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Daryl Hannah Making Splash For Mountain Heroes

Daryl Hannah is best known as an actor in films such as Splash, Blade Runner, Roxanne, Wall Street, and Kill Bill Volumes 1 and 2. But outside of the studio, she is a vocal environmental activist who dedicates herself to raising awareness of climate change, sustainable farming energy solutions, and of course, mountaintop removal.

For Earthjustice's Mountain Heroes photo petition, Daryl writes, “I believe if people in this country truly understood that we are allowing private companies to blow up our oldest mountain range and decimate our ecosystems, water and communities—it would not be legal.”

The coal lobby isn’t helping people understand what is actually happening, either. On the FACES of Coal website, they write “Surface mining [mountaintop removal] has created much-needed level land in Appalachia,” and, “Surface mining does not flatten or remove mountains; one type of surface mining technique flows from one side of a mountain ridge to another.” It strikes me as odd to use the word "flows" when the explosive power of one Hiroshima bomb is used every week to "flow" this surface mining across mountaintops throughout Appalachia.

According to the coal lobby, there is overwhelming regional support for mountaintop removal. This bogus claim is debunked by a 2011 poll across the four Appalachian states where mountaintop removal is happening. The poll found overwhelming opposition to mountaintop removal mining across the heart of Appalachia, and an even stronger demand for more clean water protections from mountaintop removal mining.

The coal lobby FACES of Coal also features vague positive sentiments, including, “Coal mining is a part of our history in this state and is vital to our future,” and “Coal gives me the electricity that I need.” Such propagandistic statements skirt the fact that we could be developing—and employing far more people with—clean, sustainable forms of energy that don’t destroy one of our most revered landscape features and that don't harm nearby communities and families.

FACES of Coal even managed to find one mountaintop removal supporter to feature on their website, an artist with “a profound appreciation for the mountains and wildlife that surround her home in Danville, WV.” This person claims to actually prefer a mountain after its top has been removed and dumped into the surrounding valleys and streams.

“The mountains are straight up and down, with craggy rocks and no accessibility … Now, thanks to surface mining, they are more visually pleasing and more physically accessible,” she says. Accessible? How about making a trail instead of permanently destroying the entire landscape and contaminating the water and air of local communities?

In addition, she says the natural beauty of the landscape and wildlife in her hometown is “largely the result of mine reclamation.” So, that counts for one person on the planet who finds these razed mountaintop removal mine sites "natural and beautiful."

Thank goodness there are people like Daryl Hannah, who recognize and respect the power of mountains, and like Jane Branham, who recognize the lies that fuel mountaintop removal. "When I see politicians lying to communities, and looking after interests that are lining their pockets, it infuriates me—enough to keep me going," says Jane. "When I hear personal stories of people and their suffering, that’s what really keeps me going. My heart is with all of these communities."

As activist Maria Gunnoe said in her Mountain Heroes petition, “This is absolutely against everything that America stands for … We do not have to blow up our mountains and poison our water to create energy.”

Please join Daryl Hannah, Jane Branham, Maria Gunnoe, and thousands of concerned citizens across America in standing up for mountains, mountain people and a clean energy future for our nation! Add your photo petition now!

About the Earthjustice Blog

unEARTHED is a forum for the voices and stories of the people behind Earthjustice's work. The views and opinions expressed in this blog do not necessarily represent the opinion or position of Earthjustice or its board, clients, or funders. Learn more about Earthjustice.