Those who profit from mountaintop removal often justify the practice by claiming it is good for the United States. Take Don Blankenship, the CEO of Massey Energy, who at his pro-mountaintop removal labor day extravaganza–called the “Friends of America Rally”–literally dressed in the American flag and proclaimed that the EPA’s increasing concern about strip-mining put “America itself” at risk. According to Blankenship and others, because coal companies can cheaply extract coal by simply blowing up the mountains that shelter it rather than paying a large workforce to mine it, they can keep the price of energy low enough so that Americans can afford to power their great cities, factories, and homes.
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[I wrote this about two years ago, when I found out that Tomblin was boasting to mountaintop removal opponents that he was going to be the next governor.]
Earl Ray Tomblin is the President of West Virginia’s State Senate and he wants to be governor. Tellingly, for 35 years he has represented Logan County, arguably the most corrupt county in the nation. Logan’s failing sunshine review grade and the latest vote buying scandal only scratch the surface.
There are two very distinct groups of outsiders who are active in the coalfields. The first group comes in heed of the call of Mammon, to make a quick buck by destroying mountains and taking away their coal. The second group is here only because of the first; it comes in heed of the call of citizens who have reached out in desperation to save their homelands.