Rand Paul, the loony libertarian running for the Kentucky Senate seat, says coal companies have a PR problem when it comes to “mountaintop removal.” To Paul, there’s nothing wrong with dynamiting the tops of Kentucky, Virginia, Tennessee and West Virginia and dumping the waste into nearby valleys so coal companies can get at seams with a fraction of the workforce needed in conventional mining.
Paul believes a little re-branding magic will make everything right. He suggests “mountaintop enhancement” as a new name of the practice because the Appalachia is brimming with “little knobby hills” that are not as inspiring as Mount Everest, “ according to a profile of Paul in Details. Flattening tops of those hills results in “enhanced value” because level land paves way for bowling alleys, 7-11s, condos, Winn-Dixie, Wal-Mart, prisons, Cracker Barrel, pawn shops, McDonald’s or whatever. Members of the “Coal for Paul” coalition should be proud of their guy.
The Senate candidate doesn’t believe snooty “outsiders” (like me) have any right to beef about coal companies destroying the environment. “If you don’t live here, it’s none of your business,” he told Details.
The good people at Appalachian Voices, which is based in Boone, N.C., do have a stake in mountaintop removal. They call the practice “one of the greatest environmental and human rights catastrophes in American history.”
“In central Appalachian counties, which are among the poorest in the nation, homes are frequently the only asset folks have. Mining operations have damaged hundreds of homes beyond repair and the value of homes near a mountaintop removal sites often decrease by as much as 90%. Worst of all, mountaintop removal is threatening not just the people, forest, and mountains of central Appalachia, but the very culture of the region.”
What’s next for Rand? Global cooling? If the Senate race doesn’t pan out, or if he bores of eye doctoring, a bright PR career beckons for the son of Ron.