Word got out late last week that Verizon had teamed up with a bunch of coal mining companies, including Massey Energy, to sponsor a big political rally in favor of mountaintop removal coal mining, in which mountains are blasted apart and then bulldozed flat in the search for veins of coal. The rally would show how many people support blowing up the appalacians, the sponsors said.
When the day of the rally actually came, however, the most dramatic impression people had was of empty seats. Massey Energy predicted that over 100,000 people would come. At the end of the day, Massey issued a statement stating that only something like 70,000 people had actually come. That probably means that only 40,000 or 50,000 people showed up, including corporate PR hacks who were paid to come.
So, the Verizon / Massey Energy pro-pollution rally fizzled like a damp firecracker. It’s no wonder, given what the rally was like. People paid by the coal industry, wearing t-shirts that read Coal is Our Future, harassed people with petitions against climate change legislation.
From the stage, people heard dull lectures from Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship about his corporate philosophy. Ted Nugent, the right wing’s berserker, gave a speech in which he declared, “I say, start up the bulldozers and get me some more coal, Massey.” Why would anyone want to dedicate their Labor Day to listening to these kinds of public relations messages from corporate management?
So, it seems that, by and large, people in the Appalachians don’t feel very fond of the idea of blowing up the mountains in their back yards, and poisoning their drinking water with heavy metals. Verizon doesn’t seem to have gained very much by supporting the few pro-coal die hards who showed up this weekend, while angering the much larger number of people who have respect for America’s lands and waters.