When you hear “West Virginia” you think “coal.” West Virginians, or rather their duly elected representatives in Washington, have done their part to ensure that’s the case.
The latest advertisement campaign on DC metro buses tries to paint a different image: trees, a creek or two, lots of green.That might just work to draw people’s attention on a muggy DC summer day, if it didn’t immediately bring to mind images of Massey Energy and cutting down that forest in search of a mountaintop to remove—or of coal miners trapped underneath.
Coal country may yet turn into tourism country. Tourism already employs more West Virginians than the entire coal sector, but you wouldn’t know that from what West Virginia’s representatives say and do.
Save those advertising dollars for now and start with rethinking policy. Protecting your heritage goes beyond protecting coal profits.