CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- American Electric Power is gearing up for another run at getting PATH authorized. PATH is the proposed cross-country power line to take electric power produced in West Virginia to the East Coast. In the process, AEP will cut a 224- mile "PATH" through the forests of West Virginia.
However, recent events reveal that the cost of ever increasing energy consumption isn't just natural disasters; it is also the deaths of the men and women who drill oil and dig coal.
As demand for petroleum products and electricity rise, demand for oil and coal will rise. That demand will lead to more workers in those fields. With more rigs and more mines there will be more accidents, and more deaths. Those of us who use, and especially those of us who overuse, natural resources are culpable in those deaths.
PATH is an acronym for Potomac Appalachian Transmission Highline. "PATH" conjures a pleasant walkway through a forest populated with wildlife. In reality, the transmission line will be a clear-cut strip of land bulldozed through forests and across once private land claimed through eminent domain laws, and maintained with chemicals and equipment engineered to stop nature from repairing the scar.
The rationale behind PATH is that demand for electric power on the East Coast in the coming decade will outweigh the amount available. When this happens, there will be brownouts and blackouts along the Eastern Seaboard.
We have little sympathy for the future consequences of people who could fix their problem in the present by reducing their electricity consumption now, and creating a plan for tomorrow that simply requires less power -- especially if those consequences include the death of miners and rig workers. West Virginia has a long and shameful history of prostituting itself for the energy needs of the Eastern Seaboard megalopolis. We have done it with coal. We are beginning to do it with natural gas. Will we once again allow the needs of a distant, power-greedy population that cares little for us to once again mar our landscape and health, all to serve their incontinence?
The argument to provide an electrical band-aid for future gluttony while ignoring the effect these actions will have on the community and the environment smack of the same corporate logic that led to the housing crash, the economic crisis, the Sago and Montcoal mine disasters and the BP Gulf oil fiasco.
In all of these cases, the players involved were aware that serious complications could arise from their actions, but the profit incentives made for adequate blinders. It was as though the people responsible reached for the profits despite the obvious risks, and crossed their fingers that they could figure out a cure if, somehow, disaster struck. They were wrong.