by Jeff Woods
"We've long suspected that citizens, as taxpayers, carry an unfair share of the externalized costs of coal mining," said SOCM Strip Mine Committee Chair, Cathie Bird. "This report takes us a huge step forward in trying to quantify some of the costs the people of Tennessee pay so that the coal industry can profit."
The report contains a critical flaw, however. In making the calculations, it fails to account for the most important number: the industry's nearly $200,000 in political contributions to Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey over the past year. At the legislature, that trumps everything else.