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Appalachia Rising: March on Blair Mountain demands end to mountaintop removal

Posted Jun. 7, 2011 / Posted by: KTrout

Land, labor, unity: March on Blair MountainNinety years ago, 10,000 miners rose up in the coal fields of West Virginia to fight for their basic rights to live and work in dignity. These workers -- a diverse alliance of local mountaineers, African Americans, and first-generation immigrants from across Europe -- marched 50 miles from the town of Marmet to Blair Mountain, where they confronted the coal operators' armed gunmen in an effort to turn the tables on decades of violent suppression and exploitation.

Today, Blair Mountain is at the center of another historic fight -- the fight to abolish the extreme form of coal mining called mountaintop removal.

From June 5 to June 11, hundreds of Appalachians and allies from across the country are retracing the footsteps taken by courageous miners 90 years ago with no less urgent demands: an end to mountaintop removal, the preservation of Blair Mountain, the strengthening of labor rights and sustainable job creation in Appalachian communities.

Appalachia Rising: March on Blair Mountain, organized by Appalachia Rising and Friends of Blair Mountain, builds on the energy of the Appalachia Rising mobilization that brought thousands to the streets of Washington, D.C. in September 2010. The momentum also spread to Kentucky in February, when dozens occupied their governor’s office for justice in their state and the region.

Friends of the Earth is a sponsor of the March on Blair Mountain, and we encourage you to learn more and join this movement by going to http://marchonblairmountain.org.

Learn more about mountaintop removal mining

Mountaintop removal is an extreme form of mining that greedy coal companies use to cut costs and reduce the need for labor. To reach seams of coal, companies clear cut some of the world's most biodiverse forest, literally blast up to 800 feet off the tops of mountains, and recklessly dump the top soil and rocks into valleys below, burying streams in the process. The excess water used to wash the coal for transport to power plants -- called coal slurry or sludge -- contains coal dust, clay and toxic chemicals and is stored in unstable impoundments held in place by mining debris.

The impacts on communities are unconscionable. The blasting at mountaintop removal sites terrorizes families living below, shaking houses, causing cracks in foundations, and, in one case in Appalachia, Virginia, hurtling a boulder into the bedroom of a four-year old boy and killing him. People living downwind and downstream suffer from cancer, asmtha and other diseases caused by air pollution and contaminated drinking water.

Resources

Appalachia Rising website

ILoveMountains.org

Mountain Justice: What is Mountaintop Removal Mining?

Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition: Mountaintop Removal Pictures

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