Among the hundreds of coal miners I have interviewed over the years, retired coal miner Chuck Nelson has always been among the most fearless truth-tellers in the coal country of West Virginia.
Thank you Jeff Biggers for introducing Chuck Nelson and his story to a wider audience. He is an American Hero, may he continue the good fight for the people and land of West Virginia country. Jeff Biggers himself has an interesting connection to coal mining, as a native of mining country in southern Illinois, he experienced the devastation brought about by strip mining there, a place more generally associated with corn and soybean fields, yet Illinois played an important role in bringing about the first national mine safety regulationa as a result of the tragic Cherry Mine Disaster of 1909 in northern Illinois.
A veteran is a hero for saying war is bad. A coal miner is now a hero for saying coal mining is bad.
Thank you for speaking out. I'm not sure I side with the author that he deserves praise for complaining about being mistreated. Most people complain when they are mistreated and it doesn't make them heroes or deserving of praise.
I also question the author's suggestion that Nelson is concerned about "the clear-cut destruction of his mountain forests and poisoning of his neighbors"--reference to which I don't find in his own words here. Maybe he does speak out against it, but not here and not while he was participating in it.
I still remember that almost the entire state was without drinkable water a few years ago because of pollution from mining toxins. Yet people there were complaining about liberals wanting to put environmental restrictions on their jobs because that would result in layoffs, even though those very jobs they were so desperate for were poisoning their own children.
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Mr. Nelson is a an active member of Coal River Mountain Watch, is an organization whose specific purpose is to stop MTR strip mining of Coal River Mountain and other areas of Southern WV. So, Mr. Biggers' assertion that he is trying to save the forests is correct. Mr. Nelson was an underground miner and never worked on a strip mine, but even if he did, it is utterly unimportant regarding what he is doing now. To attack any fellow activist for a past livelihood (the greater environmental impacts of the livlihood were unknown - but it does not matter even if he knew about them) is low, vile and contemptible.
Also, the pollution incident you are referring to was a large spill of a concentrated chemical (sold to coal washing plants) just upstream of the Charleston public water intake on the Elk River. It affected the City of Charleston - hardly the whole state.
Are you an agent-provocateur working for Alpha, Chris Kline, Bob Murray, Arch Coal or other big union-hating, global warming denying, coal boss? Because you attacks on Chuck Nelson of Jeff Biggers is right out of the FBI COINTELPRO Manual.
What a horrible story! It's brutal, but it has to be told. Unfortunately, if the coal mining disaster in Springhill, Nova Scotia, Canada, back in 1958, and the explosion/fire down in West Virginia, which killed a whole bunch of coal miners back in 2008 is any indication, things have really not changed for the better, even today, regarding the conditions that coal miners have to work under, and the fact that their overall health and very lives are still put at risk for 8 hours or more every day. The conditions under which coal miners have to work, even today, are no safer than they were during the Cherry Mine disaster, or the above-mentioned, more recent coal mining disasters.
Ever heard of the documentary film, Harlan County, USA? I recommend renting this excellent documentary film if possible. That, too, gives a tremendous amount of insight.
Will "Blood on the Mountain" be playing anywhere here in the United States? Just curious.
Chuck Nelson really is an American Hero...and an excellent speaker, to boot.
It is a sad commentary on what elites deem important, the Cherry Mine Disaster was over one hundred years ago. One of the reasons I post the story is to call attention to what has not been done in the subsequent years. There have been many horrible disasters since, my hat goes off to the men, mostly men, making their living through mining. Now it must be brought to an end, but never, never disparage the working man for being a miner.
Good points, HisStory. Thanks.
"...Black Lung Disease needlessly surges as State Legislatures gut Mining Safety Regulations..."
It's an uphill battle, without a level Media Playing Field, to educate the very people being victimized, that the very people they are VOTING FOR make this possible.
Granted, my memory of the incident was a little off. But check out the Wikipedia page on it, and there's more than one city: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2014_Elk_River_chemical_spill
Second, you seem to be one of those many online folks who just have to CATEGORIZE people according to AD HOMINEM attacks. COINTELPRO? Agent for the coal bosses? Everything I wrote was anti coal! Why not just accuse me of being brainwashed by martians? At least that would make sense.
Third, your type of people, probably because you are so eager to clump into ad hominem categories, are also pretty lazy when it comes to reading. Try this:
"Thank you for speaking out." I really did mean that, and really do think what Nelson is doing has great social value. At the same time, I'm not going to back down from my main point: I appreciate his current activism, but I don't appreciate the common message that coal mining or warring is a noble profession because you've been in the trenches and have been beat down by the ownership class, as demonstrated by the author's words, and by Nelson's words here: "We are the hardest, and best, working men and women in the world."
Also good is the Appalshop documentary called The Coal Wars (about the labor strife and attacks on Black Mountain in WV).
Thanks, Silverbird. I've never heard of the documentary called The Coal Wars, but it, too, sounds interesting...and fascinating.