Trump intends to roll back regulations on the coal mining industry even farther. Environmental implications aside, propping up coal will economically and socially devastate our communities.
If you grew up in the rust belt like me, you know what hopelessness looks like: crumbling infrastructure, charred landscapes, and despondent residents who love to talk about “back in the day” when thing were good. Mining towns are extremely common in Northeastern America. The mining companies (who have long since moved out of these areas) plundered the earth for black treasures, before leaving it an empty shell of its former self. They transformed these areas from rolling hills, and healthy woods, to dead fields and grey neighborhoods weak with painful memory.
Although the adverse effects of mining on the environment are well documented, it doesn’t take hard data or scientific investigations to see that something is off. Even a child can look at these old mining regions and spot the differences between them and places that were unaffected by mining. Colors are more muted in these regions, and the secondary forests are thin and sickly compared to ones that grew in healthy soil. There are barren stretches of earth where things won’t grow at all.
And the people reflect the landscape. Devoid of opportunity and stagnant in their beliefs, only the past has any meaning to these communities who celebrate the success of their grandfather’s over the visions of their children, because the only safe place they will ever know, is in the past.
Mining is a boom industry. When the coal vein ends, the rich move out and leave the poor to die as they see fit. When you destroy a piece of land, it is gone forever; gone for a moment of greed and lost to everyone, including the sons and daughters of mining companies. How much beauty must we destroy to feed corporate greed? The answer is all of it, and then some. Greed will never be sated. It didn’t stop in the Northeastern coalmines and it won’t stop at Trump’s new pollution rollbacks. Mining barons will continue to search for new ground, and new loopholes, to open up boom industries, and create communities who will learn to rely on it for survival, knowing full well it can never sustain the community forever.
The people who work these mines and processing plants will become a community left behind; they will become a remnant of the glorious lie of manifest destiny and capitalistic prosperity. Perhaps this is part of the strategy though, because if mining operations create one new commodity, it is a long line of displaced and under educated generations who will continue vote for people like Trump.
If we don’t take a stand somewhere, mining will continue until there is nothing left to mine. We must take a stand and let these companies know that the earth belongs to itself and the people who live on it, not a few years of corporate exploitation.
To learn more about the effects of coal mining, go to http://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Negative-Effects-of-Coal-Mining
To learn more about the effects of coal pollution, go to