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As West Virginia Rallies For Big Coal, Activists Mourn A Leader

The EPA's decision to revoke a permit for the Spruce Number One Mine, West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal site, has garnered a predictable reaction. Only this time, it's not the infamous Don Blankenship putting Ted Nugent on stage,

The EPA's decision to revoke a permit for the Spruce Number One Mine, West Virginia's largest mountaintop removal site, has garnered a predictable reaction. Only this time, it's not the infamous Don Blankenship putting Ted Nugent on stage, it's

(a)cting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who is inviting the public to join him and other leaders in showing the EPA how coal is beneficial to the lives of not just West Virginians, but citizens across the country. Lawmakers, coal industry and labor leaders are expected to participate in the 2 p.m. rally planned on the fountain side of the state Capitol.

“Our coal industry provides jobs for our men and women, money for our children’s education, and energy for our country’s growing appetite for electricity,” Tomblin said last week. “We must stand up and show federal regulators that we will not retreat from their unfair actions. We will continue the fight not just for the Spruce Number One mine but for every coal miner, coal company and for our way of life.” (Emphasis mine)

That's from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph, which argues strenuously against the EPA's decision. Missing from their op-ed: the utter absence of jobs in the wake of Big Coal, that much of this coal is being exported, or that the "way of life" under threat is in communities poisoned and ruined by mountaintop removal mining.

MTR opponents have held rallies on the same state land without the benefit of a governor's casting call or public funds. Activists arrested for nonviolent demonstrations receive excessive bail -- far greater than the amounts readily handed out to child molesters, attempted murderers, and the coal thugs who assault them. That state-sanctioned injustice will be celebrated today in West Virginia, just five days after the memorial for Judy Bonds.

Bonds, who died of cancer (see here) on January 3rd, was a tireless fighter who bore the brunt of coal country hate with a welcoming smile. Her life is a testimony to the power of community organizing and resistance. Rather than pay too much attention to the goings-on in West Virginia today, we should celebrate her.

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