BOSTON, MA – Activists with Rising Tide draped a 25-foot banner reading, “Mountain Top Removal Kills Communities: EPA No New Permits. MountainJustice.org” on 1 North Congress St., at the intersection of New Chardon Street and Congress Street, at the downtown offices of the Environmental Protection Agency this morning. The group is urging the agency to block over 150 pending permits for mountaintop removal coal mining in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia.1
“Mountaintop removal is destroying our nation’s most diverse forests and historic communities,” said Alex Johnston, a Rising Tide activist. “President Obama and the EPA need to take immediate action to stop the bulldozers from destroying America’s oldest mountains and Appalachians homes.”
This act of peaceful protest comes just days after top NASA climate scientist, James Hansen, actress Darryl Hannah, and 29 others were arrested as they protested mountaintop removal mining in southern West Virginia.2 On June 18, 14 concerned citizens entered onto Massey Energy’s mountaintop removal mine site near Twilight, WV. Four of them scaled a 150-foot dragline and unfurled a 15×150 foot banner that said, “Stop Mountaintop Removal Mining”, while nine others deployed a 20×40 foot banner on the ground at the site which read,”Stop Mountaintop Removal: Clean Energy Now.”
On the campaign trail, Obama spoke out against mountain top removal, saying “We’re tearing up the Appalachian Mountains because of our dependence on fossil fuels,” and “We have to find more environmentally sound ways of mining coal, than simply blowing the tops off mountains.”3 Despite these campaign statements, the Obama administration and the EPA have continued to allow mining corporations to continue dumping mining waste into streams and encroach on stream buffers, while offering only weak promises of protection from the “worst impacts” of mountaintop removal operations.
“It’s way past time for civil disobedience to stop mountaintop removal and move quickly toward clean, renewable energy sources,” said Judy Bonds, Goldman Environmental Prize winner and co-director of Coal River Mountain Watch of West Virginia. “For over a century, Appalachian communities have been crushed, flooded, and poisoned as a result of the country’s dangerous and outdated reliance on coal. How could the country care so little about our American mountains, our culture and our lives?”
Every day, mountaintop removal mines use more explosive power than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Mining companies are clear-cutting thousands of acres of some of the world’s most biologically diverse forests. They’re burying biologically crucial headwaters streams with blasting debris, releasing toxic levels of heavy metals into the remaining streams and groundwater and poisoning essential drinking water. According to the EPA, this destructive practice has damaged or destroyed nearly 2,000 miles of streams and threatens to destroy 1.4 million acres of forest by 2020.