August 2nd, 2006
Wyoming comes from Pennsylvania
Pennsylvanians watching the politics of funding the
federal Abandoned Mine Land Fund are deeply disappointed by
the short-sighted actions of elected officials in Wyoming.
The great state of Wyoming was, like nearly all other
western states, created and populated by eastern trains running on
steel rails made from Pennsylvania iron, bedded on timbers from
Pennsylvania forests, and burning Pennsylvania coal.
Without the massive and destructive exploitation of
eastern U.S. natural resources at that time, there would have been no
resulting western frontier, no European settlement, no business
investment. Wyoming profited immensely from the sacrifices that
Pennsylvanians made to contribute to the founding and creation of the
state of Wyoming.
To this day, and as a direct result of the economic
activity that created and spurred western growth, Pennsylvania carries
the burden of 186,000 acres of unreclaimed coal mine lands, as well as
tens of thousands of unreclaimed deep mines and polluting seeps. Only
the Abandoned Mine Land Fund can address such a huge problem, documented at well more than a billion dollars.
Pennsylvania's industrial legacy has served Wyoming very
well. And now it is time for Wyoming's elected officials to recognize
our state's enormous contribution to Wyoming's well-being from its very
beginning, and to allow Pennsylvania to use the federal Abandoned Mine
Land funds to clean up the remnants of our mutually shared past
mistakes, which Pennsylvanians carry disproportionately.
Consider the fact that the state of Wyoming took its
name in 1890 (suggested as early as 1865) from Wyoming County, Pa.
(incorporated in 1842). The name Wyoming is from the Delaware Indian
(Pennsylvania) language meaning "great grassy plains," large grassy
areas which Pennsylvania had in abundance back then. As we
Pennsylvanians would like to restore our grassy areas and
recapture our former idyllic greatness, something that Wyoming
residents take for granted in their own big sky state, we look to our
fellow citizens from Wyoming to remember the old days, and to help us.
We helped Wyoming.
JOSH FIRST, Harrisburg, Pa.