People of Faith Speak Out Against Mountaintop Removal
July 31, 2009, Washington, DC – On the thirtieth anniversary of a historic piece of environmental legislation, the National Council of Churches will host a candlelight vigil to remember the destruction caused by mountaintop removal (MTR) mining. The rally will be held on August 3 in Lafayette Park, directly across from the White House, starting at 7 pm.
“The purpose of the rally is to remember the nearly 500 mountains already destroyed by MTR and to have people of faith call upon the federal government to end this destructive practice,” said Jordan Blevins, Assistant Director of the NCC Eco-Justice Office
The vigil will remember the impact of the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). On August 3, 1979, President Jimmy Carter signed the Surface Mining Control and Reclamation Act (SMCRA). Designed to curtail the devastation done to the Appalachian mountains during various forms of strip-mining, it left significant loopholes open to allow MTR to occur.
Designed as an alternative to traditional mining, mountaintop removal mining is a cheap and quick form of coal mining practiced in the Appalachian regions of Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. In mountaintop removal mining the tops of mountains are removed, exposing the coal located deep within the mountain, allowing it to be extracted more easily.
However, mountaintop removal mining is not without environmental impact. Blevins said, “Impacts of mountaintop removal have been devastating for the communities and environments of Appalachia. More than 7 percent of Appalachian hardwood forests, nearly 1.2 million acres, have been clear-cut and burned, and more than 1,200 miles of Appalachian headwater streams, which are connected to all major waters in the Southern U.S., have been buried or polluted with toxic mining waste between 1985 and 2001.”
The candlelight vigil will remember the impacts of this practice to both God’s people and God’s Creation, joining national faith leaders with local faith voices directly impacted, praying for the end of mountaintop removal mining.