Central Kentucky is less than a month away from hosting the World Equine Games, at the Kentucky Horse Park. These so-called "horse Olympics" are being held outside the continent of Europe for the first time ever, and promise to bring to Kentucky an impressive array of equine and human talent in competitions not often seen in the U.S. Of course, Kentucky businesses are hoping to reap a financial bonanza from hosting the international "horsey set."
As one might expect, some controversy has popped up in a collateral event, wherein many musicians and other performers have been scheduled to perform at various locations on the Horse Park grounds. it seems that the Kentucky Arts Council was in charge of lining up the acts, and the Kentucky Tourism Department was lining up sponsors. Alliance Coal Company, an underground coal mine operator, put up $275,000 to be a major sponsor of the entertainment pavilion.
Once it was learned that "Alliance Coal" and a "Clean Coal" logo would be on the banner behind the entertainment pavilion stage, The Reel World String Band, Kentucky Wild Horse, Randy Wilson, and storyteller Octavia Sexton all with strong ties to Appalachia, announced that they would withdraw from their commitment to perform at the Games. John Harrod, a member of Kentucky Wild Horse, stated "I could not in good conscience allow myself to be used as an advertisement for an industry that has bought and corrupted our legislature and consistently blocked all efforts by our state to move ahead on sustainable energy."
Apparently, the Games' entertainment will not skip a beat. The Arts Council had originally received almost 200 applications from various performers who wanted to participate. It narrowed the list to 110, then chose 75, so it will now go back to the list of 110 and invite replacement performers.
The performers who have withdrawn have, by doing so, missed their target. First, Alliance Coal is an underground operation that does not engage in the "mountaintop removal" process of mining coal that is the focus of current environmental objections to the coal industry.
Second, some environmentalists scoff at the notion of "Clean Coal", but do so by ignoring the fact that coal and coal-related technology have vastly improved, as well as the fact that no viable alternative presently exists for meeting America's energy needs. We cannot simply flip off the coal switch without anything to take its place, and so-called "sustainable energy" sources do not even meet theoretical needs in terms of realistic production from wind, solar, and similar types of energy sources.
Third, this "boycott" will receive little notice beyond minimal news coverage, and will not be noticed at all by attendees at the Games other than those few who may be fans of the performers. The protesters will be replaced, and the Games will go on. Would it not have been better to use the "bully pulpit" of the games to make their case?
Why do I really care and choose to write about this? Well, because once again so much human energy is being wasted on behalf of meaningless protests, as opposed to realistic study and discussion that might yield some meaningful progress on America's energy needs and the manner of meeting them. We cannot realistically do without coal or oil for the foreseeable future, particularly if we continue to render nuclear energy irrelevant by failing to use it in the post-Three Mile Island world.
Wind and solar energy are nice to contemplate, but have yet to be shown to be economically viable without covering the landscape with wind turbines and solar cells. On the other hand, there have been sufficient coal and oil reserves demonstrated to exist within the boundaries of the United States to free us from international energy dependence, thus significantly improving our national security and reducing the need for us to send our military to "stabilize" regions on which we now depend.
In the 21st century, I would hope that some day we will learn to overcome issues by finding intelligent solutions, instead of relying upon 60's-style protests and boycotts.