In the past 10 days almost 50 people have been arrested protesting mountaintop removal sites.
On Thursday, June 18, 14 people were arrested as they daringly took over and scaled a coal-scooping 20-story dragline in Twilight, WV.
On Tuesday, June 23, 31 people (including climatologist James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, Goldman prize winner Judy Bonds, RAN Executive Director Michael Brune and many other West Virginia and Appalachian residents) crossed onto mining site (despite a large number of angry miners and their families) to commit a non-violent civil disobedience.
Now, the blogosphere is getting in on the act. Popular political blog the Daily Kos is calling for President Obama to visit mountaintop removal sites in the Appalachian Mountains.
In a very pointed post, the Daily Kossaks say:
However there are those in your own administration who are telling you that you should not insert yourself more powerfully into the issue of mountaintop removal. That you should step back, wait for Congress, and use the power of your office to constrain, rather than end, this practice. Mr. President, those people are wrong. You cannot bargain with mountaintop removal, any more than you can make a deal with a disease. Mountaintop removal mining is unsupportable — and unconscionable. It’s not needed to meet America’s energy needs. It’s not needed to provide jobs in Appalachia. It’s simply not needed.
Come and see for yourself, Mr. President. When you’ve seen it, you’ll know what to do.
They also have an online action asking people to go to Twitter and send this message:
President Obama. Go to West Virginia. See for yourself what Mountaintop Removal is doing to the land, water, and people. #mtr
Blogger Jeff Biggers has now posted the call on Huffington Post, and West Virginia Blue is also putting it out.
WE NEED YOU TO POST AND REPOST THIS MESSAGE. Activists are risking life, limb and liberty to expose and stop this horrible practice, please do everything you can to support them.
Need more info?
This week the Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works held the first hearings on Moutaintop Removal in a generation. This hearing will help to raise the importance of the Appalachia Restoration Act (S 696) and the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310), twin bills that are hoping to finally put an end to this practice.
But even if the bills get passed, that’s no guarantee. After all, those who passed the Clean Water Act thought they had stopped Mountaintop Removal. They didn’t know that administrations from Reagan to Obama would spend their time debating the meaning of “waste” vs “debris” vs “fill,” all the while allowing the mountains to fall. It will take both good legislation, and good administration to make this procedure stop.
Worried that stopping mountatintop removal would threaten our electricity supply? MTR is a small part of the coal used in the United States and provides less than 3% of our electricity. It can easily be replaced by other sources. If it stopped tomorrow, nobody’s lights would go out.
Worried that stopping mountaintop removal would cost jobs in Appalachia? MTR actually competes with other forms of coal mining that require more people. The first thing that would happen if MTR were ended is that there would be more jobs in mining. Besides, there are already three times as many people in the area working on tourism rather than mining. MTR threatens to take those jobs away forever. If you think that MTR jobs are the “only good jobs in the state,” you simply don’t know the area. Not only that, but studies have shown that many MTR sites are well suited for renewable energy projects that would generate more jobs, more revenue, and save the mountains.
In 2007 a wind potential study was commissioned to see if there was the potential to place wind turbines on Coal River Mountain. The wind potential study and the following economic study found that it is possible to place 328 MW of wind energy on Coal River Mountain. That’s enough to power 70,000 West Virginia Homes and provide permanent jobs and $1.7 million in taxes to the county every year.
Unfortunately, Massey Energy is applying for permits to mountaintop removal mine the mountain which would destroy the wind potential. This is the last mountain left standing in the area. Please help save it.
Worried that people in the area don’t want MTR to end? Surveys show that 2 out of 3 West Virginia voters oppose mountaintop removal. And the more knowledge or experience with MTR they have, the more likely they are to oppose it.
Appalachian Voices has great materials, links, and images (including those seen below). If you’re looking for more information, they’re a great resources.