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mountaintop removal

Yesterday, The New York Times published an excellent editorial on mountaintop removal mining in support of the EPA's decision to veto the water pollution permit for the largest proposed mine in West Virginia, Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 mine.

It issues a strong reproach of the antics of certain friends of coal in Congress:

Walk through an airport in Washington, D.C. and you may come across this ad by a coal lobbying group:

Photo of coal lobbying group ad. Credit: RAN.

Credit: RAN.

Now, aside from wondering how exactly the EPA would destroy Appalachian jobs, you may be puzzled about the campaign name: “Faces of Coal.” Who exactly are these faces and why are they not on this ad? You would think that using a real human face would have a stronger emotional connection than a generic stock image of a padlocked gate. Well, it turns out, the campaign did have faces—it’s just that, well, they too were as generic as the padlocked gate.

Spruce No. 1 mine.

Today, after a generation of blasting its way virtually unhindered across Appalachia, the coal industry has been defused. The EPA announced its veto of what would have been the largest mountaintop removal operation in West Virginia -- Arch Coal's Spruce No. 1 Mine.

In this line of work, we are lucky to meet and work with a lot of heroes, people who stand up against all odds for the health of their communities, who sacrifice for the greater good of their brothers and sisters. Judy Bonds of Marfork, West Virginia was a hero among heroes, an extraordinary leader and an indomitable spirit.

Last night we lost a true hero, Judy Bonds of Marfork, West Virginia. Judy—the executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch, Goldman Prize recipient, and friend and partner of Earthjustice—was a courageous leader in the fight to protect Americans and future generations from the poisonous pollution and destruction of mountaintop removal mining.

Although the recent elections signal a return to more inhospitable times for environmental protection in Congress, we are sustained by two constants: the power of the law and the dedication of our supporters.

The law provides leverage for progress even when political winds shift, and our steadfast supporters have shown time and again that they trust in our ability to wield it for positive change, regardless of the prevailing politics.

Inspiration abounds in America. Despite the problems and troubles of this expansive land, we have heroes, champions and everyday people who, day in and day out, rise above their circumstances to the inspire those around them and lead their communities toward change.

After all, that's the story of America, isn't it? At the heart of every great triumph in our nation's history is the story of everyday people who stood up and demanded better for themselves, for their neighbors, for their brothers and sisters, and for their fellow Americans.

Today, we learned that West Virginia's Governor, Gov. Joe Manchin, is suing the EPA for its policies to strengthen watch over the state's biggest polluter, the coal mining industry and to ensure that mining does not put the people of the state and their water supplies directly in harm's way, compeletely devalue their property and turn their communities into wrecking zones for coal corporations.

On the campaign trail, President Obama shared his thoughts about mountaintop removal mining:

We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal than simply blowing the tops off mountains. We're tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels ... Strip-mining is an environmental disaster ... What I want to do is work with experts here in West Virginia to find out what we need to do to protect the waterways here. That's going to be a primary task of the head of my Environmental Protection Agency.

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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.