Friday, June 17, 2011

Update Death Toll Rising Due To Mountain Top Removal West Virginia & Civil Rights & The Environment

Government and Big Coal destroying communities and in the case of Appalachia is also an attack on the whole culture of Appalachia
Media MIA re: environment

Robert Kennedy Jr. s Fight for the Environment and the Government and Media Lack of Interest in protecting the Environment
This speech was made in 2006 while the Bush Regime was still in power.
Unfortunately little has changed since the installation of the Obama Regime
Obama still kow tows to Big Coal while attacking activists and whistleblowers

Robert Kennedy Jr. "Crimes Against Nature"

John Sayles Talks About Battle of Blair Mountain, Film Matewan & GOP's Union Busting Efforts

DemocracyNow.og -
In a Democracy Now! special interview, legendary independent filmmaker John Sayles discusses his film "Matewan," which chronicles an efforts of Appalachia coal miners to organize a union. He talks about the Battle of Blair Mountain, which more than 10,000 coal miners confronted an army of police and strikebreakers, backed by the coal companies, who were attempting to disrupt efforts to unionize the West Virginia coal fields. Sayles also talked about the "second battle for Blair Mountain," which is the effort to stop mountaintop-removal coal mining from destroying the mountain range. Sayles also talks about the ongoing efforts by the Republicans to dismantle unions across the United States.

This is an excerpt of an 45-minute interview with John Sayles. To watch the uninterrupted interview, download the podcast, read the transcript, and for more information about Democracy Now!, visit

Update on Mountaintop Removal Mining

Mountaintop Removal Mining is not just an environmental disaster but also is destroying the culture and communities and the way of life of the Appalachians.

Blair Mountain Emergency: Obama Is Obliged by Deathtoll to Order Mountaintop Removal Moratorium by Jeff Biggers at Huffington Post, june 8, 2011

Almost ninety years ago, an emergency crisis of unconscionable human suffering, government neglect and coal company lawlessness compelled thousands of coal miners and impoverished World War I veterans to tramp through the back roads of West Virginia and attempt to liberate terrorized mining camps that had been denied any right to union organizing.

While it took another 12 years of tragic deprivation in the coalfields for President Franklin D. Roosevelt to sign the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, granting all coal miners and laborers the legal right to join a union without repercussions, a group of besieged residents from the central Appalachian coalfields is holding a press conference in Washington, DC today to deliver a similarly urgent message of an emergency crisis of unconscionable human suffering, government neglect and coal company lawlessness to the Obama administration and the US Congress:

If the safety, health and civil rights of all Americans are protected by the same laws, then our nation's President and lawmakers are obliged by the staggering health and human rights crises and mounting deathtoll in the central Appalachian coalfields to call for an immediate moratorium on all mountaintop removal operations.'s time to bring the mountaintop removal war on Appalachia to an end.

While providing less than 5-8 percent of our national coal production, the millions of pounds of daily explosives detonated for mountaintop removal operations in West Virginia, Kentucky, southwest Virginia and eastern Tennessee account for the most egregious human rights and environmental violations in our nation--and the unrecognized reality of regulated manslaughter.

While EPA administrator Lisa Jackson has openly acknowledged the unacceptable health consequences of mountaintop removal, the Obama administration has chosen to follow an admittedly failed compliance policy and 40-year rap sheet of criminally neglectful regulatory practices that have left central Appalachian communities in desperate ruin.

Diverse Paths Lead up Blair Mountain by Alex Bloedel via June 13, 2011
Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., an environmental lawyer and one of Saturday’s invited speakers, called mountain top removal a “continental-scale cataclysm for our country. It’s literally destroying the Appalachian Mountains.”

Kennedy described the scale of its effects: “Over the past 10 years, about four or five companies have flattened an area of the Appalachians larger than the state of Delaware. They’ve buried 2,500 miles of rivers and streams, and destroyed 500 of the biggest mountains in West Virginia.”

Kennedy, who lives outside New York City, drew a shocking comparison: “If you buried 25 feet of a Hudson River stream, we’d put you in jail. What they’re doing is illegal, and they couldn’t get away with it except that they have been able to muzzle the press and dismantle our democracy.”

C. Belmont Keeney cited recent scientific studies that point to a causal relationship between mountaintop removal sites and increased cancer rates in the surrounding population. “When I talk to people about mountaintop removal, I’m not talking about some endangered salamander,” said Keeney. “This is an incredibly bio-diverse ecosystem that we have here. That’s great and fine and good and all, but it’s killing people, and it’s taking away jobs and it’s taking away prosperity.”

Keeney also stressed the economic damage done by strip mining: “Since the mid-1980s, over 30,000 coal mining jobs have been lost directly due to mountaintop removal, as [it] has replaced deep mining.”

