Churches call for changes in rural practices
BARDSTOWN, Ky. – Some rural practices – such as mountaintop removal coal mining – are damaging the environment and should be discontinued, the Kentucky Council of Churches said at the conclusion of a conference on Friday.
The council, which represents Roman Catholic dioceses and 10 other moderate to liberal Christian denominations in the state, also advocated preserving open space, opposing factory farms, reducing air pollution and eliminating raw sewage from being illegally piped into streams.
Of all those issues, mountaintop removal coal mining has been perhaps the hottest issue for environmentalists and religious leaders who say the practice takes such a heavy toll on nature that it should be banned. In the procedure, mountaintops are removed with explosives and heavy equipment to expose coal seams. The excess dirt and rock are dumped into hollows, creating additional flat land.
The process requires large-scale blasting and removal of trees, soil and rock, which destroys wildlife habitat and contaminates streams with sediment and harmful mine runoff.
The Council of Churches’ recommendations were approved as the organization wrapped up a two-day in Bardstown, the Courier-Journal of Louisville reported.
The council also called for improved conditions for migrant workers in Kentucky, raising the state cigarette tax to at least the national average, banning smoking in workplaces and providing more money for anti-smoking efforts.
The council said changes in rural areas affect not only smaller communities but urban ones as well, which become the destination of people displaced from traditional rural communities.
“Land ownership is being restructured, agricultural production is becoming more heavily industrialized and concentrated in fewer hands, and the earth is being subjected to harmful farming, mining and development practices,” the first resolution said.
Another resolution approved by member churches called for government programs that offer a path to permanent residency to migrant workers, and for churches to help “provide a comprehensive network of social services and advocacy for migrant families.”
It also calls for actions against global poverty to prevent people in other countries from “having to migrate in desperation in order to survive.”
Information from: The Courier-Journal, https://www.courier-journal.com
Article provided by Vivian Stockman of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition