Unholy Alliance by Julian Martin Wednesday, May 30, 2007
The strangest bedfellows in West Virginia, the United Mine Workers union and
the WV Chamber of Commerce, joined hands in the Viewpoint page article of
May 16, 2007 entitled “Economic cornerstone of W.Va. under attack.” Strange
bedfellows because the Chamber of Commerce would stomp out the United Mine
Workers and any other union in a right to work minute. In the article the
UMW leadership has teamed up with an organization that wants West Virginia
to be a right to work state, meaning a right to work for less. Watch out
for them snakes.
A union leader and the union busters sing a duet against “activist
environmental groups.” They make it sound like to be active in support of
one’s beliefs is a bad thing. The coal companies are surely activists when
it comes to destroying our mountains, communities and the health of our
citizens. Why wouldn’t an environmental group in the mountain state
be active in trying to protect the mountains from the total destruction of
mountain top removal? Why wouldn’t sane people want to protect our
mountains from the assault of mostly out of state environmental extremists
like coal companies?
In an old trick to cast doubt on the motives of one’s opponents, Perdue and
Roberts make the ridiculous claim that people are not opposed to mountain top
removal to improve the environment but to destroy the coal industry. If the
coal industry were not destroying our mountains they would get no
opposition from environmental groups and the huge majority of West
Virginians who oppose mountain top removal.
dad was a UMW miner there were 125,000 coal miners in West Virginia, with
workers replaced by giant machines, there are now only 17,000. If that is
job creation somebody better stop them before it is all machines and no
workers. The Chamber of Commerce is no doubt pleased that most of the
remaining coal mining jobs are non-union.
jobs argument will be used until all our mountains are destroyed.When they
finish chopping off the top of a mountain they will have to move to the
next mountain or jobs will be lost, then another mountain or jobs will be
lost and then another. When the last mountain is gone the unemployed miners
can look back at the wasteland they have created and see no jobs for their
removal is destroying future jobs in the hard wood industry. Oak and
hickory are not growing on so-called “reclaimed” mines. According to the
late Bill Maxey, former chief of the West Virginia division of forestry,
every year, forever, we are losing 200 board feet per acre of new growth
hardwood to mountain top removal. On the 500,000 acres of mountains already
destroyed that comes to one hundred million board feet every year forever,
and this is just the new growth.
and Roberts could not resist wrapping themselves in the flag and claiming
that environmental activism is an “…assault on our nation…” Watch out, they
may dust off the old standby, “communism.”
grandpa, stepson, uncles, brother-in-law, and father-in-law have worked in
underground union coalmines. My grandpa and grandpa-in-law were in the
battle of Blair Mountain on the side of the United Mine Workers, they must
be turning over in their graves at the spectacle of their union in bed with
the Chamber of Commerce.
Purdue/Roberts article claims that ours is an “energy state,” which is
close to the past claim that “West Virginia is coal.” “Energy state” really
means West Virginia is a cash cow for the out of state exploiters and their
native collaborators. If ours is an energy state our mountains and streams
won’t last much longer.
removal strip-mining has already destroyed 800 square miles of West
Virginia, the equivalent of a swath one-quarter mile wide from New York to
San Francisco. They have buried 1000 miles of streams, which is longer than
the Ohio River. West Virginia is being sacrificed on the altar of money.
being told to destroy mountains that could be permanent for jobs that are
temporary. Jobs are not what the coal industry is after, they couldn’t care
less about jobs. They are after money and that is all. We are told to trade
our mountains for taxes while the coal industry opposes taxes on coal, they
prefer no taxes. But they like tax breaks. They especially like the tax
break for mining thin seams of coal, which is a mountain top removal
subsidy. We are told to stand tall for our nation and sacrifice what we
love most about West Virginia.
We are not the energy state.
We are not coal. We are the Mountain State.
[To see mountaintop removal for yourself contact me at