Call it a moment of truth for Big Coal--and a small crack in the wall of denial for the US Congress and the White House.
On the cliff of bankruptcy, St. Louis-based Patriot Coal Corporation agreed this week to a settlement to phase out its large-scale strip mining and mountaintop removal operations in central Appalachia. Even more importantly, Patriot became the first coal company to admit "our mining operations impact the communities in which we operate in significant ways, and we are committed to maximizing the benefits of this agreement for our stakeholders, including our employees and neighbors.”
That's not quite a full admission of Big Coal's role in the mounting humanitariancrisis from mountaintop removal, but the action by Patriot, engineered in a court settlement thanks to the extraordinary work of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, Appalachian Mountain Advocates and the Sierra Club, is an important step toward abolishing the 40-year nightmare of mountaintop removal.
In a line: If Big Coal recognizes the damages of mountaintop removal and agrees to phase it out, isn't it time for the US Congress and President Obama to bring an end to the most egregious environmental and human rights violation in the nation