Fools on Mountaintop

When you look at the photo above what do you see?

Some might see the classic image of mountaintop removal -- a former Appalachian peak leveled and left lifeless by the most devastating and senseless stip mining method ever devised.  More of a moonscape than a mountain, really.

Others, however, react positively to this picture.  To these people, mountaintop mining (note that they steadfastly refuse to refer to it as "removal") represents the full spectrum of economic benefits.  This extreme extractive method cheaply and efficiently removes meddlesome "overburden" (a.k.a., forests, plants, soil, etc.) to expose thin layers of coal that otherwise might not be easily accessible.  The coal provides power while the mining itself offers employment (albeit far fewer jobs than underground mining), corporate profits and tax revenue for the state coffers.

Those opposed to mountaintop removal -- from concerned citizens in affected communities to local grassroots groups and national advocacy organizations --  have worked together tirelessly for years to expose the terrible economic and environmental consequences wrought by this reckless practice.  In recent years they have won battles in court (and in the court of public opinion) and now the Obama administration offers the hope that the fight to end mountaintop removal may soon be won.

As a result, it seems those espousing the view that mountaintop mining is a benign and beneficial activity have decided that now is the time to form their own coalition.  Today seems like a particularly appropriate day to introduce you to this newly created entity: the National Coalition on Mountaintop Mining.  

Visit the website and you'll discover that the MTM Coalition is committed to "bringing you the truth about mountaintop mining," an activity which it defines as "simply coal mining that occurs at or near the topmost portion of a mountain."  You can even subscribe to the coalition's newsletter, with its perhaps unintentionally ironic slogan: "Clearing a Future for West Virginia."

While mountaintop removal has been referred to as "strip mining on steroids," the MTM Coalition might call it "sterile surface mining."  What some label Appalachian Apocalypse, the MTM Coalition might say is really just (literally) "leveling" the playing field for economic development.  

I wish I could say that this is really just an April Fools joke.  But this industry-funded, pro-mining decapitation group really exists.  Seriously.