21 January 2010

U.C. Showdown - Updated

The Associated Press and others set the stage for tonight's debate pitting Don Blankenship, "the outspoken chief executive of Massey Energy," against Robert F. Kennedy Jr., "the celebrity environmental attorney."

"Each man will step out of his customary setting - preaching to the converted about Appalachian strip mining - and face off at the University of Charleston before a hand-picked crowd of 950," the article said. "Kennedy and Blankenship will spar over what's at stake if the federal government restricts the efficient, cost-effective practice of extracting coal by flat-topping mountains and filling valleys with excess material."

AP had previously reported that a pro-coal "Stand up for Jobs'' rally is set to precede the face-off. Others with preview coverage include The Charleston Gazette and MetroNews.

UC has details for the "Forum on the Future of Energy," and is allowing submitted debate questions.

Public Broadcasting is airing the 6:15 p.m. event via radio, while WSAZ-TV and the West Virginia Media stations are carrying it as well.

Update: AP and an array of other media were on hand for the debate, including The Gazette, the Daily Mail, MetroNews and Public Broadcasting (audio here).

"The debate over mountaintop mining has raged in West Virginia for years. But this was a chance to reach millions of unconverted Americans via the Internet and many more through the dozens of media outlets present - including three documentary film crews," write AP's Tom Breen and Tim Huber. "The real audience extends far beyond West Virginia and central Appalachia; it's the millions of Americans who don't know a strip mine from a slurry impoundment, but whose anger or acceptance of mountaintop mining could tip the political balance one way or the other."

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