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Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Eight Billion Tons of What America Got Out of Kentucky (Eastern Coalfields, Then and Now)


Company houses, Floyd County, Kentucky: photo by Arnold Rothstein, May 1938 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Coal mine, Floyd County, Kentucky: photo by Arnold Rothstein, May 1938 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Mining town, Floyd County, Kentucky: photo by Arnold Rothstein, May 1938 (Farm Security Administration/Office of War Information Collection, Library of Congress)

Mountaintop removal coal mining site, Eastern Kentucky: photo by J. W. Randolph, 2 November 2007


Mountaintop removal coal mining, regional distribution: Landsat satellite image showing regional extent of m
ountaintop removal coal mining in southern West Virginia, southwestern Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Mining operation near towns of Kayford and Marsh Fork, West Virginia shown by yellow box. Aside from a few scattered clouds at center right (bright white spots), most of the pink to white patches on this image are active or unreclaimed mountaintop removal and strip mining operations: image by Sky Truth, 7 February 2011

Valley fill: mountaintop removal coal mining, Martin County, Kentucky
: photo by Flashdark, 6 June 2006

Mountaintop removal coal mining site, Appalachia: photo by The Sierra Club, 12 October 2006



A program on the radio called "State of the Reunion" recently spent time in Appalachia and dealt with this new abomination, you can listen to it here

It seems the 21st century quickly vies to sicken us even more than the last one, as we outdo ourselves in putrid greedy destruction department.

TC said...

I'd like to say Amen to that.

Amen to that.

TC said...

Vincent's link is worth making one's way to.

That rapacity which was always the key feature in the Grand Drama of Extraction that Made America Great is, as Vincent suggests, growing ever more desperate.

When you wake up in the morning and see they've blown off the mountain that's shaded your bedroom all your life, what do you do?

TC said...

And for those who enjoy seeing the Earth gouged and pulverized to smithereens for profit by your mechanized fellow Americans:

Everything the mountains meant to us has been destroyed... what's left behind is a moonscape.

Woody Harrelson: "It's just wrong, deeply wrong".



Thanks for keeping it real (blowing tops off mountains is much too grim for words). Speaking of which, we're going up to the mountains today (if they're still there), Johnny's first time skiiing. . . .


first grey light in cloud above shadowed
ridge, red-tailed hawk calling on branch
in foreground, sound of waves in channel

this system of co-ordinates,
given point to point

to light in a line, as well
as space, means that

white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon,
whiteness of gull flapping toward point

TC said...


Sometimes I am tempted to think Johnny holds the key to

this system of co-ordinates,


to light [on] a line,

white cloud in pale blue sky on horizon,
whiteness of gull flapping toward point

brings back for me EP's

What whiteness, what candour

(Clouds here, someone says "We might get sprinkles")


No wonder we can't sleep

TC said...

Vincent, the deeper I got into looking into this matter, the more it burned. Slow and hot, like Eastern Kentucky coal.

To think that 150 of those lovely greenclad Knobs and Peaks, points on the crown of the summit of all the watersheds of the Eastern United States, the sight of which had made Daniel Boone, and the settlers who followed him through the Cumberland Gap, believe they had entered a kind of Paradise, have been shorn off and blown up...

Someone here who is not much given to enduring video links not only sat all the way through that devastating 8 minute video exposition to which I linked, but toward the end -- well, though not indeed "an American", I think she had no trouble grasping the extent to which whatever blessings may have once fallen upon this land, have now been forfeited, forsaken, forever.


It makes deforestation look like child's play and who could have guessed we would do worse than that.
Let's just take all the dystopian sci-fi novels and move them to a new section, future history, and be done with it. Let's figure out a way to power Ipods (or Iphones or whatever they're called) with toddler's life energy, and keep the kids in the craters left on the mountaintops, run the pipeline down next to the unemployment agency where beggars get one drop of life blood per day in return for presigning away their votes for Donald Trump

TC said...


Of course that "new" method of skipping the mining part and just blowing off the top of the mountain so that the coal simply lies there waiting to be taken (an updating of the old whore of babylon solution to the "energy" issue) has already trumped Trump by filling the Unemployment halls of Appalachia with miners made redundant by munitions and machines.

But to speak of Unemployment halls is a formal misnomer as I learned in my descent, almost four years ago, from the basement stratum of the employed, through purgatorial levels of notaries and state agencies and boards of arbitration in tall buildings (where I learned that the purpose of such agencies is to protect shady employers from having to pay what is legally owed ex-employees), thence downward to the Halls of which we speak.

In fact the place was euphemistically designated an Employment Center, though no one ever walked out of it employed except the time servers who ran it.

A large broken down concrete box that looked like it had been dropped from the sky by an infernal hand smack in the midst of the burned out postindustrial landscape that surrounds that august edifice the Oakland Coliseum.

Inside, the place smelled of piss and stale tobacco smoke, even though there was no smoking; the butts ground into the dirt and litter of the stairwells formed a sodden unwelcome mat beneath one's ancient feet as one wearily and without hope toiled up the stairs to the large area of milling and shuffling and waiting in which hundreds of miserable souls, the army of the lost, were moved along like cattle through various perfunctory and desultory "presentations" delivered by the dead-voiced to the legions of the glazed-eyed; we learned, for example, that one great idea for getting a job would be to put together an electronic resumé featuring high-resolution photos of your monster truck.

But what if one does not own a monster truck? I wanted to ask but didn't have the heart.

But why are we saying all this. If we're not Trumped we might yet get Palin'd, and in that case, the surviving folk of Appalachia won't even be able to take to the hills, because there wouldn't be any left.