Thursday, February 07, 2008

( This is my post in support of Blogging for Appalachia week.... a challenge issued by Outdoor Bloggers Summit , encouraging people to post about Mountaintop Removal Mining this week. Even though I post regularly about this issue, I wanted to participate as a show of support. The following is a Letter to the Editor I submitted in September to local papers.)


Dear Editor,

In the midst of our beautiful West Virginia mountains, there is a wolf in sheep's clothing. This wolf touts what a great thing he is for our state, how we wouldn't be able to survive without him. And he is on the prowl......

This wolf is King Coal. For over a century, Coal Companies have been making billions of dollars by extracting coal from our mountains, while West Virginia's people remain the second poorest in the nation. And now Coal Companies have found an even MORE profitable way to mine coal, that basically takes the coal miner out of the picture. This process is called Mountaintop Removal Mining.

Everyday in our state, three million pounds of explosives are used to literally blow the tops off of mountains to get to the coal seams below. So far, over 470 of our ancient mountains have been destroyed. All of the debris is then dumped into the valleys and streams below, so far burying over 1200 miles of streams. And now, with Governor Manchin's announcement that he wants to expand coal operations to make WV a coal-based economy and build 10 coal-to-liquid plants, Mountaintop Removal practices will continue to expand despite the fact that mountaintop removal accounted for less than 5% of US coal production as of 2001. According to a report from the US Geologic Survey in 2000, the Appalachian coal basin will not continue providing coal for much longer.

This is a very short-sighted energy goal, leaving WV's landscape devastated for short-term energy needs for the rest of the country. What does this mean for the residents of Appalachia's coalfields? So far, it has meant catastrophic flooding from the burying and re-routing of streams, the destruction of the mountains that their ancestors have lived in for generations, and contaminated drinking water from leaking toxic sludge dams. Impoundments are notoriously leaky, contaminating drinking water supplies in many communities, and are also known to fail completely. A sludge dam breach in Martin County, KY, in 2000, sent more than 300 million gallons of toxic coal sludge into tributaries of the Big Sandy, causing what the EPA called, “The biggest environmental disaster ever east of the Mississippi."

So far, Governor Manchin and Senator Byrd have turned a deaf ear to the residents of the coalfields, who have been crying out, "Our children are sick, our water is poisoned, and our mountains are no longer there!" Our politicians are only hearing the voice of Coal and its money. Mountaintop Mining is devastating Appalachia and no one knows or cares. It's time to speak up and help our fellow West Virginians. Call your representative and urge him/her to support the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 2169). This Act is necessary to protect clean drinking water for many of our nation’s cities and to protect the quality of life for Appalachian coalfield residents. You can go to ilovemountains.org and 700mountains.org to find out more.

"I look to the hills from whence cometh my strength......"
But what if there are no more hills to look up to?

(Sidenote: You can scroll down to Monday's post, to access the ever-growing list of who else is participating)

13 comments:

TwoSquareMeals said...

Great letter, Blue! That is one of my favorite Bible verses, for obvious reasons! My post is finally up, too, if you want to add it to your list.

bluemountainmama said...

thanks, as always, 2square. i linked to you and i'm heading over to read....

bluemountainmama said...

oh my gosh, 2square.... that was an absolutley gorgeous post!!!!

head over and read it, everyone!

photowannabe said...

Terrific letter...let's hope people read it and get some action.

Kristine said...

Thanks for posting in support of the OBS challenge. I'm glad to see more and more posts appearing. Who knows, it could do some good.

colleen said...

Shout it from the rooftops!

Christianne said...

Blue, this was an amazing, heartfelt, true letter. Thank you for sharing it with all of us, and for having the courage to send a letter to the editor. You've got gumption, girl!

L.L. Barkat said...

A powerful letter. And, really, it is not just for Appalachia that you write. We are all part of this. If one region of our nation is trespassed, then the whole nation is trespassed.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Bluemountainmomma,
Thanks for your letter. It utterly should sicken us all. What a tragedy. What a lovely state is West Virgina. There must be a better way to get to the coal. There has to be. Never at the expense of people or of God's beautiful creation.

Lord have mercy.

bluemountainmama said...

there is a better way, ted... but it's not as profitable as MTR.

either way, i'd like to see our country ween itself off of coal period. every thing about it is dirty.... extracting it, cleaning it, and burning it.

Happy Hippie said...

Great Letter! Politician that turns a deaf ear should be ashamed! They are, essentially, helping to kill their constituents.

Mountaingoat said...

Hey, a really concise and intelligent summary of a bleak situation. I found your site via Denny's. I'm Australian but have done a lot of walking in the Appalachian region. Keep up the good work, it's great people like you and Denny are fighting back. And great music too!

bluemountainmama said...

thank you, mountaingoat.... i appreciate your kind words.