Something is very wrong in the Land of Cotton



Dr. Robert Bullard
Environmental Justice Movement Founder

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Stories That Have Us Scratching Our Heads and Wondering WTH?

"I think I am seeing the monkey business going on, yes?"" 

Hope Coal Co. was recently fined  $50,000 (further reduced by $16,500) for 174 environmental violations by the Alabama Department of Environmental (mis) Management (ADEM.) That’s roughly $190.00 per violation and the company paid less in corporate fines than an individual would pay for a speeding ticket. The price of doing business in Alabama comes cheap when you screw up. And screwing up is definitely encouraged.

The bastion of (almost) exclusively white brotherly love, the City of Vestavia Hills, is caught showing their religious intolerance and unabashed snobbishness when the faith-based Jimmie Hale Missions tried to become the latest new tenant in the city. Their full of the love of Christ attitude is quite pious as long as "undesirables" stay on their side of town and don’t mingle with the privileged ones in the occupied territory of VH. 
(MP3 file podcast local talker Matt Murphy on WAPI. More podcasts on their webpage)

One Shelby County Preacher makes his case for what Alabama really needs: God, not real ethics reforms. Never mind that we’re 49th in corruption and the state house is brimming over with “good, upright Christian men,” we just need to all get closer to God and the rest will take care of itself. 
We wonder if this Vincent preacher counseled Vincent Mayor Ray McAllister against any private meetings with the town citizens who don’t want their town swallowed up by the notorious Vecellio Group's White Rock Quarries, their mining subsidiary from Florida. The Mayor and Council had meetings a plenty in another county out of sight of their citizens with quarry reps Rob Fowler and Stephen Bradley. Something we've always wondered about is why a Florida rock mining outfit, instead of Martin Marietta or Vulcan, who operate all the other eight quarries in Shelby County? Controversial location for a company well-versed in controversy perhaps?  
Makes sense to us--does it to you?

Governor Mule Bentley (AKA "Dunkey" a cross between a dunce and donkey) shows his true colors to the republican faithful and appoints his "goobernatorial" democratic challenger to head the Alabama Economic Rural Development office, and frankly, we’re shocked they’re shocked. A YouTube clip from Sean Hannity’s FOX show has guest Dick Morris (former Clinton man turned republican shill) pinning the tail on the "Dunkey" on what the good "Badtist" Dr. Dr. really is. Caveat Emptor. We sure do hope Sparks doesn't do for any other rural Alabama community what he did to North Alabama as Ag Commissioner. That would be a real stinker of a move.

Speaking of Bentley, he’s carrying on Riley era economic deals and has announced the entry of a biofuels plant into the Greene County area, the same county that former Governor Riley sent over one hundred state troopers into and immediately put scores of residents out of work and out of luck when he closed down the gambling joint. The biofuels plant, *Coskata, is brainchild of billionaire financier Vinod Khosla, who partnered up with bailout baby GM in 2008. 
The most obvious question to us is this: Why would an enterprising successful entrepreneur partner with a CEO who oversaw the largest corporation in the world to within a hairs width of bankruptcy? GM invested an “undisclosed amount of money” into Coskata in 2008 and then received millions in TARP money the following year. Looks like we paid twice, all of us. Cellulosic Ethanol plants require large swaths of land and maybe an over hyped bio-engineered crop or two, which Monsanto is poised to be an integral part of. 
The word "sustainable" is being thrown about and AlterNet asks if corporations have hijacked "sustainable." The answer is yes, and they are redefining the word to their advantage, hoping the rest of us don't notice. We do.
A sure bet on this is that certain Alabama business men, select politicians and lobbyists will get rich off of this deal whether it pans out or not. The USDA has cleared a $250 million dollar loan for the project that's been in the works for two years. More federal handouts will go to "farmers" who agree to grow crops for biomass use. We're really concerned that the normally environmentally conscientious dems are on board with this. Expect construction to be drawn out through Bentley's term to help him save face on his campaign promises of jobs, jobs, jobs.

On a national level, why did the Obama administration hold over the controversial former EPA head Carole Browner for so long before finally showing her the door?

And finally, how to rack up 557 violations and still be in business. Amazingly, it isn’t an Alabama coal company, it's Massey Energy, who else?

*Coskata is privately held, and to date has been funded entirely by its equity investors, including Khosla Ventures, Blackstone Cleantech Ventures and the Blackstone Group, Advanced Technology Ventures, GreatPoint Ventures, Total Energy Ventures International (part of Total, one of the world’s major Oil and Gas groups, and a top tier player in chemicals), Coghill Capital Management, General Motors, and Globespan Capital Partners.
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  1. Good grief what a collection of good stuff!

  2. The biofuels story is quite intriguing. Khosla has money to burn and if he loses a few million, which he won't because the federal government is propping up his endeavors, it won't hurt him.
    Where is the site and who owns the land and land around are good questions.
    "Front seldom tell truth. To know occupant of house, always look in backyard."
    Charlie Chan

  3. So, which one do I get really hot about first? I like this Max, maybe do it regular?

  4. Isn't this special....I can speed or pollute the environment and it will cost about the same.
    Wonders never cease.

  5. Vestavia is for snobs. No we all know it.
    Coal mining rules Alabama.
    There will be more federal propping to farmers who agree to grow biomass material through the Rural Development Act.
    God is nowhere to be found on Goat Hill.
    Massey is the devil incarnate.
    Bentley is an idiot who surrounds himself with yes men and never mind the morning coffee, I need aspirin already...
    The world is going crazy.

  6. Vecellio is in the biofuels business too aren't they? At least they claim to be, with Vecenergy subsidiary.

  7. I thought the republicans were dead set against out of control federal spending of taxpayers money.
    That must only apply when it is a democratic idea.
    A quarter of a billion for a few hundred jobs? Like it or not, McGregor was a better deal from an economic standpoint. Did he get run off for other reasons too?

  8. Hats off to you VAC, excellent sleuthing on some deep stuff!

  9. Man, what is in the water in Alabama?
    Oh, I get it, it's so poisoned that it makes everybody really nutty.
    Never, ever going set foot in the state! I feel sorry for you guys.

  10. Kagan is a Monsanto sympathizer and don't even get me started on USDA head Villsack, he's damn monster of Monsanto's!
    I swear I don't know what Obama is thinking sometimes...have we not learned what happens when Monsanto is around?

  11. Leftem is exactly right and I am afraid in all of the climate change fever the dems are being led around the maypole by Monsanto.
    YouTube clip is too damn funny! LOLOLOL And I can't stand Morris or Hannity.

  12. Preacher Daryl doesn't even live in Vincent. The quarry won't hurt him, but the people might if that church of snakes keeps treating Vincent like it's theirs.

  13. This discussion on Cellulosic Ethanol has been going in earnest for a few years now and I still have this to say about it:
    Generally, when a company needs government load guarantees and government grants to build a plant, it means they can not convince anyone that it makes economic sense to invest their own money in the business.

    There are exceptions but this usually means the plant, and some times they entire company, will be a failure. But not before someone gets a payday out of it and someone else, taxpayers, gets a fleecing in the process.

  14. A government loan huh? Hmmmm...I am always suspicious when the government is so generous with OUR money. GM claimed it paid back the government loans but sorry, no, not really.

    Don't Believe GM Hype

    It's always easier to be generous with someone else's money.


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