Coalfield Residents Visit
Capitol Hill to Speak on Valley Fills
Photos by Vivian Stockman
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On the afternoon of Tuesday May 15, coalfield residents and conservation-minded residents met in Nitro, W. Va. to board a bus bound for Washington, DC. OVEC's brand new organizer, Dave Cooper had spent his first two weeks at work organizing this trip. We were off to meet with lawmakers from across the nation to let them know what it's like living in the shadow of gargantuan mountaintop removal operations, with their valley fills and coal waste impoundments.
Our visit took on an added urgency since the deadly May 2 floods that destroyed towns in McDowell County and the May 3 announcement by President Bush that he was changing the Clean Water Act definition of "fill," a move that would legalize illegal valley fills and have terrible implications for the quality of waterways across the nation. On May 8, Judge Charles Haden ruled that huge valley fills are illegal. He also noted that the way Bush had attempted to change the Clean Water Act was illegal--only Congress can write laws.
Early Wednesday morning, OVEC's Dave Cooper shares with coalfield residents the information on who we'll visit on Capitol Hill.
During our visit to Capitol Hill we meant with staffers of Representatives and Senators from across the country, some sympathetic to our cause, others not. We asked them to support the Clean Water Act and help us keep valley fills illegal. We invited lawmakers to come meet with coalfield residents in their hometowns and to take a flyover of mountaintop removal operations so they could begin to grasp the scale of the destruction.
At our press conference on Capitol Hill, Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch challenged President Bush to visit with the coalfield residents since his already visited a W. Va. company that manufactures mountaintop massacre equipment.
Judy Bonds challenges Bush to visit affected residents in West Virginia.
Caption: OVEC's Janet Fout addresses the crowd at the Capitol Hill press conference.
Freda Williams addresses the crowd at the Capitol Hill press conference.
The crowd at the Capitol Hill press conference on mountaintop removal.
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