They will come again this year, the mountaineers and the Kentuckians, to their state Capitol, demanding only that there be no more mountaintops removed and that our sacred earth be no longer scarred.
They will meet with the new governor. He will listen but will not hear; his ear is attuned to coal barons he has appointed to his environmental cabinets.
King Coal’s allies are many and powerful. Almost all of our recent governors have been in his pocket. (Ironically, during the past gubernatorial election, both candidates met with King Coal on two separate, secret occasions). As the 2016 legislative session meets in Frankfort, some of its members no doubt are beholden to King Coal.
In the 2014 U.S. Senate race, our most cynical senator used a mythical “war on coal” to ensure his re-election. He blamed the current U.S. administration’s environmental policies for coal’s decline when, in reality, it’s due to other factors, including cheaper energy, such as natural gas, and the fact that coal can be mined cheaper in other states.
Let us concede, however, that King Coal has provided cheap electricity for this state and, for a long time, provided good jobs to the people of Eastern Kentucky. But he also has contributed greatly to the pollution of the state’s air and water and to numerous health problems, such as black lung.
George B. Hanrahan Jr.