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Communities, not coal, should be focus of Covid-19 relief

In response to the LTE titled ‘During Crisis, Coal Industry Remains Vital to Economy published April 10, the writer’s views on the coal industry are out of touch. Trying to capitalize on a pandemic to bail out an industry that has failed our communities and failed their shareholders for years is not the way forward. In this time of great unease for the economy, communities should be investing in something sustainable: clean, renewable energy that belongs to us, not to the fossil fuel industry that has taken from Southeast Ohio residents time and time again, giving nothing in return. Our beautiful landscapes–our precious environment–are priceless and provide for more jobs in ecotourism and beyond, ones not tied to the boom and bust of the extractive industry of coal.

The idea that millionaire coal barons may end up with large tax breaks while people in Washington County and all of Southeast Ohio are struggling to pay their bills and feed their families is insulting. (Ohio Coal Association president) Michael Cope’s line that specifically misses the mark of reality reads, “the easiest job to create is one never lost.” The statistics shared by Mr. Cope are nationwide, not local, and used to paint a picture that is not based in economics, science, or facts. Coal jobs have been in steep decline, not because of the market or reduced energy usage, but because the product is not viable. Southeastern Ohio has continued to lose jobs in the coal industry because companies care most about their bottom lines.

Washington County has no active mines, yet has plenty of mines waiting to be appropriately reclaimed so that we can once again use the land they’ve stripped bare of our resources.

If federal dollars were going to anything coal related, we should be putting people to work fixing the legacy costs of coal mining, not allowing the richest amongst us to pad their wallets, yet again, on the backs of our people.Instead of utilizing federal resources to bail out an industry collapsing under basic economic principles, we should be cognizant of the toll on the sufferers of asthma and other legacy costs of coal. This pandemic is the time for legislators to live up to their responsibilities and address the legacy costs of coal on our environment and our people. It’s time we hold tycoons accountable for the legacy cost of coal–our lives and our land–and not give them more taxpayer funds to sustain an economically nonviable commodity.

Carol Davey

Tuppers Plains

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