Rockefeller and Strip Mining

Rockefeller can now quit pretending he lives in West Virginia.

Here are some thoughts by and about Rockefeller.

“We know that strip mining is tearing up the beauty of our state. We know that strip mining is not a good economic future for West Virginia and not a good economic future for our children. And we know that, whatever advantage it has now, the damage that it leaves is a permanent damage.” –Jay Rockefeller, 1972

  “Strip-mining must be abolished because of its effect on those who have given most to the cause—the many West Virginians who have suffered actual destruction of their homes; those who have put up with flooding, mud slides, cracked foundations, destruction of neighborhoods, decreases in property values, the loss of fishing and hunting, and the beauty of the hills…”  Rockefeller in 1972 while running for Governor of West Virginia.

 Rockefeller lost to Arch Moore in the 1972 election. Moore had the help of corrupt Democratic politicians in southern West Virginia and huge contributions from coal companies. I was told by Ken Hechler, former Congressman and West Virginia Secretary of State, that Rockefeller followed the advice of his advisors and changed his mind on strip mining and on attacking corrupt politics in southern WV. He won the1976 election for Governor as an advocate of strip mining and mountain top removal and he shut up about corruption.

 A Rockefeller aide told a group of us in his Senate office that Rockefeller was for mountain top removal and that his mind was made up so there was little use in talking to him about the issue.

When I confronted Governor Rockefeller in Lincoln County about strip mining he said, “Do you want to deny the people of southern West Virginia the flat land necessary to build new homes?” A friend sitting next to me who was not politically active responded with, “Oh come on Jay!”

Rockefeller got his start as a sort of social worker in my birthplace of Emmons, WV. I had his campaign bumper sticker on my truck the first time he ran for Governor. I have not forgotten the betrayal. He sold out for a political career. Would that he had donated the over $24 million he spent on getting elected and $6 million he spent on his home in DC to environmental groups in WV.

About Sam's Branch

I joined the Peace Corps in 1961 as West Virginia’s first volunteer. Go to to order my book Imagonna: Peace Corps Memories. I am the eighth generation of my family born in the Big Coal River Valley of West Virginia. My father and grandfather were underground coal miners. I have a chemical engineering degree from West Virginia University (WVU). After training to make sidewinder missiles, I joined the Peace Corps and taught chemistry and coached the track team at a secondary school in Nigeria. Since that time, I was WVU’s first full time foreign student advisor and worked in urban outreach, organic farming, construction labor, and high school teaching. I recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy (, and recently retired from the board of directors of the West Virginia Kanawha State Forest Foundation ( I am still on the board of the Labor History Association and the West Virginia Environmental Education Association and recently joined the board of the West Virginia Civil Liberties Union. I am active in the campaign to stop the destructive practice of mountain top removal strip mining in the Appalachian Mountains. You may contact me at or my blog samsbranch.wordpress.
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1 Response to Rockefeller and Strip Mining

  1. John Barnes says:

    Thank you for educating about Jay Rockefeller’s political maneuvering. It applies strongly to present day natural gas drilling politics. Pennsylvania’s Governor Corbett is one of the most evil influences in the history of PA politics. When will we learn, and how do we stop big industry from making this place hell for future generations?

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