When I first read this document 18 years ago, it infuriated me. Starting on page 13, the essay includes points that amount to a depopulation plan for southern West Virginia. I think it infuriates me even more now, after everything that’s happened since then that has continued to run our people out of their ancestral home places.
We truly are in the coal industry’s way, and what better to get us out than to poison the water and air?
The essay was presented to a “Social Issues” Sunday School class at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston, WV in January 2000. It was in response to an earlier presentation made by John Taylor. Taylor authored the WV United Methodist Conference Resolution opposing mountaintop removal.
Jack Snyder shared the paper with John Taylor prior to his presentation in order to allow John time to prepare a rebuttal. The reference to John’s wife is referring to Lynda Ann Ewen, who shared the paper with one of her classes at Marshall University.
Mr. Snyder gave his permission for the use of this paper to Ewen. At that time, Mr. Snyder was a partner in the law firm of Robinson & McElwee of Charleston, which represents numerous coal companies and other large businesses. This paper is not, however, an official reflection of that law firm’s view.
Official or not, it sure does seem that the coal barons are trying to drive us away, to make our homeplaces unlivable, to get us pesky hillbillies out of the way so that the coal industry can do whatever the hell it wants to our land, our water, our heritage, and the very unique culture that these mountains made.