Target: Colorado State Congress, Rep. Doug Lamborn
Goal: Protest the deplorable treatment of and accusations against Maria Gunnoe, an honored environmental justice advocate.
Maria Gunnoe, an award-winning anti-coal activist, was set to testify before the House Committee on Natural Resources in a hearing on the Obama administration’s relationship with the coal industry. Gunnoe presented a series of slides and photos to the Committee, which illustrated the devastating impact that coal mining is having on the environment and inhabitants of the Colorado mountain region.
However, instead of focusing on the very real human and environmental degradation occurring in this region at the hand of dirty energy, House GOP Representatives are drawing attention to something entirely different. As reported by Mother Jones, House Republicans are accusing Gunnoe, a mother of two children, of engaging in child pornography. The photograph that has House Republicans up in arms was presented in Gunnoe’s presentation—a picture of a young girl bathing in obviously contaminated water. More often than not, this water contains high levels of arsenic, a highly toxic contaminant that seeps into the water via the coal mines.
What was meant to be a visual representation of the contamination and threat to society’s most vulnerable has now, thanks to House Republicans, been twisted in order to redirect attention away from the real issue at hand—coal mining.
The “questionable” photograph was taken in the presence of the young girl’s parents, and Gunnoe received permission from the photographer, the child’s parents and the Democratic Committee Members to use the photo.
Nevertheless, following her presentation, Gunnoe was approached by Committee members (at the instruction of Rep. Doug Lamborn) who told her that the photograph and the accompanying text had to be removed immediately. She was told that the Committee believed the photograph to be “suggestive of child pornography” and that police would be getting involved.
“Committee Republicans are in denial and want to stay that way about human health effects of mountaintop removal,” said Joan Mulburn, an Earth Justice staff attorney who attended the hearing.
This is an age-old tactic—a simple smear campaign against Gunnoe, who, as a decorated environmental and anti-coal activist, is a nuisance to conservatives everywhere. Committee Republicans hope that by turning media attention away from the real issue of coal contamination, they can distract the public and simultaneously discredit their opponent—Maria Gunnoe.
Do not let these Committee Republicans succeed in distracting the public eye. Tell them you are paying attention.
Sign below to protest the ridiculous allegations against Maria Gunnoe, and tell Committee Republicans they will not get away with this scheme.
Dear Members of Colorado Congress,
The allegations against Maria Gunnoe are unfounded and quite frankly, ludicrous.
The real issue at hand is the contamination of drinking water due to run-off from coal mines in the Colorado mountains. But instead of using your political power to remedy the situation, and helping the little girl bathing in dirty bath water, you expend energy on ridiculous smear tactics.
This is very disappointing. I urge you to detract the statements and allegations against Maria Gunnoe, and concentrate instead on the citizens forced to drink and bath in arsenic-laced water.
[Your Name Here]