First, let me just say that my Grandpaw Hiram Maggard, whom I loved and miss dearly, was a coal miner and fed his children on the wages of a coal miner. Grandpaw would crawl on his hands and knees into a hole in the earth and dig coal with a pick and a shovel, load it onto a wagon and a little pony would pull it outside. As you can imagine, this was backbreaking work and I have many, many relatives alive and gone who are coal miners to this day. I say this because I SUPPORT COAL MINERS! But I think there is a big difference between digging a hole/mine down into the earth and harvesting coal and taking dynamite and blowing off the top of a mountain to get the coal. What I DO NOT SUPPORT is when all the rocks, sludge and debris from blowing up the top of the mountain destroy every tree, every stream, every creek that runs off of that mountain. One can argue that those creeks and streams that are destroyed and filled with debris feed the rivers. Also, those big nasty sludge ponds that are created often burst and pollute and contaminate the rivers and streams. My question is this: is the electricity that the coal provides worth ruining the water? I say NO, you're gonna need that water, your children and their children's children are gonna need that water. So, if there's a question of electricity and water...well just go a day or two without power and go a day or two without water and see which hurts the most. Without electricity you will be inconvenienced--without water you will DIE!
In my humble opinion there is a big difference between the two types of coal mining. Feel free to call me a tree hugger, actually I consider it a compliment. I'm writing this because I have hurt the feelings of some people that I love because of my stand against Mountaintop Mining and I just felt the need to explain my position and why. Back in the 70's I went to Kentucky and walked a picket line WITH THE COAL MINERS to show my support for them. So anybody who thinks that I am anti-coal miner is simply wrong. I am ANTI-MOUNTAINTOP COAL REMOVAL, there is a difference in my humble opinion. My cousin Reece Maggard and his brother Ronnie are like brothers to me and I love them and their families dearly, and both work in the coal business and have raised their children on coal money.
It's a tough situation, people must feed their children, buy them clothes and send them to school; so if coal mining is the only job around it's a no brainer what these folks have to do and where they have to work to make a living. I just have a big problem with this NEW type of coal mining that is raping the Mountains to get to the coal. What's the answer? I don't know, but if you think about the water issue I brought up earlier you might have the same questions I do. I'm just writing this to try and explain my position to some people that I care deeply about. Plain and simple! Sincerely, Joe Maggard