In the latest State of the State Governor Tomblin vowed to fight the Obama Admistration’s Energy policy.  Vowing; “As long as I am governor I will continue to fight the administration’s war on coal.” Tomblin’s language of warfare and conflict is part of a broader attack on environmentalism.  A little over year ago David Barton and his party of favorites at Wallbuilders.org released a 12 part DVD series called “”Resisting The Green Dragon,” that attempted to debase and discredit the environmental movement. This series portrayed the environmental movement “one of the greatest deceptions of our day” that it is “seducing your children” and “striving to putAmerica and the world under its destructive control.” Well, before you dismiss this line of logic as a joyride in the idiotmobile there is a frightening validity behind the attacks on environmentalism.

 Governor Tomblin is simply a local example of the venomous attacks against the EPA, environmentalism, and any who stand in the way of industry.  Working with WVSORO for the last few months I’ve been witness to the environmental, economic, and human effects of hydraulic fracturing. The WVU Law School Fracking Symposium, that I like to refer to as, “That Dog and Pony Show”, framed the conflict between industry and environmentalist very well.  Industry presents its side of the argument with a steely efficiency.  They frame the issue in terms of States’ Rights, Energy Independence, and Job Creation, tossing these buzz words around with little to support their claims.  These “facts” amount to little more than advertising.  Those who do not buy their products or their ideology are presented as kooks, radicals, and nitwits. Environmentalists are “othered” and dismissed. Industry hopes that people do not examine their claims beyond the surface.  Digging past the veneer of clean energy, abundance, and gainful employment, there is the uncomfortable reality of stolen land, pollution, and destruction.  The human cost of cheap energy is very real. The sad irony for those who expose the grim nature of cheap energy is the “shoot the messenger” mentality in this country.  Those who present uncomfortable facts are damned for it.

 At the heart of the Green Dragon series is this idea that Environmentalists care more for the Earth than they do for humanity.  The series operates with the idea that the discussion about human population is directly linked with a need to reduce that population.  Unfortunately for the environmental movement this language is not restricted to extreme groups such as Wallbuilders. Issues of consumption and responsibility delve into a world of ethics and morality that is troubling for those in the developed Western world. In essence an ethical crisis forms, which forces us to examine the uncomfortable aspects of comfort culture. Erazim Kohak sums up this crisis stating; “We are too numerous, demanding, and powerful.”  We and our demands are part of the ecocrisis and sadly much of the discussion about human faults is personalized. 

The lifestyles is not only a serious finical but societal issue. Jobs, quality of life, and culture are affected by the use of these resources. In West Virginia the debate seems to be focused on the resources producing culture of the state.  When environmentalists speak negatively about the environmental impacts of coal, manyWest Virginiansare quick to see this not as a criticisms of an industry but as an attack on their way of life. A fact politicians, energy industrialists, and those who benefit from West Virginian labor are quick to exploit.

Regardless of whether people want to realize it or not, there is an ecocrisis.  The world is being changed by human action in profound and permanent (at least as humanity measures time) ways.  Ignoring the debate between science and pseudo-science over proving climate change, we as a society are deeply engaged in the discussion of the environment.  What those who fight for the environment in West Virginia must realize is that the concerns over preserving the environment often conflicts with the culture of the state.  While not everyone values this culture there is a need to respect those who do. Industry may resort to slander, but we must remember to not get distracted by the rough language and the direct attacks and focus on our message and goals.

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