by Ari Wile
I see the bumper sticker canvassed on vehicles across Southern Appalachia, it reads “Friends of Coal”. When asked why be a friend of coal, supporters say that it provides jobs, boosts the local economy, keeps the lights on, provides clean energy and is the proud tradition of the area – standard answers provided for easy regurgitation by the coal companies’ marketing campaigns. These marketing strategies miss one key word that will always be associated with coal, no matter how you try to sugar coat it: death.
Ben Jervey’s recent article in GOOD, Nuclear Accidents and All, Coal is by Far the Deadliest Energy Source, explains exactly why we should take pause and examine our “friendships.” It’s just not worth it. There are better ways to use the land and create energy.
“For every person killed by nuclear power generation, 4,000 die due to coal, adjusted for the same amount of power produced,” reported Jervey.
America would refuse to be friends with a country that killed 4,000 of its people, yet not only are we friends of the coal industry but we allow this monster to rape our land and the people who live on it.
In Fayetteville, W.Va, home to some of the world’s most renowned whitewater rafting, the local residents who make a living in nature-based tourism are fighting to stop the permits of yet another short-sighted mountain top removal project. Frasure Creek Mining Co. has proposed a 3,000-acre mountaintop removal site on the mountain range between Fayetteville, Oak Hill and Page W.Va.
West Virginia is abundant with awe-inspiring mountains, forests and wildlife while one of the state’s top and most promising industries is tourism. This project will not only scare away tourists due to its loud explosions, the eye-sore of missing mountains, dangerous toxic sludge runoff and the heavy highway traffic of huge coal trucks, but it is going to ruin the land of Fayette County forever. Pollution will fill the air and waterways, the wild animals will move and die off, and the residents will be at risk for long-term health problems as a result of the invasive mining. In Fayetteville, it’s rare to find someone who truly considers coal a good friend.
To learn more about how you can end mountain top removal, visit I Love Mountains.
Photo: Kayford Mountain, West Virginia
Despite the massive scale of these operations, they are almost impossible to see from the ground. This enormous dragline (center right) at work on a mountaintop removal operation near Kayford Mountain, W.Va., is 22-stories high.
Taken on October 13, 2003.
photo by Vivian Stockman
Mountain near Rawl, West Virginia
Largely hidden from most Americans, a highly destructive form of coal mining called mountaintop removal has devastated 1 million acres in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains. People across America use electricity that is at least partially generated by mountaintop removal coal, but it is a small amount that could easily come from cleaner sources of energy.
Appalachian Voices flight courtesy of SouthWings. photo by Kent Kessinger.
This picture is part of the National Memorials for the Mountains photo stream, hosted by www.ilovemountains.org.