Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Yellow Backhoe Is Gone

I travel River Road regularly and, for as long as I can remember, there has been this old, worn-out yellow backhoe – a relatively large one as these things go. It resided on a patch of land adjacent to the road and just sat there, doing nothing. To anyone’s eyes, it was nothing but a piece of junk; to the eyes of anyone in coal country, it was just another way for the coal companies to screw the locals.

When you travel around here, you will see worked-out strip mines with piles of culm (worthless tailings) all over the place. Plus one piece of useless construction gear on the property somewhere. That represents the mine owners’ middle finger to us.

The owners are required to repair the land, make it look good again, when they are finished stripping the coal. They are finished, the law says, when the last piece of construction equipment leaves. So you have some junk tractor or backhoe? Drag it onto the site and leave it there as proof you aren’t done yet. You are rid of a worked-out truck, you don’t have to spend money reclaiming the land and there’s nothing anybody can do about it. You’ve got the law on your side.

The big yellow backhoe on River Road was moved two weeks ago. Means only one thing to me: the coal company found a buyer for the land. Now, at last, they are truly finished with it. Could be there is some other reason, but I could not imagine anyone who runs, or ran, a coal company having the slightest bit of compassion for the people of this area; there’s money to be had in moving that derelict.


Post a Comment

<< Home