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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.
Opening Arguments

Black hole

A perfect example of the law of unintended consequences:

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) -- U.S. coal exports reached their highest level in two decades last year as strong demand from Asia and Europe offered an outlet for a fuel that is falling from favor at home.

[. . .]

King Coal faces a tougher outlook in the U.S., where competition from cheap natural gas and costly new rules for power plants are eroding its historic dominance in electricity generation.

New EPA rules on coal are meant to improve or at least protect the environment. But the result is more coal sold overseas, where it will be burned by countries with far looser environmental regulations than we have, or none at all. So it's a double whammy: The environment gets hurt while the U.S. economy takes a hit, too. Sweet.


Wed, 04/11/2012 - 2:43pm

Wherever it's sent, it's turning West Virginia into a vast moonscape. I hope that the discovery of vast amounts of natural gas under the entire Mountain State cause mining to fall further into disfavor. Drilling for gas doesn't involve bulldozing the tops off the state's famous hills.

Leo Morris
Wed, 04/11/2012 - 3:04pm

Like you, I had a visceral reaction to seeing my beloved hills leveled by the coal companies, in my case in Eastern Kentucky -- God, what a sight it was to encounter a shopping strip mall where a hill use to be! But when the coal company came in to my uncle's place to exercise its mineral rights, the result for him was several acres of rich land he could grow food on. Always trade-offs, I guess. And I lost one uncle to a mine cave-in and had several others injured, not to mention the Black Lung my father got, so I'm not a real big fan of deep mining. But we have energy needs, and right now we can't meet them without coal, so, like you, I say hooray for natural gas.

Mixed feelings, huh?

Harl Delos
Thu, 04/12/2012 - 12:42am

You paid much attention to the fracking controversy, Leo?  People are finding that their well water is flammable, or they have it tested when it tastes funny, and they find that the fracking chemicals have made it undrinkable.

The drillers are dumping wastewater from their fracking operations, and fish are dying, or mutating.  I'm not saying that lopping the top off a mountain is pretty, but the practice field for the University of West Virginia was only about 70 yards long because they couldn't find enough flat ground for a full-size field. 

Nothing like moving around to make one appreciate flat land and an abundance of fresh water.