I'd Rather Go Naked Than Burn Mountain Top Removal Coal

It is time to abolish mountaintop removal mining, not regulate it.

That is the fervent message being spread from community to community, and state to state, now that scores of ANFO explosive-packing mountaintop removal permits stand at the doors of the Army Corps of Engineers, ready to be issued after the recent 4th Circuit Court ruling.

Three million pounds of ammonium nitrate fuel oil explosives are being detonated daily in Appalachia.

In an unprecedented act, the County Commission of Jefferson County in West Virginia passed an extraordinary resolution last week, calling for the abolition for mountaintop removal. Citing the devastating impact of mountaintop removal on the regional economies, environment and community health, the Commission became part of a growing movement across the country to end our constructive engagement with one of the most egregious crimes in America.

According to Danny Chiotos, of the Student Environmental Action Campaign: "Our County Commission has passed this resolution not our of any hollow goodwill or charity, but in the interest of protecting our mountains for the kind of economic benefits that will return the most sustainable returns to all of WV Counties. In the gusty move of standing up to the coal industry to protect our economy, land, and people, the County Commission of Jefferson County unanimously voted to stand with people all over the state who are demanding justice in our lives and accountability from our government."

The actual resolution states:

WHEREAS, the County Commission of Jefferson County acknowledges the vital role that coal mining has played in maintaining West Virginia's economic vitality and;

WHEREAS, methods of coal extraction, other than the Mountain Top Removal method, provide abundant employment and;

WHEREAS, Mountaintop Removal is the most environmentally destructive form of energy production in existence and;

WHEREAS, since 1992 more than 1,200 miles of streams have been damaged and;

WHEREAS, two-thirds of West Virginia population opposes Mountaintop Removal and;

WHEREAS, 724 miles of stream have been completely buried between 1985-2001 and;

WHEREAS, Mountaintop Removal is a one-use system which destroys future uses on the affected areas and;

WHEREAS, Mountaintop Removal negatively affects the tax base of the entire state by depopulation and preventing the development of other uses of the mountains and;

WHEREAS, Mountaintop Removal negatively affects Jefferson County and state tax revenues especially in the long run and;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that the County Commission of Jefferson County resolves to go on record in opposition to Mountaintop Removal and urge its abolition as a practice in West Virginia and nationally

Elsewhere around the country, similar abolitionist campaigns have taken on a new life in state legislatures in North Carolina, Georgia, New York, Tennessee, Kentucky and South Carolina.

In Georgia, Representative Oliver, the lead sponsor of a bill to place a five-year moratorium on the permitting and construction of new coal-fired power plants in the state, declared:
"We are part of the cycle of coal consumption, and we must take responsibility for Georgia being the nation's greatest consumer of mountaintop coal. We need to step back and look at how we can do things differently."

As part of the Appalachian Mountains Preservation Act, North Carolina Senator Steve Gross said, "I am firmly convinced that mountaintop removal is a moral issue that begs our hearts and minds to do the right thing. When this bill becomes law in North Carolina, once again we will take our place as a leader in the nation concerning environmental issues."

For more information on various statewide campaigns, visit ilovemountains.org.

In 1819, the first newspaper in the United States solely dedicated to the abolitionist cause sprang out of a backwoods Appalachian community in eastern Tennessee. Their message: Slavery is a national issue, not a southern issue, and it deserves a national response.

The new mountaintop removal abolitionist campaign makes that same connection, calling on the Obama administration and other state and community policy makers to recognize the national connections to the use of mountaintop removal coal, the urgency of the moment, end this nightmare assault on Appalachian communities, economies and the mountains, and make Appalachia the frontline in the new green recovery and green jobs initiative.