Friday, October 28, 2011

EPA seeks comment on alternate, stricter rules for confined animal feeding operations

The Environmental Protection Agency "is hoping to issue a final rule next summer that would require increased reporting at concentrated animal feeding operations," Amanda Peterka reports for Environment & Energy News. EPA has offered two options for the rule. One would be limited to CAFOs in watersheds with "high concentrations of animals, poor-quality soils or other environmental degradation," Peterka writes.

The proposed regulations, which are open for public comment, are "part of a settlement with environmental groups over the agency's Clean Water Act permitting program for CAFOs," Peterka notes. "Environmentalists have long charged that the agency has been lax on regulating manure runoff and water pollution stemming from the large feeding operations." The National Pork Producers Council "opposed the settlements being developed without input from the livestock industry. The organization said it preferred EPA's more targeted reporting approach but questioned the need for the new rule in the first place." (Read more, subscription required)

More Americans support less strict gun laws

Fewer Americans than ever (43 percent) say they want stricter gun laws, according to a recent Gallup Poll. Forty-four percent said they want gun laws to stay the same and 11 percent said the laws should be less strict.

This shift in thought started after 2007, when the majority who favored stricter laws since 1990 began to decline. Record high numbers of people think handguns and semiautomatic rifles should not be banned, and 60 percent think the government should more strictly enforce existing laws instead of creating new ones.

More Republicans than Democrats oppose stricter gun control laws. According to the study, those in favor of stricter laws are Democrats, people without guns in their homes and people living in the East.

The author of a study based on the poll, Jeffrey Jones, says he's unsure about reasons for the pro-gun shift because it doesn't seem to be connected to an increase in crime or gun ownership. He suggests the prevalence of pro-gun attitudes could be linked to increased acceptance of guns, support for the Second Amendment and more adoption of libertarian views, which herald the importance of a person's private property rights. He says pro-gun views grew even after several high-profile shootings, like the one that nearly killed U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz.

Pro-gun views have an effect on public policy, says Brown University economist Brian Knight. In his study of state-to-state gun trafficking, he found illegal guns travel from lax states into strict states, usually in close proximity, and crimes involving guns are more prevalent in states with weak gun laws. He said more federal gun control would be beneficial because states "tailor policies according to local preference." (Read more)

Oregon's leaders hope a new medical model will help people with limited access to care

Oregon's governor and legislators hope the state will become the latest national model for health-care reform after they start "coordinated care organizations" that will resemble the old medical model of doctors treating people in their homes. The program would help people with limited access to care, such as elderly and rural residents and Medicaid beneficiaries. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed legislation to start the program in June and said national health  reform doesn't go far enough: "Expanding coverage to give more people access without changing the system people have access to will only serve to increase cost and expand national debt."

Christine Vestal of reports that coordinated care organizations would establish local health-care teams to combine medical and dental services with behavioral-health and substance-abuse services. Preventive care will be offered and those on Medicaid will get help navigating the system. Services provided will be varied and include everything from giving young pregnant women rides to receive prenatal care, translating for non-English speakers, and providing depression counseling.

All services will be provided to people under a fixed fee per customer. The groups will be licensed and monitored by the state, but governed by a local board containing health care providers, consumers and local government officials. Kitzhaber told Vestal that even though the program seems expensive, it will actually save the state "a considerable amount of money" because patients will be healthier and need less care and it will be more efficient.

The program will provide care to Medicaid beneficiaries first, then teachers and state employees. Universities and small businesses may join the program later. Vestal reports the plan's backers hope the program will eventually be able to provide care to anyone who wants it. To reach that point, the viability of the plan will be tested by measures of whether or not coordinated care organizations improve health outcomes, save money and please consumers. Right now, the plan has unanimous support in the Oregon legislature. The state is awaiting federal waivers needed to implement it. (Read more)

Thursday, October 27, 2011

FCC votes to shift billions of subsidy dollars to rural broadband from telephone companies

The Federal Communications Commission voted unanimously today to take $4.3 billion from an $8 billion subsidy for telephone connections in hard-to-reach rural areas and put it into a new initiative to expand broadband Internet service to an estimated 18 million people. The long-discussed initiative is part of an effort to increase economic growth through increased access to broadband. Chairman Julius Genachowski said this program could create hundreds of thousands of jobs in rural areas.

