A letter to the coal barons and their attorneys:

I don’t suppose you know what it’s like to live under a ticking time bomb. The same company with the same safety record that built the impoundment in Inez, KY is the one that built Brushy Fork. The word is out, we all know that the integrity of Brushy Fork is questionable at best. The question is, would you live under it? Would you have your loved ones living under it? And on matters of integrity, what will you do about it and why do you continue to blast so close to it?

I don’t suppose you know what it’s like to turn on your faucet and see black, gray or orange water pouring out. You don’t know what it’s like to work your whole life to build a house and home for your family, only to find out the water is bad, the air is full of the same dust that has killed so many miners before or that your house that is shaken and fractured from the blasting. You don’t know what it’s like to find that your child has a tumor, that you and many others in your community need to have their gall bladder removed or what it’s like to get sores on your skin from bathing in the water from your well.

I don’t suppose you know what it’s like to send your father to work on two legs and bring him home unrecognizable in a box.

I know you’ve never admitted guilt or liability for these things. You’ve found it expedient and convenient to do what most capitalists do: you throw money at it. You divert the topic, say it’s a cost of doing business, point to the jobs you’re giving people or the sports teams you fund, and you find contentment in another season of profits. How wonderful it must be to be the highest bidder when it comes to acquiring Justice. How nice to find yourself in the position that a mere fraction of a percent of your net worth will relieve you of guilt or responsibility, and that the same money means the law will bend to accommodate you.

In response to a question one of you reportedly asked some time back, “Are we hurting people?”, the answer is “Yes, but only before you have broken them and that which is sacred to them and then ushered in their untimely death.”

I know you say you don’t believe in climate change. And you don’t believe the health studies that have been conducted in the coal fields. In fact, your spokespeople only furthered our humiliation by saying “consanguinity” (a fifty cent word for incest) is the cause of our health problems. But your refusal to acknowledge what 98% of the worlds scientists agree on is absurd. Perhaps you will choose to bury your head in your wealth, but ultimately, you share the same fate as the rest of us. I believe the truth lies inside you, deep down, waiting for you to accept it. History is full of accounts of men and women who put pride and profit first- those stories usually didn’t end well. Likewise, history has many stories of men and women who faced a difficult decision and made the choice to do what was best for the many rather than the few. Those people are the ones we call heroes, they are the ones who inspire us to rise above our egos and challenge ourselves to be more than we know we are capable of, they are the ones who left a wealth of Love for us to carry forward as they passed into that great dark night.

That black gold is precious, but when it gets in your eyes, it clouds your vision.

I believe you know better, will you do better?

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