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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 6/13/11

Mountaintop Removal: Environmental and Human Destruction for Profit

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Its mountains "are being blasted at a rate of several ridgetops each week. Parents fear for the health of their children. And those trying to fight the devastation have found that coal baron Don Blankenship, CEO of Massey Energy, is tougher than bedrock." So are his counterparts at Peabody Energy, Arch Coal, and CONSOL Energy.

Industry arrogance is hidden underground, except when avoidable disasters kill miners because its profiteers flout laws and regulations for bottom line priorities.

Above ground, miners rarely die, just the environment and human health incrementally over time. The visible evidence includes:

"mile after mile of forest-covered range, great swaths of Appalachia, in some places as far as the eye can see, are being blasted and obliterated in one of the greatest acts of physical destruction this country has ever wreaked upon" nature and humanity. 

They're sacrificed for King Coal profiteers, the 1917 title Upton Sinclair used for his novel about Western America's poor industry working conditions, based on the 1913-15 Colorado coal strikes, including at Ludlow.

In his "People's History of the United States," Howard Zinn poignantly described its 1913-14 strike and subsequent massacre, killing 75 or more strikers, strikebreakers, and bystanders for defying what he called "feudal kingdoms run by (coal barons that) made the laws," imposed curfews, and ran their operations more like despots than businessmen. To this day, little has changed.

As a result, something is very wrong, including in Whitesville, WV. "It looks desolate, its storefronts abandoned, its streets and sidewalks still. Hardly a car is parked here, not a soul to be seen." 

Only two florists remain. Though poor, West Virginians "buy a lot of funeral flowers. Whitesville resembles a wartime town pillaged by an advancing army." So do many others throughout Appalachia, raped by coal profiteers. For maximum profits, they denuded former panoramic landscapes, blasted away majestic mountaintops, and left desolation behind.

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I was born in 1934, am a retired, progressive small businessman concerned about all the major national and world issues, committed to speak out and write about them.

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