My colleague, Sierra Club Conservation Director Sarah Hodgdon, just wrote this excellent piece on Ashley Judd and I wanted to share it here:

Actress Ashley Judd has recently been the target of some very harsh criticism and language from the coal industry in Appalachia. This is not surprising behavior from the coal industry, since Big Coal often resorts to personal attacks when they feel like their dirty, dangerous, expensive way of life is threatened.


This harsh language and attacks are coming in response to Judd’s June speech at the National Press Club where she railed against mountaintop removal coal mining as “the rape of Appalachia.” (We blogged about that speech right here). I was at that speech and found it very compelling – Judd has been a longtime critic of mountaintop removal coal mining.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

Judd is a native of eastern Kentucky, so the destructive practice of mountaintop removal coal mining hits close to home for her. Her June speech discussed in detail the harsh realities that this form of mining and coal in general is having on Appalachia – including massive environmental degradation and the economics showing that the coal industry is hurting the region far more than it is helping.

The real statement behind these coal industry attacks is that when it comes down to the issues, the coal industry can only respond with personal attacks because they know that Judd – and everyone else speaking out against coal – is correct.

We’ve see the coal industry intimidate activists and spend huge amounts of money of lobbying and smearing good people, but we don’t hear about solutions.

Jobs, the environment, health – coal and mountaintop removal coal mining are destroying them all in Appalachia. Visit the Sierra Club webpage on mountaintop removal, or I Love Mountains’ website , or check out this post defending Judd from Jeff Biggers.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.

As we’ve said before, Judd is no slouch on this issue. Not only did she grow up in the impacted areas, but she’s also done extensive research during her graduate school time at Harvard University.

Ashley Judd knows what she’s talking about, she is absolutely correct, and we applaud her for using her celebrity to help bring attention to such a devastating issue. We must end mountaintop removal coal mining. We don’t have time for personal attacks.

Reader support helps sustain our work. Donate today to keep our climate news free.