Appalachia has long been in America's sacrifice zone, metaphorically and literally. Big Coal has plundered thousands of seams, ripped the tops off 500 mountains, extracted the land's wealth, poisoned its streams and rivers, and left the people destitute. But Appalachia is hardly America's only sacrifice zone.
In the first half of this year, at least six domestic coal companies filed for bankruptcy. In February, West Virginia's Covington Coal fell, followed by Xinergy and Grass Creek Coal in April, Patriot and Birmingham Coal & Coke in May, and A&M Coal in June. But in August came the biggest news of all.
Unfolding with the plaintive air of an elegy, Blood on the Mountain captures mining companies' blatant disregard for the health and lives of coal miners -- and the mountains they call home -- as a timely reminder of the legacy of an essentially outlaw industry and its 150-year reign in West Virginia.
A powerful notice of intent to sue the Obama administration was filed by attorney Patrick C. McGinley for its failure to prepare and implement a federal program for West Virginia's documented oversight and violations of required strip mining regulations. His brief on behalf of several environmental groups reads like a spellbinding rap sheet of an incorrigible offender.