Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Appalachia Rising: A Movement to Abolish Mountaintop Removal

This piece appeared in the September 20th issue of Broadside in the GMU Environmental Action Group's weekly column, the Mason Ecosphere.

From September 25th through the 27th members of the Environmental Action Group (EAG) will be participating in Appalachia Rising, a mass mobilization in Washington D.C. to end mountaintop removal (MTR), a devastating form of coal production. Unlike traditional mining that extracts coal from underground, mountaintop removal does exactly what its na

me implies- the tops of mountains are blown off in order to reach the seams of coal underneath. The resulting debris is then pushed into the adjacent valleys, completely burying the streams and rivers located there. The result are enormous areas throughout Appalachia that are almost completely devoid of life. Not only is mountaintop removal an environmental catastrophe, it's also a violation of human rights because it destroys the homelands of coalfield residents and damages their health and lifespans through toxic substances that contaminate their air and water. To date more than 500 mountains in Appalachia have been destroyed, over 2000 miles of streams and rivers have been buried, and an estimated area in excess of 1 million acres has been lies in ruin. The goal of Appalachia Rising is to demand a permanent end to mountaintop removal and a just transition to a clean energy economy in Appalachia.

Mountaintop Removal Site near Appalachia, Virginia. Five EAG members visited this site in Spring 2010. Photo by Christi Kruse

Appalachia Rising will consist of two major parts. The first part will focus on providing participants with the skills they need to be effective allies in the fight against MTR. On Saturday, informational workshops will be offered on mountaintop removal and other issues related to coal. Topics include coal ash disposal, stopping new coal-fired power plants, coal and climate change, and the human health impacts of mountaintop removal. On Sunday, skills-based workshops will focus on training participants on how to organize to end MTR. For both of these days events will take place at George Washington University starting at 9:00 a.m. The second part of Appalachia Rising will focus on mass mobilization to end mountaintop removal. The plan is to pressure government leaders to eradicate this violation of human rights by holding a rally at Freedom Plaza and then marching to the White House to bring the issue to the attention of President Obama.

Thousands of concerned people are expected to be participating in these events, and we would like for Mason students to join us. You can register to be a part of Appalachia Rising at If you are interested in joining a large group of Mason students that will be participating in Appalachia Rising, please email the Environmental Action Group at We hope that you will join us in this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet thousands of other environmental and human rights organizers while contributing to the end of one of the most environmentally destructive practices in the the history of this country. We can bring an end to mountaintop removal but we need your help- please join us.