Mining our own business

By The West Virginia Record | Aug 27, 2010

A popular bumper sticker years back challenged the pesky know-it-all: "If you're so smart, why ain't you rich?"

An updated version that confronts meddling celebrities might ask: "If you're so rich, why ain't you smart?"

How would Ashley Judd respond, we wonder.

In a June speech to the National Press Club, Judd described mountaintop mining as "environmental genocide" and the "rape of Appalachia." She recommended retraining so miners can get "better jobs."

While actors and other beautiful people bash mining in the court of public opinion, radical environmentalists and self-proclaimed public interest groups are attacking our state's largest industry in courts of law with an assortment of allegedly expert witnesses straight out of Central Casting.

In an ongoing lawsuit against Patriot Coal, the Sierra Club has been forced to drop two of its "expert" witnesses because their testimony was "not deemed to be reliable and trustworthy."

It must be nice for Judd and the Sierra Club to have more time and money than they know what to do with. But who gave them the right to interfere and attempt to plan the lives of our miners. What are those "better" jobs Miss Judd talks about?

We're not sure what celebrityville has in mind for us in flyover land, but these self-appointed superiors often tout tourism as a preferred alternative to mining. Perhaps Judd and friends expect us to dress up in overalls and flannel shirts and act rustic for outlanders as we lead them on barefoot backwoods tours and ladle mountain grub out of cast iron pots for minimum wage. Doesn't seem like much of a future for us.

We are proud of the sons and daughters of coal country who've gone out into the world and made good. But the vast majority of the folks who chose to stay behind are content to live their lives, be gainfully employed and even mine coal in Kentucky (Judd's home state) or West Virginia. We wish they would mind their own business, so we can mine ours.

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