According to a study by Michael Ahern and Melissa Hendryx of University of West Virginia’s Institute for Health Policy Research, the areas in Appalachia with the heaviest mining also have the lowest incomes and highest levels of unemployment. Their research, published in Public Health Reports, estimates the net economic costs relative to gains from coal mining are between about $8 billion and $18 billion.

Coal blasting chips away culture, film says
Country stars to step out tonight for 'Last Mountain via The, June 9, 2011

Blowing up the mountains of East Tennessee to get to the coal beneath is blasting away not only rocks and forestry but also the very roots of country music and Appalachian culture, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. says.

Mountaintop removal, which involves blasting the summit and ridgelines of a mountain to reach coal, has been blamed for destroying the environment, affecting the health of local residents and hurting local economies.

" More Than 1,000 Rally in Blair, W.Va. for Protection of Historic Blair Mountain " SPECIAL TO HUNTINGTONNEWS.NET June 13, 2011

More than 1,000 people gathered in Blair, W.Va., on Saturday, June 11, at the base of historic Blair Mountain to rally for the abolition of mountaintop removal, strengthened labor rights, the protection of Blair Mountain, and investment in a sustainable local economy for Appalachia. Kathy Mattea and other artists performed at the rally in support of protecting Labor's 'Gettysburg' from destructive mountaintop removal mining. Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., spoke along with acclaimed Appalachian writer Denise Giardina and retired UMWA miner and community leader Chuck Nelson.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. shared wisdom from his father, "When I was 14 my father said to me, '...there is no way you can regenerate an economy from these barren moonscapes that are left behind and they are doing it so they can break the unions,' and that is exactly what happened."

Grammy winning artist, and WV native Kathy Mattea reminded us, "I am here today because I care about these mountains. I am here today because I care about my own people and I am here today because I care about all the people. But mostly I am here because I care about civil conversation and I care about everyone's human need and human rights."

Following the rally, 755 people marched two miles to the crest of historic Blair Mountain, completing the five-day, fifty-mile March on Blair Mountain that 225 people began on Monday, June 6th. Marchers followed the same route that 10,000 union coal miners took in 1921, on their way to organize non-union Mingo County. The miners fought coal company hired-guns and corrupt police forces at Blair Mountain, before federal troops were called in to end the Battle of Blair Mountain. Marchers placed a memorial to the 1921 miners on the original battleground.

also see: Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Appalachia: 'Big Coal is a Criminal Enterprise' the, June 15, 2011

Review and reaction to the documentary film "The Last Mountain" exposing the Coal Mining Industry and its hold over US government .
This was an issue during the Bush Regime and many believed that the Obama administration would tackle the issue head on instead they make excuses and defend the industry.

Besides being an environmental disaster Mountaintop Removal has led to rampant illness and death of people in West Virgina. The health danger is not just for miners but for the communities where the water and air have become lethal.

So because this practice is so lethal activists in West Virginia believe the Obama administration has an obligation to investigate this health crisis as he would if there were a natural disaster or an epidemic.

But Obama's record for the most part has been the defense of the status quo whether its foreign relations and promoting more wars or his mishandling of the BP oil disaster or his crackdown on Whistleblowers it is unlikely that Obama will take substantive action against the Big Coal.

Blowing up the mountaintops to get out the coal By Steven Rea at ,June 17, 2011

The Last Mountain will make you very, very angry.

A powerful documentary with an important agenda - saving an Appalachian mountain and the people living in the valley below - director Bill Haney's piece of advocacy journalism looks at the heavy costs of "mountaintop removal," a method of coal extraction in which tons of dynamite are used to blow a mountain wide open.

The result, in the words of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the environmental crusader who has been fighting alongside West Virginia locals in their battle against a giant coal company and government officials, is "a denuded moonscape." Hundreds of thousands of acres of denuded moonscape.

The Last Mountain is more than another tale of treehuggers going up against an energy behemoth and its employees (who are, understandably, happy to be employed). It's a tale of politicians in the pockets of Big Coal, of flagrant violations of environmental laws, and of small communities turned into ghost towns by pollution, flooding, and alarmingly high rates of cancer. (In one tiny hollow where the groundwater had been contaminated with heavy metals from toxic sludge, six people, children and adults, were diagnosed with brain tumors.)

The bad guys here are Massey Energy, the third-largest coal company in America, cited for more than 60,000 environmental violations between 2000 and 2006, and its former chief executive officer, Don Blankenship, who talked jobs while eliminating them. The good guys: Maria Gunnoe, a daughter and granddaughter of coal miners, who has led the charge against surface mining; Gunnoe's friends and neighbors in Boone County, West Virginia; Kennedy, and a band of scientists and activists.

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