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Policy and Legislation

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.

Fighting against mountaintop removal, this week we’re proud to announce the support of an incredibly strong woman: writer and activist Terry Tempest Williams. We know our supporters care deeply about the welfare of animals in the wild, and saw this vividly on our Facebook page when we highlighted the animals of Appalachia in a photo album on Facebook.

Be a Mountain Hero.

Could there be a love more unconditional and more powerful than the love of a mother for her child? Most mothers I know would say, "No, not even possible." But if you've ever observed the adoring eyes of a child looking up to his or her mother, you might think twice.

Lisa Henderson's story is a remarkable tribute to this love and bond between mother and child.

Junior Walk is not a celebrity. He grew up in Whitesville, West Virginia, born into a family of coal miners and workers. When he was just a kid, the water in his family's home became contaminated with coal slurry. Though it was blood-red and smelled like sulfur, Junior, who was just a child at the time, thought that was normal. Surrounded by neighbors who all eventually dealt with the same contamination.

"I thought that's what water did," said Junior, "It just went bad."

There are some straight spines left in the U.S. Senate, which today voted down a resolution from Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) that would have effectively exempted coal-fired power plants—the nation's worst air polluters—from Clean Air Act controls that limit mercury and other toxic emissions. This is a critical victory in the decades-long effort to protect communities from the egregious amounts of health-damaging pollutants that coal plants put in our air.

As we were working on our new campaign ("Mountain Heroes") to stop mountaintop removal coal mining, many of the folks who shared their stories told us they felt bashful about being called "heroes."

In our society today, when we talk about a hero many of us imagine a caped figure flying through the sky, lifting up buses, halting runaway trains, and saving the masses from crushing catastrophes or evil villains.

Be a Mountain Hero.

Over our years of working to stop mountaintop removal mining, we at Earthjustice have met so many brave and dedicated people fighting for their communities, mountains and waters. In 2010, Earthjustice launched our “Mountain Heroes” campaign to share their inspiring stories and show that this is not just a fight for the environment—it’s a fight for justice and a fight to save communities, families and Appalachian culture.

Through this campaign, we shared the stories of a few true heroes and created a public photo petition, asking the public to share their own stories—and tell us why they want to save mountains, protect clean water, and fight for justice in Appalachia.

What we got back was astounding and inspiring.

That coal- and oil-fired power plants are big air polluters is beyond question—they emit hundreds of thousands of tons of hazardous air pollution (mercury, lead, acid gases, e.g.), far more than any other industrial polluter. And yet, many in Congress question whether we should do anything about this major threat to public health. The debate took center stage yesterday in a subcommittee hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

A bipartisan bill is coming up for a vote in the Tennessee state legislature tomorrow (Feb. 29) that would ban surface mining and mountaintop removal mining at altitudes above 2,000 feet in the state.

This legislation would ensure that the most scenic vistas are protected for residents and visitors instead of being razed.

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