Mountaintop Removal protesters Photo: Rainforest Action Network

Appalachia Rising will bring people from all over America together in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 27, 2010, to demand the abolition of mountaintop-removal (MTR) coal extraction in Appalachia.  

We are not visiting D.C. to attack coal, as its supporters would have you believe. Coal speaks its own truth through catastrophes such as the April 5 disaster at Upper Big Branch Mine. Coal speaks its own truth through the way it levels Appalachian mountains, and fills valleys with waste, and destroys ancestral and historic lands, and obliterates whole communities. Mountaintop-removal mining operations use nearly 3.5 million pounds of explosives each day in West Virginia alone. Coal speaks for itself.

We, the people of the Southern Appalachian Mountains, get the poisoned water, the polluted land, the silica-laden air, the bad health, and the diminished hope of ever having a future. Our communities are flooded and our water is poisoned just to keep the lights on. 

The previous administration’s Environmental Protection Agency rubber-stamped MTR mining permits in the name of “homeland security.” Under the current administration, the EPA has set new guidelines to seriously curtail MTR. As Appalachians and Americans, we say: This is not enough. We must abolish mountaintop removal. The practice of blowing up mountains to supply electricity must stop.  

These mountains are the lifeblood of our existence. Where majestic, breathtaking views used to overlook the nearby valley towns, there is now devastation as far as the eye can see. Our soldiers’ resting places are often at the peaks of these mountains; their cemeteries are now surrounded by miles of nothing but rubble and are left inaccessible to families. Our homes and schools and towns are threatened by flooding and debris and other problems caused by irresponsible mining.

Mountaintop-removal mining does not benefit nearby communities. It destroys nearby communities. The areas hit by Katrina are being rebuilt, but there’s no rebuilding after MTR. Our towns are simply erased. 

Our county, state, and federal leaders have turned a blind eye and deaf ear to us, so we’ve organized and formed a movement. The Voices From the Mountains conference will bring together Appalachians and activists in D.C. over the weekend of Sept. 25-26. Then, on Monday, Sept. 27, we’ll take our message to the streets with our Appalachia Rising march and day of action. Join us in the fight for justice, for our communities, and for our very lives.