Yesterday, flying down to New Orleans, I had the chance to cross the Appalachians, and see their bright red autumn leaves from up above. I also was able to see something less beautiful – the scars that result from mountaintop removal coal mining.
This autumn, the Bush Administration is changing federal rules to make it easier for coal mining companies to dump the waste from their destruction of mountains into streams and rivers. With this form of dumping, heavy metals from the waste easily make their way into water supplies used by human beings for drinking and washing.
Both John McCain and Barack Obama opposed mountaintop removal coal mining to some extent. McCain spoke about how the mining “irreversibly alters our natural treasures”. Barack Obama, however, merely expressed concern about the practice, and doesn’t seem interested in banning the removal of America’s mountains for the sake of coal.
This is one area where we need to be wary about our next President. Barack Obama has been rather friendly toward Big Coal, embracing the idea of so-called “clean coal technologies”. We need to work to remind President-Elect Obama that, with coal coming either from underground mines where large numbers of workers are crippled or perish, or from the complete annihilation of entire mountains, there is no such thing as clean coal.