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Charleston Daily Mail (West Virginia)

It Isn't Radical to Want to Preserve Mountains

Coal companies are the extremists in this scenario

Julian Martin

In a column headlined "Congress must rein in an arrogant EPA," president Bill Raney of the West Virginia Coal Association invoked "jobs and "families" five times.

Not once did he mention the real reason for the massive destruction of our mountains - coal company profit.

Raney does not represent miners and their families. He represents coal companies that pay him to be their spokesperson.

If coal companies can make more money by replacing people with machines, that is what they will do.

They are in the business of making money, not protecting jobs or families, as Raney would lead us to believe.

Since my dad was an underground miner, coal companies have replaced 100,000 coal mining jobs with machines.

Raney tries to divert our attention away from mountaintop removal by accusing President Obama of being anti-coal and anti-business.

For sure, the Environmental Protection Agen-cy under President Obama is doing a better job of enforcing mountaintop removal mining laws than did Bush the younger.

This was not difficult.

How can a president who bailed out Wall Street and General Motors qualify as anti-business? Employees, executives and political action committees of large corporations gave several million dollars to Obama's campaign for president and for his inauguration.

Patriot Coal's Hobet 45 strip mine in Lincoln County is a good example of what EPA is really doing.

It allowed that permit to go ahead with "only" three miles of headwater streams filled in instead of six. To the EPA, it is OK for three miles of ecologically vital streams to be smothered in coal mining waste.

Patriot Coal will be able to mine 91 percent of the coal in its original permit. This doesn't sound like anti-coal or anti-business.

It sounds very close to the Bush II administration.

Because we exhale carbon dioxide, Raney wrote, "How harmful could that be?"

That question was aimed at an ignorant audience, which is bad aim, since most editorial readers are not ignorant people.

Every respected scientist knows that too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere can cause serious climate change. None claim it isn't happening or that carbon dioxide is harmless.

Raney continues to try to hang the label of "radical" on those who want our mountains to be unmolested.

But what could be more radical than blowing mountaintops away in the Mountain State?

Raney represents the radical, out-of-state, environmental extremists called coal companies.

His article ridicules environmental justice as if he can't imagine that there are some silly people who want justice more than money.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

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Julian Martin, who lives in Charleston, is vice president for state affairs of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy.

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