Target: Earl Ray Tomblin, Governor of West Virginia
Goal: Tax mining corporations for the long-term devastation they cause to the environment through mountaintop removal, using revenue to prevent proposed cuts to education.
Mountaintop removal is a method of coal mining that has become common in the Appalachian Mountains, particularly West Virginia and Kentucky, since the 1970’s. It is often used to extract the remaining coal from the mountains because it is cheaper than other types of mining.
This process typically involves burning all vegetation, blasting over 500 feet of earth off the mountain with millions of pounds of explosives, digging, and dumping waste in nearby valleys. This process eliminates the natural habitat of all animals living there, and the subsequent lack of vegetation aggravates erosion, further wearing down the environment for decades.
The government of West Virginia has historically and lately opposed development in sustainable energy, and just last year Tesla was blocked by the legislature from bringing new jobs and a more sustainable future to the state out of the legislature’s fear of competition and change.
Mountaintop removal is a technique often used specifically because it employs less people, and even a complete ban on this method would result in job loss of relatively few people, a small cost for the future of the landscape, plant life, and wildlife lost every year. A high tax on these operations, implemented gradually over several years, could effectively and painlessly end these operations and allow a smooth transition to a cleaner future.
Please sign the below petition to support a responsible end to mountaintop removal in West Virginia.
Dear Governor Tomblin,
Mountaintop removal methods are an exceptionally damaging business in West Virginia that destroy the natural beauty of the state only to delay the change to a sustainable economy. The damage dealt to the land takes decades to heal, directly detracting from West Virginia’s exceptional potential for sustainable tourism.
Jobs in the coal mining industry still represent a significant, but no longer crucial, part of West Virginia’s economy, and the best compromise between helping the environment and protecting the rights of the people during the transition to sustainable energy is to implement a tax on mountaintop removal operations that increases over several years, giving time for workers and corporations to transition to new and sustainable careers. The revenue from this tax can be used to prevent proposed cuts to the state’s struggling education system.
I am urging you to consider the future of this state as a leader in tourism and sustainable energy, rather than a future as only a peculiar anachronism and a parable of the failure of unsustainable exploitation of the environment. Tell the state legislature and the destructive coal industry that West Virginia’s value lies in the natural beauty of its environment and the life living there, not only in the fossil fuels that remain in the ground.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Organized Voices and Empowered Communities