There Used to Be a Mountain Here

There used to be a mountain here. A man who lives near this crater told me that if you stood where those people are standing and looked 400 feet up, you would see the top of the mountain.

Instead what we see here is mountain top removal mining on Kayford Mountain in West Virginia. To my understanding, this method of mining involves blowing up a mountain and then looking through the rubble for coal. Apparently, the coal companies say, this is much more efficient than the kind of mining where you just dig holes into the mountain.

How can efficiency always be good if sometimes it means blowing up mountains? Do you think the coal companies put them back when they’re done?

The coal that comes from mountain top removal is of the kind labeled “clean coal”. This means that it is low-sulfur. However, as you can see, this coal is far from “clean”. There is considerable air pollution from the blasts and water pollution from the disposal of slurry, which seeps toxic heavy metals into the local water supply. Residents of West Virginia report that they are seeing unusually high rates of asthma, cancer, and other illnesses that they suspect can be traced to MTR.

While in West Virginia recently, I had the pleasure of meeting Larry Gibson, a native West Virginian and an anti-MTR activist. Here’s his story:

Larry Gibson’s family has lived on or near Kayford Mountain since the late 1700’s. More than 300 relatives are buried in the cemetery on Kayford Mountain. Larry and his family used to live on the lowest lying part of the mountain, and looked “up” to the mountain peaks that surrounded them. Since 1986, the slow motion destruction of Kayford Mountain has been continuous — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Eighteen years after the “mountain top removal” project began, Larry Gibson now occupies the highest point of land around; he is enveloped by a 12,000 acre pancake in what was previously a mountain range.

The coal companies and their workers want Larry off his mountain so they can mine it. He has received numerous threats and been shot at several times. Fortunately, the snipers have missed so far. Larry’s website is: Keeper of the Mountains.

You can go to Larry’s website or any of the ones below to learn about action steps you can take, if interested. Or simply to learn.

Catch more photos at the Stop MTR Photoblog.

Gather more information at:
Stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

I Love Mountains Action and Resource Center

Mountain Justice

Well how about that. There is a post about MTR up on Feministe today. One woman takes on King Coal. And wins.


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