Whitesburg KY
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Groups gather here to oppose mountaintop mining method

Members of two environmental organizations and opponents of mountaintop removal mining met on top of Pine Mountain in Letcher County Saturday to hear mountain music and raise funds for Kentuckians for the Commonwealth and the Mountain Justice Summer.

On its website, Mountain Justice Summer describes mountaintop removal the following way. “Mountaintop removal/ valley fill coal mining (MTR) has been called strip mining on steroids. One author says the process should be more accurately named: mountain range removal. Mountaintop removal/valley fill mining annihilates ecosystems, transforming some of the most biologically diverse temperate forests in the world into biologically barren moonscapes.”

Mountain Justice Summer is an alliance of environmental and social justice organizations, activists, writers, and artists to oppose mountaintop removal and demand justice for the people who live in the coalfields and are affected by coal mining. Dave Cooper of Lexington is an organizer for Mountain Justice Summer who has worked for years to stop mountaintop removal.

“We are totally non-violent,” said Cooper. “There is no sabotage and no property destruction. We do not do that, none of that.”

The event was held at “Wiley’s Last Resort,” which is owned by Jim Webb of Whitesburg. Webb said visitors had already been able to see views of mountaintop removal sites from both sides of his property – Black Mountain strip mines to the south and strip mines in Letcher County to the north and west. He welcomed his guests with his own feelings about the mining method.

“It is a scourge on the earth,” said Webb. “It is an abomination. We have to stop it.”

Music was provided by a host of musicians including folk singer Jack Herranen, who performed music from his album, “To Fan the Flames of Discontent: The Living Songs of Joe Hill and the Wobblies,” Mike and Carrie Cline, Rich Kirby, Roy Tackett, Bev May, and other local musicians.

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