We Are All Made Of Coal

Since I’ve started my research, I’ve come across numerous reports, stories and articles related to coal, and thus my project. Today, I figured I would share one of the more recent pieces as a blog post.

The article is a New York Times op-ed piece by James Howard titled “Appalachia Turns on Itself” (http://www.nytimes.com/2012/07/09/opinion/appalachia-turns-on-itself.html?ref=todayspaper). The article describes how the premier coal mining region of the United States (and perhaps the world) has be shaped, warped, manipulated and constructed by coal and the coal industry. Howard notes the “fraught relationship between the coal industry and the people of Appalachia, many of whom rely on it for jobs even as it poisons their region.”

Although Howard’s “case” was Appalachia, many of his comments could easily be transported to the tiny township of Dendron, VA– my “case”. Dendron is the proposed site for the massive 1500mw Cypress Creek Power Station project– a coal fired power plant. For the past four years, Dendron has been a battleground between supporters and opponents of coal based energy production and has been subsequently torn asunder by the debate. In the four years since the plant was first proposed, racial and class based cleavages have been opened where relative harmony used to exist. One resident at the heart of the opposition remarked that “There are people here that I’ve known all my life that now won’t speak to me” (DOA? Virginian-Pilot). Such is the social destruction that has occurred.

Project wise, Professor Kaup and I will be beginning our interview process very soon. It will be nice to get into the meat of the project, plus I am looking forward to meeting the people behind the abstracted story. Furthermore, some minor theory building and thinking about our project has led me to suppose some contributions that Professor Kaup and I will be making to the Environmental Justice literature. Whether or not these vague assumptions will hold remains to be seen. Anyway, without further interruption, the suppositions:

First, we will be complicating the ‘why’ and ‘where’ of resistance to locally unwanted land uses. Second, we will be examining and potentially adding a slight alteration to the ‘backyard’ in “not in my backyard” types of responses. Thirdly, our results will complicate the arguments for and against the various methodologies of conducting Environmental Justice research (e.g. unit-hazard, plume-based etc.)

I hope everyone had a wonderful Independence Day.