Lucas Says Mountaintop Removal Is An Appalachian Community Service

I’m digging deep, and maybe even stepping on a few toes, but a Guardian report via ThinkProgress (or is it vice versa?) cites coal industry spokesman Joe Lucas as saying that mountaintop removal in Appalachia performs a civic function by creating flat earth.

Whoever scooped it hasn’t gotten nearly enough coverage, so let’s revisit with envy and ask how she, or he, got Lucas to step on his own tongue, as it were.

Lucas is vice president of the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity, or ACCCE, a group SourceWatch describes as a “front group” for the coal industry.

It’s a good label, though I prefer “shill”. Another good SourceWatch label describes ACCCE’s predecessor, Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC), as an “astroturf” organization; that is, fake grassroots.

Enough of labels, though. In the report, Lucas is quoted as saying that community services like hospital and school construction in eastern Kentucky were previously hampered for lack of a flat space – a service that mountaintop removal coal mining performs admirably.

This is like saying that Manifest Destiny simultaneously wiped out Native Americans and buffalo so pioneers could improve their fence-building skills, and just about as offensive. 

In fact, mountaintop removal destroys entire ecologies and poisons water resources, and the mining residue – from liquid coal slurry impoundments to coal ash piles near generating plants – has been the cause of some of the greatest human disasters in American history.

I’ve talked to some of the leaders in the (mountaintop removal) opposition, and I can imagine Mountain Justice’s Charlie Suggs comments when he hears that blasting the hills into oblivion is a good way to improve Appalachian communities.


The ugliness of mountain top mining will no doubt hasten it’s demise - good - but the underground type mining is even worse - at least for the miners. If I had to choose between the two, I’d rather live with the mountain top type.

You make a valid point, Rick. However, mountaintop removal, being largely mechanized, leaves many of those miners without jobs and in addition pollutes and destroys the environment (and the people who inhabit it). I guess the least of all evils would be worker training programs, plentiful jobs in non-pollutive industries, and fully mechanized underground mining - or no coal at all. I vote for the former three, if only because the latter is still not attainable. This nation is stuck-on-coal (which is very much like stuck-on-stupid) because of the huge lobby, a forty-year failure to invest in renewable energies, and a tendency to maintain the status quo lest industry, business and the voters have to make sacrifices, even in their own best interests.