Todd Shields of Bloomberg Businessweek reports that in the same vote, the FCC also lowered long-distance call rates. "Together the moves are designed to restructure support for rural companies and relieve pressure on the Universal Service Fund, a broader subsidy program that is financed through a charge on consumers’ long-distance calls," Shields writes. Large land-line companies, including AT&T and Verizon, asked the FCC to allow existing carriers to receive broadband subsidies first, but the FCC said no and instead decided to let companies "levy a new charge on phone subscribers," Shieleds reports. Free Press political adviser Joel Kelsey told Shields that asking customers to pay more would not expand broadband adoption.

The deal appears based largely on a "brokered reform proposal made by large carriers and small telco associations," Joan Engebretson reports for Connected Planet. Many small companies have been raising warning flags about the deal; the Rural Telecom Associations NTCA, Opastco and the Western Telecommunications Alliance said in a press release that the wide-ranging order had "positive aspects" but they "remain concerned that parts of the current reform package will have substantial adverse impacts on rural consumers and the small, community-based carriers of last resort committed to serve them." For more, and other reactions, via Broadcasting & Cable's John Eggerton, click here.

Genachowski said the shift in subsidy money will help cut the number of people without broadband in half over the next five years. The new program will be called the "Connect America Fund" and will be capped at $4.5 billion. (Read more) It will replace the Universal Service Fund, which "is so complex that some telecom execs have likened it to trying to reform Social Security or health care," Kim Hart of Politico writes.

Debate over child-labor rules for farms pits safety concerns against realities of family life, business

 The comment period on the U.S. Department of Labor's proposed changes to child labor regulations ends Tuesday, Nov. 1. According to Department of Agriculture figures, 104 children per year die from a farm-related injury, and more than 22,000 are injured. Child-safety advocates say the rules are "long overdue" but farm advocates say the proposals show how disconnected the department is from the way family farms operate.

The rules would keep the exemption for work by children in an immediate family, but Peggy Lowe of Harvest Public Media reports, "Most farms are now organized under a corporation that includes multiple members of an extended family — uncles, aunts, brothers, sisters, grandparents — and that legal status as a company would mean loss of the family exemption, said Jordan Dux, national affairs coordinator with the Nebraska Farm Bureau." (Lowe photo: MacKenzie Lewis, 15, pulls weed-control plastic up from a watermelon field near Boone, Iowa.)

However, Barry Estabrook, a food journalist who has reported extensively about farm labor, told Lowe that the proposed changes are "timid at best." He said child farmworkers are not protected by the Fair Labor Standards Act, unlike their counterparts in other occupations. "I don’t see it as any more ludicrous to envision a child driving a bulldozer or a back hoe on a construction site than driving a back hoe in the farm fields," he said. "What is the fundamental difference?" Congressional watchdog Public Citizen also supports the changes and is pushing to add regulations about heat stress, Lowe reports.

On the other hand, many are concerned the changes will hurt 4-H and FFA, formerly Future Farmers of America. Meghan Grebner of Brownfield Ag News reports Indiana Rep. Marlin Stutzman said "It would be a great disservice if young people lose those experiences," because they need to develop life skills offered through 4-H and FFA. Lowe reports that Farm Bureau officials say cutting these programs would "hinder the recruitment of the next generation of farmers and ranchers." (Read more)

Idea to solve primary-care crisis, create jobs and help banks: Build health centers with SBA loans

The federal health-care reform law will mean a glut of new patients who will be newly insured and bog down the primary-care system. Thousands of construction workers are out of jobs as the economy remains stagnant. And the banking sector is still reluctant to lend. The answer to all three problems? Build more community health centers, writes Jeffrey Leonard in an opinion piece in The Washington Monthly. (Photo: Vista, Calif., Community Clinic)

"The way to meet the flood of new patients coming down the pike is to expand the nation's existing network of community health centers — nonprofit clinics that offer primary care to the medically under-served, often in rural areas or inner cities," writes Leonard, CEO of the Global Environment Fund and chairman of the magazine's board of directors. "But to get this done, there's no need to appropriate billions more in direct government spending. Rather, there is a way to lure skittish banks in lending private capital to finance a health-center construction boom in all 50 states, simply by tweaking the language of an existing federal lending program."

Though community health centers generally have difficulty raising their own funds to expand or build facilities, in part because they serve uninsured, low-income patients who can't donate to building projects, they are sound investments, Leonard contends, pointing out only "one or two" of the 1,200 community health centers in America today have ever defaulted on a loan.

