The Associated Press is reporting on an issue I blogged last week -- the boycott of Tennessee by coal companies, sparked by what the industry says is that state's "hostility" toward mountaintop removal coal mining.
As the AP story explains, "angry" Appalachian coal miners are refusing to vacation in Tennessee because they're upset that Republican Senator Lamar Alexander (TN) is co-sponsoring a bill -- The Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696) -- that would effectively end mountaintop removal. This is the controversial mining that involves converting America's oldest mountains into molehills -- clearcutting forests, destroying valley streams and polluting drinking water in the process.
Citizens for Coal is organizing the protest -- calling on miners in Kentucky, Ohio, West Virginia and Virginia to avoid spending tourist dollars in neighborhing Tennessee. Roger Horton,director of Citizens for Coal, thinks if enough people forgo trips to the Great Smokey Mountains and to popular tourist destinations around Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, including Dollywood, that Alexander would feel pressure to abandon the legislation.
"He needs to mind his own business," Horton said . "Why fool with us? We have good congressmen and senators here who know what's best for West Virginia. We don't need his interference."
Sen. Alexander's response, according to AP, is that Appalachia's mountaintops should be preserved, not destroyed.
"Every year, millions of tourists come to Tennessee and spend millions of dollars to see our scenic mountaintops, not to see mountains whose tops have been blown off and dumped into streams," he said. "I believe most Tennesseans agree that we should save our mountaintops."
[UPDATE: Whether you live in Tennessee or simply love to visit the Volunteer State, why not let Sen. Alexander know how much you appreciate his strong standing against blowing the Smokies to smithereens. Simply click here.]
In my original blog on this there was lively discussion in the comments section -- worth a read.
But, to me, it all boils down to this: If the mining companies obliterating the ridges of Appalachia are so proud of supposed reclamation, then maybe they should hold their company picnics on the table-top flattened toxic peaks that are left in West Virginia and Kentucky. The rest of us will will continue to enjoy the scenic vistas of the Smokies in Tennessee -- and we'll give thanks to Sen. Alexander for his efforts to save what's left of our mountains from being turned into lifeless moonscapes for the sake of dirty coal.