Interview Series: Deborah Payne At the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washingon

Thursday, April 7th, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

Anna Jane Joyner is a rockin’ activist from North Carolina who just went on the We Love Mountains tour with a number of bands in order to harness the power of music to spread the word about mountaintop removal mining. She is one of the over 150 people who are here in Washington DC for our 6th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. Anna Jane interviewed one of our other participants, Deborah Payne from Berea, KY (Energy and & Health Coordinator, Kentucky Environmental Foundation).

Deborah Payne

1. Why are you here in DC for the Week in Washington?

Our state (Kentucky) is deeply imbedded in the culture of the coal industry and pays little regard to the harmful impacts of mountaintop removal coal mining on nearby communities. We need to take the focus off politics and money and refocus it on the health of Kentucky’s citizens. As citizens, it is our right and responsibility to communicate to members of Congress the urgent need to end this unnecessary form of mining that is literally killing Kentucky citizens.

2. Why are you passionate about mountaintop removal?

Our country’s energy needs are based on an antiquated form of energy production. We have so many opportunities right now to expand and diversity our energy sources and more importantly, foster healthier and more vibrant communities in the coalfields. People from Appalachia deserve the right to clean air and water.

3. What is your favorite thing/important lesson/surprising aspect about the week in Washington so far?

It’s exciting to gather with people across America from very different walks of life who are all passionate about this issue. In particular, I’m inspired and moved by the many people here from the coalfields who are living with this tragedy every day.

4. Why do you think citizen activism is important?

Any change in this country requires engagement with our leaders who make our policies. Overarching change requires us to put our voice into action through civic engagement and activism.

Interview Series: Ben Stark At the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

Anna Jane Joyner is a rockin’ activist from North Carolina who just went on the We Love Mountains tour with a number of bands in order to harness the power of music to spread the word about mountaintop removal mining. She is one of the over 150 people who are here in Washington DC for our 6th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington. Anna Jane interviewed one of our other participants, Ben Stark from Grand Rapids, MI, and is a senior at Calvin College.

Week in Washington 2011 Participant- Ben Stark

1. Why are you here in DC for the Week in Washington?

Over the past two years, Restoring Eden, (a faith-based organization that works with Christian college students) introduced me to the issue of mountaintop removal coal mining. Since then our environmental group at Calvin College, the Environmental Stewardship Coalition, has really taken it on, especially with realizing the environmental justice connections and learning that some of our energy on campus comes from mountaintop removal coal. As a Christian, I am passionate about working towards justice and good stewardship and that means actively addressing areas where we’re not being good stewards of the earth and participating in systems that are harming our neighbors.

2. Why are you passionate about mountaintop removal?

In Michigan, we don’t have mountains- so the beauty and splendor of the Appalachian Mountains really struck me the first time I saw them. And more than just the beauty of the landscape, I feel drawn to Appalachian culture and want to stand in solidarity with the people of Appalachia as they fight for their mountains, health, and culture.

3. What is your favorite thing/important lesson/surprising aspect about the week in Washington so far?

Even though they’re hard to hear, I really value hearing the stories and struggles of coalfield residents.

4. Why do you think citizen activism is important?

Currently policy-making is way too driven by money and large corporations and not constituents’ needs and wants. Many people don’t know how important citizen activism is and how much of a difference we can really make by just reaching out and connecting with our elected officials. As a Christian and a young person, I recognize the importance of speaking out and engaging in the political process.

Anna Jane Joyner is from the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. In recent years, she has worked with people of faith across the country to end the tragedy of mountaintop removal, including leading Restoring Eden’s campaign to end mountaintop removal. These days, she’s a proud resident of Minnesota and is taking some time off to read, play, write, and hike. She remains a proud volunteer activist for Appalachian Voices and Restoring Eden and is stoked to be in DC this week working to protect the people, mountains, and streams of her Appalachian homeland.

National Call-in Day to End Mountaintop Removal Coal Mining

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

The following email was sent to the 48,000+ supporters of iLoveMountains.org. To sign up to receive free email alerts, click here.

At this very moment, over 150 people – concerned citizens from across the U.S. together with citizens directly impacted by mountaintop removal – are in our nation’s capital for the 6th Annual End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington.

They are urging members of Congress to cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act, which would help to end mountaintop removal coal mining by regulating valley fills, which is a process that buries headwater streams with mining waste. You can support them from home – with a phone call to your member of Congress.

http://iLoveMountains.org/call-your-rep

We are winning, because of your support – and we need you more than ever. Big Coal has been seen our progress – and is working overtime to erase our victories and block the passage of this bill.

Please call your member of Congress today and ask them to cosponsor the Clean Water Protection Act.

Thanks for all you do,

Matt Wasson
iLoveMountains.org

PS – Please consider supporting the End Mountaintop Removal Week in Washington by donating today: https://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/1741/t/6886/shop/custom.jsp?donate_page_KEY=4490

Week in Washington Participant from Georgia: Jeremy Cherson

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

Over the next three days, I am going to be on Capitol Hill working with the Georgia Congressional delegation to end mountain top removal. I just met with Senator Chambliss’ environmental staffer. She spoke about Chambliss having a balance between cheap domestic energy and environmental concerns. My question is, what environmental concerns has Chambliss ever had? He has a 0% rating from the League of Conservation Voters. Meanwhile Georgia’s growing appetite for coal destroys more mountains every day. Stay tuned for more updates about my meetings with the Georgia congressional delegation.

