What have you done today to lower your impact?

We are washing away the foundations of our existence on every front. It is high time we move from crashing about on the planet like a bull in china shop and find a way to go forward with intent. We must find systems of living based on sustainability. The systems and tools exist, it is up to each of us to adopt them.

Blog Archive

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

Fear and loathing fighting Big Dirty Coal

For the sake of a few jobs are we really willing to sacrifice mountain communities and the very mountains the live on? Here's an update on the situation in West Virginia as reported by Ben Block over on World Changing.

Here's an excerpt;

"Maria Gunnoe raises her children in a small town in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia. Her grandfather toiled for 32 years in the coal mines to buy the property where she lives. She helped build the house that her son and daughter now call home.

Five years ago, a flood unlike anything her ancestors experienced nearly wiped Gunnoe's home off the map. A spring rain turned the docile Big Branch Creek that transects her yard into a barrage of black water. The flood ripped Gunnoe's Rottweiler from his collar and carried him downstream. Her family stayed indoors, praying the house would withstand the current.

"There is nothing more intimidating than a 60-foot-wide, 20-foot-tall wall of water coming at you," said Gunnoe, whose property has flooded seven times in the past nine years. She blames the 486 hectare (1,200-acre) mountaintop removal mine that has been leveling the ridge above her home.

Gunnoe, who was honored last month with the 2009 Goldman Environment Prize for North America, has become one of the most fearless opponents of mountaintop removal in her state. Her campaign against the powerful coal industry has helped attract international attention to the damaging mining practice. ... "The people of Appalachia are being sacrificed for energy in this country," said Gunnoe, a grassroots organizer with the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition (OVEC). "The work I do with fighting mountaintop removal coal mining was inspired because I am a mother. I do not and will never support any aspect of the coal industry, simply because I've seen it kill people I care about."...

OVEC sued the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007 to stop any new mining at a mountaintop removal site near Gunnoe's home town of Bob White. Days before the hearing, Gunnoe gathered 20 local residents who were scheduled to join her in testifying against the mine site. But more than 60 coal miners also showed up at the community hall to harass the protestors to stay silent.

The day of the testimony, more than 100 people packed the courtroom, with a divided gallery split between miners and
environmentalists. Among the community witnesses, Gunnoe was the only resident willing to challenge the industry directly.

Her testimony helped sway U.S. District Judge Robert C. Chambers to rule in the coalition's favor. "Money can be earned, lost, and earned again," Chambers wrote. "But a valley once filled is gone forever."

The mining company involved in the lawsuit released a notice stating that the ruling could result in job losses for at least 39 miners at the site and another 180 at a related underground mine. Soon, Gunnoe found her face across her community on "wanted" posters labeled "Job Hater." A neighborhood store started collecting signatures for a petition against Gunnoe. Her daughter's dog was shot dead.

Friends heard rumors that Gunnoe too would be shot, and that her home would be burned with her children inside." - Ben Block

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