Still, they have trouble getting loans from banks, even once they have been able to raise a chunk of funds, in large part because centers "in an economically distressed inner-city neighborhood serving a mixture of Medicaid patients and the uninsured, or one in a depressed heartland town where real estate prices are spiraling downward" are seen as a risk, Leonard explains.

Leonard suggests the centers be eligible for the Small Business Administration's 504 loan program, in which a small business asks a non-profit lender to issue "low-interest, fixed-rate, government-backed bonds to finance up to 40 percent of the project," Leonard writes. As of now, the loan program is only open to some for-profit businesses. But Congress could change that, thus opening up possibilities. Moreover, the loan program is "routine and efficient to process" and the "interest rates are among the lowest on the market," Leonard contends.

Another option would be for construction companies and real estate developers to put up the equity themselves, build the facilities and then rent them out to nonprofits "on a long-term lease or through various lease-to-own arrangements." "Indeed, hungry developers and construction firms would find any number of ways to get the hammers swinging," Leonard writes.

Overall, it's a win-win, Leonard argues."It's hard to imagine Congress appropriating any more direct spending to fuel the construction of health centers," he writes. "But there's no good reason why they shouldn't change a few words in a statute to achieve the same end. Not only would it quickly create much-needed jobs in the construction trades, it would also spark economic activity over the long run in some of the places in America that need it most." (Read more)

Need to brush up on your statistical terminology or learn the basics? Check out Journalist's Resource

Leighton Klein, policy journalist and editor for Journalist's Resource, a research portal and curated database at Harvard University, has created a simple guide of statistical terms and concepts journalists should know.

For example, do you know that correlation and causation are not the same? Klein explains that correlation shows a relationship between variables but causation determines which variable affects the other.

What about sampling? Since most studies are completed using samples, it is important to know the different types of population samples. Klein compares random sampling, where subjects are chosen by chance, to stratified sampling, where the sample is constructed in a similar demographic representation as the entire population.

Klein directs journalists to Math for Journalists for a refresher on averages, means and medians and provides links to several free online statistics tutorials.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

If you have breast cancer, your diagnosis is likely to be made later if you are a rural woman

Rural women are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer than their urban counterparts, a new study by researchers at the University of Missouri shows. Time and travel inconveniences may be a large contributing factor, Angelina Tala of Medical Daily reports.

Faustine Williams, a doctoral student in the Department of Rural Sociology, found women traveling 50 to 75 miles for health care "are 10 percent more likely to be diagnosed with late stage breast cancer," Tala reports. Lack of reasonably priced and nearby preventative treatments and testing increase the risk of discovering the disease when it's in a later stage.

Williams used data from the Missouri Information for Community Assessment and mapping software to pinpoint patients with various stages of breast cancer and the locations of the nearest screening facility. Then by calculating the distance between patients in each cancer stage and the nearest screening facility, Williams concluded rural women are more likely to be diagnosed later. (Read more)

Push to cut farm subsidies may have greater impact, proportionally, on conservation programs

Conservation programs in which farmers have to participate before receiving direct-payment subsidies will likely be eliminated along with those subsidies, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said during a speech in Iowa on Monday. It's a reminder that the new farm bill is not just about changing and creating subsidies; several programs will be impacted by it. Dan Piller of The Des Moines Register reported that Vilsack said he would not be the person to link conservation compliance to crop insurance, which is likely to be eliminated to make up for the loss of direct payments, but he did say required conservation measures might be included in the Department of Agriculture's Average Crop Revenue Assurance or Supplemental Revenue Assistance Payments programs.

In farm conservation programs, farmers are paid to maintain basic environmental protections like buffer strips next to streams, keeping agri-chemicals from leaching into groundwater and preventing erosion. Many environmental advocates fear House and Senate agriculture committee proposals to cut between $23 and $33 billion from farm programs will eliminate programs like the Conservation Stewardship Program, which is currently the most widespread conservation program in the country. These programs are not the only ones facing elimination, writes Tom Philpott for Grist magazine. He says the proposals would also keep USDA from carrying out a mandate to "rein in the meat industry" and eliminate the "Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food" initiative that highlights programs allocating money for rebuilding local and regional food systems and supporting new farmers.

A proposal from American Farm Bureau suggests 36 programs in the 2008 Farm Bill that should not be continued because they were not assigned a baseline budget beyond 2012. Daryll Ray and Harwood Schaffer of The Prairie Star in Great Falls, Mont., report that those programs are included in farm bill titles like energy, conservation, nutrition, horticulture, organic agriculture, rural development, trade, forestry and livestock. Tom Laskawy of Grist Magazine writes that the fast-paced push for a new bill, in conjunction with a possible deficit-reduction deal, is leaving little time for "input from the good food movement," which he says is comprised of small farmers re-authorization is supposed to help.

