June 14, 2011

To strip or not to strip

One of the bombs dropped on miners by planes friendly to coal operators at the Battle of Blair Mountain. Fortunately, this one didn't go off. Image by way of wikipedia.

If you've been following events in West Virginia lately, you will be aware that environmentalists protesting mountaintop removal mining recently retraced the historic 1921 miner's march to Blair Mountain, which was the largest workers' insurrection in American history (so far, he added wistfully).

Labor groups for the most part didn't take part in this march but plan activities of their own to preserve this historic site.

I've made several trips to Blair myself, mostly before the surrounding area was heavily stripped. I was particularly fond of an old abandoned fire tower up on top. It was rickety and scary as hell to climb, which didn't deter me from going up several times. What can I say? Us hillbillies like to climb things.

It reminded me of the mountain the devil was said to have taken Jesus to during his temptation.

The tower is, alas, long gone. It's unclear how long the mountain will remain, although an article in the Wall Street Journal reported that

Alpha Natural Resources Inc. of Abingdon, Va., said it doesn't intend to conduct mountain-top removal in the historic battleground area, but acquired one active operation outside the 1,600-acre boundary when it bought Massey Energy.

"We agree that Blair Mountain is an area of historical significance, and an appropriate commemoration of the 1921 events ought to be considered," said Alpha spokesman Ted Pile. But, he added, a commemoration shouldn't "abrogate the legal rights of the many property owners and leaseholders in the area."

I'm not sure how to interpret that. I like the first part of the statement, although it might have been undone by the latter part.

Once again, let me remind the Gentle Reader that the best place to keep up on all things coal is Charleston Gazette reporter Ken Ward's Coal Tattoo blog.

THE LATEST BAD IDEA. An unbalanced Balanced Budget Amendment under consideration in the US House would push through deeper cuts than even the Ryan plan.

YOU ALREADY KNEW THIS. Aside from a weak job market, wages are pretty stagnant too.

CREATING JOBS. A new study suggests that workforce training is more effective than cutting business taxes.



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