The unfolding story of this country's worst oil spill has a familiar ring in Kentucky because of what our experience with coal has taught us to expect:
Corporate management that puts production above all.
Cozy relationships between regulators and the regulated.
Government agencies that behave more as servants of industry than enforcers of the law.
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Profound damage to the environment, people and culture of a region.
"National sacrifice zone" is the phrase coined by author Jeff Goodell to describe what the rapacious stripping of coal to generate electricity has made of Kentucky and West Virginia.
Now our thirst for oil threatens to exact an equally high price from the Gulf of Mexico, turning its beaches, marshes, bayous, people and wildlife into another national sacrifice zone.
Last week, as it was revealed that BP and the federal government had been grossly underestimating the size of the spill, The New York Times reported that BP used the riskier of two methods to seal the well, partly for financial reasons.
Eleven people died in the April 20 explosion which, according to BP's investigation, came after five hours of warning signs that something was wrong.
The failure of the rig's blowout preventers raise questions about whether the safety devices would work on other Gulf rigs.
The Washington Post reported that the federal agency responsible for regulating offshore drilling has repeatedly ignored warnings from government scientists about environmental risks in order to quickly approve permits. This is the same agency whose ethics-challenged employees became notorious for exchanging sex, drugs and gifts with members of the industries they were supposed to police.
While nothing quite that sensational has come to light in the coalfields, there have been repeated examples, from the Martin County slurry spill to underground mining disasters, of government agencies enabling the industry to take dangerous shortcuts. Not to mention the abdication of responsibility by state and federal agencies that enabled the destruction of hundreds of miles of streams and the wholesale leveling of mountains in the absence of legitimate plans for post-mining land use.
The people of the Appalachian Mountains and Louisiana bayous have a lot more in common than fiddle tunes and distinctive accents.
More than most, they are called on to sacrifice to satisfy this nation's appetite for fossil fuels. And more than most, they are economically dependent on energy production.
Something else that the regions have in common: The easily accessible reserves of oil and coal have been depleted. One reason the BP well has been so hard to plug is because it's a mile underwater and reaches five miles beneath the ocean's floor.
Extracting what remains of this country's coal and oil will require ever greater risks to human life and the environment.
Add that to all the other reasons for aggressively promoting conservation and renewable energy.