Dec 232011

Friday, December 16, 2011

East Siberian Arctic Shelf—Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, Santa Claus would like to have a word with you. Clad only in sunglasses, red boxer briefs and his trademark black boots, the centuries-old jolly fat man walked up to a North Pole podium yesterday and cited a litany of Christmas-killing coal initiatives that the Kentucky governor had endorsed during his first term in office.  His message to the governor? Change your message on coal or expect a personal visit from Santa this coming Monday.

Eastern Kentucky bituminous coal is a commodity that is near and dear to the North Pole business man. The hamlet of Benton, Kentucky, has long been rumored to be the global provider of coal destined for children who behaved badly throughout the year.

Though Claus did not mention the town by name, he did allude to the disastrous effects of over-extraction of coal. “Coal is a precious resource. For companies to rip off entire mountains to get at the stuff is criminal. At the rate these coal seams are going, in fifty years, switches will be the only thing I’ll be able to offer bad little boys and girls. Christmas will never be the same.”

As a staunch supporter of Kentucky coal corporations, Santa charged, Beshear is a key figure contributing to global warming. Greenhouse gas emissions from burning coal are some of the leading causes of climate change, which is destroying Santa’s North Pole home one glacier melt at a time.

“We’ve had to move our entire operations twice in the past fifty years. The ground has literally melted beneath us.  Do you know what it costs to relocate an operation like ours? And don’t even get me started on the fact that my reindeer can’t find anything to eat around here no more.  The tundra plants have all become mush and I haven’t seen an arctic ground squirrel scurrying by since Clinton was in office. Importing Reindeer food is not cheap.”

Claus chose an apt place to give his press conference. The pant-less Saint Nick stood on the banks of the Chukchi Sea not far from Alaska. This spot, he claimed, was buried in ice not too long ago. Behind him huge plumes of methane gas shot up from the sea, both a result and cause of global warming. As warming temperatures cause ice and permafrost in the arctic to melt, formerly trapped methane gas bubbles are released. Once in the atmosphere, the gases act as mirrors, reflecting heat back down to heat the earth’s surface.

These are all bad things for North Pole residents.

“Look at this place. Fifty years ago, this land was all snow and ice for as far as Rudolph’s nose could light. And now? Nothing but marshy tundra and methane-filled seas—which now belch gigantic balls of methane into the air. If this keeps up, there’s no way I can stay in business. Something’s got to change.”

Press conference attendee Von Finnie, a North Pole toymaker and North Pole Local 548 union member, stated that he supported his white-bearded boss. He did, however, want Santa to make labor conditions in Kentucky a more visible issue.

“I think it’s great that my boss is attempting to change the Governor’s Christmas-killing support for coal corporations. I’m all for it,” said the elf. “But I would also like to point out that Beshear has also made it more dangerous for miners to work their jobs, and that his support of mountaintop removal is a job-killer, plain and simple. Since October, this year has already become one of the most dangerous years on record to be a miner in Kentucky according to MSHA. And as out-of-state coal companies rely on gigantic machines to peel away mountains, coal employment in the region has plummeted. In the face of these things, his telling regulators of all stripes to get off his back seems obtuse.”

To that end, Finnie says, he and his fellow elf-workers are contemplating going on a solidarity strike if Beshear does not enforce worker safety regulations at the mines.

Santa’s demands

With the holiday season coming on, Claus felt he had a platform with which to publicly address the Governor. He’s willing to let coal bygones be coal bygones, so long as Beshear publicly supports three specific Christmas-saving initiatives.

  1. End surface mining in Kentucky, immediately.
  2. Employ every surface mine worker in reclaiming the land and waterways already damaged.
  3. Work to help Appalachians build a just, diverse, and sustainable economy and healthy communities.

“Hey, look. I know how it goes,” Claus stated as the press conference wound down under unseasonably warm weather. “I see it all the time: snotty little kid plays mean and nasty all year long and then wants to make good a week before the big day. I get it. I’m Santa Claus, the jolly old Saint Nick, I know the deal. I can live with that as long as it’s sincere. The ball’s in the Governor’s court.”

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