Glad I Don’t Live In Eastern Kentucky
Mountaintop removal mining is a process whereby massive explosions destroy Appalachian mountaintops. Gigantic earth movers and the like come in and mine dirty coal. Once the coal is extracted, the rocks and trees that were blown to smithereens are shoved down the mountain to fill the natural valley.
It is ugly as hell.
But not as ugly as the coal mining industry who is fighting to keep the right to destroy one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth.
Ashley Judd is from Eastern Kentucky. She gave an eloquent, thoughtful, smart, well researched speech to the National Press Club about what mountaintop removal mining is doing to the area and its people.
“I grew up in Kentucky, and like so many Appalachians, just seeing our beautiful mountains and valleys tells me I am home,” Judd said in the recent video. “Our mountains are our heritage and our legacy to future generations. But big coal companies are using explosives to literally blow the tops off the mountains, extract the coal, and destroy Appalachia.”
Here’s how the coal mining industry is responding…
This sign appeared at a golf tournament held at a golf course built on one of the former mountaintops. StoneCrest Golf Club is one of the reclamation projects the big coal mines point to as a “success.”
However, now that Google is mapping every square inch of the globe – including areas that were not accessible by the public – the vastness of the mountains that have been destroyed in eastern Kentucky and West Virginia is being revealed.
These former mountains will be “reclaimed” as grasses and little trees are planted on the plateaus.
Bullshit. Mountaintop removal mining needs to stop entirely. Yesterday.
65% of American citizens are against mountaintop removal mining. Look at the contrast between the top picture and the one above. Who in their right mind can say that mountaintop removal mining should not be stopped?
The coal industry and those who barely scratch out a living mining coal, that’s who.
If I lived in Eastern Kentucky, I would be even more of an outcast. But I live in Western Kentucky above a cave system – mostly empty, except for the storm water the city dumps down there. If they ever discover a need for sinkholes to provide electricity, this part of Kentucky will be sooooo screwed.
Ashley Judd – the Appalachian child who grew up barefoot, in rags, and starving because her father couldn’t find a job – I don’t think so. She is not the image the public has of an Appalachian child.
If Ashley Judd doesn’t like the coal mining, then she should buy the ground to protect it, not tell others what to do with their property. She’s just another busy-body nosing into other people’s business.
Free speech in this country gives the coal industry every right to speak their mind on the issue as Ms. Judd has.
It is unfair to compare those two pictures. It is like comparing a forest photo to a photo just after a forest fire. You should be comparing a reclaimed ground picture with the first picture. I bet few people would then notice much difference.
This type of mining is much safer than sending men into the depths of the earth to get trapped and provides jobs to financially stricken areas.
The people who are not in their right mind are those who would like no private property rights and see this country without a coal and oil industry. Sorry, Sixty, I really like you, but I certainly disagree with you on this.
@Catch Her In The Wry: Ashley Judd isn’t my cup of tea either, but Congress likes her pretty face and often that’s what it takes to get their attention. She did not grow up in the conditions you describe. So? She has seen what black lung and dirty air and poor education can do to a region. She is an activist.
So you are one of those “private property overrules all” people, hey? Remind me not to eat in your restaurant that isn’t inspected. etc. etc. Gummit is involved in every business and all private property. Sometimes good, sometimes bad. In this case, if gummit won’t look after the environment, preserve and protect it, who will?
Your analogy about the forest is way off. Forest fires are most often natural, sometimes accidental, hardly ever on purpose. There is never a profit motive to destroy a forest by fire.
Mountaintops are being destroyed only for profit.
Also comparing mountaintop extermination and underground mining on a safety issue is irrelevant. One is ugly, the other is unsafe. Both are very bad. It’s not an either/or matter.
Five hundred – 500!!! mountaintops have been destroyed.
Simple answer to the question posed in the stupid sign:
When Ashley Judd removes her top, she beautifies the environment — for those who notice. When Big Coal removes mountains’ tops, it screws up the environment — for everyone, whether they notice or not.
Note to Catch:
The rationale that destroying the environment provides needed jobs is bullshit. Joining the Nazi Party provided needed jobs for Germans. Slavery helped the plantation economy. The British Empire’s world domination offered employment to lots of people. America’s war machine creates plenty of work. Are you prepared to justify atrocities just because they might be good for a nation’s economy. Sometimes, universal moral imperatives should take precedence over people’s jobs, don’t you think?
@Larry: Whoa, dude! At least you didn’t compare Judd’s Jugs to mountaintops.
I know you read Catch, so I won’t tell you to back off, she can handle it! (but I loved your comparisons.)
I assume that since you are both so strongly against this practice, you are living off the electrical grid (which is fueled mostly by coal in Kentucky, I believe) and are not indirectly subsidizing this industry by paying a monthly electrical bill. It is quite common for radical environmentalists not to practice what they preach.
Living in a primarily agricultural area and personally owning farm and recreational property, I probably have a much better understanding of the delicate balance between man and nature than you do. It is in our best interests to be stewards of the land, yet benefit from it.
For thousands of years, man has harvested the Earth to benefit himself, and generation after generation human ingenuity has created ways to reuse, reclaim and sustain the land. This industry is no different.
Larry: To equate an industry that benefits mankind and raises the standard of living of man to employment in a field (Nazis and slavery) that murders and violates human rights is totally nonsense and irrelevant.
Catch Her in The Wry: No, I can’t afford to live off the grid because dirty coal is so cheap. So I haven’t put my money where my mouth is. But blowing the tops off mountains should be stopped. Everyone would pay a tiny bit more for electricity if this source of coal went away. Tiny.
I’m a radical!!! Hardly, I’m was a golfer – where pesticides and herbicides flourish – and water is wasted freely. Where nature doesn’t stand a chance. Radical – I like that sound. 🙂
As a gentlewoman farmer, you are much more careful than the corporate farms who must squeeze every dollar from every acre. I grew up rural. (300 people in our town) and my dad earned his living selling goods and services to farmers.
Mountaintop mining is raping of the land. I wish we were a nuclear power country, but Three Mile Island killed that for a generation. Hopefully this generation will see the closing of underground mining – and elimination of these unsafe, unhealthy, underpaid jobs that mine the exact cause of poor air quality and global warming.
Oh, I can’t resist arguing with a smart person whose intellect I respect. So:
No, to my chagrin I’m not living off the electrical grid. Nor have I given up using oil. I’ve also not stopped watching TV, or moved out of Kentucky. Hell, I don’t even boycott canned stringbeans. But I do criticize all of those things.
The typical American response to criticism is to say: love it or leave it. That’s not a way to make things better; it’s a way to maintain a flawed status quo.
My mentions of slavery, Nazis, imperialism and the American war machine were not comparisons to Big Coal. They were merely responses to your knee-jerk comment that coal mining provides jobs. So does drug trafficking and child prostitution. All I was saying is that “providing jobs” is not a criterion for whether or not we should support a specific activity.
[G]eneration after generation, human ingenuity has created ways to reuse, reclaim and sustain the land.
Hell, when did you turn into Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm? The Catch I know is a cheery cynic. Human ingenuity goes hand-in-hand with human greed, arrogance, and stupidity. You do watch the news, don’t you?
Yes, we humans have the capability to do amazing things. But to sit idly by, without speaking our minds, waiting for some genius to come up with a solution to a bad situation is not a workable answer. Because some situations get to the point at which they can no longer be solved.
Ask the dodo or the passenger pigeon about that, or the many species on the brink of extinction because of man’s “ingenuity.” Yes, it might be possible to reclaim the mountaintop ecosystems and their beauty. But is that a good reason for making such reclamation necessary?
It is amazing that Americans haven’t starved to death since they ate the last passenger pigeon. The species served its purpose in feeding the hungry (especially slaves), and we now have other species of bird that can be commercially grown and keep people from starving. Humans learned to adapt. I honestly don’t hear many people pining for the days of passenger pigeon au vin.
I did not say that providing jobs was the only criteria to evaluate whether or not an industry is beneficial to a region, just as blowing a mountaintop off should not be the only criteria to criticize an industry. In economic development, we look at the entire picture, weigh the benefits against the harm, and support industry that will help the residents with increases in revenues, employment opportunities, standard of living, with as minimal environmental impact as possible.
I also did not say “love it or leave it.” I do think one should be consistent with his opinions through words and actions. One of the best ways to voice opposition to something is with the pocketbook. The best thing about capitalism is that when people quit giving their money to an enterprise, the market dries up and the enterprise goes extinct. Just like the dodo.
Destroying mountains is not economic development. It takes far fewer workers – but highly skilled ones – to blow up mountains and drive those big trucks. The people that used to crawl down mine shafts are not benefiting from job growth because of mountaintop mining – just the opposite is true. These people who have black lung are losing their jobs and health insurance with no place to turn.
History lesson: in 1973 – yes just 37 years ago – there was a war in Harlan County, Kentucky when miners voted to join the union. Rent the movie: “Harlan County USA : struggle to unionize a coal mine” Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCiVMngILEI and tell me this is an honorable industry.
I only chose mountaintop raping because this is a fairly recent development.
Since our electricity is a monopoly, we have no choice. BTW: a lot of our electricity comes from the Tennessee Valley Authority, which dammed up rivers to create hydroelectric plants. The coal leaves Kentucky to fuel the eastern seaboard grid.
I can proudly say I have no use for coal. I went off grid last year. Hey, once the mountain tops are gone, that’s it. So plant them in grass and small trees. It will never be the same. Coal should be crushed into the ground. It’s a thing of the past
Unfortunatley some of us have to pay a price for the rest of society. Its usually the poor in rural areas. There is no other place in the United States that is getting its mountains removed except Eastern Kentucky and Western Virginia. This is the poorest region in the continental U.S. Its debabteable if the Mississippi delta region is poorer. I also want to point out this is one of the least educated places and people are in the poorest health. Look at the smoking rates in WV and KY. 1/4-1/3 of these States residents are heavy smokers. Obesity also plaques these states. The government does not care about this region. I will say it again, “no one cares about central appalchia” except for the coal companies. There would be no coal mining in NY, MA, NH, VT, ME or anywhere in the Northeast because its residents are more educated and the government cares more about this region.
My advice to the people of Central appalachia in the coal mine areas- Move out fast! There are plenty of cities around the region that provide jobs and are cheap to live in. Look at Cincinnati, Columbus, Pittsburgh, Washington DC, Baltimore, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Richmond VA, Knoxville TN. The cycle of surface mining is the equivalent of a economic binge. The short effect is a huge economical boost the surrounding towns. The long term effect is a massive hangover that never goes away.