Front Porch Blog

Mountain Monday: 300 Blogs and a Swarm of Angry New Yorkers!

It doesn’t always occur to us that our electricity comes from somewhere.

But for many people on the east coast, every time we flip on a light switch, we are connected to the blowing up of the oldest mountains in the world – the Appalachian Mountains – where coal is being extracted using a barbaric form of coal-mining called mountaintop removal.

This weekend, not only did the Bloggers Challenge hit 300 participants (woah!), but I witnessed several incredible citizens who realized that they were connected to mountaintop removal put on an incredible 3 day event in NYC called New York Loves Mountains, in order to raise awareness in New York about the destruction of Appalachia, and the fact that EVEN IN NEW YORK Americans are using electricity generated by mountaintop removal. In fact, 13 power plants in 11 NY counties purchase and burn coal from mountaintop removal mines in Appalachia. Speakers came from all over the east coast, including West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia in order to meet New Yorkers who are engaging their peers on the issue.

Not only are New Yorkers engaging their peers and fellow statesmen, but they are engaging their Representatives in Congress regarding the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169). The bill would stop the dumping of toxic mountaintop removal mining waste into our headwater streams.

So far, the citizens of New York are responsible for getting an astounding 22 of 29 NY Congressional Reps of BOTH political parties on-board as co-sponsors of the Clean Water Protection Act, and you can help us by doing something similar in your neck of the woods.

Thanks to the leadership of Congressmen Pallone (NJ-06) and Congressman Shays (CT-04), the Clean Water Protection Act now has 144 bi-partisan co-sponsors from all over the country. Congressman Shays says, “The Clean Water Protection Act would end the practice of mountaintop mining, where the top of a mountain is literally blasted away to provide easier access to coal seams below the surface.This common-sense legislation will prevent the debris generated from this blasting from falling or being dumped into valleys, polluting streams and rivers.”

See if you are connected to mountaintop removal at the “My Connection” page at, and check to see if your Congressman is a co-sponsor of the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 2169) here.

We also need you to join the Bloggers Challenge. We just hit our 300th participant, but we need to spread the word until every American and every politician is hearing about mountaintop removal on a daily basis.

1. Featured Blogs for the week of July 7-14th…

This week’s must read piece is over at “A Mountain Journey“:

…Though only the most crass coal company propagandists exhalt the aesthetic and environmental benefits of mountain top removal, it is common to hear a visceral “people gotta live” when the practice is challenged. Mountain top removal is thus justified as a “necessary evil.” Nobody wants to destroy the earth, but when it comes to burrying streams and wildlife or losing health insurance: “people gotta live.” This is the ultimatum the coal industry and its choir of politicians have successfully popularized. Is this account rooted in an inalienable reality? If not, how can a new and better reality be reconstructed from the ruins?…

Check it out!

2) Mountaintop Removal Fact of the Week
There were once over 150,000 coal-mining jobs in West Virginia. Because mountaintop removal and other forms of strip mining are heavily automated, that number has been reduced by roughly 90%, and there are now around 15-20,000 coal-mining jobs. Meanwhile, those living around mountaintop removal remain some of the most impoverished communities in America.

3) Mountain Movie/Image of the Week:
Part of the “America’s Most Endangered Mountains” Video Series, check out Carl Shoupe talking about his community, and the threat mountaintop removal poses to Black Mountain, KY.

4) Featured Activist:
Stephanie Pistello/HeadHeadwater Productions.
Pistello, a native Kentuckian, is the Founder, Executive Artistic Designer, and Producer for Headwater Productions, a Brooklyn based Production and Theatre Company. Headwater Productions describes themselves as “the artistic and civilian voice working to connect urban and rural communities who are challenging the implicit social law that the corporation’s rights to the land, air and water trump the people’s rights to the same. They create live events and collaborative workshops that depict and champion the cause of individuals in both urban and rural communities, working to preserve the health and vitality of their home places. Our work promotes the ideal that it is possible to steer the future of our planet in a direction that benefits us all and celebrates our common cultural background and development in America.”

They site their inspiration as “sprung from the tradition of theatre for social change pioneered by Bertolt Brecht and advanced by Augusto Boal. It aims to engage the spectator in dramatic action that challenges the bounds of social law. Its goal is to provide an example for and build confidence in the spectator to carry out social change.”

I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a reading of their up-coming production “Current Changes in Empire,” written by Sarah Moon, which is a piece meant to both challenge and change perspectives on American’s complacency towards mountaintop removal. I can tell you that the final picture is going to be amazing. If you are in New York, please check out Headwater Productions work. You can also help by giving generously, so that they can continue to spread the word.

5) Mountain Music of the Week:
Doc Watson, from a holler in western North Carolina, has been dazzling audiences worldwide for decades. Here is he performing “Deep River Blues.”

Thats it for this week!





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