Coal Cowards Take Name Off Dead Resolution
As you may have read in my post “Strange Goings-on in the WV Statehouse,” a resolution in support of a windfarm atop Coal River Mountain was tabled (killed) by the speaker before its sponsors could even speak on its behalf. Amazingly, things got even stranger yesterday when four delegates stood in session and requested that their names be removed from the dead and rotting resolution. The four dishonorable misrepresentatives were Jeff Eldridge (Lincoln), Ralph Rodighiero (Logan), John Ellem (Wood), and Tom Louisos (Fayette).
What could possibly be the reason for all this quirky behavior over an innocuous resolution?
Rory Mcllmoil, who lobbied for the passage of the resolution, sheds some light on the mystery:
The day before I turned in the resolution, so it was March 26th, we left the sign up sheet in Linda Sumner’s office (R-Raleigh) for only two minutes. We left the office after a long meeting with her (she was the last delegate from the county we needed to sign on), went up the elevator, realized we had left the sheet, went back and got it, didnt think anything of it. Continued on with our lobbying.
At the end of the day, when nearly everyone had left (this was around 5:30), I was walking out of the House side toward the well and I saw Linda standing at the well with Raney[President of the Friends of Coal Association–the coal industry’s pr head] with a sheet of paper in her hand and they were both looking at it. I walked around the well and ended up looking right over Raney’s shoulder, and Linda was going over a copy of our sign up sheet – which at this point had 42 co-sponsors – name by name with Raney. That night there was a reception help by Consol at which Raney and a number of delegates attended.
I showed up at the Capitol the next morning to continue lobbying and immediately Delegates Stan Shaver and Bill Hartman (?) approached me and took their names off. I added one name and then decided to cut my losses and turned the resolution and sign-up sheet into the clerk’s office.
Raney continued to lobby against the resolution, and as we continued to lobby for support should the resolution come to the floor, we heard all sorts of comments that the coal folks were painting the Reso as being anti-coal, that delegates didn’t want to sign-on to or support something that, even though it explicitly recognized the contribution of coal to WV and Raleigh County, was being perceived as anti-coal, and that some delegates were getting freaked out about signing on or supporting given what the EPA was doing [reviewing mtr permits before the DEP rubber stamps them].
So there you have it. King Coal pulled the strings and his puppets began to dance.
The Coal Industry likes to be the only game in town. Government officials and coalfield residents are much more likey to put up with its atrocities when it is the only major source of jobs. The prospect of a windfarm is a major threat. It would be a concrete example of an alternative use for the “mountains too rugged for anything but mountaintop removal.” It would provide permanent and safe jobs without ruining the surrounding environment. In essence, a windfarm would be everything a mountaintop removal site isn’t. Such a contrast would be just terrible for King Coal’s image.
Let the dreams of a sustainable community be blown away with our beautiful mountains.