I wasn't planning on coming to work today. After partying until the wee hours at an Inaugural Ball, I certainly didn't feel like dragging myself to the office this morning. I was all set to take a vacation day to recover from Obamania, but I changed my mind. I decided that I just had to meet with Sam Evans.
Who the heck is Sam Evans? Well, he's a third year law student at the University of Tennessee who braved the cold and the crowds of Inauguration Day in hopes of delivering a message to the Obama administration about the urgent need to put an end to mountaintop removal coal mining.
Oh, by the way, he traveled all the way from Knoxville to D.C. by bike.
Sam's odyssey covered 750 miles and took 10 days. Along the way, he made a point of riding through coal country to meet with people whose communities are being damaged -- and their quality of life destroyed -- by this rapacious and reckless mining. Sam met with these folks, listened to their stories, collected their letters, and pledged to deliver their message to President Obama. NRDC agreed to help Sam get their voices heard.
Here is a news story at the outset of Sam's remarkable journey. To get an even better sense of his experience, check out his website where you can read his daily blog, view his videos and photos, and learn more about what inspired his trip -- and what happened along the way.
I've been to coal country many times, but never did it occur to me to traverse the backroads and climb the mountain passes by bike. That in itself is pretty amazing. But even more amazing is that this guy did it for a cause. Although he's originally from Alabama, not Appalachia, Sam so loves the mountains that he felt compelled to trek through them on his Trek in hopes of bringing greater attention to the devastating consequences of mountaintop removal.
As the worst environmental president in history, President Bush had a big hand in the Appalachian Armageddon by easing federal rules to allow this strip mining on steroids to flourish. NPR provides a good overview of the way Bush helped alter the Appalachian landscape via mountaintop mining.
With a new president comes new hope for change. Sam says that's a big reason why he felt compelled to come to D.C. After meeting with us today, and telling us a bit about his epic tale, we're eager to convey his materials to the proper Obama officials as part of our own effort to stop mountaintop removal.
I'm also happy to report that Sam is heading back home by car, with his trusty bike securely fastened to the roof rack.
Safe journey, Sam.