This Thing Called Courage

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Ninety-Four Year Old Congressman Arrested for Protesting Big Coal


(For those unfamiliar with it, Mountaintop Removal consists of just that-- the removal of mountaintops (chiefly in West Virginia) to mine coal, an amazingly destructive practice that poisons forests, streams, rivers, and the creatures thereof-- including humans.)
By Byard Duncan, AlterNet


Here's what Jeff Biggers, author of "The United States of Appalachia," is seeing at a peaceful demonstration against mountaintop removal mining in Sundial, WV:
UPDATE: 2:30 EST: 94-year-old Ken Hechler, the legendary West Virginia congressman who has been battling mountaintop removal since 1971 was arrested in a non-violent protest with NASA's celebrated climate scientist James Hansen, actress Daryl Hannah, Michael Brune, the executive director of Rainforest Action Network, and Goldman Prize winner Judy Bonds. Vietnam veteran Bo Webb, and dozens of other coalfield residents were arrested by crossing onto the property of leading mountaintop removal coal mining company, Massey Energy--purposely trespassing to protest the destruction of mountains immediately above the Coal River Valley community.
In the face of recent Obama administration actions to regulate and not abolish mountaintop removal, which has wiped out 500 mountains and destroyed historic communities, the action launched a yearlong national campaign to bring mountaintop removal to an end.

"I am not a politician; I am a scientist and a citizen," said Dr. James Hansen. "Politicians may have to advocate for halfway measures if they choose. But it is our responsibility to make sure our representatives feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is politically expedient. Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, should be abolished."
As a massive turnout of state troopers and hundreds of protesters pour into the Coal River Valley, here is today's scene for the historic nonviolent direct action and march in West Virginia: A 2.8 billion gallon toxic coal sludge impoundment behind the earthen Shumate Dam hovers just a couple of football fields above the Marsh Fork Elementary School, while massive mountaintop removal blasts boom daily within a few feet, and where hundreds of concerned parents, families and citizens from around the country have gathered to call to an end to mountaintop removal--for the sake of the children, the coalfield communities, and the Appalachian mountains.
You can follow Biggers, a HuffPo blogger, here throughout the day.
To find out how you can help stop big coal's abuses, click here.
© 2009 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.View this story online at: http://www.alternet.org/bloggers/www.alternet.org/140860/

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