In it, but not of it. TPM DC

Rand Paul: Controversial Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining Isn't So Bad -- It Enhances The Land!

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As he said of so many things in the past, Paul said the final decision about mountaintop removal mining (which, as Details reporter Jonathan Miles reports, has been called "the greatest environmental tragedy ever to befall our nation" by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.) should rest in the hands of private landowners.

"Let's let you decide what to do with your land," Paul told the magazine. "Really, it's a private-property issue."

Coal production, of course, is one of the most important industries in Kentucky, so Paul's not likely to lose many friends in the business community by talking up the advantages of flattening Appalachia to dig up more coal. But if the people who run the coal mines might be happy with the article, the folks who actually dig up the coal might find Paul's understanding of the industry lacking a bit. Miles and Paul drive through Harlan County, Kentucky -- the front line for some of the nastiest labor battles in the history of American coal. The county was where many miners spent decades trying to win concessions from owners and help build coal mining into a middle class job. But when Miles asks about it, Paul can't seem to remember why the area is important to Kentucky:

Something about Harlan has lodged itself in my brain the way a shard of barbecue gets stuck in one's teeth, and I've asked Paul for help. "I don't know," he says in an elusive accent that's not quite southern and not quite not-southern. The town of Hazard is nearby, he notes: "It's famous for, like, The Dukes of Hazzard."

Read the rest of the Details piece here.