Saturday, October 20, 2012

About coal

Winnie wondered how I felt about the candidates' debate regarding coal.

I don't think there's such a thing as "clean coal." On that, President Obama and I disagree.

I think ALL candidates who appear to support coal miners are really supporting coal company owners. It's the owners, after all, who make campaign contributions. It's the miners and their families who breathe the dirtiest air, drink the dirtiest water and suffer the most severe health problems due to the disregard of environmental protections.

And, of course, the disregard of safety protections results in loss of life and the complete shutdown of a mine.

The bottom line on coal is that its days are waning. Coal is not a renewable resource and it's getting more and more expensive to extract what's left. Coal mine owners know this and have publicly said it, as has former Senator Byrd (oh, how we miss him here in West Virginia) and current Senator Rockefeller.

There are far fewer coal mining jobs available with the advent of mechanized extraction. To blame the loss of jobs on the EPA or on President Obama is just wrong. Blame it on the owners. They want to make money. It is more profitable to buy a machine than to pay several miners' wages and benefits. Oh, and machines don't die if there's an accident. There's always the threat of that pesky little PR problem when human beings work underground.

Don't get me started on mountaintop removal. There's an SUV in our neighborhood sporting a sticker on the back window that says "This vehicle paid for by mountaintop removal mining." I find that unbelievably offensive.

A friend and WV native has said repeatedly that this state would have been better off had that first lump of coal never been found. His point is that we would have looked elsewhere for ways to attract people to the state. We're trying now, but it's too little, too late. Mining is entrenched in some families and they feel there are no other options. They're right, too, unless they move.

But how do you sell a home that's black with coal dust? And where do you go when jobs have always been scarce? The coal industry currently provides between 20,000 and 30,000 jobs. (At its peak, in the 1940s, that number was slightly more than 130,000.) Our state had 1,213,231 registered voters as of 2011. You do the math. Politicians who support coal mining are working awfully damned hard for very few votes.

The "War on Coal" is a PR win for the mining industry. Bottom line, though – it's a lie.

Okay, enough about that. Time for me to get busy making donut-hole acorns and slicing apples to dip in caramel sauce and filling a vat with spaghetti sauce. It's not often I get to cook for eight!

4 comments:

  1. i am so glad you wrote this. For people like me who aren't versed in the knowledge it was very very helpful. My dad was raised in Johnstown PA and left when he was 17. Steel was their way of life, but it was coming to and end there (as they knew it), and so, he moved and came here. He LOVED his home and it is sad that the industry fell out, but nothing has replaced it. We went there as kids to try and live, but there was no work. It is always sad for us. I can see the cycle of not being able to sell your home etc. I think oil companies and gas companies are the same as the coal companies, the bottom line defines it. i hope the new generation of WV are like you and realizing they need to learn other trades and maybe good politicians can help bring other industries there. I got to your state once with my late hubby, and do you know, he was taken by the beauty and wanted to retire there. We came across a Golden Delicious apple festival, and we loved it. Coal shouldn't be the first thing people think of when you think of WV.

    Enjoy making a vat of spaghetti sauce and the donut hole acorns (those look soooo good!) Eat a few for me.

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  2. I really enjoy reading your posts. You are passionate about these causes, and about the people affected. Thank you for sharing, and yes, enjoy cooking for eight!

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  3. I enjoyed reading this and getting the facts. Thank you! To me it is hard to figure out what is fact and fiction when listening to presidential candidates. They will say anything to get elected.
    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com

    Kathy

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  4. I wonder if you have the "So-and-so Betrayed Coal" campaign up there that we have down here. It's really disturbing...as if coal were these politicians' wives that they left for a mistress.

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