I visited eastern Kentucky at the invitation of Marianne, a friend from school, and her husband Jim. While there, we met many people engaged in fighting mountaintop removal and took an air tour of the mining sites. Appropriately enough, after our tour, we landed at Wendell Ford airport, the site of a former mountaintop mine now turned into a flat table where a steep mountain had once been. Greeting us at the airport were posters claiming that “coal is the future,” with photos that can only be described as Orwellian:
- Before: a mountain, looking barren and useless.
- During: big trucks and bulldozers, implying jobs.
- After: animals and grasses and specific claims that reclamation of mined areas “improves” the land.
The lie represented by those photos was seen clearly from the air where all we could see for miles was barren rock, not fertile productive farms. Rick, who has lived in the area his entire life, told us that there are no animals in mined areas. Animals, he explained, need nuts to last through the winter. Nuts obviously come from trees and the biggest piece missing from these lands are trees.
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