Friends Don't Let Friends Blow Away Mountaintops
by Nathan Empsall, Fri Dec 04, 2009 at 01:10:04 PM EST
The Hotline's Reid Wilson had a very interesting article earlier this week about the Democratic Senate primary in Kentucky. It boils down to this: one candidate supports mountaintop removal mining, the other doesn't. Attorney General Jack Conway values the environment and the health of his potential constituents; Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo does not.
We've heard from several KY Dem strategists who say the issue could be a factor in the primary; the coal industry plays an outsized role in KY, even though it accounts for less than 1% of the jobs in the state. But it's an issue that pits Mongiardo's base of rural Dems squarely against Conway's urban Dems.
If mountaintop mining plays a major, or decisive, role in the primary, it could signal which Dem faction is dominant in state politics.
Polls have showed both candidates leading, and national Dems who once favored Conway have modified their language toward Mongiardo. They claim to be happy with either candidate. Still, the eventual winner is unlikely to emerge from the race unscathed; political watchers are hard-pressed to remember a primary that has turned this negative this quickly.
I haven't paid much attention to this race. Given his performance against Bunning in 2004, I probably would have been inclined to support Mongiardo. But this does it for me: I'll be donating to Conway's campaign. Why do I care so much about mountaintop removal mining? A very simple summary from Earth Justice gets right to it:
Mountaintop removal coal mining, often described as "strip mining on steroids," is an extremely destructive form of mining that is devastating Appalachia. In the past few decades, over 2,000 miles of streams and headwaters that provide drinking water for millions of Americans have been permanently buried and destroyed. An area the size of Delaware has been flattened. Local coal field communities routinely face devastating floods and adverse health effects. Natural habitats in some our country's oldest forests are laid to waste.
Earth Justice provides a number of ways to help them fight mountaintop removal mining - signing petitions, sending comments to the EPA, writing to the President, etc. Here's a new one: Support Jack Conway for U.S. Senate. Conway isn't exactly a supporter of cap-and-trade, but that may be a non-issue by January 2011. Right now, I'm more concerned with Mongiardo's enthusiastic backing of 0.9% of his state's jobs rather than 100% of the nation's health and environment.
Way back in April, which is admittedly quite dated, Conway did better in head-to-head general election matchups than Mongiardo. On a related note, earlier this week Jerome noted that Mongiardo somewhat backs Obama's troop surge and Conway is mostly opposed. As he said, "It's pretty clear whom is the progressive in the primary."