It’s 10 p.m. and the stars are out, and we’re just about ready to meditate again. It’s another beautiful night in beautiful West Virginia. I hear the train whistle that sounds about the same time every evening and several times during the night, signaling that another 100,000 tons of West Virginia mountaintop coal is being shipped to Norfolk, Virginia, for an overseas destination to power either European or Chinese steel-making plants. For the West Virginia coal being exported is of high quality: it is called mechanic quality, so pure that it is bid for around the world.
This afternoon we drove to our local state park, where we like to swim. Right now the countryside is purely beautiful. Spring has sprung and everything is green and lush. The deer have retired to the forest to hide out until winter; yet we can imagine them cropping the grass. We are truly fortunate in that we live in a part of the state which is based on limestone, so we don’t have to fear the endangerment of our local streams with coal-mine fill (the “overburden”) and we don’t have to worry about monster machines stripping away the beauty and turning the local area into a moonscape–such a moonscape as we can see only 20 miles away over the mountain in the next county to the west.
When you hear someone urging support for the EPA and protection of our landscape, come here and see within an hour’s drive what happens when the EPA’s regulations are flouted and the coal companies bribe state and local officials to allow mountain-top removal.
The resulting pollution of air and water is creating tumors and fatal illnesses not just in the deer and the birds and the fish; human beings are falling prey to toxins released into the environment in the interest of coal-company profits. Those profits amount to sums that can buy nearly any elected official and any judge. Proud to be tax-payers? You bet we are.