"We've Been Carrying These Signs for Too Long!"
Those are words from Harlan County, Kentucky, resident and amazing activist Teri Blanton at a "Stop Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining" rally today in Washington, DC.(That's Teri with her arm out while standing on-stage in the background of the photo below.)
Teri and many others took to the stage to call upon the Obama Administration to stop this destructive practice that destroys communities and entire ecosystems in Applachia. For Teri and so many others, it's been a long battle, hence her comment on the protest signs.
Goldman Environmental Prize Winner Maria Gunnoe (of the Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition) also gave a powerful speech to the crowd - part of which is captured in this video.
The day's events were organized by EarthJustice but attended by members of many groups - from the Sierra Club to Interfaith Power & Light, to the Waterkeepers Alliance, and more.
On Sunday, September 9, 2012, the movement to end mountaintop removal mining and the environmental justice movement at large lost one of its most dedicated and inspired leaders, Larry Gibson. Larry was excited to be a part of this event and was deeply involved in the planning of it. He felt it was very important that we stand in solidarity with Appalachia right now and call on all of our nation's leaders -- regardless of political party -- to protect justice, human rights, clean water, and mountains in Appalachia. Larry dedicated 30 years to this work, and he never gave up on this fight.
Many of the day's speakers had kind words about Larry, saying he was the one who inspired so many to get involved in this fight against mountaintop removal coal mining.
Still other speakers had much to say about how mountaintop removal coal mining had severely affected their lives. West Virginia resident Junior Walk (pictured at the right) talked up going to Marsh Fork Elementary School, which was only a few hundred yards away from a massive coal sludge impoundment. The water in his home also ran red, it was so filled with contaminants from nearby mountaintop mining.
The rally then moved over to the front of the White House for chanting, and then on to deliver petition signatures calling for an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.
Today's "Stand with Appalachia" day of solidarity isn't done yet. You are encouraged to tweet messages about stopping mountaintop removal coal mining all day with the hashtag #StopMTR. You can do the same on Facebook.
-- Heather Moyer, Sierra Club Media Team