by BL Angert, Tue Dec 16, 2008 at 09:24:26 AM EST
copyright © 2008 Betsy L. Angert. BeThink.org
You better watch out!
Better not cry!
Better not pout!
I'm telling you why,
Santa Claus is comin' to town.
He's making a list
and checking it twice.
He's going to find out who's naughty and nice.
Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town.
We better watch out. We better not cry. While Santa checks his list twice, so too might you and I. The ebony chunks Old Saint Nick might place in our stocking, contrary to what coal corporation sponsored commercials might claim, are not clean. Nor is this source of energy cheap. When used as a resource for power, this sedimentary rock is dirty, deadly, and digs deep into the pocketbooks, and personal lives, of those the industry touches. In America, that may be you and me.
Millions of acres across 36 states have been dynamited, torn, and churned into bits by strip mining in the last 150 years. More than 60 percent of all coal mined in the United States today, in fact, comes from strip mines. In the "United States of Coal," Appalachia has become the poster child for strip mining's worst depravations, which come in the form of mountaintop removal. An estimated 750,000 to 1 million acres of hardwood forests, a thousand miles of waterways and more than 470 mountains and their surrounding communities -- an area the size of Delaware -- have been erased from the southeastern mountain range in the last two decades. Thousands of tons of explosives -- the equivalent of several Hiroshima atomic bombs -- are set off in Appalachian communities every year. More than 104,000 miners in America have died in coal mines since 1900. Twice as many have died from black lung disease. Dangerous pollutants, including mercury, filter into our air and water (through mining practices.) The injuries and deaths caused by overburdened coal trucks are innumerable. A recent report reveals that in the last six years the Mine Safety and Health Administration decided not to assess fines for more than 4,000 violations.
Source . . . Washington Post. Jeff Biggers is the author of "The United States of Appalachia: How Southern Mountaineers Brought Independence, Culture and Enlightenment to America."