Small Town Takes on Mining Giant

The governing council of Blaine Township, Pennsylvania, decided that they will not allow coal mining giant, Consol Energy, to come in and destroy the township’s farms and streams by doing underground longwall mining, a technique now banned in Germany, where it was invented.

The tool they’re using to fight Consol Energy is something called “democracy.” They have the quaint idea that they can prohibit a mining technology that would destroy their town. But — as the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v FEC illustrates — there are very few government entities of any kind left in our country that have the power to stand up successfully to large corporations.

Indeed, Blaine (represented by CELDF) has now been sued by Consol, and the case is working its way through the courts.

Rural, small-town America is the frontline battleground for the most important political struggle now taking place in our country, the struggle for local-control, local democracy. This is where the promise of the Founders will survive or perish once and for all. This is the common ground where liberals and conservatives can all meet and join hands.

Does this sound extreme?

Watch this 10-minute movie (below) by Jeremy Kagan (director of The Big Fix and Natty Gann, among other successful films) and decide for yourself.

This movie was shown at the Wild and Scenic Film Festival Workshop, “The Revolution for Local Control.”

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6 Responses to “Small Town Takes on Mining Giant”
  1. jeffpelline says:

    great case study. but would like to see you address the jobs in a small community angle, which is always raised.

  2. depelton says:

    Thanks, Jeff. I’m sure it would be interesting to know about jobs, but what’s significant in this story is the issue of “who decides?”

    I doubt that any of those people whose land is destroyed would find that destruction amply compensated by an opportunity to work in the mine!

  3. Don Pelton says:

    To understand the unbelievable destructiveness and obscenity of longwall mining and the significance of Blaine’s response to it, it’s necessary to watch Kagan’s video. Don’t rely on my few comments.

  4. Don Pelton says:

    Here’s a description of longwall mining from the book, Be The Change: How to Get What You Want in Your Community, by Thomas Linzey, Anneke Campbell

    “The procedure for longwall coal mining goes something like this: six to eight hundred feet below the earth’s surface, depending on the seam, a machine moves across the face of the coal, grinding it up at tremendous speed. After the machines come through and remove the coal, the earth drops three to six feet above the seam. This is called subsidence. The damage caused by subsidence has caused the practice of longwall mining to be banned in Germany — the country where it originated.”

  5. depelton says:

    Fred Kramer, resident of Blaine Township, whose flag-draped home is pictured in my article above, says:

    “My home is 156 years old. My home will be destroyed when it is undermined. I will lose everything that I came to Blaine Township for.”


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  1. […] the still guttering flame of democracy in America, look in the heartland, in small towns such as Blaine Township, Pennsylvania, and now in Pittsburgh, where town councils are voting to deny corporations the […]

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