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Powerful Opposition to MTR in the Heart of Coal Country

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View Trip Van Noppen's blog posts
16 August 2011, 12:05 PM
New poll finds voters of all stripes disapprove of the destructive mining practice

A major new poll released today reveals some shocking truths about public opinions on mountaintop removal mining in Appalachia.

The polling, conducted by the Democratic Lake Research Partners and Republican Bellwether Research & Consulting and funded by Earthjustice, Appalachian Mountain Advocates (formerly the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment), and the Sierra Club was done between July 25 and 28 and sampled the opinions of 1,315 registered voters in Kentucky, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee on the practice of mountaintop removal coal mining and clean water protections.

The poll reveals beyond the shadow of a doubt that the people of America’s coal country—West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia—don’t like mountaintop removal mining and they don’t want it to continue at the expense of their homes, health, communities, families, and future.

The strong majority of Appalachians opposes mountaintop removal mining—57 percent, compared to 20 percent who support the practice—and this opposition soars no matter the political party. Independents, Democrats, Republicans and Tea Partiers alike have shown intense disapproval of this destructive form of mining. The will of Appalachians is transcendent: people from all education levels, political orientations, and all four states oppose mountaintop removal by strong margins.

The poll today also flies in the face of political convention. Appalachians overwhelmingly support stronger, not weaker, clean water protections for their streams, rivers, and other waters. Astoundingly, 75 percent of Republican voters and 68 percent of Tea Party supporters in this survey support increasing Clean Water Act protections from mountaintop removal coal mining.

We’ve seen the recent CNN national poll, which yielded similar results and revealed a strong national opposition to this practice. But when that poll was released last week, coal industry special interests were quick to say that the opposition weighed heavily from America’s liberal coasts, which they claimed don’t understand Appalachia and therefore don’t get to weigh in on this issue.

But this new poll from the mining region dispels the false arguments and myths put forward by the coal industry and by those politicians in Washington and Appalachian state capitols who are doing the industry’s bidding. It refutes many a false notion about where the people of Appalachia stand on this destructive form of mining. The poll homes right in on those coal states that are affected by mountaintop removal, and it teaches us one remarkable lesson: even when economies are dependent on coal mining, residents still oppose mountaintop removal.

Today, we heard from the people most directly affected by this devastating mining practice. We even heard from many in Appalachia who view coal and coal mining companies very favorably—but they still don’t support mountaintop removal mining.

The poll also serves as a powerful referendum on many elected officials throughout Appalachia who have been attempting to gut clean water protections and weaken regulations for mountaintop removal mining operations. Those polled are likely to reward public officials who stand strong on clean water protection issues by a margin of 3-to-1. Voters who want to punish elected leaders who act to weaken clean water protections on mountaintop removal mining outnumber those who don’t by a 3-to-1 margin as well.

And finally, the poll shows us that despite what the special interest lobbies and their pals in Congress claim, Appalachian voters aren’t buying the bogus line that environmental safeguards are bad for the economy. Sixty percent say these safeguards are either good for the economy or they have no impact (40 percent and 20 percent, respectively), as compared with only 25 percent who think they are bad for the economy.

The broad-based and far-reaching opposition to mountaintop removal mining undeniably tells us this: Appalachians, like the rest of Americans, have had it with mountaintop removal. They’ve had it with the destruction, they are aware of the threats it poses to their families and health and future, and they want it gone. The time for this destructive mining practice is over. The Obama administration, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the nation’s elected leaders owe it to the people of Appalachia to end this devastation once and for all.

