In the late 1960s, a bumper sticker appeared offering this sage advice: "If you hate the police -- next time you need help, call a hippie."

If it were updated to reflect the tenor of our times, that slogan might read: "If you hate businessmen –- next time you need a job, call an environmentalist."

Just last week, Consol Energy announced that it would lay off nearly 500 workers and discontinue mining operations at the Little Eagle Coal and Fola Coal facilities in Clay County. Consol COO Nicholas DeIuliss blamed the shutdown on the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, which successfully sought to block federal water quality permits for one of the sites.

"It is unfortunate, at a time when reliable and affordable energy is so desperately needed to reinvigorate our economy, that the nation's energy industries are coming under repeated assault from nuisance lawsuits and appeals of environmental regulations," DeIuliis said. "It is challenging enough to operate our coal and gas assets in the current economic downturn without having to contend with a constant stream of activism -- in rehashing and reinterpreting permit applications that have already been approved, or in the inequitable oversight of our operations."

The Fola mine is Clay County's largest private employer, and coal taxes provide most of the county's local revenue.

Whatever the motives, there's no denying the devastating impact that environmentalists can have on a local economy -- and on workers who lose their jobs when the businesses they work for are regulated to the point of closing.

Here's an IQ test: West Virginia has a miserable economy and high unemployment. Should it A.) Try to attract new businesses, or B.) Shut down more of the few businesses that remain?

If you answered A, you see the obvious. If you answered B, you're an environmental zealot whose pursuit of an abstract goal is more important than people having jobs and a future.

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