Story by Sarah Vig
In the largest lobby effort to end mountaintop removal to date, nearly 150 people from 30 states joined forces in Washington, D.C. March 16 through 19 for the fourth annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington.
Their goal was to gain support for the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310) in Congress. The Clean Water Protection Act would effectively end mountaintop removal mining by making valley fills illegal and thereby preventing toxic mountaintop removal mining waste from being dumped into mountain headwater streams.
Organized by the Alliance for Appalachia, the lobby week brought together impacted coalfield residents, activists, and concerned citizens both from Appalachia and beyond. Their combined efforts brought on 10 new co-sponsors to the bill: Rep. Yvette Clark (D-NY), Rep. Michael McMahon (D-NY), Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Rep. Paul Tonko (D-NY), Rep. Walt Minnick (D-ID), Rep. John Spratt (D-SC), Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA), Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-CA), Rep. Jesse Jackson (D-IL) and Rep. Kathy Castor (D-FL). With these new co-sponsors, H.R. 1310 ended the lobby week with 133 bi-partisan co-sponsors after less than two months of recruiting in the 111th Congress.
Among the 133 are: eight bipartisan members from states in which mountaintop removal mining occurs; 19 bipartisan members of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which will hear the bill before it can go to the floor; 11 bipartisan members of the Subcommittee on Water Resources and the Environment, which will hear the bill before it goes to the larger committee; six Republicans; eight freshmen; 26 members of the Congressional Black Caucus.
Over the course of three days, citizen lobbyists held over 150 meetings with members of Congress and their staffs. Overall, the group met with more than one-fourth of the House and one-third of the Senate.
In addition, a nation-wide call-in campaign generated hundreds of calls to legislative offices urging their support of the Clean Water Protection Act.
How You Can Help
As we go to press on April 6, 2009, support for the Clean Water Protection in Congress has grown to 141 cosponsors. To keep track of the ever-expanding list of co-sponsors or to contact your representative about supporting the Clean Water Protection Act, go to www.ilovemountains.org/action/write_your_rep.