Entry for November 06, 2006

Cover Art from Missing Mountains.
 
Reverend Hall wrote me back raising the issues of the economy of many otherwise depressed communities and the energy needs of the nation.   
 
For me, this raises the questions:
 
1)  Does mountaintop removal help or hurt the depressed economies;
2)  How do we meet the energy needs of the nation in the manner of good stewardship.
 
On the first question, Kristin Johannsen (email, bio)  has an interesting essay, “Dirty Money — The Economy of Coal.”  Johannsen took part in the Kentucky Montaintop Removal Writers’ Tour sponsored by Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.  The tour resulted in the book Missing Mountains published by my friends at Wind Publications in 2005.   The essay appeared in that book.   She writes,
 
Coal, we are often told, is essential to Kentucky’s economy. Interfere with the coal industry, and you eliminate jobs, destroy communities, and take food out of little kids’ mouths. If the future of coal mining is in mountaintop removal, then restrictions on this process will doom countless Eastern Kentuckians to unemployment and a dismal standard of living.
 
That’s what the coal industry would very much like us to believe. But a firsthand look shows a very different picture.
She explains,
 
Countless Kentuckians have family ties to coal, with grandfathers and uncles and cousins and parents who worked in mining. For many people’s forebears, a steady job in the mines meant a leg up in the world, advantages for their children and grandchildren that they themselves never had.
 
But these personal ties are becoming ever weaker and more distant. Over the decades, increased efficiency in mining methods means that more and more coal is produced by fewer and fewer people. In 1979, there were 35,902 mining jobs in Eastern Kentucky. By 2003, there were only 13,036. For every three people who once worked the mines, two are now doing something else.
 
She adds that coal producing countains lag economically behind those with a more diversified economy.
 
As far as our energy needs, look at my October 26, 2006 entry on the Rocky Mountain Institute

 

 

 

 

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