West Virginia Politicians Bite the Hand that Feeds Them

posted by scott parkin

A surprising turn of events in West Virginia politics this week.

Sen. Robert Byrd, Sen. Jay Rockefeller and Rep. Nick Rahall all publicly criticized Massey Energy after the company refused to fund the relocation of Marsh Fork Elementary. Marsh Fork is currently sitting next to the Goals Coal processing facility and right down the hollow from a huge coal slurry impoundment (which holds billions of gallons of toxic coal sludge.)

marsh fork 1

Previously,upon suggestion from local school officials about contributing, Massey Energy spokesman Jeff Gillenwater had said “Massey pays millions of dollars in taxes each year that are available for projects such as this. In fact, just the mines in the Marsh Fork area pay nearly $5 million per month in severance, property and other state taxes.

Kind of made them look like co(a)ld hearted bastards to refuse to support a bunch of school kids in such dire need (at Massey’s hands, no less).

In response, Sen. Byrd, typically a staunch supporter of Big Coal, replied:

“Such arrogance suggests a blatant disregard for the impact of their mining practices on our communities, residents and particularly our children. These are children’s lives we are talking about.”

“If Massey were not operating near Marsh Fork Elementary, we would not be debating what to do about moving these young students someplace safer. This is not the taxpayers’ burden to remedy. This is Massey Energy’s responsibility to address.”

“Let me be clear about one thing – this is not about the coal industry or their hard-working coal miners. This is about companies that blatantly disregard human life and safety because of greed. That is never acceptable.”

“At a time when coal is under such close scrutiny, coal companies operating in West Virginia should be working together to put their best foot forward. For the sake of the entire coal industry, Massey Energy should strive to be a better and more responsible corporate citizen. And for the sake of the kids, they should address these serious environmental concerns at Marsh Fork Elementary immediately.”

marsh fork 2

Soon afterwards, Rep. Rahall and Sen. Rockefeller both issued statements saying that Massey should pay to move the school.

Of course, Massey’s lapdog WV Gov. Joe Manchin (who also has the power to do something about the school) side-stepped the issue (again).

Massey now maintains they only need to be asked by local officials. They also seemed pretty offended at Byrd’s comments implying they held little regard for human life. Imagine that.