Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
Archive list of "E"- Notes newsletters

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August 2009

Floods ... Again
OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel
JOBS and Energy Answers for Our WV Mountain Communities
Picnic for Green JOBS
MTR Mining Equipment Taken Off Gauley Mountain For Now
Board Adds Conditions to Disputed Fayette County Mine Permit
Lets Make Sure the Transition to a Clean, Green Energy Future in WV is a Peaceful One
Calling All Potential New OVEC Board of Directors Members!
Congress Doesnt Always Want to Come CLEAN
The CLEAN Citizens Leading For Energy Action Now
American Clean Energy Security Act: Coal Rewarded
Good Gosh, We Could Have Used That Money to Jump Start the Clean Energy Future in America!
Slurry Lawsuit Settlers Frustrated With Wait for Money
Mountains Aided With First-Ever Fundraising Concert in North Carolina
Sludge Safety Project Legislative Session Wrap-Up
DEPs Sludge Study Results: Agency Still Dont Know Nuthin
OVEC Organizer Testifies at Senate MTR Hearing
Thanks for All the Volunteers Who Helped After the Floods
Fighting For Our Ancestors Resting Places
Lobbying for Green Jobs in DC
Growing Movement Demands Protection for Mountains, Climate, Humanity
Environmental Groups Ask EPA to Take Over WV Pollution Permitting
Byrds Eye View: Staffers Get Close-Up Views of Mountain Range Removal
A Good Win in A Critical Federal Court Case Against MTR
Judicial Bill Pulled by Governor
Supreme Court Case Makes WV A National Laughingstock
Eating For OVEC Keeps Raising $$$
Photovoice Participants Capture their Communities in Images
Photovoice Exhibitions Well Covered By Local and Statewide Media
You Dont Have to Go to Copenhagen to Make a Difference
Obama and Mountaintop Removal Mining: The Roller Coaster Ride
New CD Celebrates Coalfield Resistance to Mountaintop Removal
Blair Mountain and the National Register of Historic Places
Ashford Yesterday, Today and Maybe Tomorrow?
Come Home to West Virginia? Buyer Beware!
Louv-ley Day in Charleston
Who Are They Kidding?
Web Extras:
Open Letter to Governor Manchin about Blair Mountain
Matewan, West Virginia

For viewing the PDF version of the newsletter

Winds of Change Newsletter, August 2009     See sidebar for table of contents

OVEC Organizer Wins International Recognition with Green Nobel

Working on behalf of the people and the planet can seem like an uphill battle against the odds. But sometimes something great happens. The announcement in April that Maria Gunnoe had won the Goldman Environmental Prize was one such moment for OVEC.

Many OVEC members remember Gunnoe speaking to groups as far back as 2000 about the flooding that swept away a large chunk of her property, destroying the access from the road to her house. Such flooding had not happened during her lifetime until a large mountaintop removal operation began at the head of the hollow beyond her home. Photograph album in hand, Gunnoe pleaded with listeners to help stop the destruction and the injustice being done to her family and her neighbors.

Since then, Gunnoe has become an active organizer, talking to people in communities affected by mountaintop removal and testifying in court about its impacts on her land and her life.

Her opponents have killed her dogs, tampered with her vehicles, harassed her children, and threatened her life but she doesnt stop.

In March 2007, a coalition of groups including OVEC, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, and Coal River Mountain Watch, won a federal court ruling with the effect of blocking or slowing new valley fill permits. When the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers issued yet another permit adding to the size of the operation above Gunnoes community, the coalition sought an injunction to block it.

In preparation for the hearing, Gunnoe organized a media training session for 20 local residents, some of whom were scheduled to testify before federal judge Robert C. Chambers in Huntington. When about 60 coal miners appeared at the meeting, a move designed to intimidate the community members, Maria Gunnoe was the only resident who persevered in testifying at the hearing, which resulted in an injunction halting the valley fill. It is fitting that Gunnoes determination won recognition like the Goldman Prize.

The Goldman Environmental Prize was established in 1990 by San Francisco civic leader and philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda H. Goldman. It has been awarded to 126 people from 72 countries. Prizewinners are selected by an international jury from confidential nominations that are submitted by a worldwide network of environmental organizations and individuals. The prize includes an award of $150,000.

Previous prize winners have been at the center of some of the worlds most pressing environmental challenges. In 2003, Coal River Mountain Watch leader Judy Bonds, who lives just 16 miles from Gunnoe, won the prize for fighting against mountaintop removal mining.

"In the heart of Appalachia, where the coal industry wields enormous power over government and public opinion, lifelong resident Maria Gunnoe fights against environmentally devastating mountaintop removal mining and valley fill operations," a Goldman Prize spokesperson said.

Thanks to special fund-raising efforts, various OVEC staff members and allies from the Alliance for Appalachia member groups were able to join Gunnoe at awards ceremonies in San Francisco and Washington, D.C. On April 21, the initial award ceremony took place at the San Francisco Opera House before a capacity audience of 3,500. 

Former Vice President Al Gore congratulated the 2009 Goldman Environmental Prize winners. He asked the audience to demand that Congress act this year to address the problems of climate change to avoid future catastrophe.

Robert Redford narrated a short film highlighting Gunnoes efforts to protect West Virginias mountains and communities from mountaintop removal coal mining. Singer and songwriter Tracy Chapman serenaded award winners and audience with two songs. A similar ceremony was held on Earth Day, April 22, at the Smithsonians Natural History Museum in Washington, D.C.

On April 28 in Charleston, OVEC hosted a special celebration event for Gunnoe at John XXIII Pastoral Center. More than 100 well wishers attended a dinner, panel discussion, and showing of David Novacks documentary film Burning the Future.

"We are so proud of Maria," said Janet Keating, executive director of OVEC. "Her courage and determination, like that of so many other grassroots leaders, make her an extraordinary model for all who want to save the land, water, people and culture of Central Appalachia by ending mountaintop removal."


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