Appalachian Struggle Sparks More Than Debate

Written by Scott Parkin

Topics: Climate

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Here’s a recent article in Boston Globe about the struggles in Appalachia.

The article says that coal’s recent ascent as fuel for electricity has sparked a “debate”, but if you live in Appalachia and stand against King Coal it’s a lot more than a debate.

Maria Gunnoe –mother, neighbor, environmentalist, community organizer and Appalachian resident– has stood up to the coal industry and stopped a mining operation that threatened to dump mountaintop removal debris into a valley in October. That victory has resulted in numerous threats of violence and property destruction against her.

“When Maria Gunnoe drove through last week, she didn’t think of stopping. Gunnoe, 39, a descendant of Cherokees and Scots in Appalachia, has received death threats lately for her fight against filling valleys with the coal trash from the mountaintop excavations. And for her, any place, even this rapidly shrinking one, doesn’t feel safe anymore. She travels now with a bullet-proof vest and a can of Mace.”

“After winning a case in October that shut down one mining operation, resulting in the layoff of 39 workers, Gunnoe and others received death threats. One person, she said, walked up to her and threatened to destroy her property if she didn’t stop.”

Environmentalists and anti-mountaintop removal advocates are under constant attack by the coal industry and state authorities that support it.

Appalachia is on the front lines of the global fight against coal, climate change and corporate/state power. We’ve been working to support Appalachian communities, local anti-mountaintop removal environmentalists and students and activists throughout the country to put an end to mountaintop removal. But we need more.

People like Maria are putting their lives and homes on the line everyday and all of us need to step up to help.

As we enter a new year of struggle and activism, I am reminded of the words of Ed Abbey–

“At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoroeau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour.”

If you want to do more, contact us at dirtymoney@ran.org

UPDATE- if you want to get involved, go to the two Mountain Justice Spring Breaks happening in Virginia and Ohio. or donate to help them along.

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