Out in Utah we have nine dead - six of them about to be entombed in Bob Murray's "evil mountain." The editor of the Emery County Progress made a jab at the media for looking like "environmentalists" and wrote: "I think of these environmentalist types and know they don't have a clue about coal mining. Probably 99 percent of them have never been in a coal mine, but they all reap the benefits of those who mine coal. Every time you flip on a light switch chances are that electricity came from a coal fired power plant."
Here's a news flash for Ms. Stoddard: West Virginians know coal mining. We have the disasters and the blisters to prove it. Many of us have been in a coal mine and we do think about the impact and the comfort of flipping on that light switch. But people that care about this earth and the life it supports don't deserve to be knocked around anymore than the coal miners deserve it. You will not hear a West Virginian showing disrespect for a coal miner.
Maybe some in the coal mining community are living on a different planet than the rest of us. I'm offended that someone would actually say that we don't know where our danged electricity comes from. We all know - and we know the price that we have to pay for it.
In West Virginia we are paying the ultimate price. Mountaintop removal is leveling our mountains, mucking up our drinking water, tearing up our roads, threatening our safety, driving away our young people, destroying our tourism industry - essentially bleeding many of our communities dry. And someone out there actually thinks we don't know coal mining. Now comes news that the President wants to expand this dastardly process.
The WV Coal Association says that Boone County, WV has the state's most coal and the largest number of high paying coal jobs. But last month's unemployment rate almost went through the roof. Our leaders, and I use that term lightly "the governor, the legislature, and our representatives in Congress" have abandoned West Virginia. Why? They want the coal industry to make money - and lots of it. And as I write Gov. Joe Manchin (D-WV) is packing off to China to sell coal mining equipment.
They will cater to and defend this ruthless industry to no end. They will point out the sacrifices made by miners, their families, the coal barons and the "yes men." They will not talk about retiring Richard Stickler from MSHA. Nor will they talk about renewable energy. And they will be hard pressed to talk about conservation as that will reduce instant profits and campaign contributions.
Here's where we draw the line in the sand. They will waste valuable time on plans to power this country, but the methods will be those that bring in fast cash. They will use phrases like "clean coal technology," "carbon capture" and my personal favorite, "national security."
On the other hand, we, the "environmentalists," the real stewards, will be the ones fighting against mountaintop removal. We will be the voice for renewable energy, clean water, clean air and stable jobs in healthy communities. We will rise up, for the future of our young people rather than just promising them a job in the coal mines.
The next time we head to the voting booth we will think about what got us into this terrible, terrible mess. And we will be prepared to make smarter choices. Given the present "state" of affairs it might be better to have no leadership than to be held hostage by what we have now.