Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
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OVEC, Others Challenge Blair Mountain Mining Permit
Dont Let Area Power Plants Make Our Air Even Worse
Renewable Energy and a Renewed E-Council
Coal Expo Exposed:
Sludge is Not Safe
Coal Expo Exposed: Protesters Rally at Candlelight Vigil
Are Your US Senators and Reps Climate Champions?
Oberlin College Doing the Right Thing With Education
Bush Admin. Finalizes Mountain Massacre Study
Christians for the Mountains: Statement by Denise Giardina
Christians for the Mountains Spread Word of Responsible Earthkeeping And That Means an End to Mountaintop Removal
Massey Launches Total Environment Web Assault
Reckless Disregard: Settlement doesnt clear Massey, MSHA
Legal Victory! Judge Tosses OSM's Water Rule Approval
WV Passes Landmark Law Curbing 527 Groups
Capito Got Most
DeLay Money
Texas Congressman Kills National Renewable Energy Standard
Coal Industry Money Fuels Public Policy in West Virginia
Reports Detail
Senate Race Donors
Foxes Guarding Henhouse - Why We Need Real Campaign Finance Reform
Unclean Coal: Myth Perpetrators Get an Earful
Coal Very Costly, Not Cheap, If ALL Impacts Are Factored In
T H A N K S !
Update on Blair Mountain - Feds Want Still More Information
SouthWings Needs YOU!
WV Ranked 7th in Mercury Emissions
From Ireland to
Blair Mountain,
with Love and Lyrics
WV Singers and Songwriters Wanted for Blair Mountain Project
Rosa Parks Lights the Way
Holiday Shopping with OVEC
Students Pray for Kayford
Web Extras Below
Articles not in the printed newsletter
Change or Die
Courage to Move Beyond Coal
Climate of Change: It's Easy to Save Money Being Green
Sequestration Smokescreen?
Massey settlement agreement scuttles insider trading allegations
Mining 'is turning Eastern Kentucky into a despicable latrine'
Ecoterrorism Tops the Charts
Human Activities Cause of Current Extinction Crisis
Kentucky needs study on truck weight limits
Meanwhile, elsewhere (jobs, money, renewable energy)
Mining pollution in Coal River needs drastic cut, state says
Not Nice to Wonder?
Things you can do for a better planet (while saving money!)
Where's the money for the Island Creek flood project?
Visiting Van, WV

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter


Winds of Change Newsletter, December 2005     See sidebar for table of contents

Mining 'is turning Eastern Kentucky into a despicable latrine' (excerpts)

Nov. 9 editorial in The Louisville Courier-Journal by Barry Bingham Jr.

On Oct. 20 and 21, a group of writers visited Eastern Kentucky under the aegis of the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. The goal of the trip was to expose us to a form of coal mining known as "mountaintop removal."

..In the 1970s and '80s the strip mines that I, and other editors of The Courier-Journal, observed were frequently no larger than 50 or 100 acres. A mine we saw on the last trip was 7,000 acres near Hazard, Ky. One must see it from the air to appreciate the scope of destruction that has been wrought.

Mountaintop removal mining is turning Eastern Kentucky into a despicable latrine, cluttered with the offal of the industry. Rotting vegetation, mud and rocks clog the streams and rivers. Wells and streams that once ran pure are too polluted for human use and are dead to aquatic life.

And the devastation of the land is not the only scar left by this industry. The destruction of tranquility that accompanies their enterprise destroys communities and the people who live near the areas that are being mined and have been mined. People's homes are wrecked by "fly rock" from the blasting at the mines and can also be destroyed by mudslides resulting from the "valley fill" technique of pushing earth and rock from mountaintops into surrounding coves

Part of the lame justification for this destruction is that it leaves flat land for development. With the population of the Eastern Kentucky mountains declining, there is insufficient demand for this land and only a tiny fraction of it has ever been developed. That which is developed risks being destroyed by subsidence when underground mines, deeper in the mountain, collapse

What shall we say to our children and grandchildren when they see hundreds of miles of bereft, tabletop mountains, which will be the heritage of Eastern Kentucky? Will it be sufficient to say, "We needed the coal so we destroyed the land and the people?"

A wiser generation might tell us to sequester the coal resource until it can be recovered without the pervasive destruction of the mountaintop removal technique of mining. But greed is no stranger to the extractive industries of the world. Only an uprising of concerned citizens stands a chance of bringing this rapacious industry to heel.

Kentucky Author's Tour, Oct. 20, 2005
by Tonya Adkins

The sun was just rising as I drove down Rt. 23 on my way to join a group of writers and activists taking part in the author's tour of mountaintop removal hosted by Kentuckians For The Commonwealth (KFTC). As I approached Hyden, I was shocked at the blatant expanse of mountaintop removal mining, spanning miles on both sides of the highway. Next to one of these sites, I passed a crew of county workers picking up trash. I wondered at the irony of tax dollars being spent to "beautify" the highway by removing trash, while vast piles of rubble and the irreversible destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining loomed on either side.

At Hyden, I met up with the caravan, and followed them up a narrow gravel road to Daymon Morgan's farm. Daymon, in his bibbed overalls and white cowboy hat, led the procession up the holler behind his house to a point where the rented vans could no longer navigate the road. We hiked about a half-mile through the woods, then gathered to listen to Damon talk about his love of those woods and the time he spent there with his dog, Lobo. His intimate knowledge of the place was evident as he pointed out wild ginger and Indian arrowwood, and told how the honey bees swarmed the linden trees.

Back at Daymon's house, he showed us the clear-cutting that marks the encroaching mountaintop removal surrounding his property. We drove down the road about a mile, to a "reclaimed" site, then got within a few hundred yards of bulldozers shoving rubble into a valley fill on an active site. After spending the morning in a thriving forest ecosystem, the contrast was heartbreaking.

That evening, several local residents came to the Hindman Settlement School to talk to the authors about how mountaintop removal is devastating their lives. I kept thinking how their stories are the same ones being told all over the Appalachian coalfields - loss of place, history, people and peace.

Carroll Smith, a judge in Letcher County, told my favorite story of the night. He said that his kids had some friends over and they were discussing various candidates in an upcoming election. One young man said, "You can't vote for him. He's an environmentalist." At that point, Smith's daughter said, "There are only two kinds of people in the world - environmentalists and fools." Someone from the crowd called out and asked Mr. Smith how he kept winning elections himself when he was so outspoken against the coal industry. He replied, "Big Coal's just got so many votes and the people have got the rest."

This event was the second writer's tour hosted by KFTC. The seventeen authors included Wendell Berry, Ron Eller, Jordan Fisher Smith, and Janisse Ray. Writers who attended the first tour in April have published a book, Missing Mountains: We went to the mountaintop but it wasn't there, which was inspired by their experiences. You can purchase the book online at the KFTC website (www.kftc.org), or contact the OVEC office, 304-522-0246, to pick up a copy for $16.

Friends of the Mountains has contacted several West Virginia authors who have expressed an interest in conducting similar tours here. If you are an author who would like to participate, contact Vivian at the OVEC office or vivian@ohvec.org. .

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