Horrifying Effects of Coal Mining

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Ben Cohen
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by Ben Cohen

If you're not reading Matt Osborne's excellent coverage of the Netroot Nation event in Pittsburgh, do so. Here's Matt on people invited to speak about the devastating effects of coal mining and mountain top removal:

Bob Kincaid
is a ninth generation Appalachian. His ancestors arrived before anyone
knew about the coal under the mountains of West Virginia; they are
buried in mountain graveyards. The coal companies, he says, consider
the remains of their ancestors as part of their waste, to push into the
valleys with the sludge. The consequences of mountaintop removal, as he
describes them, are little short of genocidal. The Appalachian people are being erased.

Complaining
about the ubiquity of "Clean Coal" ads, Kincaid calls for his
grandchildren -- the eleventh generation of his family -- to be
protected. "Are those babies Americans too?" He asks. "I cannot say
with any certainty that the United States of America thinks that they
are."

Well-water comes out of the tap looking like tomato soup
and smelling of chemicals. "That is not what you do to an American," he
says. City water gets piped in, but the coal companies don't pay for
the water to replace the free water they poisoned. "Poisoning a well is
one of the highest sins in scripture," he says. Coal companies are
violating the most basic moral codes and calling it progress.

Kincaid
hates the label "environmentalist." This, he says, is a human-rights
issue. The people of Appalachia are being treated as not quite as human
as the rest of us, and we do not have the luxury of time.