This Friday, Jan. 10, 2014 photo shows a stretch of the Elk River in Charleston, W.Va. The White House has issued a federal disaster declaration in West Virginia, where a chemical spill that may have contaminated tap water has led officials to tell at least 300,000 people not to bathe, brush their teeth or wash their clothes. The West Virginia National Guard planned to distribute bottled drinking water to emergency services agencies in the nine affected counties. About 100,000 water customers, or 300,000 people total, were affected, state officials said. (AP Photo/Tyler Evert) AP
Kris Kristofferson, with a little help from his friend Janis Joplin, told us that "freedom" is just another word for nothing left to lose - but that was before American capitalism grasped hold of it. And then there's "patriot" -- a great word that a radical minority called the Tea Party has tried to hijack. But today West Virginians -- and all of America, really -- should be asking themselves: Why is this Patriot, and why is this Freedom, trying to poison our water and poison us:
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- More than 100,000 gallons of coal slurry poured into an eastern Kanawha County stream Tuesday in what officials were calling a "significant spill" from a Patriot Coal processing facility.
Emergency officials and environmental inspectors said that roughly six miles of Fields Creek had been blackened and that a smaller amount of the slurry made it into the Kanawha River near Chesapeake.
"There has been a significant environmental impact," said Harold Ward, acting director of the state Department of Environmental Protection's Division of Mining and Reclamation.
The incident occurred at Patriot Coal's Kanawha Eagle operation, Ward said.
It's getting to the point where it's hard to keep these coal ash, coal slurry, and toxic coal-cleaning chemicals straight -- on top of various fracking explosions, oil-by-rail explosions, pipeline spills and what not. Why is this happening now? The broad answer is that America is producing more fossil-fuel energy than ever, but after thirty years of deregulation that -- especially in a red state like West Virginia -- have been backed by leaders from both major parties, no one is checking to see what's safe. This is happening because industry and the politicians they've bought and paid for think they can get away with this, but it's backfired.
Freedom for big business isn't really free if it enslaves the everyday citizens who depend on clean water to live. And anyone who treats America's waterways with such callous disregard is no patriot.