In case you haven’t heard, Coal-Mac, a subsidiary of St. Louis-based Arch Coal, has been encouraging its employees to boycott Tennessee, because the state is unfriendly to mountaintop removal.
From the NRDC Switchboard:
In a letter to local Chambers of Commerce, the company warns: “[I]f you want our industry’s business, we suggest you let your representatives know that the industry they are trying to destroy is a major source of your tourism money.”
The letter also notes that two other out-of-state Arch subsidiarues have cancelled their annual company picnics to Dollywood this year. Apparently, a pro-MTR group called Citizens for Coal is joining in by asking all of its members to also boycott Tennessee travel.
Yeah, nothing screams “revenge” like canceling picnics. Somehow, I don’t think blowing up the mountains that tourists come to see would help Tennessee’s tourist industry, and apparently state lawmakers feel the same way. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is a proud co-sponsor of the bipartisan Appalachia Restoration Act (S. 696), which would effectively ban MTR.
Just to put things in perspective, here are some facts gathered by the NRDC:
- There are fewer than 6,000 miners in Tennessee whereas the tourism industry employs more than 177,000
- Tennessee’s tourism contributes roughly $14 billion to the state’s economy every year
- Kentucky spends an estimated $115 million more public money to support and subsidize the coal industry than it receives in state revenues from the industry
- The coal industry actually ends up costing the Appalachian region roughly $42 billion (in terms of the value of premature deaths attributable to the mining industry across the coalfields)
Economics aside, I enthusiastically applaud Tennessee for standing up to King Coal. I have visited the Smoky Mountains, and this is what they look like:
This is what mountaintop removal looks like:
Need I say more?