Proud to say that one of the Orion Grassroots Network’s own, Maria Gunnoe, an organizer for Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, has won the “environmental nobel” for her courageous grassroots activism to end mountaintop removal (MTR) in the face of fierce intimidation: Grist’s own Ken Ward has the story in today’s Charleston (WV) Gazette.

Maria GunnoeMaria Gunnoe is one of seven recipients of the 2009 Goldman Environmental PrizePhoto: Tom DusenberyGunnoe was forced to hire a guard dog and install surveillance cameras around the perimiter of her home to fend off coal company goons. Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch in WV was also honored (2003) with the Goldman Environmental Prize for her work on MTR.

The media scrutiny the issue will get from this award will be another nail in the coffin on this abhorrent practice. Congrats Maria!

From the Goldman announcement:

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. Her advocacy has led to the closure of mines in the region and stricter regulations for the industry.

More media coverage of the 2009 prizes: