by Eleanor Goldfield

The following is an excerpt from the full article published in ROAR Magazine. ALL IMAGES BY ME – please do not use without permission and proper credit. Read the full article here.

“It’s the market. That’s all it is,” she says. “If the money’s there, they’re gonna go after it. And the Presidents will follow along.”

When the money was good, coal was protected. On November 7, 1973 for instance, in the throes of the oil crisis, President Nixon addressed the nation , appealing to industries and utilities to stick with coal rather than converting to oil in the interest of energy independence. Sound familiar? A report released by Huff Post in late November 2019 unearthed a coal industry publication from 1966 that proves big coal knew about the science behind climate change.

As with Exxon, however, the profit far outweighed the realities of impending climate chaos. The coal industry poured millions into propaganda that uplifted coal as a necessary job and energy creator.

“It’s a hard road of hope,” Paul says. He points out that as West Virginia has been a resource colony since its founding, it is damn difficult to combat years of industry brainwashing. “At least I have a job” is always the final resignation. When a coal giant steals pensions, when fracking poisons water and air, the attention is on the single bad company, not the industry as a whole. Furthermore, much of the devastation is hidden. Strip-mined mountains are shaded from highways by rows of trees. Frack pads hold a low profile and turfed-over pipelines cover the fact that for every acre of frack pad, there are 15 acres of pipeline for transportation.

In spite of these industry tricks and tactics, in the hills and hollers, people are fighting and building…

It is not just the nature: it is the people. If there is one terrible lie the industry has managed to promote most effectively, it is the idea that West Virginia is beyond hope — that the nature is too damaged to bother protecting anymore, and that the people are disposable, easy to cast aside with opioids, coal and fracking.

This past glimmers in the present. And folks all over the world can learn a lot from this cast-away state. We would all do well to be proud rednecks.

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