Cross posted from the RAN Understory, By Nell Greenberg
On July 8th, activists with the Rainforest Action Network have staged a super creative and gutsy sit-in at the EPA headquarters to demand stronger protection for Appalachia’s drinking water and an end to the devastating practice of mountaintop removal (MTR) coal mining once and for all.
With the nation’s eyes on the BP disaster, the EPA, without publicly announcing the action, recently gave the green light for a major new mountaintop removal coal mining permit in Logan County, West Virginia. The permit would allow the destruction of nearly three miles of currently clean streams and 760 acres of forest, in a county where at least 13 percent of the land has already been permitted for surface coal mining. This was despite EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s promise last April to enforce new rules to end the reckless practice of mountaintop removal mining.
We have no intention of letting the EPA conduct business-as-usual when it comes to blowing up America’s mountains and poisoning precious drinking water for coal.
That’s why at about 9:00 am today five people entered the headquarters of the EPA in Washington DC. Once inside, the activists sat down in the center of the lobby, locked themselves together with metal ‘lock boxes,’ and began to play West Virginia’s adopted state song, John Denver’s ‘Take me Home, Country Roads,’ mixed with intermittent sounds of Appalachia’s mountains being blown apart by MTR explosives. It’s well worth listening to the audio track, which has been playing for about 2 ½ hours now on loop inside the EPA lobby, and profoundly illustrates the difference between EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson’s rhetoric in Washington and the reality in Appalachia.
“We’re sitting down inside the EPA to demand the EPA stand up to protect Appalachia’s precious drinking water, historic mountains and public health from the devastation of mountaintop removal,” said RAN’s Scott Parkin, who is inside the EPA right now. “At issue here is not whether mountaintop removal mining is bad for the environment or human health, because we know it is and the EPA has said it is. At issue is whether President Obama’s EPA will do something about it. So far, it seems it is easier to poison Appalachia’s drinking water than to defy King Coal.”
In addition to activists inside the EPA headquarters, one brave climber is standing atop the EPA’s front door blocking the door with two banners reading: ‘Blowing up mountains for coal contaminates Appalachia’s water, Stop MTR’ and ‘EPA – Easier to Poison Appalachia’s Water than Defy King Coal.’
For decades, Appalachian residents have been decrying the impact of mountaintop removal coal mining—the practice of blowing up whole mountains (and dumping the toxic debris into nearby streams and valleys) to reach seams of coal. Environmentalists, leading scientists, congressional representatives and even late coal state Senator Byrd have all called for the end to this mining practice.
So what will it take for the EPA to follow its own science and end this devastating practice once and for all? It is time President Obama’s EPA stop cowing to King Coal and start protecting public and environmental health.
We’ll keep you posted as the action continues. For now, you can support the brave activists inside the EPA by taking action and emailing the EPA to tell them how you feel about mountaintop mining.
Follow today’s action on twitter @dirtyenergy