“I’m just quitting”
More and more I hear and read about people in American industry describing the never ending stream of litigation, legislation, regulation, negative media, NIMBYism, and vitriol that is directed toward them and their businesses. At a recent public meeting in Birmingham, the endless tide of resistance and resentment caused one individual to break.
After listening to over two hours of comment from the crowd coal mine owner Ronnie Bryant ceded the fight. He had planned – and had received permits to – open a new coal mine and provide over one hundred jobs in an area hard hit by recession. However, given the regulatory burden and special interest and public resistance he faced, he decided then and there to pull back. His comments at the public meeting spoke volumes.
“Nearly every day without fail…men stream to these [mining] operations looking for work in Walker County. They can’t pay their mortgage. They can’t pay their car notes. They can’t feed their families. They don’t have health insurance. And as I stand here today, I just…you know…what’s the use? I got a permit to open up an underground coal mine that would employ probably 125 people. They’d be paid wages from $50,000 to $150,000 a year. We would consume probably $50 million to $60 million in consumables a year, putting more men to work. And my only idea today is to go home. What’s the use? I see these guys—I see them with tears in their eyes—looking for work. And if there’s so much opposition to these guys making a living, I feel like there’s no need in me putting out the effort to provide work for them. So…basically what I’ve decided is not to open the mine. I’m just quitting. Thank you.”
It also spoke volumes that the EPA representative, who was present at the meeting, “could not be reached for comment.”