Kennedy and Blankenship Go Head-to-Head on Mountaintop Mining
Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Massey Coal Baron and notorious environmental criminal Don Blankenship met last night at the University of Charleston in West Virginia to debate "the future of coal," in a room filled with both environmental activists and coal employees. Grist's Dave Roberts watched the debate and called it an unqualified victory for Kennedy. Check out his full review of the event here, we've pulled a few money quotes below:
Blankenship had every advantage, with a friendly hometown crowd eager to applaud him and a moderator who helpfully read off pro-coal facts during commercial breaks, but he was painfully and obviously outmatched by Kennedy. I guess it’s easy to get over-confident when you’ve effectively purchased a state government and broken the law with impunity for years.
He didn’t seem even cursorily prepared. Kennedy reeled off fact after fact about declining mining employment in WV, the age of Appalachian ecosystems and the impossibility of recovering them after MTR mining damage, the enormous health and economic impacts of coal on Appalachia, the size of Chinese investments in clean energy, the number of Clean Water Act violations from Massey, and on and on and on. Every fact was geared toward a plea to West Virginians: look, this man is making himself rich by making you poor. He’s sapping your state of jobs, income, health, and a future.
In response Blankenship had nothing but ressentiment and nativism. Over and over he dismissed Kennedy’s facts as “rhetoric” and “just false” claims that “you can find on the internet,” but not once did he refute or even convincingly contest a particular claim. He asked the audience to dismiss them based purely on crude stereotypes about out-of-state environmentalists.
Hats off to Robert Kennedy Jr. for stepping into the ring and enduring the Blankenship propaganda barrage in order to share some actual information about how much mountaintop mining and dirty coal cost our country.