Signaling a watershed shift in recognizing the national health crisis from cancer-linked strip mining in central Appalachia, more than 200,000 people have signed historic CREDO Action and Earthjustice petitions, calling on Congress to pass theAppalachian Communities Health Emergency Act (H.R. 912) and enact a moratorium on new mountaintop removal coal mining (MTR).
One of the most telling moments in the new film documentary, "Blood on the Mountain," draws from 2008 footage of former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship, who calmly mumbles his replies to numerous questions on mine safety at a hearing. When asked if he knows how many coal miners have died in Massey mines since it had become a publicly traded company in the last eight years, the notorious "dark lord" of the coal industry shakes his head and says no. Filmmakers Mari-Lynn Evans and Jordan Freeman allow for a gut-wrenching moment of silence, having methodically chronicled the industry's treadmill of violation-ridden disasters, and then provide the answer: 52 deaths under Blankenship as CEO of Massey Energy.
The Washington University Students Against Peabody Energy ruined my Earth Day. They sent me footage of a recent fact-finding trip to Saline County, Illinois, where some of my family members, friends and farmers are being blasted by nearby Peabody Energy strip-mining operations.
Dust produced by mountaintop removal mining sites are a known cancer risk, but little has been done to protect inhabitants of Appalachia
For many in central Appalachia, the fight against reckless strip mining operations recalls a popular t-shirt in West Virginia: “Save the Endangered Hillbilly.” It’s not really a joke; decades of contempt and disregard for rural mountaineers underscore an existence no less threatened than local wildlife.