This story made the rounds on the blogosphere and the reaction has been one that has evoked two responses from me: elation that someone finally said “Enough of this horse***t,” and has decided to pull the plug on his business; and a sense of sadness that it had to come to this point.
It seems that Alabama coal mine owner/operator Ronnie Bryant heard enough at a Birmingham public hearing, with a number of residents laying the blame for everything that seems to be wrong with their lives on one of his future coal mines. After all the local, state, and federal hoops he had to jump through in order to get permission to start this mining operation, he then had to listen to endless business-bashing by far too many of the know-nothings attending the meeting. It reached the point where he'd had enough.
...he finally stood to speak. He sounded a little bit shellshocked, a little bit angry — and a lot frustrated.My name’s Ronnie Bryant, and I’m a mine operator…. I’ve been issued a [state] permit in the recent past for [waste water] discharge, and after standing in this room today listening to the comments being made by the people…. [pause] Nearly every day without fail — I have a different perspective — men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car note. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just … you know … what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I don’t know. I mean, I see these guys — I see them with tears in their eyes — looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So as I stood against the wall here today, basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.The only thing I’m sure of is that what I saw today is a broken process and a sham. We all want a decent environment in which to live, but when various people at a public meeting — including federal officials and community members — talk about “environmental justice” and make it clear that their intent is to make it harder for businesses to operate, well, I can see why a businessman would decide to quit. I consider myself an environmentalist — because I want to live in a safe, secure, clean world — but what I saw isn’t reasonable concern for the environment as much as it’s an ideological agenda.
I don't blame Ronnie Bryant for saying “The hell with this! I quit!” But I have no doubt that many of the same people at the hearing will now point the finger at him for making a number of much needed jobs disappear, and claim that it's all because he's greedy and uncaring about the working man. One has to wonder about the logical disconnect from which these people suffer.
The comments to this piece are telling, with a large majority of them supporting Bryant's decision that creating all those jobs and the money they brought into the local economy wasn't worth the effort any more because the knee-jerk opposition of the religious environmentalists (and let's face it, this kind of environmentalism is a religion, and a mindless cult at that). Why should he have to deal with that kind of abuse just to run a business? So he did what anyone else facing that kind of crap would have done – he threw in the towel, goin' Galt, and letting those same self-righteous assholes suffer the consequences of their actions. He'll just take his money and go someplace else.