A Better Legacy

I was very pleased to see that the EPA has placed a moratorium on issuing permits involving mountaintop removal coal mining. ["Mountaintop Removal Gains Momentum as a Faith Issue," Citybeat by Chris Barrett, March 26, 2009] Mountaintop removal coal mining takes one of God's most beautiful creations (our mountainlands) and decapitates them and dumps the overburden into what used to be the mountain's lifeline—its streams. It is morally appalling that in the greatest country in the world we have this practice occurring. Many of the politicians and the poor folks that live in the affected areas are totally bought out by the powerful coal companies. Does coal create jobs? Yes. Does coal produce energy? Yes. Does this make coal mining and, in particular, mountaintop removal coal mining somehow acceptable? Absolutely not. Perhaps the wealthy coal executives that prosper on this destruction of life should live adjacent to a mountaintop removal mine so they can breathe the dust, feel the vibrations of the mountain being blasted apart, and have to look at a once beautiful and ecologically sound landscape that has been decimated.

A better investment for this and future generations in terms of preserving God's creations is to completely stop mountaintop removal coal mining now and accelerate efforts to get off of coal altogether in the next few years. There are countless forms of clean energy that will, with the political backing, produce as much affordable energy and create more high-paying jobs than coal and that will not destroy mountaintops and pollute the air and water resources which, in turn, contributes to higher taxes that we all must pay to treat the myriad of health problems caused by our dependence on dirty energy sources like coal. We can do better in the United States and must do better now.

Most certainly, desperate arguments and claims to counter what I am saying will be expressed by coal company officials and their hired guns funded by the vast fortune that their product provides them. What needs to be clearly stated is that they have a vested interest in the status quo. People that are financially invested in something want it to continue whether or not it is in the interests of the larger public. The hard facts are that the technologies are available now to replace coal. Will it happen immediately? No. But it must be aggressively promoted so that no more mountainlands are sacrificed for short-term interests. Our children deserve a better legacy than we are currently leaving behind.

Mark Shipley, Knoxville