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From the HumanFlowerProject: Now that the creeks have been poisoned by runoff, the roads torn up by heavy trucks, the forests destroyed, and the mountains scraped flat, we are pleased to learn that Kentucky lawmakers have taken a stand on mountain-top-removal coal mining. They have passed a law that “asks” coal companies to plant pollen-producing trees and flowers on these industrial deadzones in order to feed honeybees. Nothing against bees, but where were lawmakers when Appalachian residents demanded that this horrific form of strip mining be banned?
Rather than boring underground to mine coal, mountaintop removal blasts the surface away, shoves the non-coal down into streams, and pulls the mineral out from on top. Presto! This method of coal mining has been fiercely opposed by local residents, who bear the brunt of its violence, and by environmentalists everywhere. Coal companies are required to file and carry out “reclamation plans” after mining, but that’s a puzzling phrase. As musician Billy Edd Wheeler wrote: “They Can’t Put It Back.”
Typically, mining companies have replanted the mangled and denuded landscape with non-native grasses. The new Kentucky law recommends that they plant, instead, pollen-producing natives, like goldenrod, asters, sourwoods, and tulip poplars. (The huge green and orange striped blooms of the tulip poplar (above) are among the most impressive tree-flowers on the whole North American continent.) Note: the new law is only a recommendation. Coal companies are not legally required to do anything any differently than what they have been doing. While we hope that this statute results in more nectar-producing plants in Eastern Kentucky, and healthier bee populations, it strikes us as a measly measure – a feel-good for lawmakers and a chance for the coal operators to sound environmentally sensitive. This appears to be yet another instance of floral camouflage.