Coal Company Boycotting State Deemed Unfriendly to Mountaintop Removal
Posted July 7, 2009
About 10 years ago St. Louis-based Arch Coal, the nation's second-largest coal mining company, launched an ill-fated PR campaign with full-color newspaper ads touting mountaintop removal as "the right thing to do." It now looks like the company is trading soft persuasion for hardball tactics with its newest campaign: boycotting states deemed hostile to the industry.
Specifically, an Arch Coal subsidiary called Coal-Mac is urging its employees to cancel vacations to Tennessee in apparent retaliation for testimony by a top state official at a recent U.S. Senate subcommittee hearing on mountaintop removal in Washington, D.C. At the hearing Paul Sloan, Deputy Commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation (TDEC), endorsed bi-partisan federal legislation that would effectively ban mountaintop removal. The bill, the Appalachian Restoration Act, is co-sponsored by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN).
In a letter to local Chambers of Commerce, the company warns: "[I]f you want our industry's business, we suggest you let your representatives know that the industry they are trying to destroy is a major source of your tourism money."
The letter also notes that two other out-of-state Arch subsidiarues have cancelled their annual company picnics to Dollywood this year. Apparently, a pro-MTR group called Citizens for Coal is joining in by asking all of its members to also boycott Tennessee travel.
"We're trying to say to our employees and to other coal miners, that let's hit them in the wallet with their tourism," explained Coal-Mac official Richie Phillips. "Tourism is how they make a living and coal mining is how we make a living."
That twisted rationale is beyond ironic -- equating tourism with mountaintop removal is moronic.
Last time I checked, people travel to Tennessee to enjoy the scenic vistas of the Smoky Mountains, not the smoky ruins of a flat landscape that used to be a mountain. Far better to boycott coal companies that conduct mountaintop removal.
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