Friday, February 12, 2010

Coal industry exaggerations unnecessarily pit coalfield residents against each other, writer says

Increased environmental regulation and agreed-to changes in strip mining will help taxpayers in the long run, but coal-company scare tactics are hurting Kentucky's chances for a more energy independent future, a Kentucky environmentalist writes in an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader. "We need approaches that shed light — not heat — on our problems and solutions," Kentuckians for the Commonwealth member and Southeast Community and Technical College professor Roy Silver writes. "Unfortunately, all too frequently many coal executives seem more prone to stoking fear."

"Coal executives grossly exaggerate the immediate threat to our region from legislation to reverse global warming," Silver writes. "The impact of proposed legislation will not be felt here for decades. We have a wonderful opportunity to diversify our local economy, reinvest some of the wealth extracted from our mountains and convert existing factories to making parts for windmills, solar panels, etc." Silver cites recent data showing significant declines in coal demand even as stockpiles grow and the loss of coal mining jobs as mines become more mechanized as justification for his claim. He argues better enforcement of water quality standards will save taxpayers money by reducing the cost of cleaning drinking water.

When the chair of Coal Operators & Associates in Pikeville recently referred to those with legitimate concerns about coal mining as "environmental jihadists," he was just the latest industry executive to use hyperbole to scare off detractors, Silver writes. "Pitting neighbor against neighbor is not healthy," he concludes. "We should follow a path that appeals to our better nature." (Read more)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Amen- Mr. Silver is right. Senator Byrd of West Virginia said the same thing. These coal CEO and coal barons are stoking fear and inciting violence. This is causing people to be afraid to exercise their first amendment rights.
Very un- American , oppressive, is the perfect description of the modern day coal industry tactics.