Larry Gibson with his beloved wife Carol at their cabin on Kayford Mountain. Photo by Paul Corbit Brown
On September 9, Appalachia and America lost a true hero. The stalwart Larry Gibson, long-time champion for the mountains, died of a heart attack while working on his family's land at his beloved Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. We cannot begin to describe the sense of loss we feel at his passing, nor can we truly measure the depth of his impact on Appalachia's mountain treasures.
Larry's commitment to his principles, even in the face of adversity that included threats to his life, inspired thousands of people to join the fight to end mountaintop removal coal mining. In one of my favorite quotes attributed to Larry, he said, "Let me ask you this: What do you hold so close to your own circle of life that you would not put a price on it? What would it be for you?… For me, it is the mountains and the people of Appalachia."
For us, too, Larry. We will always remember your heroism, your unwavering defense of your homeplace, and your ability to spark our own resolve to stand up in the places where we live and fight for clean air, clean water, and our communities. Thank you.
A public memorial service will be held for Larry on Sunday, October 14 from 2 to 6 p.m. at the Charleston Municipal Auditorium in Charleston, W.Va. (RSVP on the event's facebook page). This event will be preceded by the annual Changing of the Leaves Music Festival starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, October 13 on Kayford Mountain.
Another Attempt to Dirty Our Water
Before Congress went on break last month, polluter-friendly senators introduced legislation that is almost oozing with coal ash. In spite of a court ruling that found the Tennessee Valley Authority responsible for the massive coal ash disaster in 2008, Senate Bill 3512 would allow utilities to keep running dangerous coal ash impoundments that are susceptible to failure and already leaking toxic heavy metals into our waterways, while simultaneously blocking the Environmental Protection Agency from finalizing hazardous waste guidelines on coal ash. [ Don't let Congress dirty our water — Tell your senator to oppose S. 3512! ]
On Sept. 13, Appalachian Voices and our allies joined with hundreds of anti-mountaintop removal activists to stand outside the White House in a show of solidarity for the mountains of Appalachia. The group gave inspiring speeches, shared personal stories, and submitted a photo petition signed by 13,500 people calling for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining. [ Learn more and add your story to the petition ]
The Empire Strikes Back: Another Attack on Clean Air and Water
Last week, polluter-friendly legislators repackaged a number of previous anti-clean air and water votes into the War on Coal Act of 2012. While the measure passed the House, it is unlikely the Senate will take up the bill. This is fortunate for us in the Southeast, since an NRDC reports shows ALL TEN of the Central and Southern Appalachian states were awarded the dubious honor of having the worst air pollution from coal-fired power plants — including North Carolina and Georgia, currently the #1 and #2 users of mountaintop removal mined coal. [ Read about the War on Coal Act ... Find out if YOUR state is one of the Toxic 20 ]
Appalachian Voices took our truth-to-power message to Charlotte, N.C., earlier this month at the 2012 Democratic National Convention. In the arena, on the streets, in televised forums, and at our special "Bourbon, Bluegrass and a Better Future for Appalachia" reception co-hosted with Greenpeace, we spoke with delegates, government officials and everyday citizens to remind them of the urgent need to protect the Appalachian mountains and transition America toward a cleaner energy future. Key players we met and spoke with included EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senator Chuck Schumer, USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, and Second Lady Dr. Jill Biden. [ Check out our updates and photos ]