Arch Coal continues to run full-page ads touting the supposed benefits of "mountaintop mining" and insisting that "mountaintop mining is the only economical way to produce much of Southern West Virginia's valuable low-sulfur coal."
Really? Arch Coal Inc. reported earnings of $29.9 million for the first three quarters of 1998. Arch Coal sold 25.9 million tons of coal in the third quarter, more than double what it sold last year.
In its next full-page ad, I wish Arch Coal would tell us what it would earn if mountaintop removal mining were limited to the scope envisioned in SMCRA, and if valley fills weren't allowed to bury miles and miles of streams in blatant violation of the federal Clean Water Act.
How much money is Arch Coal making by sacrificing West Virginia's environment? The costs of mountaintop removal are readily apparent: scalped mountains, communities like Blair turned into virtual ghost towns, homeowners forced to sell their heritage, hundreds of miles of buried streams.
These costs are shared by all West Virginians. But the profits flow to a privileged few. Arch Coal should at least give West Virginians the courtesy of telling us what proportion of the firm's tens of millions of dollars in profits derive from the rape of our mountains and the destruction of our streams.
Norm Steenstra, head of the West Virginia Citizen Action Group, first pointed out the gutless nature of Senate Democrats who decided to "vote for an illegal appointment by a Republican governor."
Only two senators voted against the confirmation of Michael Miano, the illegally appointed director of the state Division of Environmental Protection.
If Democrats are willing to collude with a Republican governor to put an industry hack in charge of enforcing environmental regulations, why even bother having a Democratic Party? The senators who voted for this confirmation should be honest with their constituents and change their party affiliation.