The time is now to say NO to the MTR mining business model. The process is totally destructive and the coal that gets mined and shipped out leaves a devastated landscape. Would any one agree that its ok to drop a hydrogen bomb in any of these areas to mine coal....Of course NOT, but you might as well....after the mining companies blow up these mountains....all you see is devastation..... and that is not the full story....the first thing that happens is the mountain is stripped of all its trees......and any animals that were in that area either get killed or chased out...then the blasting and earth moving begins.....then the coal is removed..... This is a sickening practice and needs to be outlawed and ended immediately. We have other energy technologies that we could be using that the government has suppressed to protect big oil and big coal along with the Nuclear industry...but it doesnt have to be that way. We need to demand Sonofusion, cold fusion, anti-gravity, and the principles of Nickolai Tesla of wireless transmission of electicity harnessed from the ambient cosmic radiation all around us...& it should be allowed out to the masses and incorporated into our energy production. If we do that...coal will be a thing of the past...and we will all get to turn our lights on with a clean concscience...and a clean environment. I say NO to Coal.......taken in this manner....... a sick and repulsive and criminal practice........ I am fed up with the Rethuglicans pushing this...and I will be casting my vote as Nay for the rethuglicans.....they are protecting this industry....because they are getting paid by the coal and oil needs to stop.

I also watched the CNN show on Blair Mountain. I share the outrage in this raping of the environment by Big Coal. The issue here is three-fold. One, America needs to expand its clean energy options. Two, America must consume less energy in general. Three, America has to be more self-reliant in securing its energy sources.

Utilizing our countries' natural resources: wind, solar and natural gas are the only logical options to become less reliant on foreign oil (Middle Eastern in particular). Hopefully, natural gas extraction methods in this country can become robustly safe and repeatable to take advantage of our natural gas deposits. Natural gas (in my opinion) is vital for our energy future. Solar power plants are also a big contributor in our future plans to diminish our need for OPEC (and Big Coal as well). Wind will likely to be a special case option.

When it comes to reduced energy consumption (ergo--energy efficiency), there are a number of choices to alleviate the problem.To start the list, efficient electrical power generation would be a great start. Seeing the link below, consider a Wartsila natural gas-fired power plant built with Scuderi Engine Technology. This pairing would offer the most practical, effective course of action to extend our natural gas reserves and greatly free the U.S. of the pollution nightmare the burning of coal and to a lesser extent, (but, still very significant) oil ( more if biofuel is used instead of oil). This would be a reachable goal to strive for. A national network for the delivery of our natural gas (LNG and CNG) to all users is on-going and accellerating.

The next significant point on the list would be to greatly reduce the use of all domestic fuels used in the transportation industry (Cars, Trucks, Trains and Maritime Transport(maritime explored specifically in the above link). These fuels include gasoline, diesel (bio and non), natural gas, ethanol and hydrogen. An extraordinary reduction can be realized when this same Scuderi Engine Technology is applied to all the internal combustion engines used in this catagory. This technology offers very high power density, as well as, significantly cleaner emissions . Don't take my word for it, investigate this yourself at

The predominate answer to all of the list is Innovation (preferribly American Innovation) . It just so happens that one major source of reaching our future environmental and energy efficiency goals is found in this profound American Innovation: Scuderi Engine Technology.

I watched the CNN coverage concerning mountain top removal and it was difficult to see what a narrow path these people think they have. It has been a good path for them for generations. Coal has been their life blood and energy developent encouraged that. But there was a lot we didn't know at that time. What is so sad is the amount of time we have had concrete information through environmental science that we refused to acknowledge. Those secrets probably benefitted a very few greedy people and gave the appearance of benefitting a coal dependent community.

Not all Americans "live to work", many "work to live". This group of people falls squarely into that latter category and are proud of it. I admire their concrete work ethic. They don't want to become part of the welfare state. Although their work puts them at risk to their personal well-being and the environment around them, they are committed to coal. It is their legacy to the next generation and what they do to honor generations before them.

Because years of scientific knowledge was withheld from them, they have never been allowed to look beyond mining to see what else their beautiful state has to offer and what part they play in the big picture. It would take a some work, but they really need good, creative career counselors to hold community and individual workshops with them. I don't think they are angry because they see no value in the environment. They are angry because a vocation that symbolizes generations of identity is being taken from them and not being replaced by anything else.

I see a state full of natural beauty, musical genius, "super crafters" and strong men and women. What skills do they have now that could be rechanneled? Their real legacy to the future is not coal, it is strength, creativity and Godly values. I hope they learn to dwell on the things they could teach people about their woods and mountains! Blair Mountain has come to a point where something has to change. We need to help and encourage these people. We need to pray for them. They could set an example for all of us.

This is especially with reference to stephen's perspectives about "THEY". Does anyone recall the Pogo cartoon at the time of the first U.S. Earth Day? The one in which he said: “WE HAVE MET THE ENEMY, AND HE IS US!”

Our nation's basic "system" (I presume you mean government) IS NOT BAD. We are abusing basic tenets and not using it well.

There is a place for government--for the common good of the nation. Government ran WPA that salvaged countless families after the Great Depression."Big government" built public highways, railroads, dams for hydroelectric power, park trails and shelters, etcetera.
Problem: the "anti-government" folks don't give a damn about maintaining these public systems.
*So what is THIS generation doing* as a legacy? Little positive?

Sadly, nearly 100% of efforts by Pres. Obama to create jobs and work on sustaining this public infrastructure have been derailed over and over by the Congress.

Again I ask, who is your "they"? Government? You would separate all of us from each other, get rid of federal agencies that have restored minimal livability in our nation? That's "throwing the baby out with the bathwater". It isn’t “they” (government). It is “we the people” who have trusted others of our species to care about our whole tribe . . . it is “we the people” who have become complacent and preoccupied with countless other pursuits.

“We the People” have to stay continually engaged and aware to sustain our great govt system – but --

WE have allowed competing narrow, greedy interests in all spheres to replace reason.

WE elected too many extreme people to Congress in the last election and they are doing nothing but further wrecking the system and preventing progress.

WE are allowing extremists like most of the Tea Party and ignorant “trickle down Repubs” to hijack our entire country.

WE are enabling corporate greed and religious fixations to destroy-and-replace rational science, relatively unbiased inquiry and common sense.

WE are enabling leaders who want to impose THEIR way of thinking and believing ONLY, imposing God into the government system.

WE are not doing our homework regarding separation of church and state, and THAT is one of the most pervasive negative forces destroying our system. L-E-A-R-N THAT THE FOUNDERS intentionally established a secular government (not room here for references).

WE have let these corruptions grow within our system, even invade our school system

WE need to get off our butts, off the computers, and out in our neighborhoods to educate and empower PEOPLE – regular middle-class working people who often ignore “the system”.

WE have allowed the narrow greed-driven and power-driven elements of Congress to enable a Supreme Court that has favored and enabled big corporate interests to steal our good system.

Can we overcome the usurpers or not? IMHO we have to try.

Please stop this destruction of the Earth (our Earth Mother). Who gives these people the right to destroy things that have been here for thousands(maybe millions) of years. After they are dead and gone their destruction will remain an ugly scar on the Earth. No one should be allowed to destroy the Earth's beauty for their own monetary gain! STOP the destruction NOW!

The beauty of this nation is being destroyed, with it is the disappearance of life on this planet for a short term gain, by a greed few who have corrupted our governments at all levels, which is why Rio Tinto is setting up its hazardouor project in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. What more can I say that this corruption must stop.

I don't know how many remember that environmental ad from television some years ago. I was a Native American astride a horse in his tribal attire. He was on a hilltop looking out at the devastation wrought by the civilization. He looked very sad and had tears in his eyes. I can't remember the words used in the ad but it was very effective.

You may be thinking of Iron Eyes Cody. He played many Indian rolls and even lived as an Indian part of his life. He was Italian.

I agree, the Appalachian Mountains were beautiful. I now live in rural New Mexico about a mile from the mainline BNSF Railroad tracks and I look down on the trains going by. Several time a week I see full trainloads of coal heading west to the power plants in Airzona. I am really surprised our air is still relatively clean. Every time I see a train, I think of the people in Appalachia who live in poverty who do the mining so the owners can get rich.

