Shepherd said. “These kids deal with this kind of thing on a pretty regular basis just because they live in very heavily mined areas.”

Because their water is so often contaminated, Shepherd said some of the kids were not taking last week’s ban on potable water very seriously.

“One of my girls, she was saying she was taking a shower in it anyway,” Shepherd said. “And that could be a product of just, ‘Hey, we hear this all the time, and we’re still alive. We haven’t died yet.’”

Christina Rhodes, another one of the girls Shepherd mentors, lives in Seth, in Boone County. Before she moved there, she said, the county used well water. That was until mass injection of coal slurry made the well water there run yellow, orange and black, and water testing revealed concentrations of iron, manganese, lead, aluminum, and arsenic that were sometimes hundreds of times over safe drinking water limits, according to the Sludge Safety Project. The Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) enacted new regulations on coal slurry injection in 2009, including requiring companies to regularly test water in injection site mines, as well as nearby groundwater, for contamination.

“My family went through the issues with the well water, and found [the chemical spill] situation just as stressful as when we had to stop using the wells,” Rhodes told Climate Progress in an email.

On top of the water pollution from the mountaintop removal sites, Shepherd’s kids — all born into poverty and first-generation college bound — live in the same valley with some of the nation’s largest coal slurry impoundments, which are massive toxic lakes used to dispose of coal waste. West Virginia has more slurry impoundments than any other state, and in 2011, residents of Mingo County settled a seven-year lawsuit with Massey Energy company that alleged that the company had injected 1.4 billion gallons of coal slurry into underground mines, and that the slurry had leached into aquifers, waterways, wells and drinking water.

“We had some faith that if your water was contaminated, that your government would step in and do something,” West Virginian and former miner Brenda McCoy said in 2011. “But they didn’t.”

Treating the Cause

Gunnoe has been a community organizer in West Virginia for 19 years, fighting to get lawmakers to recognize the threat industry poses to citizens’ water and the need for stronger regulations in the state. She said the state of West Virginia has been “held under the thumb” of the coal industry for the last 150 years, and that this month’s chemical spill should be a wake-up call for West Virginia and the world to how dependence on coal is hurting people and the environment.

“The water infrastructure has been polluted, and it’s because of mountaintop removal, underground injection and basically coal production. Period.” she said.

Several of West Virginia’s top politicians have been adamant about denying the recent chemical spill’s link to the coal industry. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin in particular asserted last week that the incident was chemical-related, and had nothing to do with coal. “As far as I know, there are no coal mines within miles of this particular incident,” he said. “This was not a coal company.”

The water infrastructure has been polluted, and it’s because of mountaintop removal, underground injection and basically coal production. Period.

To Merner, Tomblin’s statements show a groundwork already in place to prevent real reform to the industries that she has witnessed polluting the state for the last five years. The government needs to protect the coal industry, she said, because every coal mining job brings in more jobs for the transportation and chemical industries.

“There’s not a true separation between coal and chemicals anyway,” she said. “The wall that the media has perpetuated is that there’s some some of separation, but it’s not true.”

Merner and Gunnoe are pushing for more regulation of the coal and chemical industries — something many of the state’s environmental leaders have long said is needed.

“Freedom Industries should be held accountable, but that won’t fix the problem,” Angie Rosser, executive director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition in Charleston, wrote in the Charleston Gazette. “That’s because the Elk River spill wasn’t an isolated accident. It was the inevitable consequence of weak regulatory enforcement over many years, made possible by our collective failure to uphold the values we profess.”

Like Gunnoe, Evan Hansen, president of Downstream Strategies in Morgantown, West Virginia, said he hopes the spill will serve as a wake-up call for state and national lawmakers. But he said the first thing that needs to happen for any regulatory changes to be made in West Virginia is for the governor and the DEP to acknowledge the link between clean water and a healthy economy — something he said they have yet to do.

“They have been very clear that their number one priority is protecting jobs and the fossil fuel industry, no matter the environmental consequences,” he said.

Until they decide to acknowledge that link, those who live in the poor areas housing West Virginia’s mountaintop removal communities have little choice but to deal with their white or orange or chemical-laced water. Or, as West Virginia resident James Simon has put it, they could hit the road.

“The environmental protection [agency] won’t help us … the law won’t help us. Nobody on earth wants to help us,” Simon said. “My only solution is to get out of here.”