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For the past three days members of Mason’s Environmental Action Group attended Appalachia Rising, an event designed to galvanize people in the fight against mountaintop removal. According to the event’s organizers it was “an unprecedented gathering of Appalachian people and their allies in the movement to abolish all forms of surface mining”. The weekend featured workshops, speakers, and live music all focused on ending the environmental and human health catastrophe that is mountaintop removal coal mining
The event culminated on Monday with a rally, march around downtown D.C., and a protest at the White House with more than 2000 people, including a contingent from the EAG. In order to bring attention to the issue, over 100 people intentionally got arrested for non-violent, civil disobedience, including three Mason students.
Holly Smucker, a first-year music education major was one of those that got arrested. According to Smucker, “Mountaintop Removal is an awful practice that is not only destroying the mountains, but polluting the water and killing the citizens of Appalachia. Our message yesterday to the EPA and to Obama needed to be voiced loud and clear: we weren’t going to move until they abolished mountaintop removal. In fact, if they hadn’t arrested us we might have still been out there square dancing and chanting.”
Allison Rutledge attended all three days of Appalachia Rising but did not get arrested on Monday. That said, she is equally passionate about the issue, “Mountaintop removal is an extremely destructive and devastating practice. It not only destroys mountains but entire communities as well. There are people out there who don't have clean drinking water because of it. More than 500 mountains have already been obliterated and over 2000 miles of streams have been buried forever. This has to be stopped and it’s why I to continue the fight.”