May 06, 2010

What he said

West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd has done it again. Yesterday, he released a powerful statement in response to the Massey Upper Big Branch mine disaster. Here's the whole thing. And here are some excerpts:

First and foremost, the coal industry must respect the miner and his family. A single miner's life is certainly worth the expense and effort required to enhance safety. West Virginia has some of the highest quality coal in the world, and mining it should be considered a privilege, not a right. Any company that establishes a pattern of negligence resulting in injuries and death should be replaced by a company that conducts business more responsibly. No doubt many energy companies are keen for a chance to produce West Virginia coal.

The industry of coal must also respect the land that yields the coal, as well as the people who live on the land. If the process of mining destroys nearby wells and foundations, if blasting and digging and relocating streams unearths harmful elements and releases them into the environment causing illness and death, that process should be halted and the resulting hazards to the community abated.

The sovereignty of West Virginia must also be respected. The monolithic power of industry should never dominate our politics to the detriment of local communities. Our coal mining communities do not have to be marked by a lack of economic diversity and development that can potentially squelch the voice of the people. People living in coal communities deserve to have a free hand in managing their own local affairs and public policies without undue political pressure to submit to the desires of industry....

The old chestnut that "Coal is West Virginia's greatest natural resource" deserves revision. I believe that our people are West Virginia's most valuable resource. We must demand to be treated as such.

Thanks once again, Senator Byrd for speaking the truth in a way that only you, out of all of West Virginia's leaders, have the courage to do.

PLENTY OF LAWS, NOT MUCH JUSTICE. Here's an op-ed by a friend on related issues.

BOOK EM. Here's a call to prosecute corporate criminals.

FROM KNOW NOTHINGS TO TEA PARTIERS. Here's a look at fringe political movements in the US that sometimes reached the mainstream.


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