This week, I have been in Washington D.C. for the Week in Washington which is a week of lobbying at Congress for the Clean Water Protection Act [house version] and the Appalachia Restoration Action [senate version]. The legislation would essentially outlaw mountaintop removal.
Amidst all the congressional visits, we worked with some coalfield residents to deliver a message to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson.
I went with a group of residents, many from the coalfields, representing all four states [Kentucky, Tennessee, West Virginia and Virginia] impacted by mountaintop removal delivered a petition with over 20,000 signatures gathered by Rainforest Action Network. The petition asks EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson to visit Appalachia and see the devastation of mountaintop removal for herself. Director of Wetlands Division, David Evans, came down to accept the petition on behalf of Administrator Jackson.
During the exchange of pleasantries, Director Evans insured us that the EPA was concerned about the issue and that Administrator would be going on an EPA sponsored flyover. He raised the issue of the agency maintaining an objective perspective and not being seen as too tied to activists [and opening itself up to industry criticism]. It was pointed out to him by a resident of West Virginia that when EPA officials visited the region a few months earlier, that it was on a flyover sponsored by the State of West Virginia which is essentially the mining industry.
A 15 year old resident of Campbell County TN also described to Director Evans how the drinking water in her house runs brown and black. To which, he responded all Americans should have access to clean drinking water.
Over the past month, RAN has been asking it’s members, old and new, to sign the petition asking Lisa Jackson visit Appalachia. As we’re gearing up our campaign to end mountaintop removal, we need all assistance we can get from online and offline activists. We want to take the campaign against mountaintop removal out of the hills and hollers of Appalachia[ where groups like Coal River Mountain Watch, Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice are doing exceptional work] and to the doorstop of decision-makers in Washington D.C. [EPA, various other agencies, Congress and Obama] and New York [JP Morgan Chase]. Ending mountaintop removal is a move to break coal’s hold on American energy and we need to draw King Coal into the light more and more.