American’s Cry for Clean Water

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Ending Mountaintop Removal 2009

March 14-18th, 2009, citizens from across the nation are coming to Washington, D.C. to ask Congress to stop mountaintop removal coal mining by supporting The Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310). Residents from Appalachia who are living with the impacts of mountaintop removal are standing up with Americans from thirty states from the Carolinas to California, who know that their community has a direct connection to mountaintop removal.

“Momentum to end mountain top removal continues to swell among those who have seen the devastation from the decapitation of our mountains. Momentum is certainly mounting in Virginia. This year, nearly 40 Virginians are traveling to DC to lobby,” said Kathy Selvage, Vice President of Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, based in Wise County, Virginia. “The public outcry has reached such a level, even in the coalfields, that I believe we can put an end to mountaintop removal in this Congress.”” Mountaintop removal coal mining is an extremely destructive form of strip mining found in central Appalachia, with some mines as big as the island of Manhattan. “Over a million acres of our precious Appalachia have already been destroyed and we continue to lose our mountains, and our culture, one valley at a time,” said Carl Shoupe, a third-generation retired coal miner with Kentuckians for the Commonwealth. “It’s time we ended this destruction and started working on a future beyond coal.”

“We have to be concerned about water quality, environmental protection, and fundamental rights for Americans – whatever our geographic region or party ideology is,” said Seth Finberg, who will be traveling from Florida. “For End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington 2009, over 150 Americans from nearly thirty states will meet with staff, Representatives, and Senators, and send a simple message: co-sponsor and pass the Clean Water Protection Act (H.R. 1310). This bill would outlaw the practice of “valley-fills” the dumping of debris from mining into nearby streams. The Clean Water Protection Act is an important first step towards ending mountaintop removal coal mining. The Clean Water Protection Act was introduced with 116 co-sponsors” this early momentum makes citizens confident that the bill can pass in the House in 2009.

“The Clean Water Protection Act is the first broad Congressional initiative aimed at reversing the Bush Administration’s eight-year effort to savage our national waterways and the popular laws that protect them,” Robert F. Kennedy, Jr said, explaining his support of the bill.

The Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310) is joined at the state level by bills like The Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act, which has been introduced in North Carolina, Maryland, and Georgia and would ban the use of mountaintop removal mined coal in those states as well as bills in Kentucky and Tennessee that would limit mountaintop removal in those states.

On Tuesday, March 17th The Alliance for Appalachia and over a dozen ally groups are hosting a call in day, where thousands who are unable to travel to Washington, D.C. will contact their legislators and urge support of the bill. Coalfield advocates charge that mountaintop removal coal mining has had a direct impact on human health in the region, turning tap water orange and even black. 500 of the oldest mountains on the continent have been flattened, even as 90% of traditional deep mining jobs have been lost; communities around strip-mining have some of the highest poverty rates in America. A million acres of forest have been clear-cut, and according to a 2001 EPA estimate, 1200 miles of pristine headwater streams have been buried and polluted.

“Mountaintop removal is killing us in Appalachia,” said Judy Bonds of Coal River Mountain Watch, and the repercussions are felt across America. Big Coal has many friends in D.C., but Appalachians and our allies across the US working together are a lot more powerful. Members of Congress need to start paying attention.”

The 2009 End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington is hosted by The Alliance for Appalachia, a regional coalition of 13 groups in 5 states working to end mountaintop removal coal mining and support the creation of a just, sustainable economy in Appalachia. Members include: Coal River Mountain Watch, SouthWings, Kentuckians For The Commonwealth, Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition, Save Our Cumberland Mountains, Southern Appalachian Mountain Stewards, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy, The Appalachian Citizens Law Center, Appalshop, Heartwood, Mountain Association for Community Economic Development and Appalachian Voices.

See www.iLoveMountains.org for more information on the Clean Water Protection Act (HR 1310) and the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington.