mining

Great American Taxi's "Blair Mountain" is free mp3; supports WV mining ecology

For Great American Taxi and frontman Vince Herman, who grew up in West Virginia, fighting for social justice in Appalachia and calling for an end to mountaintop removal seems the natural thing to do.  According to a recent studypublished last week in the journal Environmental Research, a "significantly higher" rate of birth defects exists in babies born near mountaintop removal mining sites than those in non-mining areas. Mountaintop removal mining is a particularly environmentally destructive type of resource extraction that involves using explosives to blow the tops off of mountains to expose coal underneath the soil and rock.

So it’s no surprise that “Blair Mountain,” the aptly named title of the first single from the band’s forthcoming yet-to-be-titled new album (set for release this fall), premiered exclusively on the Sierra Club’s special public service call-to-action video, Battle for Blair Mountain. The song was recorded in May with Todd Snider producing. Master folk musician Tim O'Brien, a West Virginia native recently inducted into the WV Music Hall of Fame, plays banjo and fiddle on the track.

GAT is encouraging fans to download a free MP3 of “Blair Mountain” from the band’s website and get involved in restoring Blair Mountain to the National Register in support of the Sierra Club’s recently filed legal petition with the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection to make Blair Mountain off limits to mining.

“I wrote the song “Blair Mountain” to try and do my part to let people know about what we as working people stand to lose if Blair Mountain is destroyed,” said Herman. “As the grandson of a proud union miner, and former resident of the mountain state, this struggle connects deeply. The coal wars are not over in this country as whole communities are destroyed, water tables ruined and mountains bombed daily in what has become a national sacrifice zone to the interests of the coal companies. I hope that his song may help get us closer to ending the destruction of the most diverse forests in America.”

Great American Taxi continues its summer tour; June highlights included concerts with Barry Sless (Phil and Friends, David Nelson Band, Moonalice) at the Nelson Family Vineyards on 6/19, at the Hopmonk in Sebastopol on 6/22, and special guests New Monsoon in Santa Cruz on 6/23. More surprise guests will be announced for the Eldo in Crested Butte on 7/9 and GAT played with Todd Snider on 6/25 and 6/26.



Great American Taxi includes Vince Herman, Chad Staehly, guitarist Jim Lewin, bassist Brian Adams and drummer Chris Sheldon.

Jóhann Jóhannson To Release The Miners Hymns June 7th

Icelandic composer/arranger/electronics-manipulator Jóhann Jóhannson’s first release for FatCat, The Miners’ Hymns, is the score to an exciting collaboration with filmmaker Bill Morrison (best known for his masterpiece Decasia, heralded by the Village Voice as “the most widely-acclaimed American avant-garde film of the fin-de-siecle”). Their film/music project treats the history of Northeast England’s mining community using gorgeous found footage and a brass-based score, which moves from dark and brooding minimalism to moments of rousing transcendence. The Miners’ Hymns album will be released in the U.S. on June 7.

Centered around the Durham coalfield in Northeast England, The Miners’ Hymns film focuses on the hardships of pit work, the powerful role trade unions have historically played in bettering the lives of miners, and the trade unions’ battles with police during the famous 1984 strikes. The film was initially commissioned for Durham County (UK) Council’s International Brass Festival, which incorporated the annual Miners’ Gala into a program celebrating the cultural history of mining with a strong focus on the regional tradition of colliery brass bands. It was created from BFI, BBC, and other archival footage and produced by British artist organization Forma. Immaculately edited, and almost entirely in black-and-white, the film intercuts footage spanning the past 100 years, serving, as Jóhannson puts it, as “a kind of requiem for a disappearing industry, but also a celebration of the culture, life, and struggle of coal miners.”

The Miners’ Hymns marks a welcome return to brass instrumentation for Jóhannson, whose recent work has paired his electronics primarily with strings. Performed and record live by a sixteen-piece brass ensemble (whose ranks included players in the current incarnation of a brass band started by miners in 1877) led by Iceland’s Gudni Franzson, the score is at times lamenting, lyrical, almost droning; elsewhere led by sweepingly triumphant chords and pulse-quickening crescendo. Combined with the ensemble and the huge Durham Cathedral organ, Jóhannson’s own subtle electronics peek through gaps in the score like shafts of life through the church’s stained-glass windows, adding quiet, otherworldly brightness.

The beautifully-packaged CD release of The Miners’ Hymns includes liner notes giving an overview of the historical importance of brass band music in the history of English coalmining and the rise of trade unions, as well as archival photos, film stills, and shots of the recorded performance inside the great Cathedral.

Jóhannson's music has also recently been used for film in a quite different context, soundtracking a much talked-about trailer for the blockbuster film Battle: Los Angeles; watch the trailer here.

The Miners’ Hymns is a featured selection of this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. Jóhann Jóhannson will be touring later this year in support of the album.

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The Miners’ Hymns at Tribeca Film Festival:

4/22 – Clearview Chelsea 5 (7:00 pm)

4/25 – Clearview Chelsea 9 (7:30 pm)

4/28 – Clearview Chelsea 8 (12:45 pm)

The Miners’ Hymns Tracklisting:

1. They Being Dead yet Speaketh

2. An Injury To One Is The Concern Of All

3. Freedom From Want and Fear

4. There is No Safe Side but the Side of Truth

5. Industrial and Provident, We Unite to Assist Each Other

6. The Cause of Labour is the Hope of the World

Tell the EPA not to let a massive limestone mining project ruin the Everglades

The Everglades wetlands ecosystem, our country's largest subtropical wilderness, has already been devastated by a century of destructive human activity. For many years, NRDC and other environmental groups have been working to stop a gargantuan limestone mining project from causing even more harm to the Everglades, irreversibly destroying critical wetlands and endangered species habitat, contaminating local drinking water supplies and costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.

Earlier this year, a federal court determined that the Army Corps of Engineers violated the law when it issued permits to the mining industry to turn more than 5,000 acres of Everglades into open pits. But the Corps is now set to re-issue those permits as well as approve the destruction of another 10,000-12,000 acres of wetlands. Together with existing mines, this would amount to converting 30 square miles of historic Everglades and irreplaceable wildlife habitat into mining pits.

As if the devastation to the Everglades were not reason enough to stop the mining, recent studies demonstrate that the proposed mining would endanger the adjacent public wellfield, which supplies drinking water to millions. Alternative mining plans exist, and include large buffers to protect the Everglades and the public wellfield but still allow at least eight years of mining (depending on demand, which has slowed recently).

The Environmental Protection Agency has the authority to stop the proposed mining project by vetoing the permits.

What to do

Send a message urging the EPA to exercise its legal responsibility to protect the Everglades and public water supplies by vetoing the proposed permits and to approve only short-term mining plans that will protect the Everglades and public drinking water supplies.

Tell the Bush administration not to let mining companies destroy valleys and streams

Stop Bush from polluting our streams!- for the Grateful Web

The Office of Surface Mining has proposed changes to its stream buffer zone rule that would make it easier for mining companies to bury natural streams and valleys under piles of mining waste and vast ponds of toxin-laden sludge. The changes would weaken environmental standards for mountaintop removal mining operations that, even under the stricter existing buffer rule, have buried hundreds of miles of streams and contaminated mountain waterways. The headwater streams threatened by the rule changes provide valuable habitat and feed larger waters that provide drinking water, fishing and other recreational opportunities.

An environmental review of the proposal confirms that the proposed changes could permit the destruction of hundreds of miles of streams and valleys in Appalachia, the region already hardest hit by these irresponsible mining practices. But despite these conclusions, and ignoring the pleas and protests of thousands of activists, the agency is pressing ahead with its proposal.

The Office of Surface Mining is now preparing to finalize these changes to the rule. Before it can do so, however, the Environmental Protection Agency must give its approval.

What to do:  Send a message, as soon as possible, urging the EPA to reject the Office of Surface Mining's plan to allow mining companies to destroy America's streams.

Help Stop Mining Pollution in Wild Idaho Forest

- for the Grateful Web

The Bush administration is poised to approve the expansion of a polluting phosphate mine in southeast Idaho that would seriously jeopardize some of the state's most renowned wildlife and trout streams.  The Smoky Canyon Mine is already listed as a Superfund site for releasing hazardous amounts of toxic selenium into the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. With no cleanup effort underway, we need your urgent action to protect the extraordinary wildlife and pristine forests of this region from a renewed onslaught of pollution.

Click here right now and urge the Bush administration to prohibit the proposed 1,300-acre expansion of the Smoky Canyon Mine.

The Caribou-Targhee National Forest is home to some of the most biologically diverse wildlands in the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

The celebrated forests and streams of this region provide a refuge for lynx, moose, elk, mule deer and other wildlife, as well as two species of native cutthroat trout. Anglers, hikers and other recreationalists flock to this area from nearby communities and from across the country.

If the Smoky Canyon Mine is expanded, even greater quantities of toxic selenium will flow into the aquifers and streams of the Sage Creek Roadless Area and other pristine forestlands - threatening fish and wildlife, water quality and potentially human health.

Click here and tell the Bush administration to reject this disastrous scheme and instead require the mine's owners to clean up the existing selenium contamination.

Stop Mining Companies from Destroying Valleys & Streams

- for the Grateful Web

The Office of Surface Mining is proposing changes to its stream buffer zone rule, first adopted in 1983, that would make it easier for mining companies to bury natural streams and valleys under piles and ponds of mining waste. The changes would relax environmental standards for the same mountaintop removal mining operations that, even under the stricter existing buffer rule, have flattened over a half-million acres and buried hundreds of miles of streams. The headwater streams threatened by the rule changes provide valuable habitat and feed larger waters that provide drinking water, fishing and other recreational opportunities.

 

In 2004, when the Office of Surface Mining first proposed relaxing the buffer rule, NRDC urged the agency to abandon its proposal and to focus instead on better enforcement of the existing rule. The agency responded by conducting an environmental review of its proposal, which was released in August. The review confirms that the proposed changes would result in the destruction of hundreds more miles of streams and valleys in Appalachia, a region already hard-hit by mining practices. But despite these conclusions, the agency is pressing ahead with its proposal.

 

The Office of Surface Mining is accepting public comments on its proposed rule change through Friday, November 23rd.

 

Click here to voice your concern and take action.