Major daily newspapers
across the country and across Appalachia want
mountaintop removal stopped.
Organizing Director, Ohio
1. All four
national newspapers are against it.
coverage and influence, there are four national newspapers in the
United States: USA Today, New York Times, Los Angeles Times,
and Washington Post. All four have editorialized
against mountaintop removal coal mining. These four general-interest
newspapers are all among the five top
selling newspapers in the country. The fifth, the Wall Street
business publication, has not editorialized on the issue.
- New York Times:
administration has pledged to restore the old buffer zone restriction.
But it has said nothing at all about redefining mining waste as an
illegal pollutant, which it was before the Bush people came along. A
bill before the House would do exactly that. The administration should
do it first" (June
"Local residents who have watched the destruction of their landscape
hope [Judge Robert Chambers'] ruling will lead to tighter regulation of
other mountaintop mining proposals. The greater hope is that the
government can be persuaded to stop the practice altogether" (March
- USA Today:
"Using lakes, streams
or rivers as dumping grounds is exactly what the Clean Water Act was
created to prevent, but the Bush administration interpreted the law in
ways that undercut its original purpose. . . . the larger
responsibility falls to Congress and the Obama administration, which
should move quickly to remove any ambiguity" (January
- Washington Post:
"The Bush administration recently issued rules explicitly allowing
[mountaintop removal] permits, but U.S. District Judge Charles H. Haden
II quickly said no. In a sharply worded opinion, he ruled that the
Environmental Protection Agency and the Army Corps of Engineers had
overstepped their authority by crafting rules that allowed waterways to
be used as dumps for mining waste. The agencies essentially tried to
rewrite the Clean Water Act through their regulation, the judge held,
and that power belongs only to Congress. . . his ruling was a clear,
and welcome reminder of the law's fundamental requirement to protect
the nation's waters.
. . . He was right to slam the door on this rule" (May 28, 2002).
"[U.S. House members wrote] 'Any change that has the effect of allowing
valley fills to destroy waters of the United States is unacceptable,'
adding that such regulations 'would be wholly inconsistent with
Congress' purpose and intent when it enacted the Clean Water Act.'
They've got it right. The administration ought to be looking for ways
to protect the streams in West Virginia and other mining regions, not
to facilitate their burial" (April 13, 2000).
- Los Angeles Times:
approach to mountaintop mining would be to ban it completely. It's
cheaper and less labor-intensive than underground mining, but not worth
the environmental cost. . . Obama can't sidestep this issue forever. .
2. Major daily newspapers in Central
Appalachia are against it.
each of the four states
under assault by mountaintop removal has editorialized against it.
These are the Charleston Gazette in West
Virginia, Louisville Courier-Journal in Kentucky, Nashville
Tennessean in Tennessee, and Norfolk Virginian-Pilot
- Louisville Courier-Journal:
"Mountaintop removal is a violent attack on the Appalachian landscape.
Mr. Obama is taking no steps toward outlawing mountaintop removal, nor
is he really even attempting to reduce the number of mountaintop
removal operations. The primary difference between the old rules and
the new is a little more red tape. . . Installing a more elaborate
federal bureaucracy is a poor substitute for substantive reform. The
Appalachian mountain chains are one of our region's, and indeed our
country's, greatest resources. Mr. Obama should make clear that he
won't stand for their continued destruction" (June 16, 2009).
- Nashville Tennessean:
"Fortunately, [Senator Lamar Alexander] has not backed away from his
bill [to ban mountaintop removal] . . . The mining industry is powerful
in West Virginia and Kentucky, which together are home to nearly half
of the nation's 81,000 miners. More than any others, those states bear
the scars of their sometimes-harmful practices. Tennesseans, with the
help of Sen. Alexander, are signaling that they will reject destruction
of its mountains" (August
- Chattanooga Times Free Press:
"Among the most destructive environmental abuses in this nation, the
most deliberate, unconscionable and widespread has to be the form of
coal-mining known as 'mountain-top removal' mining. Indeed, 'mining' is
hardly the word for this premeditated, callously calculated, man-made
catastrophe. . . It should be banned as soon as possible" (August
- Charleston Gazette:
"Federal and state regulators keep defending the indefensible. We
hope [the U.S. Interior Department Office of Surface Mining's] promise
to intervene in this [Massey Energy] permit is a sign that
things are finally starting to change. Unless they do, more and more of
West Virginia's 'summits bathed in glory,' as hailed in the state song,
A special committee is seeking a new West Virginia slogan. If
decapitation-style mining isn't curbed, the winner
may be 'Making Molehills Out of Mountains'" (May
- Norfolk Virginian-Pilot:
". . . ending mountaintop removal would have long-term economic
benefits for Appalachia - and for a nation that eventually will have to
step in to help communities left behind, and to clean up the
environmental damage" (March
- Roanoke Times:
"Make no mistake; the Bush regulation is terrible. Waterways need
protection, and if it would be another hindrance to mountaintop-removal
mining, so much the better" (August
3. Editorials from elsewhere against it.
- Cleveland Plain Dealer:
Christopher Shays of Connecticut and Frank Pallone of New Jersey have
proposed a law that would expressly forbid dumping mine waste into
waterways. Their colleagues need to get busy and pass it.
Greater energy independence is an important goal for this country, and
efforts to see how coal can help to achieve it should continue. But
devastating the mountains of Appalachia -- a natural treasure and a
cultural touchstone for millions of Americans -- cannot be justified in
its pursuit" (September
- Boston Globe:
"Each week, coal
companies use explosives equal to the Hiroshima bomb to turn
mountaintops into rubble and expose coal seams. The consequences are
ghastly. . . . passage of the Clean Water Protection Act would help
usher in that new era [of energy production that lessens the nation's
dependence on coal]" (March
"A bill pending in Congress would reinforce the Clean Water Act's
prohibition of dumping industrial waste - including mine waste - into
streams. Congress should pass the measure, even at the cost of adding
to the nation's utility bill. . . The country should stop sacrificing
Appalachian springs - and forests - to its addiction to cheap energy"
- The Economist
". . . the underlying question is why America allows this practice
at all. . . . When a coal company blows the top off a mountain in West
Virginia, it's destroying the environment in order to destroy the
environment. [West Virginia Senator Jay] Rockefeller may be constrained
by political exigencies to defend companies that do this, but it's
pretty shameful stuff" (October
4. Where are the
pro-mountaintop removal editorials?
If this were a controversial
issue, we would expect to find major daily newspaper
editorials on opposite sides expressing opposite opinions. We don't.
Some have avoided editorializing at all on the
subject, for reasons we can only speculate about. Out-and-out support
for mountaintop removal coal mining, however, is missing.
Why? Because, in the court of public opinion,
this is not a controversial issue. Major daily newspaper editorial
boards are about
as likely to
endorse mountaintop removal as they are to endorse dog-fighting.
Some small newspapers, of course, have endorsed mountaintop
removal. The Charleston Daily Mail (circulation
21,723) is an example:
"Unreasonable delays in permitting and further curbs on mountaintop
removal mining will damage the area's economy severely" (October 15, 2009).
For more information on the
campaign to stop mountaintop removal coal mining: