Threat to Survival Up in Arms Over Strip Mining LOTTS CREEK, Ky. (AP) A thin brown stream oozes past a mucky mountain road that abruptly ends at the comma nity hall where Robert Ratliff and his Kentucky neighbors chuckled over the local boy "gone wrong." The boy it seems, "miscalculated" and went to work for a strip mining company. "We all know'd him; right nice fella too, did some drillin' work," said Ratliff. "But he got to talkin' to this big mine operator and he told him, 'I've got a lot of friends in Clear Creek; and that he'd go in 'n' strip. "On Thursday, he brought in the bulldozer 'n* on Sunday night it blow'd all to pieces. "Elmer,' I said to him a couple of days later, 'I would do things for you I'd only do for my daddy, but when it comes to strip mining, nobody ain 't got no friends in Clear Creek.*" 'Get My 30-30' "They might strip in Clear Creek after we're dead, lady, but not while we's alive." Ratliff, a former underground miner turned farmer, is not alone in his feelings. He and many of his neighbors view strip mining as a threat to their survival. And they resent it all the more because the coal stripped away by the encroaching bulldozers goes primarily to help feed generators producing electricity for big cities many miles away. "We could care less about people freezin' to death in New York City or Washington, D.C., if they're going to destroy us," says Joe Begley a Blackey, Ky., grocer and head of the Citizens League to Protect the Surface Rights. "Them people in New York are already in trouble," Begley says. "Why should we worry 'bout their welfare when they're takin' our mountains and streams? They're destroy- in' the last damn place on earth they may hope to exist on." Coal Demand Spirals The demand for coal has spiraled in the past 18 months, parity because of a fear that promises of inminent nuclear power and inexhaustible reservoirs of natural gas are pipe- dreams. The renewed demand has prompted miners to extract the minerals as cheaply and as quickly as possible—by ripping open the land acres at a time. Gargatuan machines enable strippers to mine coal far faster than underground operators. New federal laws regulating the health and safety of deep miners also have driven many small coal mine operators to abandon the underground shafts in favor of easier methods. Strippers don't have to worry about mine roof supports, dust standards or many of the other requirements imposed on underground operations. Tempers Kindled But the surge in strip mining has kindled tempers to a degree reminiscent of the mid- 60's, when angry mountaineers fought off coal companies with buckshot. A Knott County housewife, Bessie Smith, and other members of the Appalachian Group to Save the Land and People recently held off bulldozers by sitting in their path near Hazard, Ky. In another confrontation, shotgun -toting friends of a property owner stared down miners until state police roared in to prevent any bloodshed. "Once we had the prettiest mountains," said Mrs. Cliff Davidson, the wife of a retired Coaldale, W. Va., deep miner. "Now they're not fit for a jackrabbit." Their frame home was rock ed by blasting from nearby strip mining operations. "That winder's caved in. Our roof's tore all to pieces. If it started rainin', we'd be hurting," she said. "Why, even our cistern's all busted to pieces." Mrs. Nathaniel Lee, mother of eight, who lives in Kincaid, W. Va., escaped serious injury when a rock the size of a basketball crashed through her kitchen roof from a mountaintop blast half a mile away. Different View National Coal Association President Carl E. Bagge views the future differently. "The 70s will be the decade in which coal achieves its natural birthright as the principal energy source for the nation," he told a coal industry convention. He said 610 million tons of coal—40 per cent of it stripped—will be mined in the United States this year. Ten years ago, 403 million tons of coal were taken from the ground. "A new day is dawning for coal," says Bagge. The coal industry predicts that 650 million to 685 million tons will be mined in 1974, half of which will probably be stripped coal. By 1980, stripping will have ripped up 5.8 million acres—an area the size of New Jersey, estimates the U.S. Bureau of Mines. Since the advent of mining in the nation, 4.2 million acres of the total, million acres affected by coal mining have been stripped, the bureau says. Although 22 states have surface mining laws, the bureau figures that only two million acres have been reclaimed in some fashion so far. Much of the strip mining in Kentucky is done with the help of much hated board form deeds. Upheld only in Kentucky, the documents allow a company owning the mineral rights to a piece of property to mine the land anytime it wants to, des pite the surface owner's objections. In many cases, ancestors of current land owners traded all mineral rights away forever in exchange for only a few dollars. To soothe the pain, coal companies usually pay a token fee to the present land owner, 10 cents a ton of coal or up to 50 cents a linear foot. When the Weather Is NICE You Will Find That CLOTHES Look Even Nieer When DRY CLEANED BY SAYLOR Just Phone 5-7371 We'll Do I The Rest CLEANERS HOME OWNED OWNER OPERATED SIXTH AND ADAMS Hutchinson News Sunday, Oct. 10, 1971 Page 24 Buy now at Pre-Taril Loyaujay for Christmas. 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