Coalfields Expressway

If it involves coal in any way, it must be bad, some radical environmentalists believe. That may be the Sierra Club’s reasoning in opposing construction of the Coalfields Expressway in southern West Virginia and Virginia.

The planned highway, running from Raleigh County, W.Va., to Wise County, Va., is included on the club’s list of 50 transportation projects throughout the country to which it objects. Sierra Club officials insist the expressway would be “for the express purpose of fossil fuel development.”

It is true portions of the road will be built through an arrangement whereby coal companies will prepare the highway bed, in exchange for coal they mine in the process. The road may be used to haul some coal.

But it also will open up a large area of Appalachia to new development not related to mining. That – improving the lives of many southern West Virginians and Virginians – is something that apparently does not concern the Sierra Club. Never mind that the new road offers a rare chance at new jobs for many in that region.

Residents of the affected area support the highway. It should be built for them, regardless of the Sierra Club’s opposition.