Great movements for social and environmental justice come at a great cost for those on the frontlines. No one understands this better than the besieged residents in the coalfields of Appalachia.
As we head into the wintry months of a Republican-led Congress and Big Coal bankrolled Democrats from the coalfields, awash in dirty lobby money, and an Obama administration that lacks the resolve to end what its own scientists have called an irreversible and pervasive health care and environmental crisis from mountaintop removal, those of us who live in the 48 coal-burning states need to ante up on our commitment to the footsloggers in the climate-change trenches.
Want to end mountaintop removal?
Looking for an alternative gift to give for the winter holidays?
Then please take a moment, dig deep in these hard times and make an end-of-the-year, tax-deductible donation to the organizations and artists on the frontlines of the most egregious human rights and environmental disaster in our day -- the blowing up of our American mountains, historic mountain communities and the carbon sink of our nation through mountaintop removal mining operations.
(This list is by no means extensive for this national movement; given that more than half of the mountaintop removal operations are in eastern Kentucky--not that incoming US. Sen. Rand Paul knows this--everyone should join the Kentuckians for the Commonwealth's fall campaign; Mike Brune's reinvigorated Sierra Club needs your support to appeal to the EPA by December 1st; Rob Perks at NRDC and JW Randolph battle on in Washington, DC, the Rainforest Action Network and Rev. Billy crews have effectively immobilized the banking support for such reckless mining, and Dave Cooper's trailblazing roadshow and the merry bands of direct action groups like Climate Ground Zero and Mountain Justice always need greater support for their upcoming campaigns.)
Coal River Mountain Watch: Coal River Health Research Project
Coal River Mountain in West Virginia is not simply the most important symbol in the climate change and clean energy debate; it has emerged as the pivotal frontlines in one of the most inspiring and transformative movements for social and environmental justice in the nation.
Coal River Mountain Watch has been the dauntless leader in confronting Massey Energy, among other perennial violators, in their own backyard. Recognizing the cancer corridor and growing deathtoll from exposure to toxic contaminants, they now have plans to work with Purpose Prize winner Bo Webb on a Coal River Health Research Project that will serve as a breakthrough survey to quantify and quality the health care damages of mountaintop removal and strip mining. Such a vital health survey will take an army of volunteers and money. You can donate to Coal River Mountain Watch and the Health Research Project here -- please indicate your contribution to the Health Research Project.
OVEC's Twilight: Mountaintop Removal Stops Here Campaign
In a head-on counter attack against the forced removal of American citizens and the depopulation of historic mountain communities, the Ohio Valley Environmental Council has launched a campaign to rescue the hamlet of Twilight, West Virginia from mountaintop removal oblivion. You can contribute to the campaign here, and help to reconstruct a sense of community in Appalachia.
Keeper of the Mountains Foundation
As the godfather of the anti-mountaintop removal movement, Larry Gibson has placed his life and heritage on the line for our nation for two decades. His ancestral home at Kayford Mountain, sitting on the edge of an unfathomable lunar expanse of mountaintop removal, has emerged as the window into the once dark secret of strip mining for thousands of activists and concerned citizens. Gibson's Keeper of the Mountains Foundation is an important center for any climate change and clean energy organizing. You can make a contribution here.
The Coal War: A film documentary
Faced with a devastating 6,600-acre mountaintop removal operation across their historic range, residents along the Coal River Valley have effectively brought together a groundbreaking national campaign of coal miners and their families, teachers and students, citizens groups, business people and environmentalists, to offer a clean energy alternative that would sustain their land and community--the Coal River Wind Project.
No one has had a better view of this unfolding historical drama in the Coal River Valley than Chad Stevens. Quite possibly the most talented photographer and documentary filmmaker of his generation, Stevens has not only taken the level of artistic and journalistic inquiry to a new level; his extraordinary vision, cultural insights and investigative doggedness have inspired and galvanized writers, journalists, artists and other filmmakers working on environmental and social documentaries across the country.
With his new film in progress, The Coal War: Fighting to Save a Mountain and Its People, Chad Stevens has given Appalachia, and our nation, a new lens to reconsider the staggering human and environmental costs of mountaintop removal mining.
Low Coal: A film documentary
If there is such a thing as an embedded war correspondent in the Appalachian coalfields, Jordan Freeman--like the wondrous photographer Antrim Caskey--has served on the frontlines for years. Filmmaker Freeman, who worked on the Coal Country film, is a fearless and determined chronicler, and is now seeking to distribute his new work, Low Coal, which provides rare footage and insight into the lives of those most impacted by mountaintop removal and all coal mining--coal miners, coal mining families, and residents living in the war zones of strip mines, as well as the activists who putting their lives on the line in the coalfields. With a contribution to Low Coal, you can help get copies of the DVD to schools, groups and arenas across the nation.
The Radio Voice in the Appalachian Wilderness: Bob Kincaid
As a pioneering internet radio broadcaster, Bob Kincaid has transmitted his progressive talk show out of the West Virginia mountains--and frequently at anti-mountaintop removal events and rallies--with the informative and erudite commentary rarely available on the radio dial. As the board president of Coal River Mountain Watch, who family's roots in the coalfields go back to the American Revolution, Kincaid has been one of the most effective media channels for the anti-mountaintop removal movement. He needs your financial support to keep his program--and his powerful voice--on air.
Do the right thing, dear readers. And pass the word to those who can help.
Jeff Biggers is the David Brower Award-winning author of Reckoning at Eagle Creek: The Secret Legact of Coal in the Heartland (Nation Books), and co-founder of The Coal Free Future Project, a multimedia theatre production company.
Follow Jeff Biggers on Twitter: www.twitter.com/jeffrbiggers