King Coal’s New Clothes

This persistent unheeded issue from the “national sacrifice areas” of central Appalachia is finally rising up into the radar outside the hills and valleys that have born the brunt of exploitation, and previously-powerless mountain people are gaining a voice. Where we get our coal and what it is doing to our nation is not a trivial problem to be swept under the rug, though for too many years, it has been. Consider:

“One million metric tons of explosives are used each year in Central Appalachia –by the coal industry– to blow up the mountains for coal extraction. This equals the explosive force of 58 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs.”

But the end is not in sight–only the long hard fight ahead.

In the coming days, the rest of the 20-member coalfield delegation –composed of incredible leaders from all over Central Appalachian — will ascend upon Manhattan for the United Nation Commission on Sustainable Development meetings on sustainable energy. The delegates believe extraction is not being discussed as part of national or global energy strategies, and are worried that so called “clean coal” will increase mountaintop removal coal extraction —-devastating their lives and homes. link from

Do you believe in “clean coal”? Or the Tooth Fairy?

“We’re in a giant car heading towards a brick wall and everyone’s arguing over where they’re going to sit.” ~ David Suzuki

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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