Target: US House Committee on Natural Resources
Goal: Stop the environmental devastation caused by the coal industry’s mountaintop removal mining.
Mountaintop removal coal mining threatens to destroy the landscape and the communities of Appalachia. It involves blasting off entire mountain peaks in order to expose underlying coal deposits, and the effects are devastating not only for the ecosystems that get in the way of a mining operation, but for the residents of local communities as well.
West Virginia coalfield activist Maria Gunnoe testified before the House Committee on Natural Resources earlier this week in order to present her case against the expansion of mountaintop removal projects in West Virginia. Gunnoe spoke about the local water pollution that has become a severe health threat for the residents of coal mining communities.
The groundwater becomes polluted with heavy metals such as arsenic when surface mining involves blasting deep enough into the ground so as to release them from the earth’s crust. Communities located very close to mining sites are frequently situated high up in the mountains and consequently have no access to municipal water supplies. Well water is the only option, so residents often find themselves drinking and bathing in water that has been poisoned as a direct result of coal mining practices.
When Maria Gunnoe testified in front of the House Committee on Natural Resources, she showed a picture of a 5-year-old girl taking a bath in the brown water that comes out of the faucets at her parents’ house, located a short distance from a mountaintop removal site. However, upon seeing the photograph, members of the committee alerted the Capitol Police, who took Gunnoe aside to be questioned about “child pornography” after the hearing.
It appears that our elected officials are missing the point. They are sidestepping the issue at all costs because facing the real horror of Gunnoe’s photograph would call for them to take action to restrict the environmentally damaging actions of the coal industry. Committee members chose to call the police rather than accept the glaring need for laws that will protect the residents of coalfield communities whose children are presently forced to bathe in polluted water. By signing the petition below, you will help to tell the House Committee on Natural Resources that the health of our environment and our children is at stake and to demand laws that protect future generations from the exploits of the coal industry.
Dear House Committee on Natural Resources,
I would like to call your attention to a recent incident in which West Virginia activist Maria Gunnoe presented her testimony against the expansion of mountaintop removal mining in the state. I am alarmed by your decision to alert the Capitol Police when she showed a photograph of a 5-year-old child bathing in visibly contaminated water in order to question her about “child pornography.”
I feel that you are missing the point of the photograph and one that is glaringly significant. Communities located very close to mining sites are frequently situated high up in the mountains and consequently have no access to municipal water supplies. Well water is the only option, so residents often find themselves drinking and bathing in water that has been poisoned by heavy metals as a direct result of coal mining practices.
The child in the photograph has no choice but to bathe in the polluted water that comes out of the faucets in her parents’ house. I hope that you will take a second look at the photograph and address the message it conveys. The health of our environment and our children is at stake. I urge you to recognize and act upon the necessity for laws that stop the environmental devastation caused by mountaintop removal mining and protect future generations from the exploits of the coal industry.
[Your Name Here]