In the wake of news about conservation programs being cut, the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition writes in Western Farm Press that a new marker bill, called The Beginning Farmer and Rancher Opportunity Act, was introduced earlier this month by a bipartisan group of representatives. This bill "includes provisions that cut across six titles of the Farm Bill, including proposals that address conservation program set asides and incentives, access to credit, rural development, research and extension, and access to crop insurance and risk management." One proposal would continue many existing conservation programs, including the Conservation Stewardship Program that helps new farmers.

Rural communities can rely on locally controlled assets, such as forests, to develop economies

The Ford Foundation is developing a "wealth creation approach" to rural economic development that relies on existing assets controlled by local people to build rural wealth, including forests, farms, wind rights, workers' skills, social networks and innovation. As Marjorie Kelly writes for the Daily Yonder, "When rural communities develop these assets in response to market demand, when they connect with urban areas in ways that benefit both places and when they focus on creating multiple kinds of wealth – that’s when they begin to create wealth and livelihoods that benefit rural places over the long haul."

Wealth From Forests is one such approach. It allows local loggers, sawmills and manufacturers in southeast Ohio to produce finished wood products from local timber and sell them to consumers searching for sustainable, certified wood products. As orders come in, demand for sustainably grown logs grows, increasing the number of acres managed. Local operators benefit from having to learn about market opportunities and obtaining green certification. The program, which was started by Rural Action, a development organization in Ohio, is building a "value chain," Kelly writes. The goal is to create connections between forest owners, manufacturers and customers so they learn from each other and can see how their decisions impact the larger community.

It follows what the Ford Foundation has learned about the "wealth creation approach" over four years of trying to determine how best to build local wealth: build "value chains" to connect rural and urban areas in mutually beneficial ways; respond to market demand; work collaboratively and focus on building and measuring multiple forms of local wealth. (Read more)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Rural Computer-Assisted Reporting workshops start

Twelve journalists from five Appalachian states learned computer-assisted reporting or honed their basic CAR skills Oct. 21-23 at a workshop sponsored by the Institute for Rural Journalism and Community Issues and Investigative Reporters and Editors. IRE provided the training at the workshop at East Tennessee State University, where journalism program director Andrew Dunn is the Institute's academic partner. It was the first of two Rural CAR workshops funded by the Ethics and Excellence in Journalism Foundation.

Daniel Gilbert, left, with Mike Owens at the workshop
The R-CAR program was started with a gift from Daniel Gilbert, a Wall Street Journal energy reporter who won a Pulitzer Prize for the Bristol Herald Courier in 2010 with his reporting on state and energy-company mismanagement of pooled natural-gas royalties in Southwest Virginia. He donated his $10,000 prize from another contest, the Scripps Howard Awards, to the Institute's endowment to create a fund that sends journalists to IRE's six-day CAR boot camp, at which he learned the skills that enabled him to do the series. The Scripps Howard Foundation matched his gift, and the state of Kentucky matched both, creating a $40,000 fund that generates enough earnings to sponsor two journalists each year.

The Institute asked the foundation to fund two "mini-boot camps" for reporters in rural areas, the first one in the same area where Gilbert did his prize-winning work. The money flows through IRE, but the Institute will host a second R-CAR Mini-Boot Camp at its University of Kentucky headquarters in May 2012. (Read more)

Interior Department folding surface-mining office into Bureau of Land Management

UPDATE, Oct. 26: Salazar confirmed today that he will merge the agencies. "The secretary said the move would allow Interior to work more efficiently and allow OSM and BLM to share administrative functions," Greenwire reports. "He promised to involve both employees and lawmakers in drawing up a reorganization plan by next year." Nick Juliano of the Platts energy news service reports, "The plan drew swift condemnation from industry groups and congressional Republicans," who linked the move to what they called the Obama administration's anti-coal policies. A pro-coal Democrat, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia, told Paul Nyden of The Charleston Gazette that the move was "bizarre" and could reduce OSM's role as "a sounding board for Appalachian residents." (Read more)

"Interior Secretary Ken Salazar [left] is giving serious consideration to folding the Office of Surface Mining into the Bureau of Land Management," reports Greenwire, citing sources and reporting that "Rumors of an imminent announcement about the reorganization circulated among mining industry leaders and on Capitol Hill all day, and officials are reportedly vetting a draft order to accomplish the change."

