Sunday, March 15, 2009

It's just a lump of coal

The last couple of weeks I’ve found myself thinking about coal. What started it was the case from West Virginia before the U.S. Supreme Court. Two West Virginia coal companies were suing each other and when the Massey Coal CEO thought he was about to lose, he set about to buy a West Virginia Supreme Court judge to make sure he won. The question before the U.S. Supreme Court is whether he bought him legally.

That reminded me that Massey Coal is one of the most notorious mountain top removers in the Appalachians. And all that thinking got me to doing some research. The more I read the more intrigued I became. Coal was central to American industrialization, labor history, transportation development, and urbanization. It is inextricably linked to the culture of rural Appalachia and over a billion tons a year continues to be mined in the United States. But the cost, both to produce it and to the environment continues to rise. There’s a lot of thinking to be done about coal, and I’ll be sharing some of my thoughts with you over the next few weeks.

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