This article is by Damien Crisp
In West Virginia three hundred thousand folks were without water. They could not shower. They could not drink their water. They could not make coffee. Local businesses could not open their doors. Residents could flush their toilets but, otherwise, the water was declared useless for an unknown amount of time. West Virginia’s governor declared the water safe again but residents remained weary. Do you trust the local officials in a state long controlled by industry? You certainly cannot trust the company responsible for poisoning your water supply. And, how long will residue from the chemicals be in your pipes? How much is left in the water supply? The Elk River was being poisoned by the effects of hyper-capitalist driven deregulation and now residents have to live with the paranoia created by irresponsible industries who never concede fault. Now, West Virginia’s Charleston Gazette is reporting tests used to declare water safe again were faulty. We have to ask: were they were intentionally misleading?
Freedom Industries is responsible for leaking 4-Methylcyclohexane Methanol into the river. Operating under few restrictions and aggressively seeking to maintain profit, Freedom Industries attempted to hide their spill of chemicals used to clean coal. They had good reason to believe this spill could be hidden. Their efforts were thwarted by locals who could smell chemicals and reported the crisis.
The state of West Virginia is a poster child for nationwide exploitation of people and the environment via “free market” ideology. Residents of Appalachia, especially West Virginia, have long been exploited by industry. Isolation, lack of solid education, abundant natural resources and empty promises by predatory capitalists guaranteed historic exploitation.
Historic exploitation that has included the United States Army siding with the Coal industry (surprise, surprise) to break a rebellion by coal miners trying to unionize.
The state has consistently worked against its own environmental and economic survival by allowing the worst practices of the coal industry a safe place to play. Control of the electorate as well as control of state and local governments by the coal industry left little choice other than self-destruction over the past 150 years.
The effects of a nationwide push to deregulate industry in the United States are now an undeniable reality to 300,000 West Virginians. They were left with the evidence: a river of toxicity. More broadly, the effects of a state controlled by the coal industry are made extremely clear to the American public by this crisis. As residents, journalists and activists tried to learn the impact of this chemical spill, they found a chemical that has been allowed to be used by the coal industry without adequate research into its dangers.
Could this be the environmental disaster that turns residents of West Virginia against exploitation of their land and lives? Could this example of “free market” ideology in practice help reverse our slide into a reality increasingly dominated by big business regardless of its destructive impact? Stand in solidarity with the people of West Virginia and hold this crisis up as proof of the destruction created by capitalist ideology. Profit at any cost is not acceptable anymore. Fight back West Virginians! Occupy the energy and demand an end to the coal industry and its abuses.
First image via riddle-you-this.tumblr.com
Damien Crisp is an artist, writer and activist. He has lived in New York City, Guadalajara. Mexico, and currently lives in southeast Tennessee. His writings can be followed on social media and blogs. He was a body, voice, and citizen journalist during Occupy Wall Street's time at Zuccotti Park, as well as a coordinator for Occupy Sandy.