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October 15, 2009

Mountaintop Removal Hearings Get Tense

This is the weekly blog post from Bruce Nilles, director of the Sierra Club Beyond Coal campaign.

This week has seen some very tense and passionate hearings on mountaintop removal coal mining permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Local residents who support clean energy say they have been verbally and physically threatened at the West Virginia and Kentucky hearings so far. Here’s a video of the Charleston, WV, hearings, where pro-coal people harassed clean energy activists by pinning them against the wall. The clean energy activists were then removed before the hearing by police for "security reasons."



This harassment was also reported in several news articles, including one from the Associated Press and another from the Lexington Herald-Leader.

And despite all that proof, the Army Corps is saying the hearings were "conducted in an orderly fashion." We can and will dispute that statement 100%.

Big Coal claims that ending mountaintop removal coal mining will cost jobs and hurt local economies. Yet this week Sierra Club and the Appalachian Center for the Economy and the Environment released a report from economists showing the opposite: The United States can have affordable electricity without mountaintop removal.

According to the report:
·    Ending mountaintop removal would have a negligible effect on electricity prices in the eastern United States, where mountaintop removal coal is currently burned.
·    We have an abundance of cost-effective alternatives to mountaintop removal coal.
·    Other types of mining in Appalachia employ more workers.
·    Mountaintop removal coal mining costs state budgets more than it generates.
·    Mountaintop removal destroys clean energy sources.

Despite being outnumbered at these events so far, our clean energy activists will continue attending the other hearings this week – there are three more on Thursday night, in Ohio, Virginia and Pennsylvania.

Appalachia residents who support clean energy jobs should not be verbally or physically intimidated into staying away or being quiet. Their message is crucial. Clean energy will benefit Appalachia's economy. Mountaintop removal coal mining is destroying communities and offers fewer benefits than clean energy.

Help us get that message across by taking action today. Submit your own comments on the Army Corps’ review of all these mountaintop removal permits. Your voice is needed!

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