Saturday, June 04, 2011

Have You Heard?

Have you heard WMC's radio ad extolling the virtues of a 21 mile-long strip mine in "Little Iron County?" I'm told there are several versions of it running around the state touting the Jobs and Unicorns Bill or Jobs Forever and Ever, Amen Bill or some such misnamed nonsense.

WMC claims thousands of jobs for decades while making claims for some sort of environmental protection. "Minnesota and Michigan have done it," they declare, without any acknowledgement of the degradation of the land in those places; the rust-colored ground water and the tap water that tastes like a bloody nose.

There's a new movie out that explains a lot about modern mining.

“If you try to do what they do in West Virginia in the Berkshires, the
Catskills or the Sierra Nevadas, or in Utah or Colorado, people would just put
you in jail,” [Bobby} Kennedy told us.

“Over the past 10 years, they’ve blown up and leveled an area of eastern Kentucky and southern West Virginia that is larger than the size of Delaware. They’ve blown up the 500 biggest mountains in West Virginia. They explode everyday 2,500 tons of dynamite, or ammonia nitrate explosives. It’s the equivalent of a Hiroshima bomb once a week. And they take the rock and debris and rubble and dump it into the adjacent river valley.”

But surely, you say, they won't do all that much blasting in Iron County because they'll have all those 2000 men and women in the pit. That's not the way modern mining works.

Haney told us that the industry’s argument that they need to engage in
mountaintop removal to protect jobs doesn’t hold up when you realize that
companies are extracting more coal with fewer workers.

“We’re both sensitive to the fact the economy is in a vulnerable place and that Americans need work. But it’s also a giant mythology,” Haney said. “The reality is that the coal industry has been using these explosives that Bobby was just talking about to eliminate jobs.”

How do they get away with it? Why do these things happen in West Virginia?

“They get away with it in West Virginia because as in every place where you
see large scale environmental injury, you’ll also see the subversion of
democracy. And at every level democracy has been crushed by these large
corporations in West Virginia,” Kennedy continued. “It’s distressing for
everyone in this country.”
And, that's why having a Governor at the beck and call of the Koch Brothers is a bad thing. Not because business is inherently evil but because government controlled by business is unable to act in the public good. The politics of Big Coal or of Big Iron is the same. They show fewer symptoms of conscience or discretion than a 19 year-old boy on MD 20-20. It's their nature. It's what they do.

Why does it matter here? Why should you care about coal in Kentucky or waste in West Virginia?

“West Virginia is really the template of where our nation is headed, which
is away from the democracy that our founders believed in and towards kind of a
corporate control of the decision-making at every level of government,” he said.
“And I think that’s one of the questions that this film really poses to the
American people.”
Lincoln wouldn't have made history if he'd spoken of a government of the businessman, for the businessman and by the businessman. Don't let Wisconsin sell its heritage for a few tons of taconite pellets.

Xoff has more about the underlying faulty economics in the plan.

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