We have lots of sunshine here and lots of open space like Arizona and Nevada where we could build solar farms to produce electricity and create jobs. Presidend Obama is leading the charge to get off of coal but all the Republican thugs can say is "drill baby drill" so their oil sponsors can get rich off of OUR natural resources and hide the money in Switzerland. The Rethuglicans also oppose all of EPA's measures to regulate coal mining and oil exploration and, of course, they scream every day about our attempt to curb climate change. Rethuglicans are bought and paid for by the rich coal and oil industry bosses who laugh all the way to the bank while decent Americans DIE.

Decent Americans deserve better. We want solar, wind and other technologies to produce electricity and we want it NOW. We must also improve the transmission of electricity so we can produce it here in the southwest and send it anywhere in the country on the electrical grid.

If the Rethuglicans had their way, we would all be living in log cabins with no electricity or water. That would make them very happy while living in their chalets in Switzerland or sailing the world in their yachts while we die of air pollution or bad water.

Let's dump all these selfish shills in 2012 and make things better for all Americans and not just the rich.

I sincerely appreciate your perspective... what you say is absolutely true vis-a-vis the greed and their total disregard for the earth and its children. I deeply believe that the economic-political 'system' is sooo corrupted that expecting, asking, voting them out and hoping for change is unrealistic. The system itself is the problem and unless we can take the money out of politics nothing will change. Further, they control the channels of communication and operate through those with fear based 'programing' of 'ordinary' good folk. Expecting otherwise from this system is akin to expecting a sneeze-sheet to protect one from a hurricane. We may as well forget the present system.

What i propose for us all is to unplug from their grid, mentally, emotionally and physically. If we all, individually and collectively, stop watching and listening, and expecting justice, we will only continue to be pawns in their game. If we reduce our consumption of their products and services, we can and will effect a real change... we can put them out of business by boycotting their system permanently and completely.

Log cabins are nice to live in! And there are technologies available that can take one off the grid. And more so, we have the knowledge, education(s) and growing consciousness to provide for ourselves and the common good. I know your meaning was to paint a picture of poverty and a hardscrabble lifestyle, but why not accept that life is a struggle and go with it. The one thing they are always trying to sell us is this idea that they will take care of us through all the systems they own. They want everyone to be dependent on them from birth to death. I suggest we start taking care of each other again in cooperative fashion on a human scale. I am painting with a broad brush, but really speaking, the first thing we have to free ourselves of is the thinking that we have to have what they offer. The time for a new american dream is rapidly approaching. Thanks.

the fact that anything that blatantly harms or destroys the planet (our mother earth) is allowed to happend -and continues to happen- is astounding and beyond tragic to me. i know that our natural resources are all stressed - from plants to critters to the human species.

we are losing so much what has made our nation great at an accelerated pace through peoples' willful ignorance or corporate outright greed and power lust. our natural bounty is being devastated by climate change and such practices as MTR, and many others (the gutting of environmental protections) and yet, these losses proceed apace and virtually unchecked.

the sad thing is that we don't seem to have the political will to stand up en masse to the polluters, the deniers and the devastators. we are as if asleep and when we wake up from this wholly preventable ecological devastation, we will see that the nightmare is real. we will all suffer the consequences of our collective inaction where stewardship of our mother earth should be our highest calling.

I drive through a portion of SW Virginia and Kentucky where MTR mining is prevalent and it depresses me to no end. My grandparents were from Dickenson County, Va so I am back in that area from time to time to visit relatives and to visit my daughter at Ft. Knox. It's always been coal mining as an industry, but I think this is the worst of it. It's ugly, it stinks, and the people who live there are poor. With all of the coal (money) leaving the mountains where is their benefit? This is one of the oldest chains of mountains in the country and coal mining companies are destroying them. Why are we letting them? They were beautiful, but not now. I don't think the words are in my vocabulary to express the ugliness that is MTR mining. We must not let the coal mining companies succeed in destroying this area, you can't grow any more mountains, once they're gone they're gone.

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