Thunder on the Mountain: Death At Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal
2012 nonfiction book by Peter A. Galuszka
On April 5, 2010, an explosion ripped through Massey Energy’s Upper Big Branch Mine, killing twenty-nine coal miners. This tragedy was the deadliest mine disaster in the United States in forty years—a disaster that never should have happened. … see full wiki
"How the enormous contrasts of Central Appalachia--great riches against abject poverty--came about is rooted in brutal exploitation so intense that it is an anomaly in the history of the United States. Few other parts of the country have endured more than a century and a half of such stark contrasts." -- p. 58
While the vast majority of the American people profess to be concerned about environmental matters the simple fact of the matter is that the preponderance of evidence would indicate that we are much more concerned about lifestyle choices. In his 2006 book "Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America's Energy Future" author Jeff Goodell opined that "'Big Coal's' goal is to keep us comfortable not curious." As we approach 2013 the American people remain blissfully unaware of just how much coal it takes to provide the energy each of us consumes so cavalierly on a daily basis. Furthermore, most of us have no idea of the hidden costs of burning so much coal. The people of Appalachia have been paying the price for decades. On April 5, 2010 29 coal miners were killed at the Upper Big Branch Mine in Montcoal, WV. It was a disaster that did not have to happen. Author Peter A. Galuszka has chronicled the events surrounding this tragic incident in his new book "Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal". This is an all too familiar story of greed, willful neglect and corporate arrogance that is sure to make your blood boil.
But there is a lot more to the story than the unfortunate events of April 5, 2010. In "Thunder on the Mountain" Peter A. Galuszka tells the sordid story of Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch Mine and its notorious CEO Don Blankenship. Massey was and always had been an extremely anti-union operation with very questionable priorities. Don Blankenship's predecessor at Massey Energy was E. Morgan Massey who summed up his business philosophy this way: "Customers came first, followed by shareholders. Employees rank third followed by the community and the environment." This was the precisely the way many of the large coal companies operated over the decades and the results have been disastrous for the people in coal country. Galuszka also spends considerable time discussing the outrageous practice of mountaintop removal mining and the devastating effects it has on the environment. For those who are unfamiliar with this issue I urge you to read this book and to take a look at the photo the author has included. It will break your heart.
I found "Thunder on the Mountain: Death at Massey and the Dirty Secrets Behind Big Coal" to be a compelling and very well-written book. The American people really do need to educate themselves on these issues. The simple fact of the matter is that unless we change our ways and reduce our demand for cheap energy to power all of our gadgets nothing is going to change. Very highly recommended!
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