A number of local environmental groups, including Appalachian Voices, the Virginia Sierra Club and Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards responded to Big Coal’s fallacious nationwide PR campaign to stave off the inevitable: coal’s demise in the U.S.
As if Big Coals PR blitz weren’t audacious enough, Big Coal is also putting together a “Rally for Coal Jobs” June 2nd in Washington County. No surprise here, Big Coal will be using the tried and untrue jobs claim to lambast the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
HOWEVER, according to federal data analyzed by Appalachian Voices, Virginia coal employment has dipped by a whopping 67% between 1984 and 2009 . That doesn’t sound like job creation to me! Big Coal would be more accurate arguing that it has helped employ more Americans in the health care industry who have to treat coal-mining related illnesses and accidents!
President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, Sam Broach, said it best,
“We need to begin the transition to an economy that provides lasting jobs and clean energy. The coal industry is just trying to defend mountaintop removal, which kills jobs and kills people in our communities.”
That’s right, these are real folks losing life and limb for an industry whose only interest is quarterly profit margins.
Virginia’s political leaders must step up now to diversify the economy in Southwest Virginia. Southwest Virginia’s economy will become as stagnant as coal itself unless new jobs are created in the area, jobs that range across a wide spectrum of the economy so that any coal-like monopolization of the local job market will never happen again.