Coal Becomes West Virginia's State Rock


Photo credit: wsilver via Flickr/CC BY

West Virginia sure loves coal--first it was featured there in a hilarious, old timey ringtone, and now they've gone and made it their state rock. Yes, states can have 'state rocks', evidently--and why not? Flowers, animals, even rock songs--states have a llong history of picking their favorite stuff and proclaiming it to the world. But coal? This is 2009, right? And last time I checked, coal burning was still the biggest cause of pollution and largest contributor to greenhouse gas emissions in the world. So what gives?Well, coal is one of the biggest economic drivers in the state, for starters. It's also historically been the backbone of the state's workforce. But still, it's kinda weird.

Last week, the governor of Virginia declared coal the state rock, and described how it "remains essential to economic growth and progress in West Virginia and the United States," according to Green Inc.

Well, okay. But there must have been some opposition to the move, right? In our increasingly environmentally conscious age? Think again.

The resolution, which passed the state's house of delegates 96-0 and was approved by the State Senate in a voice vote, also traces the noble history of the rock.

Alas. What might seem strangest of all is that the whole idea sprang from the mind of a high school student:
The West Virginia movement was started, according to the West Virginia Coal Association, by a high school student who was a coal miner's daughter. "I realized the state didn't have an official state rock," the high school senior, Britnee Gibson, told the association, "and I thought, what better to be the state rock than coal?"

Well. I suppose I have to cede that there is a historical tradition behind mining the rock, and that it's been vital in West Virginia developing the way it has. But it's still coal.

Oh well, at least it's the only state that loves coal enough to--wait, what's that?

The Mountain State joins Kentucky and Utah, both of which have had coal as their state mineral and state rock, respectively, for more than a decade.


More on Coal and West Virginia
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