Outsourcing America's Mountains for Coal

With all the concerns over energy these days, much has been made of the need to wean our nation off oil as a way to lessen our dependence on imports from other countries that don't particularly like us.  Imagine how shocked and outraged Americans would feel if foreign nations started buying up our remaining domestic oil reserves.  No way, no how - right?

But what about coal?   

Tom Zeller of The New York Times wrote a chilling piece yesterday about how officials from India went on a shopping trip last week in Appalachia to buy coal mines.  India apparently is having a hard time fueling its coal-fired power plants and is seeking more stable supply.  The country already is a major coal importer -- to the tune of 50 million tons per year -- and its demand is expected to steadily grow.

"It's a buyers' market," said India's coal minister.  And his country is looking to spend $4 billion to acquire coal mining operations in America.

The article points out that increasing global energy demand has made the United States a major exporter of coal for the first time in years.  Besides India, utilities here in the U.S. now must compete with others from countries like German, Japan and China.

This begs the question:

Isn't it horrid enough that current regulatory policies are driving the destruction of our country's oldest, culturally rich, biologically diverse mountains -- the Appalachians -- to satisfy America's insatiable energy consumption?

Now we've got foreign nations shoring up their coal supplies by investing in U.S. mining operations, which will only spur the continued push for mountaintop removal coal mining.

It's bad enough when we lay waste to our natural resources and natural heritage for the sake of short-sighted energy objectives; leveling our mountains to export our coal is even worse.