West Virginia resident Kenny King is on a mission. According to The Associated Press, he seeks to have a piece of property where he has (by his own admission) trespassed on for over twenty three years turned into a national historic landmark. Since 1991 he has made a conscious effort to clean up the stretch of land along Route 17 fifty miles south from Charleston, West Virginia that is owned by the Mingo Logan Coal Company, respectfully.
The site he seeks to classify as a national monument is the place where his grandfather participated in an event known to West Virginians as The Battle of Blair Mountain which was part of the state’s infamous mine wars. The event was one of the largest civil uprisings in US history. It was an armed conflict between union coal miners and West Virginia police that resulted in the deaths of 130 people. The battle was the result of controversy surrounding attempts to unionize the mine workers in the southwestern parts of West Virginia. While the mining companies ultimately prevailed, the victory was bittersweet since the battle is said to have galvanized the organized labor movement in the state and nationwide to become much larger and stronger.
After his failed attempt in 2002 to have Blair Mountain designated a national landmark, King enlisted the help of the Sierra Club. The group took up Kenny King’s cause litigating his issue until Blair Mountain was finally designated a national monument in 2009 only later to have the classification nixed.
Mining companies have expressed an interest in commemorating the site but are suspicious of the Sierra Club’s involvement. Their suspicions are justified. Back in March online publication The Daily Caller obtained an internal document leaked by an anonymous source. According to The Daily Caller, the document states:
The document lays out the environmental group’s $120 million campaign to decommission 105,000 megawatts of U.S. coal-fired power, prevent more coal from being mined or exported and push for more green energy production.
Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign’s main goals are to “stop the construction of a new fleet of coal plants… expedite the replacement of the existing fleet of coal plants with cleaner energy alternatives, with a goal of retiring all existing coal plants by 2030” and to “keep the massive U.S. coal reserves underground and out of international markets.”
In order to do this, the Beyond Coal campaign proposed to spend $120 million over four years, with an additional $30 million in 2015, to capitalize on Democratic control of the White House and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Sierra Club plan notes that at this funding level “we will run a strategic national campaign that pushes and supports EPA to issue a series of new pollution-cutting rules relating to each step in the coal lifecycle, including coal mining, coal burning, and disposal of coal ash.”
“At the same time we will use our battle-tested community organizers, lawyers, and media experts to ramp up to a 198-person campaign that is driving robust coal-retirement and clean energy replacement campaigns in at least 45 states,” the document reads. “Sierra Club staff will engage our allies and tens of thousands of new and existing activists to shutter plant after plant. As new market opportunities for clean energy are created, we will push for the rapid deployment of zero-carbon options, including wind, solar, geothermal, and energy efficiency.”
The article goes on to point out, that the Beyond Coal campaign’s stated goal is to close one-third of US coal mines in which the Sierra Club credits itself for shutting down 163 coal mines since 2010. The organization even goes so far as to state that it will lobby for stricter carbon emissions standards on coal usage in hopes of burdening the coal industry and will support the EPA’s attempts by providing legal and technical assistance in order to curb coal pollution.
With the EPA’s classifying carbon dioxide as a pollutant resulting from carbon emissions due to the usage of fossil fuels (like coal) resulting in global warming, and the Supreme Court’s recent decision affirming the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate CO2 as a pollutant is very revealing of the true intent of the Sierra Club and the environmentalist movement’s attitude not only toward coal but human activity as a whole.
I do think Kenny King loves his father and wants him to be remembered in some way. I am sure his father was a wonderful man and deserves to be remembered. I have no doubt King and family are honest, good people. I cannot, however, appreciate or support the means Kenny King is using by allying with the Sierra Club to accomplish his goal since the group seeks to close down all industry (in this case coal) and will use Kenny King’s cause as one way to do so.