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Mountain Heroes

No one who has met Ken will ever forget him.

I first met him in 1999 when I started at Earthjustice. Joe Lovett of Appalachian Mountain Advocates and his colleagues had just won the first-ever federal court ruling against mountaintop removal. This set off a political firestorm in West Virginia and at the U.S. Capitol. Efforts were underway to overturn the decision by exempting mountaintop removal from federal environmental laws.

The Mountain Heroes photo petition.
Today's the day that we deliver our Mountain Heroes photo petition to the Obama administration! This massive photo petition is historic—it includes photos and personal messages and stories from more than 13,500 people across the country who wrote to President Obama and his administration for an end to mountaintop removal mining.
Larry Gibson, watching the sun set over a decimated Kayford Mountain.

The fight to end mountaintop removal will not stop until mountaintop removal stops, but yesterday we lost one of the most beloved heroes and leaders of the movement. Larry Gibson, the Keeper of the Mountains, died on Kayford Mountain, a sacred place he fought for three decades to save. He recalled how, 30 years ago, some people told him that the destruction caused by mountaintop removal and strip mining would be “fixed” in six months.

Larry Gibson, watching the sun set over a decimated Kayford Mountain.

Imagine for a moment that you live in a beautiful forest. Your home is on the side of a big mountain. All around it are tall trees and elegant flowers. After a long day of work you come home. You are tired. Dinner smells delicious. You smile at your family. Everyone sits down at the dinner table. You are happy.

Suddenly there is a loud noise.

“What was that,” you wonder.

Larry Gibson, watching the sun set over a decimated Kayford Mountain.
Last night, we got devastating news. Larry Gibson, our close friend, partner, ally and comrade in the work to end mountaintop removal mining and secure justice for communities across Appalachia, had passed away of a heart attack. Larry was more than a friend and partner, he was our hero and our inspiration.

John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High” is one song that immediately comes to mind when you think of how music and mountains just naturally go hand in hand. Musicians are been well known for their stances on environmental issues, and artists such as Pearl Jam, The Roots, Jack Johnson, Willie Nelson, Guster, Sheryl Crow, and Moby are all outspoken advocates.

Be a Mountain Hero.

She said, “Do you cheat on me?”
He said, “Sure I do.”

“Do I know her?"
“Sure you do.”

“Is she pretty?”
“Most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

“What’s her name?”
He said, “Kayford Mountain, prettiest lady I ever met.”

One of the biggest threats to water in Appalachia is mountaintop removal. Entire communities have had their water poisoned by runoff from mountaintop removal sites. Says Alexandra Cousteau: "For this reason, I unequivocally extend my support to promoting the discussion on the dangers of mountaintop removal and raising awareness of its devastating impacts not only on the environment—but also the communities downstream."

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.

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