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Appalachians March in Pittsburgh for Clean Energy & Coalfield Justice
by Jessica Friday, Jun. 10, 2005 at 10:12 PM
About 75 people marched Tuesday in downtown Pittsburgh to confront the National Coal Conference being held at the convention center, demanding clean energy and justice for coalfield residents.
On Tuesday in downtown Pittsburgh, a group of about 75 people gathered to march for clean energy and justice in the coalfields of Appalachia. The permitted march was organized by Canaries in the Coalfields, Tri-State Citizens’ Mining Network, and Mountain Justice Summer. Marchers held signs proclaiming “Coal Kills,” “Save Our Mountains,” and “Justice in the Coalfields Now,” and chanted “down with king coal,” and “clean energy now.” The march ended at the downtown convention center, where the National Coal Conference was being held. Speakers from Pennsylvania and West Virginia told of the devastation mining is causing in their communities and the health costs from coal power plant emissions borne by residents of this region, and demanded a clean energy policy and an end to the use of Appalachia as an “energy sacrifice zone.”
Residents of Washington and Fayette counties attended the march to protest the damage longwall mining is causing in their region, and the continued inattention to the toxic legacy of a century of irresponsible mining. Longwall mining removes the entire Pittsburgh Coal seam, buried 300-600 feet deep under Greene, Washington, and Fayette Counties, causing cracking and subsidence at the surface above mined areas. Streams vanish, homes crack as in an earthquake, and public infrastructure is damaged, while currently no restrictions on minable areas have been enacted, and companies pay a tiny fraction of restitution costs.
Residents of Pittsburgh marched in solidarity with people of rural areas facing damage from mining, and also to protest the serious health impacts of coal power plants that affect all who live in this region, but especially residents of cities, where air pollution problems are compounded by vehicle emissions and other local sources. Coal power plants are responsible for 90% of the sulfur dioxide in this region and a high proportion of nitrous oxides and fine particulates, as well as virtually all of the mercury pollution. Sulfur dioxide triggers asthma attacks, while fine particulates can cause lung cancer and heart attacks, and mercury has been linked to increasing rates of learning disabilities and autism in children. One in six women of childbearing age in this region has mercury levels in her blood which would put a breastfeeding child at risk of toxic effects.
Bill Price, Environmental Justice Coordinator for the Sierra Club, spoke to the crowd of the devastation mountaintop removal is causing in West Virginia. Mountaintop removal mining blasts the tops off of mountain ranges to reach thin seams of coal; the rubble from the blasting is pushed into valleys, obliterating streams. The post-mining landscape is depauperate of life, unstable and prone to rockslides, and increases the likelihood of flooding because it cannot absorb rainwater.
The marchers from Pittsburgh and Southwestern Pennsylvania were joined by about 20 activists from the Mountain Justice Summer movement, which is engaged in community organizing and nonviolent direct action throughout Appalachia to demand an end to mountaintop removal mining.
Bo Webb of the West Virginia citizens group Coal River Mountain Watch spoke of a campaign against Massey Energy in Sundial, West Virginia, where children attending Marsh Fork Elementary School are exposed to dangerous levels of air pollution and a high risk of a lethal flood from a coal processing plant and a leaking dam holding back 2.8 billion gallons of toxic coal sludge that Massey has built within hundreds of feet of the school. Citizens of the Coal River Valley are demanding that Massey Energy close the mine and processing plant, remove the sludge impoundment, and end mountaintop removal operations.
A group of coal conference attendees watched the march and rally from the balcony of the convention center. Inside the conference, coal industry spokesmen portrayed mountaintop removal as “sustainable development for Appalachia.”
NOW IS THE TIME TO ACT
by Earth Boy Monday, Jun. 27, 2005 at 1:53 AM
we need to stop global warming and get a clean energy sorce that doesnot distroy the ozone.
clean power produced by mother earth, no chemical discharges into the air, or the sea. we can ease up on oil use. every body wins, we need to start using these alternative fuel sources to free our selves from big oil
(I am sure big oil wants to stop any other energy from coming on the market ) this is our chance to make the switch, to a New power source!
we cannot pollute the earth with oil for ever...we have to stop! and this is our chance.We need to go back to pro nuclear power, by far the cleanest of all flues! we can produce more power with less echo-disruption than any other available fuel source known today. it is with in our grasp to change our dependence on big oil.with clean non polluting nuclear power!
earth boy is right ! time to act
by matilda Thursday, Jul. 21, 2005 at 12:12 AM
we have to break with coal & oil and go with cleanner burning fules