Edited by Michael M. Barrick on Feb. 21, 2017. On behalf of all West Virginians, I challenge you to serve the people, not your cronies in the fossil fuel industry!
By S. Tom Bond, an eighth generation West Virginian writing from his farm in Jane Lew, W.Va. S. Tom Bond is a farmer and retired chemistry professor. He is interviewed in Keely Kernan’s documentary film, “In the Hills and Hollows,” which is about the impact of the fossil fuel industry in West Virginia.
Dear Governor Justice and Secretary Caperton:
How is the air down there in Charleston? Still clean? Do you plan to move out into the country near some of the new Marcellus drilling sites? Maybe near a compressor station with eleven of those big engines, roaring and belching 24 hours a day?
Or perhaps near a well pad, where there is 24-hour light and noise and chemicals and diesel smoke with lots of PM-2.5 coming out the exhaust. Particulate matter 2.5 microns or less is now known as a cause of Alzheimer’s-like effects. Are you going to bring your grandchildren and your Mom along, too? Families like that live out here, and the young as well as the old are particularly susceptible to toxic chemicals, smoke, fumes and dust.
Do you think those who drink water without the taste of chlorine shouldn’t complain when their well is poisoned with a complex mixture of water slickers, detergents, and anti-oxidants, antibacterial compounds, and God-only-knows what else? Maybe they deserve car-busting roads and interminable delays when they use public roads too?
I can see you demurring all the way from here. I think that you are like Rex Tillerson, the ultimate not-in-my-back-yard guy! The famous Rex Tillerson has inflicted that kind of misery on many thousands of people, and then complained when a water tower to enable fracking was erected in sight of his own piece of earth.
Are you going to govern the state for all the people of West Virginia – like John J. Cornwell was governing West Virginia for all the people, including the miners, at the time of the battle of Matewan? Those corporations provided good livings for officers and investors, but not miners. It’s been like that since West Virginia was established. Wealth carried off, mostly north and east, but occasionally to build a motel in Florida.
I’m being a little hard on you. You are just doing it to bring jobs. Jobs, you say? You do realize gas and oil extraction are capital intensive and labor weak, don’t you? You realize that when the drilling is done by those fellows brought in from elsewhere, they will go away and leave few permanent jobs? You certainly know several companies are developing automated drilling, so drilling labor will go the way of coal labor, too.
Oh yes, Obama killed coal, the fable says. You really know better than that, don’t you? Coal companies going to more mechanization, especially long wall and surface mining that use huge equipment, killed the coal jobs. Coal supplies have been showing a decrease for the last two years! The Obama fable was a tool, using prejudice and diversion of the truth, to affect voters who were slow to catch on.
What moral code do you have that allows collateral damage to rural residents in peacetime to profit private industry? Forget for the moment all the externalized costs, the true cost of the extraction, the damage to other industries, global warming, destruction of surface value for people who make a living on farming, timber, recreation and hunting. What justifies forest destruction, land disturbances, public annoyances, and public health for fossil fuel extraction, when last year 39 percent of new electrical capacity was solar and 29 percent was wind power? There is no CO2 from the renewable resources!
How do you decide people are unworthy of protection? Simply because of rural residents? Those who can’t afford to move elsewhere, or are too attached to the family plot?
Hey guys, people out here are probably more astute than you think. Some of us don’t think very far ahead, and few are articulate, but, given time, it all becomes too clear.
West Virginia has the highest rate of losing population in the nation. We have the lowest ratio of employment to employable people in the nation. College kids have been heading for the door, and so are a lot of high school grads.
Is corrupting the environment and allowing the wealth of our state to be carted off by favored industries your best game? That is the past, present (and future?) of Almost Heaven! We country folks keep hoping for better!