Sunday, September 19, 2010

Jeff Biggers: Big Coal Tea Party in DC Today Betrays Real Coal Miners’ Crisis

Big Coal Tea Party in DC Today Betrays Real Coal Miners’ Crisis
by Jeff Biggers

Now it’s Big Coal’s turn to pick up the tab for the Tea Party.

Under the guise of “celebrating the American coal miner,” an infamous K-Street Big Coal front lobby group has bankrolled the buses, hotels and meals to bring Appalachian coal mining supporters to Washington, DC today. According to their press releases, they will be greeted in the halls of Congress by sycophantic Big Coal-bankrolled politicians, from “million-dollar Big Coal-lobby-money- man” Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) from the Appalachian states.

Today’s rally continues the Big Coal Gone Wild episodes of the now debunked Faces of Coal.

In truth, the extremists trolling through the halls of Congress are not concerned about the “American miners.” You won’t hear anyone defending coal miners in 25 other states today. With a classic divide and conquer strategy, Big Coal lobbyists are fomenting fear and exaggerating potential jobs loss from halting human rights-violating mountaintop removal operations, as outside corporate coal interests in Appalachia circle their wagons in front of our nation’s Capitol.

More importantly, Big Coal lobbyists are desperate to keep the media and the general American public from learning that heavily mechanized strip-mining operations, which account for most of our coal today, have wiped out more than 60 percent of the Appalachian coal jobs in the last 25 years–at least 10-15 times more job loss than any potential environmental regulations. By placing a stranglehold on any economic diversity in the coalfields, strip-mining operations have also led to the highest unemployment and poverty rates; a West Virginia University study last year pointed out that “coal mining costs Appalachians five times more in early deaths as the industry provides to the region in jobs.”

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