Front Porch Blog

Thank You Senator Byrd, Congressman Rahall, and Senator Rockefeller

Appalachian Voices is pleased to commend West Virginia Democratic Senator Robert C. Byrd, Senator Jay Rockefeller, and Congressman Nick Rahall for standing up to Massey Energy, and demanding that the company pay to relocate Marsh Fork Elementary. Their words are an encouraging sign that the efforts of coalfield citizens to protect their health and communities is being heard at the highest levels, and that some relief may be on the way.

Senator Byrd led the way with the following words Wednesday afternoon (via Coal Tattoo).

“Such arrogance suggests a blatant disregard for the impact of their mining practices on our communities, residents and particularly our children. These are children’s lives we are talking about,” said Byrd.

“If Massey were not operating near Marsh Fork Elementary, we would not be debating what to do about moving these young students someplace safer. This is not the taxpayers’ burden to remedy. This is Massey Energy’s responsibility to address.”

Byrd added that, “Let me be clear about one thing – this is not about the coal industry or their hard-working coal miners. This is about companies that blatantly disregard human life and safety because of greed. That is never acceptable.”

“At a time when coal is under such close scrutiny, coal companies operating in West Virginia should be working together to put their best foot forward. For the sake of the entire coal industry, Massey Energy should strive to be a better and more responsible corporate citizen. And for the sake of the kids, they should address these serious environmental concerns at Marsh Fork Elementary immediately.”

Senator Byrd, as he so often has, is able to sum of what many of his constituents in the communities around Marsh Fork have been feeling for a long time. These are children’s lives at stake, and its not up to Massey or anyone else to play political games with our kids’ lives. Senator Byrd even gets in a dig at Don Blankenship’s political action committee, which is called – ironically – “And for the sake of the Kids.”

Congressman Rahall and Senator Rockefeller were equally unequivocal in their statements that the kids and the communities deserve better from Massey.

Congressman Rahall represents West Virginia’s third district, where Marsh Fork Elementary is located. He indicated that such a move could even help build public goodwill towards the coal industry.:

I certainly agree with Senator Byrd. Massey Energy should take this significant step of helping to replace the Marsh Fork Elementary School so that these children no longer have to fear the threat of adverse health effects of nearby coal operations. It would go a long way toward improving the good will of the public toward that company and the coal industry.

And junior Senator Jay Rockefeller stated clearly:

“The hazards around Marsh Fork Elementary have been weighing heavily on the minds of parents in the Marsh Fork community for some time. Protecting our children is our first and most fundamental obligation, and it is right to expect the company to help pay for the solution.”

Appalachian Voices extends our thanks to these officials and hope that they will do everything in their power to protect the children, communities, mountains, and streams from the hazards of mountaintop removal and coal slurry.





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