Reprinted below is a letter sent by Frank Hoyt Taylor of The River Farm in Dungannon to The Coalfield Progress. If you'd like to learn more about this issue, and what you can do, visit the Wise Energy for Virginia website at http://www.cleanenergyva.org/. Also visit the sites of the coalition partners on that site to educate yourself as to all facts before you make a conclusion about the merits of this proposal. Regulatory approvals by state agencies are still imminent. If you care about this, I encourage you to act now.
The Virginia legislature passed a bill saying that a coal fired power plant in Southwest Virginia would be for the public good. It would not be for the public good. The health of thousands of children would be impaired especially those who live or attend school within 60 miles of St. Paul. There is a mountain of evidence; if you have a computer just search for 'coal fired power pollution children', or ask anyone who lives near the Carbo power plant. They have suffered for years and lives have been shortened, needlessly. The power company will say "but we're not going to pollute that much at our new plant".
They might as well say they're not going to drop a 10 pound rock on our heads just a 7 or maybe 8 pound rock. No amount of mercury or other toxic pollutants will be good for our children. It will make them sick, some severely sick for a long time. The effects of the combination of these pollutants is not known. The pollution will of course affect older people, especially the elderly. But we have a choice and our children do not.
The power company, whose business is to make money and influence legislation, will say 'but the government gives us permission to do all that'. Yes they do but it doesn't make it right. Dominion Power wants to build the plant here in far Southwest Virginia because citizens in the rest of the state will not allow it in their communities. There is no more degrading insult to our people. Haven't we sacrificed enough to provide power to our country?
The thousands of men who have lost their lives in the mines, the tens of thousands who have black lung and the great amount of the land itself stripped away. Isn't that enough? And now they want us to give up the clean air that we and our children breathe? Shame. The hopeless, cynical voice would say that Southwest Virginia and its inhabitants have been so ravaged over the years that this enterprise of Dominion Power would make little difference and would provide some jobs (even more jobs would likely be lost when employers and their families would not want to move here). But I believe the voice of our children is more hopeful and their vision greater.
A toxic cloud spreading to North Carolina, Kentucky, West Virginia and Tennessee, burning our forests with acid rain and destroying our streams is, I'm sure, not part of their vision. It's possible to say yes to the coal industry just no to Dominion Power. Even though my work takes me far away I have lived here all my life and I love the mountains and the people. They have influenced and informed all the work I have done so far. I know I don't have to urge anyone to protect their children but I do urge you to let your voices be heard.
Loud and clear.
Sunday, January 13, 2008