The Front Porch Blog, with Updates from AppalachiaThe Front Porch Blog, with Updates from Appalachia


Presbyterian, Unitarian churches oppose mountaintop removal

Friday, July 14th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

For Immediate Release

Contact: Lenny Kohm at Appalachian Voices (828) 262-1500

June 29, 2006

Two Major National Religious Denominations Pass Resolutions Against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Within a week of one another, two major national faith groups passed resolutions at their general assemblies opposing the widespread practice of mountaintop removal coal mining in central Appalachia. Mountaintop removal involves blasting off the top of mountains and dumping the waste into valleys below in order to access multiple seams of coal.

One resolution, passed on June 22 in Birmingham, Alabama by the Presbyterian Church/USA stated that, “Mountaintop removal coal mining contributes to a cycle of poverty that has created high unemployment, high illiteracy rates, record numbers of school closings and a lack of opportunity in areas where coal is produced.” The Presbyterian Church/USA has over 2.5 million members nationwide.

The effort to pass the resolution was spearheaded by West Virginia native Melissa Gee. “Someone once told me that Presbyterians don’t go alone. I now realize the similarity of that belief to the way I was raised in West Virginia. The need for this resolution was clear; the people of our nation’s coalfields should not be sent out alone in the fight to protect their homes and families,” commented Gee.

The resolution cited a decreasing quality of life for nearby families and communities due to flooding, blasting, dust and fallen rock, loss of home and property, and destruction of “both the beauty and productive capacity of the land” caused by mountaintop removal as a basis for their opposition. The resolution passed almost unanimously.

On June 26 the Unitarian Universalist Association, representing more than 1000 congregations nationwide, passed an action of immediate witness concerning mountaintop removal at their general assembly in St. Louis, Missouri. The action stated that the “Passage of H.R. 2719, the Clean Water Protection Act, would amend the Clean Water Act to eliminate mountaintop removal coal mining because coal companies would no longer be permitted to dump waste into nearby streams and valleys.”

Sarah Berel- Harrop, the sponsor of the resolution, said, “I was overwhelmed with the support from delegates around the country. I am hopeful that this action of immediate witness will spur members from their congregations to learn more about and become active on this issue.”

The two denominations have now joined several other national faith groups who have outwardly expressed their opposition to mountaintop removal, including the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, the Episcopal Church, the United Methodist Church and the Catholic Conference of Kentucky.

Bizarre Dance of Wind Power

Monday, July 10th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

… Unlike other clean energy sources such as solar power, electricity from wind has now become competitive in cost with electricity from conventional sources, due largely to advances in turbine design over the last 30 years. According to the AWEA, today wind electricity sells for half the price of nuclear power about the same as electricity from coal, oil and natural gas.

Despite the potential benefits of wind power, a growing number of local communities like Lewisburg have come to oppose wind turbines nearby.

Link to Augusta Free Press story

Roanoke Times opposes mountaintop removal

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

Following its series on MTR (linked below), an editorial in the Roanoke, Va. Times this morning opposes mountaintop removal, saying: Gut instincts aren’t always right. But when it comes to mountaintop removal mining, those who recoil from the carnage directed at Mother Nature are right, both on an emotional level and a more pragmatic one. (For more, here is a link to the MTR editorial

Mountaintop removal mining series published in Roanoke Va Times

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

The Times says that mountaintop removal mining ” is reshaping the geographic profile of Appalachia.” Although it is “an efficient way to mine coal, it stirs environmental and cultural concerns.”
Here’s a link to the Ronaoke Times MTR story

One section of the Times report is sure to stir some controversy among people who live in the coalfields:

Dink Shackleford, executive director of the Virginia Mining Association… dismisses Mountain Justice Summer as well-meaning but misinformed. He calls the activists weekend environmentalists. They visit nature. They don’t live in it. So they can’t understand it. At one rally, Shackleford said, “I saw five or 10 college professors and I saw about 110 misguided kids 17, 18 years old that you can’t even hardly get mad at when you see them.
“They’re so young. You know they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Shackleford gives locals who support Mountain Justice Summer even less credit than he gives the activists. “The people who are doing the complaining are the people who can afford to complain,” he said. They get their living out of a mailbox, Shackleford said. They’re retired or receive disability payments so they don’t have to worry about what the loss of mountaintop mines would do to the economy.

Energy Blueprint being developed by Appalachian Regional Commission

Wednesday, July 5th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

According to the ARC press release, a review of all renewable energy sources and an assessment of the resource potential across the Region for each renewable energy source, as well as identification of any significant concentrations of business activity in each business segment will be prepared by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Marshall University.

And yet, the agendas for the Morgantown June 21 and Oak Ridge June 27 round tables appear to be focused almost entirely on the “future for fossil energy.” Renewable energy was not an agenda item.
ARC workshop agendas

A third workshop is scheduled for Huntsville, AL on July 13.

