CINCINNATI — The Music for the Mountains 2011 compilation is now available as a digital download from This Is American Music! Twenty songs by artists like Magnolia Mountain, The Tillers, The Hiders, Shiny and the Spoon, Duquette Johnston, Chuck and Lisa from Wussy, Joey Kneiser from Glossary, Frontier Folk Nebraska, and more, all for a mere five dollars. All proceeds go to benefit Ohio Citizen Action and Kentuckians For The Commonwealth to help their fight against Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining.
– Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Coal exports have nearly doubled since 2009 to 107 million tons last year, now accounting for almost 12 percent of U.S. production. Three out of every four tons that are exported come from the Appalachian region, and often this coal is produced by mountaintop removal mining — a devastating practice that has blanketed communities with soot, contaminated drinking water, and destroyed 2,000 miles of streams.”
TUCSON, AZ — “As the ravages of mountaintop removal coal mining–including the re-emerging scandal of reckless black lung policies on strip miners–continue to mount despite the shift of coal production to the heartland and western Power River Basin–President Obama has an election-year opportunity to declare an armistice in the polarized Appalachian coalfields, mend a 40-year mining policy of betrayal, and call an end to the most divisive and egregious human rights and environmental violation sanctioned by our federal government.
There is no two without three, as the saying goes: On the heels of recognizing the civil rights of gay marriage and deferring prosecution of undocumented DREAM Act youth, Obama should keep his 2008 campaign promise, travel to Appalachia and publicly announce a timeline to enact a mountaintop removal moratorium and launch a green jobs coalfield regeneration fund.
Let’s be real: With faux West Virginia Democrats like Sen. Joe Manchin and Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin jumping ship, and a prison inmate giving the president a run for his money in the Democratic primaries, Obama has nothing to lose and everything to gain by bringing the Appalachian coalfields of West Virginia, eastern Kentucky, southwestern Virginia and eastern Tennessee into a new era of clean energy and sustainable economic development.”
From left, then-West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, former President Bill Clinton and Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., bow their heads at a memorial service for the late Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., July 2, 2011 at the Capitol in Charleston, W.Va.
CHARLESTON — “And in case you didn’t notice it, two words that weren’t mentioned in Sen. Rockefeller’s speech? That’s right: Mountaintop removal. That’s one key difference between this speech and the coal remarks from Sen. Byrd, who took on the controversial issue, saying:
The increased use of mountaintop removal mining means that fewer miners are needed to meet company production goals … It is also a reality that the practice of mountaintop removal mining has a diminishing constituency in Washington. It is not a widespread method of mining, with its use confined to only three states. Most members of Congress, like most Americans, oppose the practice, and we may not yet fully understand the effects of mountaintop removal mining on the health of our citizens.
Mostly what Sen. Rockefeller was doing was calling for an end to the senseless rhetoric, the absurd public relations campaigns, the nonsense that pollutes all of our political discussions in West Virginia that even remotely touch on coal”
TUCSON, AZ – “This website is an informal archival collection of the coalfield writings of author and journalist Jeff Biggers. His work extensively covered the movements to end mountaintop removal mining, and the cultural and environmental legacies of strip mining in Appalachia for Salon, The Nation, Huffington Post, Washington Post, National Public Radio, CNN and other media outlets. In 2010, Biggers chronicled the history of coal mining–and the loss of his family’s historic homeplace to a strip mine in the Shawnee forest of southern Illinois–in his book, Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legacy of Coal in the Heartland. In 2001, Biggers filed a story for Public Radio International on Eagle Creek, strip mining and mountaintop removal mining; in 2004, he co-edited No Lonesome Road: Selected Prose and Poems of Don West, which included an essay on strip mining in Appalachia. In 2006, Biggers published The United States of Appalachia, a cultural history of the region and dedicated a chapter to the impact of mountaintop removal. Biggers has been the recipient of the David Brower Award for Environmental Reporting, a Delta Award for Literature, and the American Book Award, among other honors.”
WASHINGTON, DC — “Last week, Gunnoe traveled to Washington DC to testify before the House Subcommittee on Energy and Mineral Resources on mountaintop removal mining. The hearing was a sham, set up as an occasion for lawmakers to bash the EPA and the Obama administration for slowing down mining permits and costing America jobs and wrecking the economy. Same old same old.
Gunnoe didn’t hold back: “There is a war in Appalachia, do believe this,” Gunnoe testified. “This war is not on coal, coal jobs, or the coal industry. This war is on these mountains, our water and the people who depend on it all.” (A PDF of her testimony is available here.)
But Gunnoe’s trip to Washington took a surreal turn when, just after she finished testifying, she was hauled off by U.S. Capitol Police and accused of possession of child pornography. The photo in question, included in a slide show presentation Gunnoe had prepared for the committee: a five-year-old Kentucky girl taking a bath orange water – water polluted by arsenic and other heavy metals caused by run-off from mountaintop removal mines. Sadly, it’s the same toxic water that people in Appalachia who live around coal mines drink all too often– and one of the reasons why cancer and birth defect rates are so high in parts of southern Appalachia. As a visual image of the suffering that coal mining brings to the people of Appalachia, the photo is devastatingly powerful.
