The UMW wants the state to take the lead in studying the long-term effects of mountaintop removal, and the protection of sites with historic significance, such as the Blair Mountain battleground.
Roberts ended his statement: "This union has a proud history of working not only in the interests of its own members, but on behalf of all working people and the communities they live in. We fully intend to uphold that tradition."
Magnificent. It is unfortunate that the coal industry cannot be as understanding, reasonable, accommodating and caring as its hard-working employees and their union.
We understand the importance of mining to West Virginia's economy, although we think the industry overstates its contributions (if coal is so good for local economies, why do counties with the highest production often have the worst unemployment and poverty?).
We also understand why operators want to mine coal as cheaply as possible. But they should not be allowed to pass their costs on to the local communities.
As historian John Alexander Williams wrote, "In terms of short-run market considerations, strip-mining is the swiftest and cheapest way to expand coal production at a time when demand is high. Stripping is the most costly method of producing coal, however, if social and environmental factors are calculated."
It is time to calculate those factors, and present coal with the bill.