NPR Celebrates the History of Appalachia

Monday, May 8th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

The interview begins with the question of how to pronounce the word: Appalachia (like “apple-at-cha”) or Appalachia (like “apple-ate-cha”). The interview also contains a question about hillbillies and recognizes that part of that stereotype comes from the ability of Appalachian people to laugh at themselves. There’s also an interesting discussion about Appalachia as a haven for freedom lovers, both before and after the American Revolution.

Its good to hear Jeff waxing poetic about this part of the world. His enthusiasm helps spread the pride.

There’s a mention of the Highlander center in the story too; Appalachian Voice probably needs to write an article about it.

Summit for the Mountains

Saturday, April 29th, 2006 | Posted by The Appalachian Voice | No Comments

May 26-29, 2006
The 16th Annual Heartwood Forest Council &
6th Annual Summit for the Mountains

Join us for this important national conference, the largest-ever
gathering of folks working to STOP the devastation of Mountaintop
Removal coal mining.

The combined Forest Council/Summit will take place at the Cedar Lakes
Conference Center, 38 miles north of Charleston, West Virginia. In
addition to a full schedule of events and activities at Cedar Lakes,
Healing Mountains will feature a Memorial Day event on Kayford Mountain,
an island in the middle of an active mountaintop removal mine.

Cost is very minimal to encourage folks from all walks of life to
attend. If possible, PLEASE REGISTER by May 15th to ensure adequate food
& lodging for everyone. No one will be turned away for lack of funds.
To sign up for work exchange, contact Elisa Young, 740.949.2175,



An on-line CARPOOLING board will be operational at in
the next few days!

Cindy Rank, Ken Hechler, Mari-Lynn Evans, Judy Bonds, Larry Gibson, Erik Reece, Ed Wiley, Jeff Barrie, John Blair, Allen
Johnson, and many more. The program includes a screening of Catherine &
Anne Pancake’s BLACK DIAMONDS documentary.

ADDITIONAL PRESENTATIONS include the history, culture and geography of
coal; coal’s deadly impacts at every stage of its extraction, transport,
and combustion; and the importance of healthy forests and mountains,
especially in times of dramatic climate change. There will also be
programs on alternative sources of energy and alternative modes of
economic and community development in the mountains. The Forest Council
will also include great music and food, and activities for all interest
levels and ages.

HOSTING ORGANIZATIONS: Healing Mountains is being organized and
co-hosted by Heartwood, the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Coal
River Mountain Watch, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club
Central Appalachian Environmental Justice Program, West Virginia
Highlands Conservancy, Model Forest, and SouthWings.

Please contact Heartwood to
co-sponsor this important event. Co-sponsors contribute funds, on a
sliding scale ($25-$1000 and up), which will be used to to offset costs
for lower-income individuals who could not otherwise attend.
Co-sponsors receive recognition in all program materials.

(List of co-sponsors to-date at the end of this email.)

Andy Mahler 812.723.2430
Janet Keating 304.522.0246, or
Tonya Adkins 304.522.0246

We hope to see you there!


Co-sponsors for HEALING MOUNTAINS as of 4/27/06:

Coal River Mountain Watch, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth, Sierra Club
Central Appalachian Environmental Justice Program, West Virginia
Highlands Conservancy, SouthWings, Model Forest, Appalachian Voices,
Rainforest Information Centre, West Virginia Environmental Council, Sam
and Winkie Kusic, Dave Cooper, Kentucky Heartwood, Starla Medina Tonning
Scholarship Fund, National Forest Protection Alliance, United Mountain
Defense, Mountain Sustainability Project, Citizen’s Coal Council, Native
Forest Council, Ruckus Society, Virginia ForestWatch, Buckeye Forest
Council, Missouri Forest Alliance, Anonymous, Permaculture Activist,
Helen Vasquez, Leigh Haynie, Living Education Center for Ecology and the
Arts, Ann Phillippi, Regional Association of Concerned
Environmentalists, Broadened Horizons Organic Farm, Tom Rooney, Virginia
Organizing Project, Dogwood Alliance, Southern Appalachian Biodiversity
Project, Gerry and Joe Scardo, Hoosier Environmental Council, American
Lands Alliance, The Wilderness Society, Southern Appalachian Forest
Coalition, Jackson Purchase Audubon Society, Knob and Valley Audubon
Society, Sierra Club Southern Appalachian National Forest Campaign,
Sierra Club Cumberland Chapter and Bluegrass Group, Sierra Club Hoosier
Chapter, Sierra Club Virginia Chapter, David H. Dyer, Gerald Coomer, the
Center for Sustainable Living, Christians for the Mountains, Sisters of
Saint Francis, The Druid Network-North America, Bean Mountain Farms,
Camellia Hill Herbals, and Annette McCormick.



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