Highway to Hell
July 22, 2004
Photos by Vivian Stockman
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The Role of Mountaintop Removal in Economic Insecurity and Homeland
As soon as students in ShepPAC
at Shepherd University heard that the West Virginia Coal Association was
promoting a state-sponsored workshop coming to their town, the students
contacted OVEC and Coal River Mountain
Watch. Together, we organized a demonstration to counter the
latest in WV Governor Bob Wises Energy
Task Force Energy Roadmap Workshop Series--"The
role of coal in economic and homeland security."
We wanted to make certain that people know that an energy roadmap
which includes mountaintop removal / valley fill coal mining is no high
road to the future, but is instead a Highway
to Hell. There is no
economic security in destroying ecosystem services which support our
lives and culture. There is no homeland security when thousands of tons
of explosives are unleashed upon the Appalachian Mountains each day.
There is no homeland security when your home is destroyed by floods
raging off denuded mountains, when your community is driven away by
Other groups joined us to make certain Americans understand other
ways our continued heavy reliance on coal is harming our health and our
futures. For instance, Tri-State
Citizens Mining Network described the stream-eating,
building-wrecking, union-busting ravages of longwall mining. Citizens
for Alternatives to Longview Power reminded us that, compared to all other states in the country,
West Virginians have the
highest risk of dying from heart disease and lung cancer caused by power plant
pollution. Pollution from these coal-fired plants can cause or worsen heart disease, asthma, lung cancer, and other lung
diseases. In addition, these plants release mercury, which can cause brain damage in babies and children.
Climate Action Network delivered a ton of coal, which marked the
both the beginning and end of the Highway to Hell.
On a very hot and humid day, about
60 people rallied alongside the football field at the
Shepherdstown Middle School, close to the Clarion Hotel where the coal
cronies were engaged in their mis-information marathon. At our event,
coalfield residents spoke
of the horror of living near mountaintop removal operations. Musicians
Ryan Harvey and Andrew
McKnight presented rousing songs about injustice and activism
against injustice. We posted signs marking the Highway to Hell. As
usual (despite the grueling transportation glitches), we had loads of
fun while getting our message across.
Remember, if we obey the Stop Signs (Stop Global Warming, Stop
Mountaintop Removal) and Yield
to Alternative Energy, we can get off the Highway to Hell and onto
the road to a sane, safer future.
Participating groups for our July 22 rally included: Shepherd
Progressive Action Committee; Coal River Mountain Watch, Sierra Club
Environmental Justice Project of Central Appalachia, Ohio Valley
Environmental Coalition, West Virginia Highlands Conservancy and other
members of the Friends of the Mountains Coalition; Chesapeake Climate
Action Network and Tri-State Citizens Mining Network.
Early on July 22, a crew from the coalfields gathers for breakfast at the campgrounds.
The right direction to go is clear. At the Clarion, it'll be the cheerleading
session for coal, at our event, it's the true dirt on mountaintop removal.
Over at the Clarion, they were presenting the "Energy Roadmap Workshop Series: The Role of Coal in Economic and Homeland Security." That roadmap is a Highway to Hell!
One ton of coal on the Highway to Hell.
Yield here, turn off the Highway to Hell.
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