NEW YORK, NY — “The Spruce No. 1 mine project in Logan County, W.Va., would have covered 2,278 acres and ruined six more miles of high-quality streams. It received a final permit to proceed from the Army Corps of Engineers in 2007. Lawsuits followed, and, in January 2011, the E.P.A. revoked the permit on grounds that the mine would cause unacceptable environmental damage. The E.P.A. had blocked corps projects before. But this was the first time it had rescinded an approved mining permit and was part of the administration’s broader campaign to limit mountaintop mining by reviewing old permits and tightening standards for new ones.
Judge Amy Berman Jackson said the agency had resorted to ‘magical thinking’ in claiming that the Clean Water Act gives it the power to retroactively rescind a permit. But Section 404 of the law gives the agency broad authority to protect water quality, including the ‘withdrawal’ of permits ‘whenever’ it determines that they will have an ‘unacceptable adverse effect’ on the environment.
The E.P.A. rightly interpreted these words to mean that it had clear authority to claw back a badly misguided decision that would do even more damage to West Virginia’s streams and landscape. We trust that a higher court will read it that way as well.”
NEW YORK, NY— “Mining companies in Appalachia, an area covering 12 eastern states and home to 85 percent of U.S. coal mines, have cut at least 21 million tons of production this year, according to Doyle Trading Consultants in New York. The industry needs to curtail about another 90 million tons nationwide, with the ‘lion’s share’ coming from Appalachia, to stem losses, according to CRT Capital Group LLC. Alpha Natural Resources Inc. (ANR) and James River Coal Co. (JRCC), which mine in the region, have fallen 19 percent and 16 percent respectively this year.”
WASHINGTON, DC — “Carting along reams of shocking peer-reviewed scientific studies that have been ignored by their own elected officials, the Appalachian Community Health Emergency (ACHE) marks the launch of a weekly frontline citizens initiative in Washington, DC with national human rights and health organizations to prod the Obama administration to enact a moratorium on mountaintop removal operations until a federal study and long-awaited Congressional hearings are carried out on the spiraling mountaintop removal mining health care crisis.
One of the most unnecessary environmental and human rights violations in the nation, mountaintop removal mining provides less than 5-7 percent of national coal production, while detonating millions of pounds of daily explosives that have ruined historic communities and watersheds in West Virginia, Kentucky, southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee.
On the heels of a major new study by the National Committee for Responsive Philanthropy on the ‘stalled out’ environmental movement, which urged major funders and foundations to support similar community-based groups most impacted by environmental injustice, the ACHE campaign is also a breakthrough effort of frontline coalfield groups to ‘kick start’ environmental and civil rights groups and ramp up the movement to abolish devastating mountaintop removal mining operations.
…The Appalachian Community Health Emergency is a timely new national initiative, as other state and local campaigns to outlaw mountaintop removal move through committees in state legislatures in Tennessee and Kentucky, and West Virginia activists block mining on historic Blair Mountain, among other areas.”
CINCINNATI — “As millions of pounds of explosives from mountaintop removal strip mining operations continue to devastate historic mountain communities in central Appalachia, a powerful new music video released this week by the beloved American Roots band Magnolia Mountain captures the haunting grief and stories of stricken families in America’s cradle of roots and country music.
Driven by Mark Utley’s banjo licks and Magnolia Mountain’s effortlessly haunting and plaintive harmonies, ‘The Hand of Man’ joins the pantheon of classic mountain ballads and mining tunes, including Kentucky legend Jean Ritchie’s “Black Waters” and John Prine’s timeless paean to his family’s demise in western Kentucky to Peabody coal, ‘Paradise,’ and 2/3 Goat’s recent metrobilly hit, ‘Stream of Conscience.’
One of the most popular urban Appalachian bands today, the Cincinnati-based Magnolia Mountain has won a dedicated and growing fan base across the nation as one of the hardest-working, bone-shaking and original bluegrass, folk and blues bands on the American Roots circuit.
Thanks to Utley and fellow artists like Melissa English, Magnolia Mountain is also one of the most committed bands in the Appalachian and Ohio River heartland: Joining the tireless work of Grammy star Kathy Mattea, among many others, ‘The Hand of Man’ is part of the compilation CD and music festival benefit, ‘Music for the Mountains,’ that Utley and Magnolia Mountain organized over the past year for various grassroots activists defending mining communities against mountaintop removal operations.”