Learn more at,

http://ilovemountains.org/news

- Jeremy Cherson

Jeremy Cherson is an Environmental Policy student at American University and an intern at The Wilderness Society. He is a contributor every Tuesday to the Wilderness University of Georgia blog.

Vote for Your Favorite Appalachian Photo

Monday, March 28th, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

Interested in seeing some Appalachian Mountain inspired art?

Evolution River by Scott Hotaling, 2010 People's Choice Award recipient

Get out to the Turchin Visual Art Center this week to check out photographs of the amazing culture and scenery of the Appalachian Mountains captured by local photographers. Forty-four images from the 8th Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition are currently on display including five images in the “Our Environmental Footprint” category sponsored by Appalachian Voices.

Be sure to VOTE for your favorite photographer to win the prestigious “People’s Choice Award” as well as $350 from Footsloggers Outdoor and Travel Outfitters. You can vote for your favorite photograph at a kiosk at the Turchin Center or at www.appmtnphotocomp.org, but make sure to do it before Friday, April 1 at 5pm when voting closes.

In addition to capturing the stunning scenery and culture of this region, The Appalachian Mountain Photography Competition helps to subsidize Appalachian State University’s Student Outdoor Learning Expeditions.

If you cannot make it to the Turchin Center this week, the photographs will be on display until June 4.

EPA Releases Draft Rule on Mercury Emissions

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

The EPA finally proposed the first national standard regulating coal and oil fired power plants on March 16th. The EPA’s long overdue proposal directly regulates mercury and toxic air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide which causes acid rain. If the regulations are approved 91 percent of mercury and 55 percent of sulfur dioxide from coal burning facilities would be prevented from entering the atmosphere.

Power plants are responsible for a startling 99% of mercury pollution as well as the majority of other air pollutants that are produced. Currently, 44 percent of plants do not have equipment to control air pollution. The power industry is the only one of the three major industries that issues toxic air pollutants that is not regulated.

The new EPA regulations would prevent an estimated 6,800-17,000 premature deaths and save the affected communities an estimated $59 billion to $140 billion in health costs each year.

Though the regulations are wonderful news, the EPA’s emphasis on the “much cleaner burning coal” leaves out the environmental and health costs that are accumulated when obtaining the coal to burn “more cleanly.” When will the EPA take into account $74 billion cost of early deaths resulting from coal mine pollution? A recent Harvard study has begun the task of taking the total costs of coal into account. This includes toxic air emissions and impacts from mountaintop removal. While the EPA’s regulations do limit the amount of pollutants coal burning power plants spew into the air, burning coal will never be clean.

-Griff Crews is currently an intern from Appalachian State University where he is studying Communication Studies

This Week in Coal

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011 | Posted by Griff Crews | No Comments

The events in “coal news” this week have been thought provoking and encouraging, ranging from the anniversary of one of the greatest coal related tragedies to the recognition of a Kentucky hero by President Barack Obama. So without further delay, here they are:

February 26 was the 39th anniversary of the Buffalo Creek flood that killed 125 people when Buffalo Mining Company’s refuse dam broke. A Citizen’s Commission decided to recommend that Buffalo Mining Company be held responsible for the murder of these citizens. The event was a catastrophe for the entire state of West Virginia and demonstrated the negative impact that coal has on the society as well as the environment.

In other news, a Grand Jury indicted Hughie Elbert Stover, the Security Chief for Massey Energy’s Big Branch Mine, on Monday February 28 for lying to investigators and destroying mine records. A Federal criminal investigation was launched after an explosion in April 2010 at the mine killed 29 people.

IMG_7575

But there is hope! On March 1 Arch Coal agreed to pay $4 million dollars for water violations and change their practices to comply with the EPA’s Clean Water Act. The $4 million dollars will be divided in between the Federal Government, Kentucky, and West Virginia. Arch Coal, which provides 16 percent of the United States Coal, was charged with discharging pollutants without permits and not following conditions of permits which they held.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/3/38/Wberry.jpg

March 2 author, conservationist, and advocate Wendell Berry was awarded the National Humanities Medal from President Barack Obama for his writings that explore humankind’s connections with the environment. Berry was involved last month in a sit-in of the Kentucky governor’s office to protest mountain top removal coal mining.

While the news from this week is encouraging, we must continue to heed the reminder of the Buffalo Creek flood and examine coal’s impact on our lives and the environment. As John Collins Rudolph wrote about in his New York Times Blog, a Harvard University Study determined “that coal costs the United States economy $140 billion to $242 billion a year.” The catastrophe at Buffalo Creek was just the tip of the iceberg. The effects of coal on the United States are still here and grow larger every day. Let us continue raising awareness and petitioning our representatives to address the impacts of coal.

-Griff Crews is currently an intern from Appalachian State University where he is studying Communication Studies

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