Thursday, Feb. 11 is I Love Mountains Day.
If you haven’t told your boss that you’ll be going to Frankfort to protest mountaintop removal coal mining and will thus be unable to come to work, you should. You might also mention that, as our country seems to be transitioning pretty smoothly into a military police state, there’s a 50 percent chance you’ll get locked up for your efforts, so you’ll be taking a long weekend as well.
Pack a couple of stalwart friends into the station wagon, along with all that righteous indignation you’ve been saving, and go. It’s important.
Let’s review some of the basics:
We need power in the commonwealth, and we’ve got loads of coal. Giant faceless energy conglomerates are pretty sure they’re entitled to more money at any cost … and we’ve got loads of coal. The quickest way to get it is by dismantling mountains one blast at a time, which makes about as much sense as smashing a Fabergé egg with a 9-pound hammer to make a Denny’s omelet.
In a race to secure the title of Worst Damn Thing That’s Ever Happened in Kentucky, the environmental genocide pursuant with mining coal is giving the devastation of burning it some stiff competition.
“Well, Mr. fancy pants columnist, you got any better ideas about how to supply the power needs of Kentucky while maintaining jobs in a crapshoot economy?”
It won’t secure jobs or keep the lights on, but locking anybody with a Friends of Coal bumper sticker in a dungeon and forcing them to Google “sustainable energy” for eternity on a solar-powered computer would be cool. Outside of that, I don’t have many answers, and I don’t care, because those things are of secondary consideration to the issues that are actually important.
The problem is that a cabal of Monstrous Fuckers is laying waste to one of the most ancient and uniquely speciated ecosystems on the planet. This is PERMANENT destruction, and it’s happening in our home. These filthy criminals routinely and literally poison the wells of their own employees and neighbors, causing indisputable health risks like cancer, chronic heart and lung disease, birth defects, etc. ad nauseam.
There’s a trail of blood and money and sludge running from Eastern Kentucky all the way to Frankfort and beyond.
Nothing is worth this devastation. Give me routine rolling blackouts. Let me pedal a stationary bike attached to dynamo if I need to watch TiVo so badly — I don’t care. What we’re saying is that mountaintop removal mining is no longer an option. Stop it, and figure out another way.
“What about the mining communities and the folks who depend on those jobs?”
Look, I know that I’ve lead a charmed existence. I nearly got an English degree from the University of Louisville, and I am employable. I’ve also bounced around from one unskilled labor job to the next for nearly 15 years, and they’re all about the same. If the Friends of Coal in Appalachia need to maintain their “way of life” so badly that they’ll lie down while their babies get sick drinking toxic waste, then shame on them. Forgive me if my sympathy for the “culture of coal mining” is strained to the point of breaking. Your average King Coal supporter gives exactly two shits about cultural sensitivity. I’m not feeling very sensitive either, and I find it pretty easy to call a spade a spade.
To my detractors who may reasonably argue that this column is a load of reductionist hyperbole: Does it actually matter if the situation deserves a more measured discussion than I’ve achieved in a 750-word rant? Fuck no. What matters is that a handful of lawless thugs are defiling Mother Nature, killing Kentuckians and telling us that it’s all done-on-your-behalf-now-would-you-kindly-step-aside. Isn’t that all you need to know?
Your voice allegedly counts for something. If you really can’t make it this Thursday, you may assuage your conscience by convincing all your friends and relatives to pick up the damn phone and call the Legislative Message Center at 1-800-372-7181. An operator will tell you who your state senator and representative are, then take a message, which will be forwarded to the appropriate offices. Tack the governor on there while you’re at it.
As if ecological Armageddon wasn’t enough, the Friends of Coal lobby has also befouled the genre formerly known as “country music” with crap propaganda. YouTube the band Halfway to Hazard’s gem “Heaven.” God help us. Please?