Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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July 29, 2010

MOUNTAIN-TOP REMOVAL JUST NEEDS SOME REBRANDING.... Most reasonable people should be able to agree that mountain-top removal is an environmentally destructive practice. The idea is to mine for coal by literally blowing the tops off of mountains, which occasionally sends thick sludge into area waterways, poisoning nearby lands.

As Brad Johnson noted a while back, "Mountain-top mining has been more accurately described as the 'rape of Appalachia,' as rural communities are destroyed economically and environmentally for coal industry."

Rand Paul (R), the extremist U.S. Senate candidate in Kentucky, doesn't quite see it that way. Last year, the right-wing ophthalmologist dismissed concerns, arguing, "I don't think anybody's going to be missing a hill or two here and there."

Today, Evan McMorris-Santoro flags remarks Paul made to Details magazine, suggesting mining through mountain-top removal would not only be more popular if it was given a better name, but moreover, is actually a good thing.

Paul believes mountaintop removal just needs a little rebranding. "I think they should name it something better," he says. "The top ends up flatter, but we're not talking about Mount Everest. We're talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here. And I've seen the reclaimed lands. One of them is 800 acres, with a sports complex on it, elk roaming, covered in grass." Most people, he continues, "would say the land is of enhanced value, because now you can build on it."

As for the destruction associated with the practices, Paul added that legal restrictions on gutting the regional environment are a mistake. "Let's let you decide what to do with your land," he said.

Steve Benen 11:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (25)

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Comments

Why can't the right understand the idea of pricing negative externalities?

Posted by: KK on July 29, 2010 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

In any sane society, this kind of mining would be a criminal offense punishable with jail time.

Oh, and Rand, baby? Even if you let the miners do what they want with their own land, have you figured out a way to keep the runoff and erosion from other people's land?

Didn't think so.

And this clown graduated med school? Which teaches science???

Posted by: efgoldman on July 29, 2010 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

"What I don't like from the president's administration is this sort of, 'I'll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'" Paul said in an interview with ABC's "Good Morning America." "I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business."

A pattern is emerging.

Posted by: RolloTomasi on July 29, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

Why would anyone want to build on a former mine site? I mean, it's not close to anything.

Maybe "sprawl" needs re-branding, too.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 29, 2010 at 11:47 AM | PERMALINK

"A pattern is emerging."

Indeed it is:

CBS/AP) While BP took a $17 billion loss in the second quarter, the financial news isn't all bad for the beleaguered oil giant.

That's because the amount the oil company set aside to cover the costs of the oil spill will end up saving the oil giant $10 billion in U.S taxes, according to an msnbc.com report.

BP set aside $32.2 billion for the cost of the spill, a charge that led to the $17 billion quarterly loss. But according to the msnbc.com report, BP plans to offset the entire cost of the spill against its tax bill, which will slash its U.S. taxes by $10 billion.

Posted by: Eat The Rich on July 29, 2010 at 11:52 AM | PERMALINK

efgoldman hits it on the head: Just ask those folks whose homes and land have been engulfed by toxic sludge, which definitely impacted what those folks could do with THEIR LAND.

What does Rand Paul think about those who pollute the air ON THEIR LAND? That pollution impacts everyone in the area, who are trying to do things with THEIR LAND, maybe something as radical as breathe so they can work their land?

Rand Paul is an idiot.

Posted by: Hannah on July 29, 2010 at 11:53 AM | PERMALINK

The top ends up flatter, but we're not talking about Mount Everest. We're talking about these little knobby hills that are everywhere out here.

Typical Paul idea, a mole hill out of a mountain. How about we fill in the Grand Canyon with illegal immigrants, throw in the flattened portion of the knobby hill, and then build on it and enhance the value?

Posted by: flyonthewall on July 29, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

So if I buy land next to his house, and build a mosque, I am within my rights as a private property owner?

Posted by: Tigershark on July 29, 2010 at 11:58 AM | PERMALINK

Nobody else has sunk this low yet, so I just can't resist. . .

Ya know, Dr Paul, the Devil is in the Details

Posted by: Michigoose on July 29, 2010 at 12:09 PM | PERMALINK

Why can't the right understand the idea of pricing negative externalities?
Posted by: KK on July 29, 2010

words of more than 2 syllables do not compute?

Posted by: Johnny Canuck on July 29, 2010 at 12:11 PM | PERMALINK

This is Kentucky, right? Is total decontrol of mining operations a popular position in Kentucky? Please tell me it's not.

Posted by: David in NY on July 29, 2010 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I bet he thinks the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear detonations were really effective attempts to limit urban sprawl.

Carpet bombing as a solution to the overstocked real estate market?

