Ending Mountaintop Removal Mining is AlterNet's Top Take Action Campaign of The Week
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I -- Ending Mountaintop-Removal Mining is AlterNet's Top Take Action Campaign of The Week
Nearly 35 years ago, Ken Hechler, a West Virginia congressman, held the first congressional hearing on mountaintop-removal mining. When the house introduced an amendment to grant federal sanctioning for the practice, Hechler said:
"Mountaintop removal is the most devastating form of mining on steep slopes. Once we scalp off a mountain and the spoil runs down the mountainside and the acid runs into the water supply, there is no way to check it. This is not only esthetically bad, as anyone can tell who flies over the state of West Virginia or any place where the mountaintops are scraped off, but also it is devastating to those people who live below the mountain. Some of the worst effects of strip mining in Kentucky, West Virginia and other mountainous areas result from mountaintop removal."
Now 94, Hechler has not given up the fight to stop mountaintop-removal mining, a means of coal extraction that pollutes streams, damages property and releases toxic chemicals into the air. This Tuesday, he will join a handful of activists, climatologists and celebrities in a nonviolent march across Sundial, W.Va. The demonstration is designed to shed light on Massey Energy's history of exploitation.
Massey, which is worth around $2.6 billion, has a history of destroying ecosystems and causing immense damage to citizens' well-being. Last year alone, a Massey subsidiary in eastern Kentucky spilled 300 million gallons of sludge into waterways and aquifers, and the company doled out $20 million in penalties for dumping toxic mine waste into the region's rivers, lakes and ponds.
Citizens like Hechler hope to throw Appalachia's hidden wounds into the light of U.S. media. They are planning to draw attention to a bipartisan hearing on the effects of mountaintop-removal mining, sponsored by Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, D-Md., and taking place on June 25. The hearing is a first step in making sure that this type of mining -- a process that has already leveled 400,000 acres of West Virginia's forests -- is stopped.
Still, such actions are only the beginning. The Obama administration has done much to roll back mountaintop-removal mining's devastating advance, but the recovery process is still in its nascent stages. It's imperative that you join the fight -- voice your criticism of this dangerous, damaging process.
Join what Robert F. Kennedy Jr. recently called "the first broad congressional initiative aimed at reversing the Bush administration's eight-year effort to savage our national waterways and the popular laws that protect them." Write to your senators and tell them that no source of energy is worth the price we're currently paying. You can do it here.
Here's the rest of our top Take Action Campaigns for the week.
II -- Tell Iranian Authorities to Release Human Rights Defender Abdolfattah Soltani
Following Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's contested victory in the recent Iranian presidential election, a wave of violent, government-sponsored repression has swept across the country. Police have killed and wounded hundreds of peaceful protesters, and the government has launched an information war, censoring news outlets and imprisoning journalists, lawyers and other activists.
Among those captured is Abdolfattah Soltani, a human rights lawyer and member of the Center for the Defense of Human Rights. He was arrested on June 16 and has been held at an undisclosed location ever since. Many in Iran fear that prisoners like him are subject to a variety of tortures and ill treatments. It's time to tell the Iranian authorities that this behavior is not acceptable. Write now to urge the release of Soltani.