Coal Tattoo

Believe it or not, I’m sitting here watching today’s House hearing on mountaintop removal through a second time … and I’m glad I did, because somehow I missed this the first time, and I swear — I’m not making this up.

I was listening to the testimony from Logan County Sen. Art Kirkendoll, a staunch proponent of the coal industry in general and mountaintop removal in particular. And here’s what he was saying, if I followed him: That he supports mountaintop removal in part because flattening off mountains provides a place people of his community can live without fear of floods.  Here’s what he was saying:

… We’ve gotten through two tremendous floods in Logan county in the last few months.  Millions of your dollars coming to our area, Army Corps, everybody in there, the troops, cleaning up our area. If those people had been on some of these surface mined areas that we have, that wouldn’t have happened.

Now, if you think you can’t get killed, go back to the Buffalo Creek flood a few years ago. A hundred and twenty four people.

Now, if I read his prepared testimony correctly, Sen. Kirkendoll went to Washington to try t0 defend the coal industry, to help in industry’s attacks on the Obama administration’s “war on coal.”

Ignore for a second the clear science that shows mountaintop removal mining generally makes it more likely that flash-floods in places like Logan County will occur, and will be worse when they do occur. But Buffalo Creek? Did Sen. Kirkendoll forget that the Buffalo Creek Disaster was hardly your typical flash flood? Does he not understand this was the collapse of a poorly engineered, poorly constructed, and poorly maintained coal-slurry impoundment that caused those deaths in February 1972?

And if he does know these things, how in the world does Sen. Kirkendoll think that talking about Buffalo Creek helps the coal industry?