Stephanie Attends Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington
From May 4th-8th I attended the 8th Annual Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. The event is put on by the Alliance for Appalachia, a diverse coalition of groups fighting to end the absolutely devastating practice of MountainTop Removal coal mining, hereafter refferred to as MTR. The Sierra Club is a member of the Alliance and I want to give an especially HUGE shout out to Appalachian Voices and their staff for dedicating a ton of time and resources to making the week a big success and also to thank the several Sierra Club Beyond Coal staff and supporters who helped out!
Below are some photos of my experiences while in DC:
We started off the 8th Annual MTR Week in Washington on Sunday at the Thurgood Marshall Center with a diverse and super informative training.
Explaining the simple, dry erase marker version of Mountaintop Removal.
One of the excuses the coal companies use to justify the destruction of over 500 mountains in Appalachia (totalling roughly the size of the entire state of Delaware) and burrying or contaminating over 2,000 miles of streams is that they are creating jobs. The counties in which coal mining and especially MTR mining take place are the poorest counties in the country. If the coal companies are really the source of such prosperity, why is this still the case after they having been mining in these towns for 50 and 100+ years? The truth is MTR mining actually employs about 1 person for every 4 employed by a traditional underground mine.
This is an illustration by Rusty Mullins, wife of a former miner, of how many estimated miners it takes in a traditional coal mining operation vs an MTR mining operation.
On Sunday afternoon their were a couple really fascinating (and at many times heartbreaking) panels.
1) Ann built her dream home in the mountains of KY only to have her drinking water poisoned by MTR and be forced to move to Tennessee.
The coal company began mining on this man's ancestral property and would not allow him to visit his family cemetery without getting advanced approval from them. In further investigation he discovered that hundreds of cemeteries throughout Appalachia have been bulldozed for mining or buried by MTR.
When asked if he felt safe going to work in the underground mines (he never worked in MTR) he responded "You tried not to think about it". His wife, Rusty said a prayer every morning when he left that he would come back that night.
Parson and Kat, the two in the middle, are in the last stages of completing a movie on MTR that they started a few years ago in film school called "Topless America". Check them out athttp://toplessamerica.org/
This was my roommate, Elaine. Elaine and her partner Jimmy can not live on their property in KY because they have no access to water (not even contaminated water) after their well dropped from coal mining. They have been fighting for 10 years to prove that they are "mining impacted" and therefore eligible for a 20 years supply of clean water at no cost and in the mean time living in Ohio.
I am getting ready to meet with Representative Carney's office to ask him to become a cosponsor (again) of the Clean Water Protection Act! He was a Cosponsor of the CWPA in the last Congress after I met with his office on the subject.
Take action by calling his Washington, DC office at (202) 225-4165 to thank him for being a past champion on this issue and ask him to become a cosponsor again!
Wednesday was our day of action outside the EPA Headquarters. In this picture it's about to begin.
Residents who live near MTR sites have increased levels of mortality from Cancer and numerous other diseases. The counties where MTR occurs are some of the least healthy in the country.
We brought jugs of coal-impacted water from around Appalachia to deliver to the EPA to show them why we need a rule on conductivity!
We circled the loop of sidewalk atop the Metro station that is in front of the two entrance to EPA Headquarters while singing and carrying our water for delivery.
On our last lap around our brave Appalachian Activists risked arrest by sitting down in front of the EPA entrance and promising to stay to make sure our voices were heard and EPA came down for their delivery.