Appalachia's Eyes and Ears
Concerned about mountaintop removal mining? Hungry for minute-to-minute coverage of all things coal? Looking to keep the August doldrums at bay by organizing your internet browser bookmarks?
If you answered 'yes' to any of the above questions, you need to click here. Bookmark the site. Read it daily.
I've just directed you to Coal Tattoo, a blog by Charleston (WV) Gazette environmental reporter Ken Ward Jr. It's the go-to source for coverage on mountaintop removal mining that is both timely and thoughtful.
The blog celebrated its six-month anniversary this month. The occasion ushered in congratulations and praise from folks on all side of the mountaintop removal mining debate—a testament to Ken's fair and accurate reporting.
This month, Coal Tattoo was first on the scene with two important mountaintop removal mining stories—first uncovering news of a major mountaintop removal permit that had been quietly approved by the Environmental Protection Agency. The very next day I got a chuckle when a rival reporter—tipped off by Ken's lightning fast post on a mountaintop removal court decision—called asking about the ruling, which struck down the Obama administration's attempt to undo the last administration's harmful changes to the stream buffer zone rule intended to keep protect streams from mining waste. My colleagues and I hadn't even seen the decision yet!
Those of us in the Earthjustice press shop have worked with Ken for years. We think he is one of the best—if not the best—environmental reporter in the country. I asked him what keeps him at the Charleston Gazette when any number of top-circulation papers would love to snatch him up.
Here's what he said:
West Virginia is my home. It's the only place I've ever lived. It's a beautiful place with wonderful people that, unfortunately, has been taken advantage of over the years and seldom gotten its fair share of the riches that have come out of our mountains and forests. I can't think of a place that needs good journalism more than West Virginia. And it needs journalists that are committed to covering important issues here over the long haul—not just in a parachute jump in for one big story. Along with that, the Gazette is a small, locally owned paper that is committed to good investigative journalism and to allowing reporters who want to cover tough, complicated issues to do so. In today's media landscape, places like the Gazette are few and far between, just as in today's world places like West Virginia are few and far between.
Amen to that.