Yesterday, one of the nation’s top coal companies, Patriot Coal, announced that it is getting out of the business of mountaintop removal mining.
The Latest On: Mountaintop Removal
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.
After the summer we have had, my mind is on climate change, what more Earthjustice can do about it, and what’s at stake in this election.
I experienced the effects of climate change this summer during a trip through Colorado. Heat, drought and fire set an almost apocalyptic tone for the trip. There was no snow on the peaks, stream flows were down, and smoke filled the air. Similar impacts afflicted 60 percent of our nation and spread over three continents; sea ice coverage in the Arctic was at a record low.
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.
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.
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."