Pan Appalachian Defender

Thursday, October 05, 2006


To the Editor,

Under the lingering smokescreen excuse of a war on terror, the US government has overextended the military in foreign occupation for oil warlords. Meanwhile at home, American citizens fend for ourselves while true terrorism rampages unchecked here in coal country.
Here in Appalachia is a war-torn landscape spanning several states. Here the Earth shakes under a steady barrage of explosions; more explosives are detonated here every week than were used in the Desert Storm War and the Invasion of Afghanistan combined. This is the face of modern coal extraction. Massive craters pepper the mountain chain, a pox of open wounds across the heartland of America’s natural resources. In all directions entire mountains have been bombed into dead-zones. Their peaks and ridges are blown apart, raining rubble and boulders into the forest valleys, the water systems, and the dependant communities below.
And yet our elected representatives express no outrage. In fact they only grease the wheels for this devastating take-all mockery of coal mining, ignoring the pleas of their terrorized constituency. The cowed, bought-and-paid-for news media takes pains to airbrush this unnatural disaster out of the picture they present as reality.
To witness this homespun terror we’d have to look beyond the green corridor of trees that remains alongside the highways of the Appalachian Mountains. This green corridor is the thin veil that separates what is observed through car windows from the harsh reality of Appalachia.
Here is the domestic terrorism that came with colonialism. Its kind has tormented this continent ever since outsiders first heard tell of wealth for the plundering (yellow gold at first), and started to clear the locals out of their way. To this day, bomber coal companies continue the destruction of local lives without hesitation or any sign of remorse. America is bombed and poisoned without relent, its people chased from their homes or killed in their beds by this swath of wanton, I say wanton, destruction.
Well-financed terrorist cells claim responsibility for these attacks in the name of their extremist profiteer agenda. They are greed-crazed fundamentalist terrorism incorporated, posing initially as the economic benefactors of the regions they invade. They call themselves Massey Coal, National Coal, Apollo Fuels, Peabody Coal, Mountainside Coal. They get their foot in the door by promising an economic boost to the areas surrounding the black gold they crave.
But when it’s all said and done, the community is abandoned to starve out under the discarded hair and bones of an ecosystem that’s been slaughtered, butchered, and sold to our electric utility companies. We buy it back as electricity and then it’s gone. All that’s left behind is the handful of silver coins for a few locals that got suckered into selling their people out cheap… that, and ruined land, noxious sludge, surging disease.
It is futile to negotiate with these fanatics. They can only understand dollar signs, and they are eager to commit a kind of regional suicide bombing that leaves the bomber rich and physically alive, striking again and again.
Day after day, explosions rip the horizon, chiseling down billions of years of mineral development in weeks. The forest wealth, the economic opportunities that would have helped to sustain us in the future - permanently wasted. The future of the surrounding areas is stolen in daylight. In its place we are paid generously in lake-sized open pits of toxic waste, soaring cancer rates due to ruined water and air, and an impoverished populace stranded in a landscape stripped, decapitated, and gutted of economic possibilities.
In a world that predicts its next wars will be fought over drinkable water, the Appalachian Mountains must become a national priority for the preservation of some of the oldest, purest and best producing natural watersheds on Earth.
The remaining springs of these mountains are an enduring and sustainable wealth, infinitely more valuable than the thin seams of brief fuel that lie beneath them.
The extremist profiteer invaders care nothing for the fact that springs and coal occur together, except for the convenience of water-seeps pointing out hiding coal. The springs are blasted apart with the mountain, their sources permanently fouled by exposing the quick-buck plunder underneath. The waterways that bring life into the valleys below are plugged and buried under each blast’s downpour of stone and silt.
This massive grave also entombs our cornucopia of medicinal herbs, wildcrafted plants that occur nowhere else in the world, the incredible diversity of wildlife, fish and game, and all else that brought tourism money into the local economy.
Nothing is done to bring these mad bombers to justice. They are given a blind eye by local, state, and federal governments. They are allowed to act with impunity despite the residents clawing for survival below. When toxic waste impoundments inevitably fail, sending floods of sludge and blackwater through the population clusters of the valleys, the resultant disasters are called “Acts of God” and those responsible are slapped on the wrist at best.
Coalfield residents live in fear of the instant threats to their safety: flying boulders and rock, flash floods and sludge spills. Children sleep in their shoes, fully dressed for fear of having to evacuate their homes during the night. Meanwhile, these communities contend daily with the diseases caused by a poisoned environment, and the despair that comes from scraping for survival in a violated homeland.
The mining industry destroys the potential for alternative economic land uses simply by going about its usual activities. This is why some agree to work for the companies that bring this destruction upon them. This is not your father’s coal mine where thousands were once employed to shaft-mine underground for coal.
Now only a few are needed for the job of bombing a mountaintop off of a seam. The work is quickly done and Big Terror moves on, taking the riches and the handful of dangerous jobs with it.
Mountaintop removal, cross-ridge mining, cross-contour mining, tip mining, and strip mining are names used to make bomb-mining for coal sound more reasonable on paper. The bounty of this one-time harvest, the black golden egg torn from each magic goose, is then presented to an energy-ravening nation as “cheap” electricity. The true costs: human, natural, and economic… go unmentioned. In a moment the treasures are burnt and spent, spewed into the sky’s thickening haze of greenhouse pollutants.
Buying electricity produced by Bomber Coal supports the terrorism that is being carried out on our own people in this country right now. Please begin to withdraw your support by demanding that your utility companies and government provide power through methods that do not sacrifice our American communities, our sustainable resources, our hopes and our lives.
Wayne Helms
Bath County,
Eastern Kentucky


At 4:47 PM, Blogger Lahurongirl said...

I just found your blog and I can't wait to read it all! Keep up the good work. The TVA is evil!

Lisa Miller
Boone NC


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