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.
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!