One of the themes of U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul’s (R-KY) campaign has been that businesses are burdened with overregulation, with Paul even decrying the anti-discrimination provisions imposed on private businesses in the Civil Rights Act.
Now, Crooks and Liars has unearthed an interview Rand Paul gave in 2009 where the candidate aired these strident views with respect to mountaintop removal. When asked about the environmentally disastrous process, Paul told the interviewer that he thinks “whoever owns the property can do with the property as they wish, and if the coal company buys it from a private property owner and they want to do it, fine.” To justify his hands-off approach to environmental regulation, Paul then went on to explain that mountaintop removal isn’t that bad, anyway, saying, “I don’t think anybody’s going to be missing a hill or two here and there”:
INTERVIEWER: What about mountaintop removal?
PAUL: I think whoever owns the property can do with the property as they wish, and if the coal company buys it from a private property owner and they want to do it, fine. The other thing I think is that I think coal gets a bad name, because I think a lot of the land apparently is quite desirable once it’s been flattened out. As I came over here from Harlan, you’ve got quite a few hills. I don’t think anybody’s going to be missing a hill or two here and there.
To illustrate what Paul views as “a hill or two,” here’s a satellite-taken before-and-after image of a mountaintop removal site in Mud River, West Virginia:
As the Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has pointed out, “Mountain-top mining has been more accurately described as the ‘rape of Appalachia,’ as rural communities are destroyed economically and environmentally for coal industry.”