I’m moving. Like I said only two entries ago but many months ago, I am going to New Orleans. Since deciding that, you might have noticed there’s been a little bit of an environmental disaster. If you were going to ask me the same questions my coworkers asked me every day the last month I was working with them, and I was not worried about causin’ trouble, these would be the answers I give you:
–Yes, I am still going
–No, I’m not going to work for BP. (Alternately) No, I don’t have any specific plans to wash off birds.
–Yes, I too am sad that I won’t be able to eat the seafood soon. But you know, I can’t eat much fish here in West Virginia either, due to the mercury content of the fish. The oil spill was an accident, but here in West Virginia (and in plenty of other places in the country) we gladly continue to poison the populations in our rivers and streams in order to “keep the lights on” by burning coal. In West Virginia, most of this electricity is exported. This means that even if you live in a state with progressive environmental policies, you’re likely still polluting headwaters somewhere.
–Yeah, It’s really upsetting. Though, frankly, not much more upsetting than the common and oft-defended practice of blowing up mountains in the state. I don’t want to rank them, since they’re both terrible, but if you’re in West Virginia and you’re upset about the fact that this could be causing permanent ecosystem damage, its effect on the water supply, and its effect on the economy, take a look in your backyard. This is happening here too. Every single day. You probably know people this is affecting personally–you probably ARE one. You should transfer your energy to getting mad at Massey Energy and other companies that depend on the destruction of all other livelihoods through mountaintop removal so that their investors and no one else can profit. You should transfer your anger at the Obama administration for not acting sooner to people who care more about what you think–your local politicians who work with the coal companies to make sure they can keep blowing up mountains.
Like I said, I’m not interested in ranking extraction industry destruction. I just want to call attention to the fact that it is completely insane to me how angry people are at BP but how they won’t get angry at the coal companies who are deliberately destroying ecosystems and communities and yes, also the economy. I’m so glad people are finally asking whether or not this is worth it. Like the “outsiders” that protest here about mountaintop removal, we have every right to ask that, we have every right to be angry when there aren’t solutions, we have every right to demand change because its our ocean too, just like our mountains are the “outsider’s” mountains. If we criticize BP without turning the same eye to coal producers, then we are making a huge mistake.
Edit for clarification:
Many many people in West Virginia do get angry at coal companies, and I didn’t mean for this to come off as critical of people in this state. I was using this format to draw the parallels for people outside of the region.