Regulation of power industry is needed

I write in response to a recent letter opposing my position on the adverse affects of fossil fuel extraction and increasing deregulation. (My letter, published Feb. 10.) I thank the writer for his feedback, it is always helpful to hear another viewpoint. However, I was disappointed that he ignored my main focus on local issues, in order to lobby for the coal and gas industry, and to lecture me on how the Democrats and the unions own W.Va.

First I want to assure him that I do indeed enjoy living in a warm house, and it’s very nice to have electricity for lighting and my appliances. I am all for that. What I am against is deregulation, that allows fossil fuel companies to get away with polluting our air and water, and with turning our wilderness areas into wastelands.

And his assertion that Democrats are also “in bed” with these companies is misleading to say the least. Of course there are corrupt Democrats, but the overwhelming majority of those in government who are anti-regulation are Republicans. They crave it mightily, with every breath they take.

However, I will admit that the Democrats in W.Va. are a different breed, I would call them right-leaning centrists. They know that they must kowtow to mining interests or their political careers are finished. Senator Byrd didn’t speak out against the coal companies until right before he retired, and now Senator Rockefeller is following suit. Sadly, it’s too little, too late. How many mountains have been reduced to rubble while these politicians pandered to King Coal?

I was raised in W.Va., it is my beloved childhood home and it’s true, I get riled up when I see what the coal and fracking companies have done to it. I remember what it was like in the ’50s, the woods, fields, creeks and lakes were a child’s paradise.

My uncle was a coal miner back in the bad old days, lying on his back, picking it out above his head. He died of black lung after he retired, so I guess you could say the coal got him in the end.

Yes the mines are safer now, but not by that much. Regulations are constantly ignored, and miners die because of it. Unions are more powerful than coal companies? Now that really is laughable. If that were true, mines would be well regulated, and miners would be much safer.

As for good-paying jobs, the truth is that mountaintop mining cuts down on the number of miners needed, and so they might be good-paying, but fewer get paid.

Another point that needs to be made is that these fossil fuel companies and their enablers in government have for decades fought any effort to develop clean energy. Think what they could have accomplished had they put a fraction of their immense wealth into developing fuels that wouldn’t make the environment that sustains us unfit for us to live in.

We argue, debate and discuss, and the situation only gets worse. It seems that most people are in fierce denial and that kind of attitude only delays efforts to turn things around.

We have to stop attacking each other and begin to work together for the sake of the common good. If we can’t bring ourselves to do that, then we will surely suffer the consequences.

Regina Carpenter