"The two agencies have separate mandates and serve regionally diverse constituencies," and there are questions about Salazar's legal ability to merge them, reporters Phil Taylor and Manuel Quinones note. "BLM is in charge of managing some 250 million acres of mostly Western lands, while OSM is a strictly regulatory agency that oversees reclamation of coal mines, many of them on non-federal lands in the East." The Office of Surface Mining Reclamation and Enforcement (its full name) also oversees permitting and mining, not just reclamation, and has granted primacy for those functions to agencies in most coal states under the 1977 federal strip-mine law. BLM's relations with states are often poor. Salazar is a former senator from Colorado.

OSM is drafting a new "stream buffer rule" that would pose new obstacles for Appalachian strip mines and replace a more lenient regulation instituted by the Bush administration in its final days. That has brought it "under fire from industry and many lawmakers on Capitol Hill," Greenwire notes. "Director Joe Pizarchik is scheduled to testify on Capitol Hill about the plans next week.  

UPDATE, Oct. 27: The Charleston Gazette's Ken Ward Jr. says Salazar made the move earlier than expected because of the Greenwire story and concludes, "It seems likely that some coalfield citizen activists and environmental advocates — particularly those who have been around longer and have strong ties to the notion that OSMRE was set up by Congress to police the coal industry — will probably be uneasy with the Obama proposal, or oppose it outright." For a copy of Salazar's order, click here.

Banks, extension service, organizations trying to educate farmers, others in Ohio about oil and gas

Oil and natural-gas companies are migrating into Ohio and pressing farmers to sign five-year leases to drill on their land in the hope of tapping the Utica and Marcellus shale formations under 5 million acres where deposits are estimated to be equivalent to billions of barrels of oil. John Funk of The Plain Dealer reports that the economic benefit for Ohio could be tremendous, "but so are the challenges for landowners, many of them poor farmers who must first sort through the thorny offers of oil companies, and then wrestle the financial decisions of sudden wealth." To see the Cleveland newspaper's graphic illustrating the Ohio drilling rush, hydraulic fracturing and more, click here. Part of it is a map, above, showing recent permits for vertical (red) and horizontal drilling, which uses fracking.

Some farmers are receiving six figures or more for leasing their land, but many don't know how to properly handle such amounts. Dale Arnold of the Ohio Farm Bureau Federation told Funk that many farmers who lease are buying equipment, trucks and tractors and paying off mortgages, but rarely think about the implications that come with large amounts of instant money. Said Arnold: "When you get a check for $80,000 to $250,000, you need help restructuring your business, working with an estate planner, making sure the money is an asset for several generations."

Bank branches, extension educators, Farm Bureau and economic-development officers are trying to educate farmers about energy leases and how to handle the money. Jeffery Herold of PNC Wealth Management in Akron told Funk it has stocked its branches with literature and qualified attorneys to give advice about leasing and financial management to farmers. Funk reports these groups want farmers to know the risks associated with leases and be aware of the tax liabilities. The Cooperative Extension Service and Farm Bureau are trying to educate attorneys, few of whom are oil and gas experts. (Read more)

Schools continue to deal with cuts and layoffs; 120 districts, mostly rural, are on four-day weeks

In anticipation of more budget cuts, 120 school districts across the country, mostly in rural areas, have started a four-day week to save on transportation and utility costs, reports Kim Hefling of The Associated Press. Other measures to save money include charging fees to play sports, cutting field trips and ending art, drama, P.E. music and after-school programs. But some districts still can't afford to buy textbooks or update technology. Josh Keene, principal at Abraham Lincoln Middle School in Lancaster, Pa., told Hefling he's worried an increase in class size and decrease in state funding will soon cause him to lay off classroom teachers.

Predictions from the American Association of School Administrators show school budget levels won't return to normal until 2013 or later, which means layoffs and cuts are likely to continue. Hefling reports that about 294,000 education jobs have been lost since 2008. Full-day kindergarten or preschool was eliminated in 30 percent of Pennsylvania districts. Hefling reports that poorer districts, which are mostly rural, are hit hardest because they rely heavily on state money.

