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ABC Sees Conservatives ‘Mounting an Unprecedented Assault on Environmental Regulations’

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 On Saturday’s World News, ABC anchor Dan Harris seemed to fret that the current debate over the budget is taking attention away from an "unprecedented assault" that is being "quietly" waged by conservatives "on environmental regulations." As the report from Blairs, West Virginia, focused on a coal mining technique that destroys the tops of mountains, correspondent Jim Sciutto featured two soundbites supporting restrictions on such mining with only one opposed.

And, while Harris in his introduction shined a light on conservatives as the group who want fewer mining regulations, the one soundbite that Sciutto included in the report that was on the more anti-regulation side was centrist Democratic Congressman Nick Rahall of West Virginia. And no liberal label was used for those who were shown supporting the regulations, including environmental activist John F. Kennedy, Jr.

Harris set up the piece:

And back in Washington tonight, while everybody's been focused on that huge debt debate, conservatives in the House of Representatives have quietly mounted an unprecedented assault on environmental regulations, including limits on a form of mining that literally shears the top off of mountains in order to get coal. This kind of mining is incredibly controversial, even pitting families in coal country against one another.

Sciutto began his report: "The coal underneath these beautiful West Virginia mountains has provided a living for generations of families here. But now, some of those families are fighting back against the coal companies."

In addition to a local resident opposing the loosening of restrictions, there later came a soundbite of left-wing environmental activist Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.:

JIM SCIUTTO: At ground level, you get a real sense of the scale of this because, with mountain top removal mining, all of this goes ... All of it dug up and pulverized for the coal underneath. But take a flight high above, and the landscape turns to moonscape. When environmental campaigner Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., saw it, filming a new documentary called The Last Mountain, he was overwhelmed.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., ENVIRONMENTALIST: If you try to blow up a mountain in the Berkshires or the Adirondacks or the Catskills or in Utah, you would be in, put in jail.

After noting a defense of the mining technique by the company that ownership rights to the area - Massey Energy - then came a brief soundbite from Congressman Rahall: "What it means is jobs, and what it means is keeping our lights on."

Sciutto concluded his report by going back to those who object to the mining technique:

Some in the community agree (with Congressman Rahall), as well. But, on the other side of an increasingly bitter struggle, are families like the Aleshires, who say their jobs are important, but so are the mountains they grew up with. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, Blair, West Virginia.

Below is a complete transcript of the report from the Saturday, July 30, World News on ABC:

DAN HARRIS: And back in Washington tonight, while everybody's been focused on that huge debt debate, conservatives in the House of Representatives have quietly mounted an unprecedented assault on environmental regulations, including limits on a form of mining that literally shears the top off of mountains in order to get coal. This kind of mining is incredibly controversial, even pitting families in coal country against one another. ABC’s Jim Sciutto tonight reports from West Virginia.

JIM SCIUTTO: The coal underneath these beautiful West Virginia mountains has provided a living for generations of families here. But now, some of those families are fighting back against the coal companies. So they're going to shave the top off that mountain?

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: Literally moving mountains.

KAREN ALESHIRE, AGAINST MOUNTAINTOP REMOVAL MINING: I told my grandchildren, you know, this place will be yours, but it may not be there.

SCIUTTO: Five hundred peaks and counting, literally blown up since the 1970s, all for the coal deep underground. At ground level, you get a real sense of the scale of this because, with mountain top removal mining, all of this goes: the trees, the soil, the ground I'm walking on, a couple of hundred feet up, a couple of hundred feet down. All of it dug up and pulverized for the coal underneath. But take a flight high above, and the landscape turns to moonscape. When environmental campaigner Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., saw it, filming a new documentary called The Last Mountain, he was overwhelmed.

ROBERT F. KENNEDY, JR., ENVIRONMENTALIST: If you try to blow up a mountain in the Berkshires or the Adirondacks or the Catskills or in Utah, you would be in, put in jail.

SCIUTTO: Massey Energy, which has the mining rights and is now owned by Alpha Resources, did not answer repeated requests to speak with us, but it’s called the mining cost-effective and safe, and claims to return the landscape close to its original state, filling in valleys to provide flat land for development. West Virginia Congressman Nick Rahall also defends mountaintop removal.

REP. NICK RAHALL (D-WV): What it means is jobs, and what it means is keeping our lights on.

SCIUTTO: Some in the community agree, as well.

CLIP OF PROTESTERS: A people, united.

SCIUTTO: But, on the other side of an increasingly bitter struggle, are families like the Aleshires, who say their jobs are important, but so are the mountains they grew up with. Jim Sciutto, ABC News, Blair, West Virginia

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    Tags: ABC, coal country, congressman nick, Conservatives & Republicans, Dan Harris, Environment, Jim Sciutto, john f kennedy jr, Nick Rahall, Regulation, robert f kennedy jr, west virginia, west virginia mountains, World News


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