Thomas Jefferson: Founding Father of Mountaintop Removal

by William Yeatman on May 15, 2011

in Blog, Features

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Thomas Jefferson is renowned as a true Renaissance Man. He was a master of letters, music, architecture, biology, government…and mountaintop removal.

I only learned of this fact recently, on a delightful revisit to Monticello, TJ’s famed estate in Albemarle County. Every school kid in Virginia visits Monticello, repeatedly, so I’d been there several times already. As this was the first time I’d gone since I was in school, this was the first time I paid attention to the exhibits. Thus I learned that Mr. Jefferson removed Little Mountain’s little mountaintop in order to accommodate his mansion.

I wonder if the Sage of Monticello could build Monticello today. The EPA is cracking down on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia, illegally and against the will of elected officials, so as to protect an insect that lives for a day, which isn’t an endangered species. (That’s an outrageous subject I discuss here, here, and here.) Even if he received the necessary permits, he’d still have to do battle with environmentalists and NIMBY-types. Sadly, I doubt he’d win.

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