By Stanley Sturgill
It seems like every time I pick up a newspaper, watch the news on television or just check out the posts on Facebook, there has been some kind of poison dumped or spilled into our drinking water sources or across our land.
On a daily basis we are having oil spills, coal ash spills, oil and gas drill-rig blowouts. Oil pipelines are breaking and spilling millions of gallons of petroleum. Coal prep plant chemicals and slurry spills continue to happen. Petroleum hauling accidents are spilling thousands of gallons into our drinking water streams.
We've also got confirmed destruction of our drinking water sources from hydraulic fracking, including the types of fracking that are presently making southeastern Kentucky look like a pin cushion. Every day all of this and more are polluting our drinking water streams, creeks, rivers and water wells.
I could go on and on and try to list just the ones that have occurred this year to date, but that probably would be impossible. Impossible because there have been as many as three or more reported spills, explosions, blowouts or other accidents in just one day. I doubt there would be enough room to list them all.
As I was writing this on Feb. 13, Kentucky television news reported a natural gas line explosion in Adair County creating up to a 60-foot crater and requiring evacuations.
I ask everyone reading this, just how long must we suffer through this kind of abuse from the fossil-fuel energy industries? It appears that accidents like this are being publicized as acts of God or some other natural disaster that could not be helped. I say this is hideous propaganda or horse manure that the fossil-fuel industry and its politicians want us to believe. Especially here in Kentucky.
Seems as if the only ally we have for Kentucky to defend against this kind of abuse is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, the EPA is berated with words of profanity in our state. The EPA rules and regulations that protect the very water we need for drinking, the land we live on, our entire environment, are constantly being attacked from all sides.
A few years back, our governor and the Kentucky Coal Association even sued the EPA for its efforts to protect our precious drinking water sources. Gov. Steve Beshear made it plain to the EPA: "Get off our backs." There was a proposal in the legislature that went so far as to make Kentucky a coal sanctuary state. Actually it would seem our whole state already is a free-for-all fossil-energy sanctuary state.
I'm not writing to argue with the governor or anyone else about the so-called "war on coal" or the loss of coal jobs or any other jobs.
I'm addressing the fact that unless something is done and done soon to change the way the fossil-fuel energy business handles the extraction, storage and movement of its products, we're all going to be in trouble.
If we continue to ignore that day by day our environment, drinking water, our land and mountains are being destroyed for the sake of putting more money in industries' pockets, we are going to be without a world as we now know it.
Can we go on being abused by the energy industry? Yes, we can, but not without severe consequences to all of us.
Think about it. Think about the folks in West Virginia. We live downstream from them. Think about what you might be drinking at this very moment. Is all the fossil fuel in the world worth your or your family's life? When will we demand to live according to our God-given right to live?
An old Cree Indian prophecy says: "Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten."
Stanley Sturgill of Lynch is a retired underground coal miner.