CINCINNATI — Today Cincinnati-based roots/Americana band Magnolia Mountain released a video of their song “Hand of Man”, to raise awareness about mountaintop removal coal mining. The song appears on a compliation CD called Music for the Mountains, which was released in February 2011 as part of the successful benefit concert of the same name. Magnolia Mountain’s third record, Town and Country, will be released this year and also features the song. Collaborators on the video include Robert Fugate, Cliff Jenkins, John Oaks, Chris Kromer, Andrew J. Brown, e.E. Charlton- Trujillo, Mari-Lynn Evans, Jordan Freeman and Jay Johnson.
– Melissa K. English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Mountaintop Removal’s effect on health and the economy
BOONE, NC — “There’s a common saying in Appalachia: what we do to the land, we do to the people. Recently, 21 peer-reviewed scientific studies have confirmed the truth of those words. Not only has mountaintop removal permanently destroyed more than 500 Appalachian mountains, but people living near the destruction are 50% more likely to die of cancer and 42% more likely to be born with birth defects compared with other people in Appalachia.
Data used in these studies are presented in the interactive map below and summarized here. Select any of the 10 regional data sets from the drop-down menu to begin exploring the health and socioeconomic consequences of mountaintop removal in Appalachia, or click on a county to see a detailed summary at the local level.”
CINCINNATI — To kickoff its Passport to the World Series – Appalachian Culturefest, the Cincinnati Museum Center and the Appalachian Community Development Association present “The Last Mountain” Friday, February 17. This documentary featuring Robert F. Kennedy Jr. follows the small community of Coal River Valley, West Virginia’s battle with a coal mining company to preserve a mountain they hold dear. The screening begins at 6pm, followed by a moderated discussion. FREE and open to the public. More information at: http://www.cincymuseum.org/programs/lectures.
— Melissa English, Development Director, Ohio Citizen Action
Nathan Rutz, third from right, with Ohio Citizen Action staff and Larry Gibson, legendary Keeper of the Mountains, in Kayford, West Virginia, March 2011. Left to right: Jenn Roddis, Rachel Taylor, Molly Lutz, Nora Lardner, Gibson, Rutz, Carla Roth, and Alison Auciello.
CLEVELAND – “I am delighted to welcome Nathan Rutz as the new Cleveland Campaign Organizer for Ohio Citizen Action. Nathan, 24, grew up in Cincinnati, the oldest of four children. He says, ‘In high school I planned on being a computer programmer — until reading classic literature in 11th grade made me realize that computers are interesting but not important.’ In 2007, while a student at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana, Nathan spent the summer in Rock Creek, West Virginia, volunteering with Mountain Justice and Coal River Mountain Watch to stop mountaintop removal coal mining. He also went to the U.S. Social Forum in Atlanta representing Coal River Mountain Watch with Judy Bonds, 2003 winner of the Goldman Prize. The next summer, Nathan canvassed for Ohio Citizen Action on the Eramet Marietta campaign. In 2009, Nathan graduated from Wabash, magna cum laude in philosophy, with minors in chemistry & physics, and returned to Cincinnati to canvass full-time for Ohio Citizen Action.”
“I want to invite everyone reading this to get involved in our clean-air campaign. Many of you know that on December 21, the U.S. EPA issued a strong ‘mercury rule’ to crack down on utilities with obsolete coal plants. As a result, FirstEnergy is now deciding whether to scrap its old plants, including four on Lake Erie, or invest $2 – 3 billion to keep them running. They will likely announce their decision on February 29. For the health of people in Northeast Ohio, it is especially important that the currently-idled Lake Shore coal plant never be turned on again. We’re urging people, organizations, and local governments to write to the company or pass resolutions urging FirstEnergy to do the right thing.
Meanwhile, the new U.S EPA rules will likely come under attack in Congress. U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio is a key swing vote from a key swing state. It’ll be important for him to defend the new standards. Ohio Citizen Action members have already sent 6,000 letters and petition signatures to him on this issue. Writing a personal, handwritten letter to Senator Brown is an easy, powerful step.
“Want to pitch in? You can call me at (216) 861-5200, or email email@example.com, and we can figure out together the easiest way to start. Thanks.”
CHARLESTON, W.V. — “Is it really all that surprising that Alpha Natural Resources is trying hard to keep any discussion of West Virginia University’s studies linking mountaintop removal to human health problems out of a pending lawsuit over one of the company’s Clean Water Act permits?
I mean, come on … nobody else — except the people who live near mountaintop removal operations — wants these studies to be part of a public conversation about the future of the Appalachian coal industry. Sen. Jay Rockefeller won’t hold a Science Committee hearing on the subject. Sen. Joe Manchin doesn’t have time to talk common sense about what these studies show. Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin doesn’t want anything to do with the topic. Rep. Nick Rahall, while he did agree to an interview on the subject, can’t figure out what agency of the government should examine the issue.”
Letters to Senator Sherrod Brown and Senator Rob Portman
6,615 members have sent handwritten letters and petitions to Senator Brown urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
3,751 members have petitioned Senator Portman urging him to support US EPA rules that will protect our health from polluting coal plants as of January 24, 2012.
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