Land mines as a solution to the problem of homelessness?

See, you have to look for the silver lining.

Posted by: Sinister eyebrow on July 29, 2010 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

I really wish that a classic argument against unbridled libertarianism would be played out in Paul's neighborhood, with someone nearby and upwind opening a slaughterhouse, or maybe a pig farming operation. It's his land, right? And in principle, Paul should be opposed to zoning regulations.

Posted by: RSA on July 29, 2010 at 12:33 PM | PERMALINK

"Land mines as a solution to the problem of homelessness?"

Homeless don't spend too much time on actual soil. They like city streets, sidewalks, etc...and putting a mine under asphalt and/or concrete ain't easy. Now placing the device on a steam grate in December? Works like a charm! Another steam pipe accidentally exploded and killed a toothless, smelly, drunk, begging street freak and trashed a perfectly good shopping cart? Gotta call ConEd again...

Posted by: Seefor on July 29, 2010 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

You should be able to do what ever you want with your own land......I can't wait o build my hard rock porn palace. Sure I live in a suburb on a 1/4 acre lot, but it is MY lot and I should be able to have deafening music and live nude girls and guys pole dancing in my front yard day and night if I want to!!!!!

Posted by: Ann on July 29, 2010 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

"You should be able to do what ever you want with your own land......I can't wait o build my hard rock porn palace. Sure I live in a suburb on a 1/4 acre lot, but it is MY lot and I should be able to have deafening music and live nude girls and guys pole dancing in my front yard day and night if I want to!!!!!"

Cool with me. I live across the street, so I expect a reduced cover charge and drinks on the house.

Posted by: Ron Jeremy on July 29, 2010 at 12:46 PM | PERMALINK

As friendlier propaganda, perhaps they could go with "ohioizing Kentucky and West Virginia" (much of Ohio is, umm, relief-challenged, elevationally underperforming, topographically deficient, vertically unstimulating.....).

Posted by: N.Wells on July 29, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

While we amuse ourselves with today's Theater of the Absurd, forces on the right are girding their loins to strip mine us of our freedoms.

Remember the "private property" case in New England, where the land was taken for the "greater good"? That greater good being, I believe, a strip mall.

Ann, I am all for your porn palace, because we can now raise your taxes as a Commercial Enterprise Zone. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 29, 2010 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

Ann, I am all for your porn palace, because we can now raise your taxes as a Commercial Enterprise Zone. . .
----
Not if I dock it in RI!

Posted by: Catsup on July 29, 2010 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

Straightenin' the curves
Flattenin' the hills
Someday the mountain might get 'em
but the law never will

Posted by: Speed on July 29, 2010 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

I would note that, from a strict Libertarian perspective, Paul's statement is 100% consistent. And, in answer to the questions of building a mosque or opening a 24-hour hard rock stripper joint next to Dr. Paul's house, if he didn't agree 100% with each idea, he'd be, yes, a hypocrite.

But, from a strict Libertarian viewpoint, one should be entirely pro-choice. Indeed, the best description of Libertarianism I've ever heard is "pro-choice on everything." And Dr. Paul is... wait for it... 100% against legal abortion, and wants a Constitutional amendment to ban it. Meaning that he is... wait for it... yet another conservative hypocrite.

Why am I not surprised?
-Z

Posted by: Zorro on July 29, 2010 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm guessing Rand Paul has never tried fishing in a mountain stream that's had an adjoining mountaintop pushed into it. Or had the newly-redirected river flood his property, maybe even his home.

He really is phenomenally clueless.


Posted by: biggerbox on July 29, 2010 at 3:01 PM | PERMALINK

His argument about nobody missing a hill or two because there are so many of them reminds me of the comment someone made about those few gallons of oil spilling into the Gulf -- no biggie; the ocean is so large you won't even notice it.

It's totally callous and shows absolute lack of imagination; if it ain't the skin off MY nose, it doesn't mater...

Posted by: exlibra on July 29, 2010 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

I grew up in Wise County, Virginia, which used to be a mountain. Mountaintop removal is the ugliest of sins perpetrated on the earth. Go to any high observation point in the region [I recommend High Knob in Norton. From the lookout you can see five states at once!] and you'll see mountain ridge after mountain ridge stripped bare and turned to an amber sandy clay color.

But ask anyone who lives in the region what they think about it and they'll tell you without hesitation: "It looks like money to me."

And that, as they say, is that.

Posted by: chrenson on July 29, 2010 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

Why do you have to bring toxic sludge into it to prove environmental destruction? They're blowing the tops off of mountains!

Posted by: Ginger Yellow on July 29, 2010 at 5:28 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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