West Virginians Down to Last Mountain – Yet Wind Income Would be 50 Times More

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These remaining seventeen years of coal would bring in just $612,000. Then, it’s finished. By contrast, the first seventeen years of wind farm revenue would bring in $28.9 million. Almost fifty times more. And that’s just for the first seventeen years. There is no peak wind. When parts such as turbines need to be replaced, construction and replacement would create an additional 200-300 local jobs.

Despite this far more profitable wind potential discovered three years ago, every week, coal companies are still detonating Hiroshima-sized explosives. Obliterated mountaintops are pushed into neighboring valleys, burying headwater streams and contaminating drinking water with heavy metals. Over 2,000 miles of headwater streams now have unusable water.

Coal River Mountain, the last mountain standing, is now the only remaining source of clean water in the community.

And less than 100 yards from the site where explosives are being detonated is the largest coal sludge containment in the Western Hemisphere, Brushy Fork Impoundment.

Taller than the Hoover Dam, and filled to the brim with 8.2 billion gallons of toxic sludge, it directly endangers the lives of almost 1,000 homeowners living nearby.

The giant dam is in danger of breaching. Hastily built of compacted mining waste and slate rock, with the ground literally undermined by a honeycomb of used-up empty mines underneath, it has a “C” rating. Yet Massey is detonating explosives less than a football field away.

“We want anyone with power to intervene, and they better hurry,” says group founder Lorelei Scarbro, who lives in a nearby house that her coal-miner husband had built before he died.”People are dying as we speak because of ramifications of the coal industry in Coal River Valley.”

You can help.

The economics might seem overwhelmingly in favor of wind. The revenue potential – even over the first seventeen years – would provide about 50 times more money to the local county. But the lousy economics of coal versus wind are clearly not what keeps King Coal king.

As is typical with the resource curse, everyone from dogcatcher to the Governor is now deep in the pockets of the economically indefensible coal industry.

Perhaps it will finally take a company like Google to have the courage to invest in wind here. Really.

Image: I Love Mountains
Susan Kraemer@Twitter

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