I have spent the last two years working to end the devastating, unjust practice of mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR). This is a practice that requires dynamiting the tops off of ancient Appalachian Mountains and contaminating families’ drinking water for a tiny tiny amount of our nation’s coal.
I don’t live in Appalachia, and I don’t have to face the coal industry’s assaults every day. So why would I devote the last two years to stopping mountaintop removal coal mining? Because I believe that it is all of our responsibilities to stop a practice that is this unjust, this outdated, this backward and un-American. For our clean energy future, for basic human justice, for common sense we must all join together to stop mountaintop removal coal mining.
Over the last few weeks, I have personally witnessed the heroism of people doing everything in their power to stop this devastating mining practice. I have seen hundreds of coalfield residents lobbying in DC; I have watched a dozen activists lock-down at EPA headquarters for over 30 hours, sacrificing comfort and risking arrest, to demand an end to MTR.
It is awe-inspiring to see the way the movement to end MTR has gained strength. West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd, a formerly staunch proponent of MTR coal mining, summed it up well in a late 2009 op-ed when he said: “It is a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington…” In a unprecedented move, a dozen leading scientists joined the call against MTR in a January 2010 report in the journal Science. As the piece said: “the science is so overwhelming that the only conclusion one can reach is that mountaintop mining needs to be stopped.”
That is why I know we’re close to stopping MTR, but we are not there yet.
We must take it to the next level if we are going to stop mountaintop removal this year—before election season fever takes over the attention of our political decision-makers, before Washington succumbs deeper to the pressure of the powerful coal lobby, before another mountain is lost. We must create a groundswell of national momentum.
Real actions, real movement-building is not easy. It’s not easy to appeal to your friends, your family, your co-workers to join a cause they may know very little about right now. But families across Appalachia are standing up to protect their homes and their health, and they need our help. They need to know they’re not alone.
Please take some time today to pledge to take action to help end mountaintop removal. Pledge to spread the word online, pledge to pressure decision makers standing in our way, pledge to hit the streets. Whatever actions you decide to take will be amplified by the actions of your friends, family and fellow community members. We must grow this movement and we must do it now.
Whether you care about clean drinking water, protecting an ancient mountain range and preserving wild forests, or whether you just believe that blowing up precious natural resources for small amounts of coal is outrageous and downright un-American, now is the time to pledge your action.