Front Porch Blog

A day to shine on Capitol Hill

Hearing chambersNews coverage of yesterdays Senate hearing on mountaintop removal coal mining:

The best headline thus far was printed before the hearing even started:
Washington City Paper – Mountaintop Coal Mining Face Off Starts Now!

As always, Ken Ward’s Coal Tattoo blog provided the most comprehensive coverage and analysis:
Mountaintop Removal: Jobs vs. Mayflies? NOT

Here’s a preliminary roundup of hearing coverage:

  1. McClatchy Newspapers – Lawmakers, activists battle over mountaintop removal coal mining
  2. Clear Skies TV – Mountaintop Removal Hearing
  3. CBS 13 WOWK, West Virginia – Mountaintop Mining Debate Reaches Capitol Hill
  4. CBS 59 WVNS – Debate Continues in Washington on Mountaintop Removal Mining
  5. ABC 3 WHSV – Environmental Official Testifies on Mountaintop Mining and Water Quality
  6. WV Metronews – Can We Really Keep Doing This?

And a few photos from the event. More can be found on our Flickr page:

Talking across the issue part 2
Citizens for Coal discuss the mountaintop removal coal mining issue with Cody Simpkins of Kentuckians for the Commonwealth.

Senator Ben Cardin
Senator Ben Cardin, co-founder of the Appalachia Restoration Act (S 696) and chair of the Committee on Environment and Public Works’ subcommittee on Water and Wildlife, speaks to the media about the bill.

Hearing chambers
Close to two hundred people lined up for the Senate hearing on the Appalachia Restoration Act, from both sides of the mountaintop removal coal mining issue. Only about sixty were able to fit into the main Senate Committee chamber in Dirkson Senate Building; the rest were directed to an overflow room in a nearby senate building.

Waiting in Line
Close to two hundred people lined up for the Senate hearing on the Appalachia Restoration Act, from both sides of the mountaintop removal coal mining issue. The hearing was held in the Committee on Environment and Public Works’ subcommittee on Water and Wildlife. Some individuals waited in line for over three hours to secure a seat in the hearing.

Coalfield citizen statements about mountaintop removal mining:

Mickey McCoy, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Inez, KY – I am a 53 year old retired high school English teacher who was born and raised in Inez, Kentucky. Twenty five percent of my counties land area has been striped mined.

Our public water system in Martin County is polluted and our 100 year flood comes every 18 months. These problems are due to the coal industry and the greed of their corporate owners.

Mountain top removal continues to bomb the hell out of our mountains, our culture, and our future.

I’m here in DC to see if anybody gives a damn about the death of my land. I’m here to see if any elected officials care to stand for us against the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains. I am here for the last hope.

Cody Simpkins, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
Morehead, KY – The people of Appalachia have struggled to find their voice for generations. Yet time after time we have been silenced buy our poverty and the overwhelming influence of the industrial forces that bring this poverty to our communities. For the first time our government is opening an ear to a main factor in the plight of Appalachia. Whether or not our voices will be heard is still left to be determined, but at least now we have a chance to open our mouths.

Matt Howard, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth
McGoffin County, KY – As a young person, born and raised in eastern Kentucky, I have many hopes and aspirations for my family and neighbors. I would like to see my people prosper, living long into their old age. In recent decades there has been an explosion in cancer rates among the human population the world over. It is obvious that we have brought this problem on ourselves. What we put into the land, air, and water, we unavoidably put into our own bodies. With Mountain Top Removal we are poisoning our water, and losing the rich soil that nourished our bodies for so long. We our selling the thing that truly sustains us, and funneling our wealth out of the region. What we are selling can never be replaced. This is the great tragedy of our time and region. I hope to see people embrace logic, and develop a thirst for knowledge. We should strive improve ourselves as individuals and as a society. This is what I want for our people.

Lorelei Scarbro—Coal River Mountain Watch
Rock Creek, WV – I am WV born and raised; in my family has been four generation of underground coal miners, including my husband who died of black lung. My home is threatened by a proposed mountaintop removal behind my home. Everything I have, including the cemetery where my husband is buried, is at risk. It’s my prayer that this committee learns the truth about how mountaintop removal is impacting the water in Appalachian communities. My biggest concern as a mother of four and as a grandmother is safe drinking water. I’m so concerned about the quality of water my granddaughter will have when she’s my age. People I know are already sick, dead, and dying because of mountaintop removal has on our water.

There is an alternative. In my community, the Coal River Valley in southwestern West Virginia, there is a 6,600 acre mountaintop removal site proposed for the mountain behind my home. Instead of this destruction, we are proposing a wind farm. Studies have shown that this would provide more jobs, more revenue for the county, and more electricity in the long run that the mountaintop removal project. This project would allow us to start re-building our community, and create safe, permanent jobs and clean energy forever. We need our government to step forward and support alternatives like the Coal River Wind project, and other investments in green jobs in communities that have been impacted by mountaintop removal.

David Beatty—Save Our Cumberland Mountains
Cumberland County, TN What I’ve been saying all along is that where I come from, so many jobs are pretty well gone, but you can still depend on tourism. If the water is messed up and the mountains are gone, we’ll lose that too. I see this mountaintop removal another threat to the economy, more than any other economic threat we face. The lawmakers need to respond, because while they may not care about our health, I know they care about the economy.

I was elected to the position of County Executive from 1998 to 2002. We focused on developing tourism because we saw that as the best economic option for our community. I see hope in this new green economy as an alternative we’ve never had before.

We used to have many jobs in underground mining – and a lot of our retired miners gave their health to the pollution inside the mine. They never dreamed they would now have to give up their land, their mountains and their lifestyle, to mountaintop removal mining.

The well water on my property was ruined by strip mining, and it is threatened by a new mountaintop removal site they are trying to put in. You used to be able to lean down and drink out of any stream, but now you don’t dare. People depend on their well water, because many don’t have access to city water. Bad water doesn’t just affect the tourist economy; it’s our health; it’s our life.

I see such an opportunity and such a serious threat. Investment in a green economy is our best opportunity to get Appalachia out of poverty, but we’ll never have that chance if we destroy our water and our health with mountaintop removal.

Jean Chealy –Save Our Cumberland Mountains
Cumberland County, TN – I am a retired school teacher and volunteer as the chair of our local chapter of SOCM. I have been to Washington to lobby against mountaintop removal before. Mountaintop removal is such an abomination, and we shouldn’t have to spend this much time and energy fighting it. The problems should be obvious to lawmakers, and they need to act to end mountaintop removal today.

In Tennessee, we now also have to fight the terrible impacts of TVA’s coal ash spill. TVA is hoping to dump huge amounts of the toxic coal ash waste onto a strip mine near my home in Cumberland County, TN. They bulldozed through our county commission and got the permits with out listening to citizen concerns. I got involved years ago because of the terrible blasting damages from this same strip mine they are now trying to dump their toxic coal ash into. So, now our health and our water are being threatened by the mining of coal and by the disposal of the toxic ash they make when they burn it.

Kathy Selvage, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards
Wise, VA – We have so much to share with the people who might visit us. If we could only stop blasting away our mountains and dumping them into valleys and streambeds. Mountaintop removal is destroying the land, the people, and our cultural heritage. We could make it if only our elected leaders shared our vision, one that doesn’t concentrate on destruction, but instead on construction.




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