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Coal River Mountain Redux





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Below is an update to the Coal River Mountain story that I described earlier in an e-mail, in an op-ed, and in "Storms of My Grandchildren".

Mike Roselle, of Climate Ground Zero in West Virginia, has an op-ed regarding his upcoming trial in Raleigh County, West Virginia. He was arrested for trespass while protesting blasting near the Brushy Fork impoundment of 8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge located directly above Marsh Fork Elementary School. (No word yet on trial date for Larry Gibson, Daryl Hannah and me regarding our arrest on 23 June 2009 for "obstruction", when I was reading a request that Massey Energy provide funds for a new elementary school at a safe distance).

I got drawn into this by students at Virginia Tech, who fed me all the details when I gave a talk on their campus a couple of years ago. Underground Appalachian coal mining is being replaced in recent years by mountaintop removal. Big companies come in, dynamite the tops of the mountains, push the debris into the valleys, gather the coal from seams that are only several feet thick, and throw grass seed on what remains.

The number of jobs with this coal mining practice is small, and it leaves the environment in a shambles, the streams and underground water heavily polluted. But it pays off big for the few guys at the top. The head of Massey Energy, Don Blankenship, was paid $17.8 million in 2009 plus $27.2 million in deferred compensation. They must also have a lot of political clout, as it is hard to see how this abominable practice could continue otherwise. Continued...

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