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Friday, February 11, 2011

Kentuckians Against Mountain Top Coal Removal Confront Governor Beshear

Kentuckians Confront Governor Beshear

by jw, Appalachian Voices, February 11, 2011

A message from our brothers and sisters in Kentucky – jw
Contact: Silas House/Jason Howard 606.224.1208

FRANKFORT – A group of twenty Kentuckians has gathered at the state Capitol in an attempt to meet with Gov. Steve Beshear to discuss the issue of mountaintop removal mining. They plan to remain in his office until the governor agrees to stop the poisoning of Kentucky’s land, water, and people by mountaintop removal; or until he chooses to have the citizens physically removed.

Among the group are Wendell Berry, 76, the acclaimed writer who has decried mining abuses for the past fifty years; Beverly May, 52, a nurse practitioner from Floyd County; Erik Reece, 43, who has written extensively about the coal industry; Patty Wallace, 80, a grandmother from Louisa; Mickey McCoy, 55, former educator and mayor of Inez; Teri Blanton, 54, a grassroots activist from Harlan County; Stanley Sturgill, 65, a former underground coal miner of Harlan County; Rick Handshoe, 50, a retired Kentucky State Police radio technician of Floyd County; John Hennen, 59, a history professor at Morehead State University; and Martin Mudd, 28, an environmental activist.

While these Kentuckians realize they are risking arrest by refusing to leave the governor’s office, they say they have repeatedly petitioned Gov. Beshear for help, yet their pleas have been ignored. This action is a last resort to seek protections for their health, land, and water.

In a letter to Gov. Beshear, the citizens expressed their desire to communicate “respectfully and effectively” with the governor about the urgent need to stop the destruction of mountaintop removal mining. Among their requests were the following:

§ Accept a long-standing invitation to view the devastation in eastern Kentucky caused by mountaintop removal mining
§ Foster a sincere, public discussion about the urgent need for a sustainable economic transition for coal workers and mountain communities

§ Withdraw from the October 2010 lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, in which the Beshear administration partnered with the coal industry to oppose the EPA’s efforts to protect the health and water of coalfield residents

“The office of the governor must be held accountable,” they citizens explained in a joint statement. “We are once again asking Gov. Beshear for help.”

Hal Rogers district in eastern Kentucky (KY-05) has been the victim of more mountaintop removal than any other district or even state, for that matter. Out of 435 Congressional districts, it is #1 in destruction of mountains and streams, and yet it ranks:

- 435th in physical health (dead last)
- 435th in overall well-being (dead last)
- 435th in emotional health (dead last)
- 435th in life expectancy (dead last) (although it switches back and forth with Rahall’s district WV-03, depending on whose data you go by)

As a state Kentucky ranks dead last in healthy behavior, and 49th in overall well-being, emotional health, and physical health (behind WV of course). More mountaintop removal will only make these problems with the health of Appalachian people even worse. Its hard to get worse than worst, but many Kentucky Representatives are trying. Our thoughts and prayers are with our friends at the state house.

We stand in solidarity with Kentucky Rising, a group who entered the office of Gov. Beshear at 10 AM asking for a real discussion about stopping MTR and creating economic stability for the region.

If you’d like to help.:

(1) Call the Governor’s office and demand he meet with his constituents. 502-564-2611
(2) Consider joining 100s of Kentuckians for “I Love Mountains Day” at the state Capitol on February 14th.

As always, Jeff Biggers has much, much more.

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