Mountain-top removal just needs some rebranding

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.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.