When I read about coal mining in West Virginia I note the similarities to sand mining in Wisconsin.
The faster and more profitable extraction of coal by blowing the tops off mountains looks a lot like the blasting away of the hills and bluffs of Wisconsin.
West Virginians fought a proposed processing plant.
The processing plant was built over their objections while the governmental agencies looked the other way.
Huge belt lines were installed to transport the coal and mounds of coal heaped up around the plant.
Just like sand in western Wisconsin.
Within a year of one coal processing plant being built the townspeople were, literally, covered with coal dust.
The processing plant ended backyard cookouts and barbecues, the residents stopped sitting outside and 18n-wheeler trucks continued to roar through their town.
Just like western Wisconsin.
The townspeople filed complaints and were ignored.
So far, that’s a match, too.
The West Virginia Department of Energy suggested residents collect dust samples and take videos.
Currently, residents in western Wisconsin are monitoring their own air, continue to document the destruction and the declining quality of their lives.
Doctors on the payroll of the coal mines said that coal dust was not harmful and might even prevent pneumonia or tuberculosis.
So far, we’ve only been told that there is “no evidence” that outdoor silica dust is harmful.
Thousands of acres of fertile land have been lost there and here.
Hundreds of miles of streams and groundwater have been polluted from coal mining.
Sand mine spills have occurred in western Wisconsin, one into the St. Croix river.
In sand mining we have deadly silica dust, toxic diesel fumes, water treatments of acrylamides, a known neuro-toxin and who knows what else?
West Virginians continue to die, mostly of cancer.
The parallels are there, the logical conclusions are frightening.