Since I've been working to end mountaintop removal, I've met plenty of people in Appalachia with direct or indirect ties to the coal industry who are adamantly against this extreme form of strip mining. Kudos to our friends over at Sierra Club for doing this nice online profile of three such former coal miners in Kentucky who strongly oppose mountaintop removal. Here they are: Stanley Sturgill, Carl Shoupe, and Elmer Lloyd.
(Photo by Matt Scully)
Sierra's scrapbook on these gentlemen is worth reading, particularly for the full context of the conversation, details on their personal stories, solid background information and great photos. But here are a couple of quotes that let you know where these proud coal miners stand on the world's most controversial coal mining.
Carl Shoupe, a third-generation coal miner:
"This mountaintop removal is killing us here in eastern Kentucky. I was a deep miner, and I have relatives and friends who are miners. But in my opinion, if you can't deep-mine it, it ain't worth getting out of the mountain in the first place."
"Mountaintop removal mining is destroying the land, it's destroying the water, and it's destroying anything my grandchildren might hope to enjoy about the mountain culture."
Stanley Sturgill, a federal mine inspector for 41 years:
"Mountaintop removal has destroyed so much around here. Everywhere I went, when I inspected a surface mine, it was the same sad-looking place...If the valley fill permits now pending for this mountain are approved, we stand a good chance of losing our water. And once we lose our water, we've lost everything."
Reminds me of my very first post on this topic, following a trip to eastern Kentucky to see mountaintop removal with my own eyes. I mentioned an elderly gentlemen I met, someone who had spent a career in the coal industry only to have his scenic and serene retirement ruined after a coal company moved in and started blasting the mountain above his hollow. Here is what I wrote:
Rick’s father lives nearby in a house built over 60 years ago by his father, which is catching all kinds of hell from the sprawling coal operation that moved in next door a couple of years ago. As we visited with Clinton Handshoe on his front porch, he ran his finger through the coal dust covering the plastic furniture and told us: “I drove a coal truck years ago. I’m not against coal. I’m against this.”
Everybody – not just in Appalachia but all over America – should be against the travesty of mountaintop removal coal mining. And everybody who cares should find a way to join the fight to save not someone else’s but our mountains. This destructive mining must end if for no other reason than so Mr. Handshoe can once again sit on his porch in peace and enjoy the view, in a world without the constant pounding of machinery against rock that is slowly but surely reducing his beloved mountains to a flat, dead moonscape.
You can do your part to help Appalachians save Appalachia for all of us. Start by taking a moment to urge your senators to pass the Appalachia Restoration Act.