Rand Paul’s Strange Coal Flatland

Rand Paul’s victory in yesterday’s U.S. Senate primary election in Kentucky has some people talking about Paul running for President in 2012. Whether that comes to pass or not, Paul’s record bears some special scrutiny.

One stand that has brought Rand Paul great popularity among Kentucky Republicans, but may be seen in a different light outside of Appalachia, is Paul’s strong support for big coal companies. Even in the weeks immediately after the fatal Upper Big Branch coal mine, with revelations of corruption and lax regulation of mine safety, Paul emphasized reduced regulations of mines, saying, “I think that the permit process needs to be made easier.”

On the process of mountaintop removal coal mining, in which Appalachian mountains are torn down in search of coal, with the extra slag dumped into neighboring stream beds, Rand Paul suggests that Kentuckians might enjoy seeing parts of their landscape look more like Iowa. Paul says, “I think whoever owns the property can do with the property as they wish, and if the coal company buys it from a private property owner and they want to do it, fine. The other thing is that I think coal gets a bad name, because apparently a lot of the land is desirable once it gets flattened out… I don’t think anyone’s going to be missing a hill or two here and there. Some people like the flat land, and some of it apparently has become rather valuable when it’s become flattened.”

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