President Obama include $30 billion to protect teachers' jobs nationwide in his jobs bill, but Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said "the plan resembles 'bailouts' that haven't proven to work and only perpetuate economic problems." Some say districts haven't spent tax dollars wisely and didn't prepare well for the end of $100 billion in stimulus money. Karen Miles, executive director of the Watertown, Mass.-based Education Resource Strategies, said districts should use this time to focus on teacher quality and compensation based on performance. (Read more)

Federal appeals court upholds rule that prevents road-building in national forests

Millions of acres of national forest land will continue to be protected from road-building after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals supported the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule, staving off development. Lawyers representing the state of Wyoming and the Colorado Mining Association had claimed the rule was a violation of the 1964 Wilderness Act.

Environmentalists say the ruling is "one of the most significant in decades," The Associated Press reports. Outdoor areas frequented by hunters, fishermen, hikers and campers will be protected, as will the water quality and habitat for animals such as grizzly bears, lynx and Pacific salmon, advocates say. Jane Danowitz, director of the Pew Environment Group's public-lands program, told AP: "Without the roadless rule, protection of these national forests would be left to a patchwork management system that in the past resulted in millions of acres lost to logging, drilling and other industrial development."

Wyoming Republican Gov. Matt Mead and the Colorado mining group told AP they have not yet decided whether or not to appeal this latest decision. A lawsuit concerning the application of this rule in Alaska and another applying to particular areas of Idaho are pending. (Read more)

Monday, October 24, 2011

Nebraska to consider legislation intended to steer tar-sands oil pipeline around Sand Hills

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman today called a special legislative session to re-route a proposed pipeline that would send oil from Canada's tar sands deposits to the Gulf of Mexico. The Keystone XL project would cross the state's environmentally sensitive Sand Hills region (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service map) and the Ogallala Aquifer, the main source of groundwater for the Great Plains, which Heineman said he was acting to protect.

Heineman did "a dramatic about-face . . . after saying for weeks that a special session would be a waste of time and money," Paul Hammel writes for the Omaha World-Herald. The governor acknowledged "that any bill might face the threat of an expensive lawsuit but that he thinks lawmakers have a 'very narrow' opportunity to pass something that would reroute the project that is legal and constitutional." Nebraska has a one-chamber legislature, the Senate.

Trans-Canada, the company that wants to build the pipeline, argues that state governments have no say over interstate pipelines. International pipelines require approval of the State Department, which has given preliminary approval to the project, dismaying environmentalists. Its final ruling is expected by the end of the year. A big crowd attended a hearing on the issue; a report  on it from Brett Moore of the Custer County Chief is here.

Click on Trans-Canada map below for interactive version that explains current pipelines (solid lines) and proposed pipelines (broken lines).

Historian reminds us that energy workers and environmentalists haven't always been at odds

Social historian Chad Montrie was at the University of Kentucky Friday to discuss the context of his newest book A People's History of Environmentalism in the United States. Montrie is probably best known for his book To Save the Land and People: A History of Opposition to Surface Coal Mining in Appalachia, which made him popular in that movement.

Montrie, a history professor at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, said an accurate portrayal of the history of workers' in the environmental movement would help us better understand its current status. He said the story of environmentalist workers has been ignored, and that shortcoming has shaped the way we understand the history of environmentalism. Most people believe the movement started when Rachel Carson's Silent Spring was published, but Montrie writes in his book that the movement actually started during the Industrial Revolution, when factory smoke obscured city skies and workers became worried about how this affected their health.

During the New Deal, the Civilian Conservation Corps was created to replant forests that had been clear-cut, a measure that would stave off destructive erosion. This "enriched environmentalism" and "put working people and their families back in the story," Montrie said. However, during the Reagan era, the role that workers had played in environmentalism for two centuries was largely missed as people became "ashamed of liberalism."

He spoke about Appalachians who fought to end strip mining long before Earth Day was established in 1970. He said the practice could have been abolished in the 1970s had the leadership of the United Mine Workers of America not become corrupt. The organization had been opposed to strip mining because it reduced jobs, but the union's leadership became dominated by those with strong industry connections. Then it used the idea that concern for the environment would put miners out of work as a reason to stop regulations, an idea that Montrie called "absolutely absurd."

He said the lesson to remember is that workers and environmentalists are not always on opposite sides, as he says coal companies would currently like the public to believe. Sometimes, they agree. He said a more accurate account of workers' role in the movement will help with reconciliation and improve our understanding of the environmental movement. "It's easy for us to look back and see what we did wrong," he said, "but it's harder for us to see what we're doing in the present."