Photo by Paul Corbit Brown (bio, website), copyrighted and used by permission.
I've asked Paul Corbit if he wants to add a note about the background of how he took this picture, which he used as an illustration for the following essay, found at the bottom of this post, which he published on facebook on Sunday, after attending the 40th Annual West Virginia Mining Symposium at the Civic Center in Charleston, WV March 7-8. .
According to the sponsor, the West Virginia Coal Association, the event provides:
an opportunity for the industry to discuss current domestic and international marketing and production trends and to showcase new mining and mine safety technologies. Attendees will participate in mine safety and environmental workshops and state mining companies will be honored for mine safety performance and environmental quality
Paul Corbit says that the Congress members, who were there as featured speakers, told him they hadn't heard of the studies about the health effects of mountaintop removal. They are:
*Nick Rahall (D-WV3, elected 1976--website, email for his chief of staff, David McMaster)
*Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV2 elected 2000--website, , email for her chief of staff, Joel Brubaker )
*David McKinley (R-WV1, elected 2010--website, email for his chief of staff, Mike Hamilton).
Also speaking were Governor Earl Ray Tomblin, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin, and Attorney General Patrick Morrissey. Wonder if Jay Rockefeller who has now chastised the coal industry spoke in the past and if he was dis-invited this year.
As I write this Alpha Natural Resources is holding a legislative reception at the Marriot in Charleston WV. You know, Alpha--the folks who bought out Massey, of the Upper Big Branch mining disaster fame and are still defending selenium pollution. Wonder if it was one of the companies honored for "environmental quality?"
Here's Paul Corbit's essay from March 10, 10:33 am:
Before Halliburton, before pharmacuticals, before tobacco, and before the bank crisis; The story of WV remains as one of our nation's oldest and most enduring conspiracies perpetrated by an industry and the government against its citizenry.
This is a conspiracy so broad and so deep it could only be hidden in plain sight. The history of WV, our true identity as a resource colony, is literally a story as black as coal.
Here is the home of a people fierce enough to carve out a birthplace for organized labor and a mere four generations later to become a people fearful enough to quite likely lay that one hope for the working individual to rest.
Here are the people who have come to live in the shadow of a scarcity mentality while abiding in a land that is the second most bio-diverse ecosystem on the planet and a state that has exporting untold billions of dollars in natural resources such as coal and natural gas.
For the entire 150 year history of our state we have struggled against the delusion of Democracy, the rule of law and equal protection under that law. Never understanding, until now, that the government that was promised to protect us, was in fact created to control and enslave us.
By the end of the Civil War it was clear that we could not be bound by ropes and chains so the coal industry created an even more devious means of subjugation: dependency. Just as one who is kidnapped depends on their captor for survival, we have been lured by promises into a dead end dark alley of dependency on the coal industry. After generations of brilliant propaganda we have become the largest mass case study of Stockholm's Syndrome in the history of our nation.
The evidence has been abundantly clear all along that the industry is only here for its own need - profit- and when that need has been met, we have consistently been left with nothing more than hollow promises, an environmental disaster of epic proportions and the broken pieces of our illusions of freedom, democracy and prosperity.
While the politicians and corporations that own and control WV roam freely and profit from the blood on their hands, we who have been asked to give all, will not be free until we make our final sacrifice and once again leave our Blood on the Mountain.