The Government Sanctioned Bombing of Appalachia
By Antrim Caskey, AlterNet
Posted on October 9, 2007, Printed on October 9, 2007
On a calm, clear morning in the forested mountains of southern West Virginia, 12-year-old Chrystal Gunnoe played outdoors in the green mountain valley where her family has lived for hundreds of years. It was Veteran's Day and a school holiday. Chrystal's mother, Maria Gunnoe, 38, was inside when she heard her daughter yell for help.
Gunnoe rushed outside to find Chrystal coming towards her. Chrystal was coughing and struggling to breath, running from a strange-looking cloud that was moving down the valley and headed towards their house. Gunnoe would later learn the strange cloud came from something known as a "slow burning blast" -- an explosion set at the coal mine above her home that failed to ignite and instead burned slowly, releasing a wet toxic cloud of nitrogen oxide and carbon dioxide.
Gunnoe lives in Bob White, W.Va., where coal companies have become increasingly unfriendly neighbors. Her home is surrounded by thousands of acres where a radically destructive type of coal mining is practiced -- mountaintop removal/valley fill (MTR) coal mining -- and it's turning Maria Gunnoe's life upside down.
In the weeks following, Chrystal suffered from a bronchial infection, a consistent cough, nose bleeds and bouts of painful breathing. Her mother, who was also exposed, "had sores on the inside of [her] nose," she said. "First they take our land, then the water, now the air," fumed Gunnoe who lives in Boone County, W.Va.'s top coal-yielding county, and the epicenter of Appalachian coal extraction, where the dirty business of mining, processing and hauling coal is the main meal-ticket in town.
Coal mining dominates the lives of the people in the remote, coal-rich mountain communities of West Virginia, where coal operators like Massey Energy are waging a remorseless campaign to extract all the coal they can, as fast as they can, before coal is legislated into the past and President Bush is out of office.
Never mind the fact that coal is the dirtiest possible substance that when burned pukes out more carbon than any other fossil fuel, it's worth a ton of money.
The coal bosses don't give a rats ass about destroying pristine land to get it, they just want big profits whatever it takes.
Americans gone bad, again.