- Appalachia is Rising to Abolish Mountaintop Removal Mining
Appalachia is Rising to Abolish Mountaintop Removal Mining
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Update — January 13, 2011 — In a historic decision, the EPA has vetoed the permit for the Spruce No. 1 mine in West Virginia. This mountaintop removal project was one of the largest ever proposed in Appalachia. The veto will save 2,278 acres of forest from destruction, prevent the burying of 7.5 miles of streams, and protect the health of Appalachian residents.
On Monday, September 27, 2010 more than 1,000 citizens from Appalachia and across the country united for a rally and march in Washington, D.C. to demand that President Obama’s administration abolish mountaintop removal mining.
More than 100 protesters, including NASA climate scientist Dr. James Hansen, were arrested engaging in non-violent civil disobedience in front of the White House.
This mobilization, Appalachia Rising, was the largest-ever of its kind — and it comes at a critical juncture. Mountaintop removal mining has already destroyed more than 500 mountains, buried 2,000 miles of streams, and made unacceptable numbers of people sick in Appalachia. This year, President Obama’s administration has taken some steps to curtail mountaintop removal, but it has let other demolition projects persist and expand.
We are all Appalachians
Appalachians leading the fight against mountaintop removal were at the forefront of the march as it progressed from Freedom Plaza, to EPA headquarters and PNC bank, finally arriving at the White House. Marchers were colorful, peaceful, energized and determined, holding “R.I.P.” signs with the names of mountains already lost to mountaintop removal and chanting slogans like, “EPA do your job,” “Mountain justice,” and “We are Appalachia.”
Appalachian speakers delivered testimonies to why we marched. Mickey McCoy, a native of Martin County, Kentucky and leader in the movement declared, “We’re here to stop the death and destruction that’s happening in central Appalachia — and I thank God for everyone of you,” adding, “No industry in America … should be allowed to conduct business when human lives are factored into the profit equation as collateral damage.”
More than 100 people linked arms and sat down in front of the White House demanding that President Obama’s administration take action immediately to abolish mountaintop removal mining. The rest of the crowd stood together behind the police line to join in chants and songs of solidarity. Declarations from arrestees hauled away to police vans included, “Today they take me. Tomorrow a hundred more will be in my place,” and “This isn’t over until the mountains and the water and all our communities are safe.”
The day of action was inspiring, unifying and motivating. Bo Webb, a Vietnam veteran and leader in the fight to save Coal River Mountain in West Virginia, provided these closing words, “You’re now all Appalachians. You should be proud.” And Maria Gunnoe, a Goldman Environmental Prize Winner and organizer with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, followed by asserting, “This is the beginning, not the end.”
Appalachia Rising not only spoke truth to power, it also increased the visibility of the movement to end mountaintop removal and declared its strength and organizing power. Top media outlets like the Washington Post, CNN and NPR covered the march and non-violent civil disobedience. And decisionmakers inside EPA headquarters and the White House could not have missed our presence at their doorsteps.
With our mountains, our streams, our water and the lives and homeland of Appalachians on the line, Friends of the Earth stands in solidarity with people directly impacted by mountaintop removal to say enough is beyond enough. President Obama and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson must abolish mountaintop removal mining once and for all — and do it now.
Take Action in solidarity with Appalachia Rising!
Send a message to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and President Obama calling on them to abolish mountaintop removal mining.
Watch a video of the Appalachia Rising day of action
Learn more about mountaintop removal mining
Greedy coal companies use this extreme mining practice to cut costs and reduce the need for labor. To reach seams of coal, companies clear cut some of the world’s most biodiverse forest, literally blast up to 800 feet of mountain to bits, and recklessly dump the top soil and rocks into valleys below, burying streams. The excess water used to wash the coal for transport to power plants — called coal slurry or sludge — contains coal dust, clay and toxic chemicals and is stored in unstable impoundments held in place by mining debris.
The impacts on communities are unconscionable. The blasting at mountaintop removal sites terrorizes families living below, shaking houses, causing cracks in foundations, and, in one case in Appalachia, Virginia, hurtling a boulder into the bedroom of a four-year old boy and killing him. People living downwind and downstream suffer from cancer, asmtha and other diseases caused by air pollution and contaminated drinking water.